Chromotherapy, also known as color or light therapy, describes a popular method of using different colored lights to achieve different therapeutic effects.
When combined with a dry sauna, chromotherapy’s ability to impact your mood and energy is heightened by the sauna’s relaxing properties.
Sauna chromotherapy reportedly has the following benefits:
- Mood improvement and relief from the seasonal affective disorder.
- Reduced muscle pain and inflammation.
- Improved energy levels.
Let’s learn more about chromotherapy and how this ancient medicinal practice is being used today.
What is Chromotherapy and How Does It Work?
In simple terms, chromotherapy is the practice of using different colors of light to trigger different responses in the human body, whether that response is triggered via the eyes’ perception of the color or the direct application of colored light to the skin.
Chromotherapy can be traced back to ancient Egyptian society, where healers believed that both sunlight and specific colors had medicinal benefits for a range of conditions.
One of the earliest proponents of modern chromotherapy was Edwin D. Babbitt, who published a book exploring the principles and benefits of light and color in 1878.
Although chromotherapy hasn’t yet been studied as extensively as other types of treatments, the basic principle behind it is that each different color of light produces a different electromagnetic wavelength, each of which has its own unique properties.
Three Science-Based Benefits of Sauna Chromotherapy
According to various scientific studies and evidence, chromotherapy is associated with all of the following three benefits.
1. Mood Improvement and Relief from Seasonal Affective Disorder
Perhaps the most thoroughly studied area of chromotherapy is its proven effects on moods.
For example, a 1994 research paper published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, “Effects of Color on Emotions,” found that shades of red and yellow are generally perceived as being stimulating, arousing and most associated with action, whereas blue and purple are generally perceived as being calming, pleasant and soothing.
Chromotherapy has also been found to be effective in treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that’s related to the seasons. Specifically, people with SAD tend to feel depressed in the fall and winter when natural light is most scarce.
According to an article published by Harvard Medical School in 2012, “Seasonal affective disorder: bring on the light,” exposure to bright light stimulates cells in the retina that help the brain establish a healthy circadian rhythm (a biological process that determines when you sleep and wake).
The article states that people with SAD who spend 30 minutes per day exposed to very bright light can experience a restored circadian rhythm and reduced or eliminated symptoms of SAD.
2. Reduced Muscle Pain and Inflammation
A 2005 article published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, “A Critical Analysis of Chromotherapy and Its Scientific Evolution,” discussed the findings of certain studies that exposure to blue light reduces both muscle pain and inflammation.
According to the article, pain reduction is directly related to blue light as well as the length of subjects’ exposure to it.
Another study at the University of Arizona described by WebMD in a 2017 article, “Testing the Healing Potential of Light,” has found evidence that exposure to green light triggers the release of natural painkillers called enkephalins in the spinal cord.
3. Improved Energy Levels
According to the “Effects of Color on Emotions” paper referenced above, red and yellow light is highly stimulating and can cause people to feel energized and excited.
While this wouldn’t necessarily be beneficial to people with anxiety or stress, it can help people who are depressed or tired feel alert and awake.
Plus, bright light on its own can have a stimulating effect, as mentioned in the article “Seasonal affective disorder: bring on the light” referenced above, and even helps to regulate the circadian rhythm.
This can be beneficial to people who are having difficulty sleeping, have insomnia or want to reset their sleep cycle.
How to Use Sauna Chromotherapy
If you want to simultaneously reap the benefits of chromotherapy as well as all the benefits of saunas, you can use LED light fixtures in your sauna for affordable and effective chromotherapy in the comfort of your own home.
Try using different colors for different results:
- Use blue or purple light to feel calmer, reduce stress and lower anxiety.
- Use green light to relieve pain.
- Use bright white light to simulate sunlight and relieve symptoms of depression and SAD.
- Use yellow or red light to boost energy levels.
And don’t forget about the SAD-fighting benefits of tanning beds, too.
The scientific evidence behind chromotherapy is promising, and many people have already experienced positive effects with this quick and low-cost form of treatment.