Migraines can be absolutely debilitating, and the sad truth is that medications aren’t enough to help a lot of people. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraine affects about 39 million people in the United States and 1 billion people worldwide.
If you’re one of them, you know just how debilitating migraine attacks can be and why interest in complementary therapies is so high.
Natural approaches are often a better option, and now we may have a new tool in our migraine prevention toolkit!
✨ Green light ✨
What is green light therapy?
All light generates electrical signals in the retina at the back of your eye and in the cortex region of your brain.
Red and blue lights generate the largest signals. Green light generates the smallest signals. This is probably why it’s less likely to bother people with migraine light sensitivity. For some people, migraine symptoms may even improve.
In a study at the University of Arizona, 29 people with episodic or chronic migraines were exposed to white light for 1-2 hours per day for 10 days. Then after a break for 2 weeks, they were exposed to green LED light for 10 days. Here’s what they found:
👍 Overall, green light exposure reduced the number of headaches per month by 60%.
👍 Green light also decreased the intensity of pain from an average of 8 down to 3.2 on a scale of 0-10.
The participants were very happy with the light therapy. Even though they were told at the beginning of the study that they would need to return their green light at the end, they were then given the option to keep it. 28 out of 29 said yes!
People who suffer from migraines are often have severe light sensitivity, or photophobia. This is why riding out the migraine attack in dark rooms is helpful. Migraines can often be triggered by flashing lights or very bright light. So, is light therapy counterintuitive? Research suggests green light may play a role in reducing the intensity of migraines.
What does the research say?
Many people with migraine experience photophobia, which can exacerbate pain.
A 2016 study found that green light is significantly less likely to exacerbate migraine attacks than white, blue, amber, or red. Almost 80 percent of study participants reported intensified symptoms with every color except green.
A 2017 study involved three groups of rats with neuropathic pain.
One group was bathed in green light from LED strips. A second group was exposed to room light and contact lenses allowing the green spectrum wavelength to pass through. A third group had opaque contact lenses that blocked green light.
Both groups exposed to green light benefited, with effects lasting 4 days from the last exposure. The group that was deprived of green light saw no benefit. No side effects were observed. The conclusion is that green light therapy may increase certain pain-relieving chemicals in the brain.
Reach out if you want more tips on migraine prevention (or have any of your own to share!)
Martin LF, Patwardhan AM, Jain SV et al. Evaluation of green light exposure on headache frequency and quality of life in migraine patients: A preliminary one-way cross-over clinical trial. Cephalalgia. 2020.