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Healing with Colour Therapy

by Pauline Wills(more info)

listed in light and colour, originally published in issue 134 - April 2007

Figure 2. Supplied by the Oracle School of Colour
Figure 2. Supplied by the Oracle School of Colour

Colour can be likened to a tree whose trunk represents light and whose branches represent all the hues and shades of light’s constituent colours. The branches can also symbolize the many uses of colour – for example in fashion, decoration, religion and, especially, in healing.

History of Light Therapy

Colour is a very ancient therapy. The Egyptians had colour-healing rooms built into their temples, each room radiating one of the colours of the spectrum. Patients requiring healing were ‘colour diagnosed’ and then treated in the room that radiated the prescribed colour. The ancient Greek city of Heliopolis, too, was famous for its healing temples, and here, Heliotherapy (treatment by sunlight) was practised.[1] This technique was rediscovered in the mid-nineteenth century by the Danish physician Niels Ryberg Finsen, the pioneer of light therapy for skin tuberculosis.[2] Later in the century another pioneer, Augustus Rollier, used Heliotherapy on a much larger scale both to treat and prevent tuberculosis.[3,4,5]

During the eleventh century, the outstanding Persian physician Avicenna wrote down his theories on colour’s therapeutic uses. His research led to the discovery that red increased blood pressure and blue lowered it. He also noted that yellow appeared to reduce inflammation and pain. Interestingly, he also noted the adverse affects of colour therapy, a very important therapeutic consideration.[6]

In the early 20th century, Rudolf Steiner, the philosopher, mystic and teacher argued that illness was caused by the separation of earthly consciousness from higher perception. His work was based on healing this rift through art, believing that colour was a living entity and that each colour bore a spiritual significance.[7]
Although light and colour treatments are viewed as complementary therapies both are, in fact, used in modern allopathic medicine. For example, the carbon dioxide laser, which produces an infra-red beam, is used to make incisions; the argon laser, radiating green, is used to stem bleeding tissues; ultra-violet light is used to treat acne and psoriasis, while Opthalmologists use laser light to treat proliferative retinopathy and detached retinas. Soft laser light, pioneered by Professor Endre Mester, was found to accelerate the healing of wounds, reduce scar tissue and alleviate pain suffered by burn victims.

Two other forms of light treatment are Ultraviolet Irradiated Blood Retransfusions (UVIBR) and Intravenous Visible Light Irradiation of Blood (ILIB). These techniques are carried out in Russia and stem from the research of Emmitt Knott and Virgil Hancock. This form of treatment has been used for viral infections, peritonitis and advanced toxaemia, and is reported to have worked where conventional drug therapy has failed.[8]

A light treatment pioneered in the United States in 1970 by Thomas Dougherty is Photodynamic Therapy (PDT).[9,10] This technique uses red light in conjunction with a light-sensitive compound to treat malignant tumours and skin cancer, and was recently televised on BBC1’s The Brain Hospital, filmed at London’s National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery.

How Colour Therapy Works

Why does colour work to treat dis-ease and keep a person in a state of well-being? I personally believe it is because we are beings of light and therefore need light for that well-being. Each of us is surrounded by an electromagnetic field (the aura), which is filled with the constantly changing energies of colour, colours determined by our emotional, mental, spiritual and physical state. Perhaps such sayings as ‘green with envy’ and ‘red with rage’ come from a time when more people were able to tune into and see the colours present in the aura, for when we are envious a dingy green appears throughout the aura; when we become angry a dark red appears. Dark, dingy colours always denote negativity and bright, clear colours positivity.

Disease starts in the aura’s etheric layer. When a person is sick, the part of the etheric that overshadows the body’s diseased area either displays an inappropriate colour or is devoid of colour altogether. Restoring health is accomplished by re-introducing the correct colours and working with the cause of the imbalance.

Situated in the aura’s etheric layer are eight energy centres or chakras (Fig 1 - not shown here). Each of these vibrates to its own colour and is associated with one of our endocrine glands. It is important that these centres are tested for imbalances, especially if a person has a hormonal problem. Imbalances in these centres can occur through wrong thinking and emotional turmoil. Evidence abounds that our thoughts and feelings affect our physical body, so unless we deal with the cause of our disease by transforming our negativity into positivity, and courageously changing life situations that are no longer relevant for us, it will be difficult to maintain our state of well-being, a state each one of us is entitled to.

Treatment With Colour Therapy

If the physical body mirrors our emotions, thoughts and spiritual state, counselling, to enable the person to find the cause of the disease, becomes an important factor in any therapy. If the cause is not rectified, the problem being treated will either re-appear or emerge in a new form. Exemplifying this is a man being treated for chronic sinusitis. This condition suggests that dairy produce (which produces excess mucous) should be eliminated from the diet. This particular man loved cheese and ate vast quantities of it. After each treatment he promised to eliminate it from his diet, but never succeeded, and this eventually proved counter-productive to the colour treatment.

Treating with colour can take many forms, and the number of colours used varies with each practitioner. I personally work with the twelve-colour wheel (Fig 2). I also treat with colour and its complementary, because the complementary colour balances the treatment colour and at the same time works with our duality. (The complementary colour is found by looking diagonally across the colour wheel: e.g. the complementary of red is green that of yellow is violet.)

I use two methods – colour contact-healing and coloured-light treatment. A full case history is taken initially. Then the chosen method is explained to the client. For contact-healing, the client lies on a therapy couch while the aura is scanned and the chakras dowsed for imbalances (imbalances not rectified at an etheric level will eventually manifest as a physical disease). These imbalances are then treated with iridescent white, a colour beneficial for dissolving accumulated energy. Where there is a physical disease, the appropriate colours for that disease are channelled into the relevant part of the body. If the imbalance has not yet manifested physically, then the colour which that part of the body naturally vibrates to is channelled. If a chakra is low in energy (underactive), it is treated with the colour it normally manifests: for example, the heart chakra would be treated with green. If it has too much energy (over-active), it would be treated with its complementary. The treatment ends by channelling through both feet the colour and complementary colour that will help the person to find and engage with their particular problem. There are several ways of ascertaining this colour, the simplest being through dowsing.

If one is treating with light, and I personally find this the most powerful way of working, the required colours, with their complementaries, are shone onto the body through a colour therapy instrument and the chakras treated with a light-therapy torch.

Self-Help with Colour

Colour is a wonderful self-help medium – a medium available to us every moment of our lives. Sitting in a rainbow-hued flower garden can be uplifting, or walking amongst the green leaves and grasses of the countryside can be relaxing. Even visualizing these colours can be beneficial. Colour breathing can be very energizing. If you are feeling depressed, try breathing in orange to a count of seven, then breathing out to seven its complementary, blue. We can also wear colour. When feeling stressed, try wearing something blue; for cold feet and hands, wear red socks or gloves. And you can bring colour into your home – coloured ornaments and fabrics, a painting, a beautiful crystal or even a vase of flowers. There are also some beautiful mandala painting books on the market. I have found colouring these to be very therapeutic. Colours that you can work with for simple ailments are: turquoise and its complementary red-orange to help boost your immune system; indigo and gold for headaches; yellow and violet for simple skin complaints; lime green and magenta for a toxic body. These colours can be worked with using any of the methods given above.

What I would not recommend is using coloured light for self-help. As previously mentioned, there are contra-indications to some colours and, therefore, the powerful medium of light should be used only by qualified colour practitioners.

If you wish to be treated professionally, it is important to choose a practitioner who has qualified through an accredited colour school. In the UK, the two regulatory bodies are the Institute for Complementary Medicine (ICM) and the Complementary Medical Association (CMA). Both organizations register only those practitioners who have trained with a school teaching to a required standard. They do not recognize distance-learning courses that contain no attendance modules, for a hands-on-therapy cannot be mastered by mail.

I personally believe that we are now being challenged to heal ourselves, and courses are beginning to focus on teaching participants methods of self-healing and guidelines for them to go and teach others what they have learnt. It is no longer about me, the therapist, and you, the client, but about helping each other to find ourselves and the healing power that lies within each of us. What a wonderful way of working.


1.    Lyons AS MD & Petrucelli, ll,MD. Medicine: An Illustrated History. Harry N. Abrams INC. ISBN 0-8109-8080-0. 1987.
2.    Niels Ryberg Finsen. Nobel Lectures Physiology or Medicine 1901-1921. Elsevier  Publishing Co. Amsterdam 1967.
3.    Rollier Dr A. Heliotherapy. 1923.
4.    Rollier Auguste. Heliotherapy with Special Consideration of Surgical Tuberculosis. H. Milford, Oxford University Press. 1927.
5.    Dormandy Thomas. The White Death: A History of Tuberculosis. Hambledon Press. ISBN 1852851694.
6.    Avicenna. The Canon of Medicine adapted by Lakh Bakhtiar. Abjad. Book Designer and Builders. ISBN  10: 1871031672
7.    Steiner Rudolf. The Anthroposophical Approach to Medicine. Anthroposophical Press. ISBN: 0880100311.
8.    K. Samoilova, S. Snopov, S. Morozova, M Rybkin, M. Baljuzek, A. Popovitch & N. Badosova. Photomodification of Blood: Methods and Therapeutic Tffects. International Laser Congress, Athens, Greece. 1996.    
9.    Roberts DJ & Cairnduff F. Photodynamic. Therapy of Primary Skin Cancer a Review. British Journal of Plastic Surgery. 1995.
10.    Brown J.E. Brown SB & Vernon DI  Photodynamic Therapy: Limitations & Opportunities. Colour Science. Vol 1. 1999.


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About Pauline Wills

Pauline Wills, BSY, MBRA,HDip.C.Th., BRCP is a practising reflexologist and colour practitioner. Four years ago, she integrated the vibrational energies of colour with reflexology. She now runs a certified course in London and abroad, for qualified reflexologists who wish to combine these two therapies as well as teaching colour therapy in London and at the Hygeia College of Colour Therapy. She has written several books on both of these subjects.

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