We mentioned Green Light therapy a couple weeks ago in the DrJ’s Favorite Things blog post. Since then, it was reported that walking in a tree-lined space or in a park 4-5 times a week can improve anxiety, depression, asthma, insomnia, and blood pressure and can reduce the need for medications for these conditions by one third. Green light has also been found to reduce headache frequency and improve the quality of life in migraine sufferers. Previous studies have shown that living near green spaces reduces the death rate. Interestingly, simply looking out the window to observe nature did not have the same effects. Benefit was gained from being immersed in green settings.
A 2019 Japanese study found that placing a small green plant on one’s desk in the workplace significantly decreased psychological stress. While the benefit of having the green plant “there” decreased over time as the novelty wore off, researchers found that by introducing an active component of “when you feel fatigued, look at the plant for three minutes,” the stress-reduction benefit returned. The authors recommend encouraging nature breaks to all employees to improve overall mental health.
Dr. Jaffe has explained that the mechanism of this action is through the pineal gland deep in the brain. There are certain nerves in the retina that go directly to the pineal gland which is important for helping regulate mood and emotion.
Dr. Jaffe’s mentor, Bhante Dharmawarma taught a color theory that derived from Gautama Buddha’s teachings, where green, at the middle of the light spectrum, brings harmony and balance to the brain and body. Green is also the color of the heart chakra (love).
Here is a video from Masters of Wisdom, recorded in 1973, with Bhante talking about green light: https://youtu.be/mmBH3di36p0?t=139 . (After the ad plays, turn up the volume for this rare treat from the past!)
In the middle of winter, for those living in states where the local trees drop their leaves, it’s not always easy to find green areas to amble and immerse oneself in. Green light therapy can help provide some of the same benefits at home.
Dr Jaffe notes, “Historically we evolved under green, and today most of us have artificial light that is disruptive to the rhythms of the pineal gland, therefore disruptive to our restorative sleep, disruptive to our digestion, disruptive to our neurohormones and neurochemicals, disruptive to our immune defense and repair system, just generally afflictive. And there is one specific way to generate truly green chroma; truly green color; truly green wavelengths and frequencies, and that’s dichroic (dichro) bulbs….” Use a dichroic green light (150 W PAR 38) to achieve beneficial results.
Dichroic bulbs are similar to standard floodlight bulbs, but they generate rich, pure, balanced colors of specific wavelengths. These dichro lights were originally used for theater productions, but through the years, scientists studying photobiology began using them as tools to examine the physiological properties of different light wavelengths. Green was found to have a calming, balancing effect, as noted above.
Once you have your green light, you’ll want to set it up so it’s the only illumination in the area. A distance of about 4 feet will feel comfortably warm. You’ll want to be in a relaxed state, perhaps meditating or taking a salt/soda bath, for maximum effectiveness. Whether you sit with eyes open or closed does not matter. DrJ explains that “it’s not the intensity of the green but rather the ratios of the green frequencies to blue and the green frequencies to red that the pineal uses to determine whether you are in a harmonizing phase.”
We recommend using this green light therapy twice a day for at least 20 minutes. You can use more frequently, if needed. Dr. Jaffe notes, “For any of us who have a chronic illness…or any of us who want to tune up so that we are more resilient in response to the 21st century challenges; anyone who just wants healthier, more physiologically supportive lighting, will use the green dichro light as recommended.”
Listen to Dr. Jaffe talk about green light therapy on his recent IG Live.