Origin and History of Chromotherapy

Origin of Chromotherapy

Phototherapy (The use of full-spectrum white light for healing) and Chromo therapy (The use of specific colors to influence health and healing) is nothing new. The history dates back thousands of years where in Egypt, China, India and Greece practiced light therapy. Papyrus in Egypt dating back to 1500 BC lists color cures and archeologists have discovered that the Egyptians constructed temples with certain rooms in such a manner that light shone through crystals that transformed the light into patterns of color . The Chinese associated certain colors with the elements of Earth, Wood, Fire, Water and Metal and utilized them in Feng Shui for the environment and the Meridian system for the energetic and physical body. In India the practice of Ayurveda an ancient form of medicine with the philosophy of treating the whole being- mind, body and spirit believed that all beings wear a coat of many “colors” which continually change according to a person’s mental, emotional and physical well-being. We know this to be the “Chakra” system which consists of seven chakras, that interpenetrate each other and radiate the colors of the spectrum. Each color is associated with one of the endocrine glands in the physical body. Shamanism addresses imbalances in the “Luminous Energy Field” that surrounds the physical body which is also known as the “Subtle Body”.(Please see The Science of Color)

History of Color Therapy

Following the origins of Chromotherapythe Father of Western Medicine, Hippocrates, knew the importance of balance between the mind, body and soul, and used color as an intrinsic part of the healing process. His followers , however opted to focus on the physical aspects of healing the body, using a scientific approach and eschewing the more subtle forms of medicine. Western Medicine has since developed a more scientific approach, preferring to focus on healing the physical body rather than balancing the whole.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the use of color made a resurgence and many books , on the theory and use of color were written. Isaac Newton’s book “Optics” was first published in 1704. Newton discovered that he could use a prism to look at the seven light energies of the spectrum, red, orange, green, blue, indigo, and violet. His book is the foundation of today’s knowledge of light and the color spectrum.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe wrote the book “Theory of Colours “ in 1810 which paved the way for the work of many modern teachers and philosophers and is still in publication today followed by Dr. S Pancost in 1877 who published a paper, “Blue and Red Light and its Rays as Medicine”, principally about their respective stimulating and calming effects on people.

Dr. Edwin Babbit (1828-1905) a professor from Harvard published “The Principles of Light and Colour the following year which described the effects of the different colors of the spectrum and their therapeutic use.

Dr. Babbitt invented the Chromo disk, a funnel shaped device fitted with special color filters that could localize light onto various parts of the body as well as establishing the correspondence between colors and minerals , which he used as an addition to treatment with colored light. He developed elixirs by irradiating water with sunlight filtered through colored lenses claiming that this “potentised” water retained the energy of the vital elements within a particular color filter used, and that it had remarkable healing power. Solar tinctures of this kind are still made and used in healing today.

Under Babbit’s influence, Chromo paths sprang up in the USA and Britain and they developed color prescriptions for every conceivable ailment. By the end of the 19th century , red light was used to prevent the formation of small pox scars and later cures were reported among tuberculosis patients exposed to sunlight and ultra violet rays.

In the twentieth century Rudolph Steiner carried out investigations into the therapeutic use of color and their relationship to form shape and sound suggesting that some forms amplify the vibratioal quality of certain colors and that certain combinations of color and shape have either destructive or regenerative effects on living organisms.

Two renowned Psychologists, Dr. Max Lu scher and Dr. Theo Gimbell, suggested that people invariably choose colors for their direct association with their current psychological state and physical needs. Theo Gimbell has written many books on color therapy and pioneered the use of color therapy in homes and hospitals as well as carrying out extensive research into scientifically proving the effectiveness of color.