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Color and Light – Part A

Marcey Shapiro, MD

Marcey Shapiro, MD

Everything in the physical world and everything we experience vibrates on the electromagnetic spectrum and has its characteristic wavelength. There are specific wavelengths for all matter, including atoms, music, x-rays, starlight, amethysts, and oak wood. Even thoughts have particular wavelengths. The brain receives these wavelengths through our various sensory organs and translates them into an understanding of physical matter. All that we experience as life in the physical world, all we hear, see, taste, smell, and feel, is merely wavelengths filtered through eyes, ears, skin, nose, and mouth and transmitted to the brain for interpretation.

Our bones, cells, DNA, in fact all of what we think of as our physical bodies is really vibrating energy. All cellular structures, including proteins and DNA, vibrate on the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum. The wavelength of DNA, for example, is 260 nm (nanometers), while that of protein is 280 nm. The vibrational difference is how the two are distinguished in scientific inquiry. Individual atoms and even subatomic particles emit and absorb light.

Even our thoughts, and therefore our emotions, are vibrations with measurable rates in brainwave patterns. When we are in peaceful deep meditation or contemplation, our brainwaves are slow. They are also slow when we are sleeping, unless we are in REM sleep, when they more closely resemble waking-state brainwaves. Newborn infants and babies have the brainwave patterns of adept meditators. When we are agitated or excited, our brainwaves are much faster. Both brainwaves and heart rhythms can form coherent or incoherent patterns.

Light also vibrates in the electromagnetic spectrum. The wavelength of visible light extends from 380 mn to 780 nm. “Light” is a term used generically to describe many EM emissions, even those that are not visible to us, such as ultraviolet and infrared light.

There are many commonly accepted medical uses of both ultraviolet and infrared light. Infrared light has a wavelength that is longer and lower-energy than visible light. The infrared spectrum is much larger than the visible spectrum, and infrared light is warming or heating, potentially promoting detoxification in small amounts of exposure. Many people now use infrared saunas for cellular detoxification. Interpretation of infrared light is important for thermal imaging, and far infrared light is a new technology being investigated and employed for treatment of many inflammatory conditions including arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, and Raynaud’s disease. Infrared LED light is also being investigated in treatment of certain cancers.

At the other end of the visible spectrum is ultraviolet or UV light. This technically means “beyond violet” since violet light is the shortest and fastest color of light in the visible spectrum. UV light is cleansing and is used medically for instrument sterilization and certain types of phototherapy (light therapy), including psoriasis treatments. The sun produces lots of UV light, in different bands such as UVA and UVB. Many insects, including bees, can see ultraviolet light and use it to navigate. On a cloudy day bees can still see the sun from its UV light emissions and therefore will use it to find their way to various flowers and back to the hive.

Although we cannot see most UV light with our eyes, our bodies are physiologically affected by it. For example, the UVB frequency, from 290 to 320 nm, is essential in the chemical reaction that occurs on the skin, in which cholesterol is converted into vitamin D. Higher and faster UV frequencies can damage cells and molecules, even leading to DNA mutations. The ozone layer in the upper atmosphere absorbs most of these high-energy frequencies.

I became interested in the health properties of all types of light many years ago. I realized early on that it makes sense that visible light has therapeutic applications. It would seem counterintuitive, in fact, that there are medical uses for wavelengths vibrating above and below the visible spectrum, but none for light we can see. A brief review of healing modalities worldwide reveals that visible light has also been employed extensively for physical health.

Natural sunlight can be a powerful catalyst for emotional well-being and physical health. Sunlight can help wound healing and supports calm. People have associated color and positive mood throughout recorded history.

In ancient Egypt, medical solariums were designed to flood a space with sunlight and color, both of which were used for healing. The patient was placed in the room, and particular colored windows were installed to assist therapeutically. The patient or diseased part was bathed in the specific colored light.

The Islamic physician Avicenna (980–1037 CE) wrote extensively in his book The Canon of Medicine about applications of color for treatment of various physical ailments. He noted, “Color is an observable symptom of disease.”

Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medicine of India, has a rich tradition of working with color as part of healing. In India colors have emotional and spiritual properties. The Ayurvedic system also defines the seven physical chakras—energy centers of the emotional and spiritual body that overlay and influence the physical body. Each chakra is associated with a color as well as emotional, spiritual, and physical properties. The color associations of the chakras can be used to treat the physical health of organs associated with that chakra.

Chinese medicine ascribes a color to each organ and meridian, and color in the body is observed carefully for signs of health or illness. Many of these color associations can be found in Western medicine as well.

Excerpted from Freedom From Anxiety: A Holistic Approach to Emotional Well Being by Marcey Shapiro, MD, published by North Atlantic Books, copyright © 2014 by Marcey Shapiro. Reprinted by permission of publisher.

Stay tuned for more thoughts from Marcey Shapiro, MD,  on “Transforming Health” and Heart Centered Living

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