Color therapy has strong scientific evidence as a healing application for humans. In Europe, colour therapy units for medical use run up to $25,000 USD. These units use pure crystals to project true colour frequencies onto the body or into the eyes. Less expensive units use LED lights or coloured plastic glasses that can be worn by an individual.
A number of tests have been developed to determine what colors people need. One is called the Phosphene Test. If you stare at a large single-colored dot on a white background for about 30 seconds, take that color away and stare at a plain piece of white paper, a colored dot should appear on the paper. It should be the complementary color to the one you were staring at. If you do not see a dot forming on the paper within five seconds, you need the first color for a treatment. As an example, stare at 1” red dot on white paper for about 30 seconds, then immediately remove the colored paper and stare at a white sheet of paper. Within a few seconds, you should see a faintly colored blue dot appear. If you don’t, wear something red that day.
Color therapy has veterinary applications as well, although many of the visual and verbal tests used in humans, such as the one cited above, won’t apply to animals. We need to use other ways to choose color for our patients. Sometimes the animal will tell us by choosing to lie on a certain blanket or couch. Change the blanket or cover the couch and you may notice the animal avoiding it, even if it’s very similar in softness and texture to the old surface. I purchased a nice big red blanket for my own dog to lie on, but he hated it, never lay on it, and tore it up to get it off of his bed. I’ll provide additional details on determining which colors to use with patients, and how to use them, later in this article.
Color and cones
Dukes’ Physiology of Domestic Animals notes that dog have two color cones. Humans have three: red, green and blue. However, it’s estimated cats have up to four color cones, so imagine what the world must look like to a feline. You need at least two colored cones to see color frequencies. It is speculated by a number of different researchers that dogs see in the blue/green color spectrum. However, not being able to see a color does not mean we are not affected by it. We can’t see ultraviolet light but we are tanned or burned by its effects on our skin. We can’t see infrared, but we feel its detoxifying effects from an infrared sauna. The same rule applies to animals.
Color has a vibration, a wavelength, a frequency. It can penetrate our bodies the same way frequencies from a cell phone tower or microwave can. Different colors have different wavelengths – for example, violet has a shorter wavelength than red. Some colors penetrate deeply into our bodies and others less so. This is why ocular color therapy is popular. Shining a color into the visual field allows the frequency to penetrate deeply into the limbic system to affect the brain.
The German scientist Fritz Albert Popp determined that all cells in the body communicate by emitting photons of light. Chemical communication also occurs but is too slow to account for all the physiological processes that occur in the body simultaneously. Cells communicate and inform by using light. Only cancer cells do not emit light.
• When using color therapy with animals, it is practical and economical to use colored gels found in art or camera supply stores. These can be placed in front of a light bulb to project colors.
• Other ways to use color are to purchase colored silk or cotton to be worn as bandanas, or colored ceramic bowls for food and water. For instance, if a cat is constipated, using orange-colored feeding and water bowls may cause him to develop diarrhea. This is because the color orange is associated with the second chakra, which governs the large intestine. For diarrhea issues, using the complement color to orange – blue — could help control loose stools.
• Attach a colored gel to the outside of goggles designed to be worn by animals. You can treat them with color for 20 minutes or longer if they tolerate the glasses.
• Cover a patient’s cage door with a colored gauze or towel.
What different hues can do
• Blue stimulates the anterior hypothalamus which regulates the parasympathetic nervous system. All colors in the bluish spectrum from blue and green to violet, have a sedating effect, stimulating digestion and inducing sleep.
• Red stimulates the posterior hypothalamus which regulates the sympathetic nervous system. All the colors in this part of the spectrum — magenta, red, orange, yellow, etc. — have a stimulating effect. Red invokes anger and stops digestion.
See the accompanying table for more information on the uses of color therapy, based on the chakra system.
Color for the clinic
It’s no accident that a certain grocery chain uses yellow paint on the walls. It is supposed to stimulate impulse purchasing. Why are surgeon’s drapes and gowns always green? It is a complement to the color of blood and helps calm surgeons so they don’t panic in the face of hemorrhage. If you work on a computer in the evening and find it difficult to sleep after staring at the monitor, buy a piece of blue or green plastic to cover the monitor. It can help reduce eyestrain.
Color schemes in the veterinary clinic can also have a beneficial effect on patients, clients and staff. Soft blues and greens can have a calming or harmonizing effect, for example, while orange can stimulate creativity and productivity. Red may increase physical vitality and stamina but should be used sparingly because it can also generate agitation and anger. Yellow can have a fun, uplifting influence. Color can easily be introduced through accents such as chairs and picture frames in waiting or examination rooms, or at the reception area.
Dr. Cindy Kneebone received her DVM from the Ontario Veterinary College in 1981. She received diplomas in Homeopathy from the British Institute of Homeopathy, in Chinese Herbal Medicine from Huang Di College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and in Veterinary Acupuncture at the Michener Institute. She is certified with the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society. In 1998, Dr. Kneebone joined the East York Animal Clinic in Toronto.