Green Light Therapy used to Lower the Frequency and Intensity of Migraines

Green Light Therapy used to Lower the Frequency and Intensity of Migraines

According to a new study, green light therapy reduced the pain intensity of the headache phase and the number of days per month participants experienced migraine headaches by roughly 60%. According to new research from the University of Arizona Health Sciences, migraine sufferers may benefit from green light treatment, which has been demonstrated to lessen the frequency and intensity of migraines as well as enhance patient quality of life.

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraine is the world’s third most common ailment, impacting 39 million individuals in the United States and 1 billion people globally.

“This is the first clinical study to evaluate green light exposure as a potential preventive therapy for migraine patients,” said Mohab Ibrahim, MD, PhD, lead author of the study and associate professor in the Department of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology, and Neurosurgery at the University of Arizona College of Medicine — Tucson, as well as director of the Chronic Pain Management Clinic. “This is quite exciting for me as a physician. I now have another tool in my arsenal for treating one of the most severe neurological conditions: migraine.”

Overall, green light exposure reduced the number of headache days per month by around 60%. The majority of trial participants — 86 percent of episodic migraine patients and 63 percent of chronic migraine patients — reported a reduction in headache days per month of more than 50 percent. Episodic migraine is defined by up to 14 headache days per month, and chronic migraine is defined by 15 or more headache days per month.

We treated green light as a medicine in this research. It’s not just any old green light. It must have the proper intensity, frequency, exposure period, and exposure modalities. There is a sweet spot with light, just as there is with drugs.

Dr. Ibrahim

“The overall average benefit was statistically significant. The majority of the people were ecstatic” Dr. Ibrahim spoke about the participants, who were given light strips and instructions to follow while conducting the study at home. “When we enlisted people, we told them they had to return the lamp at the end of the study, which was one of the ways we judged participant satisfaction. But, at the end of the study, we gave them the choice of keeping the light, and 28 of the 29 chose to do so.”

Dr. Ibrahim and co-author Amol Patwardhan, MD, Ph.D., both of the UArizona Health Sciences Comprehensive Pain and Addiction Center, have been researching the effects of green light exposure for many years. This preliminary clinical trial included 29 participants, all of whom had episodic or chronic migraine and had tried and failed several standard therapy, such as oral medicines and Botox injections.

“Despite recent breakthroughs, migraine headache treatment remains difficult,” stated Dr. Patwardhan, an associate professor and vice chair of research in the Department of Anesthesiology. “Nonpharmacological therapies, such as green light, can be extremely beneficial to a wide range of individuals who either do not want to be on pharmaceuticals or do not respond to them. The beauty of this strategy is that there are no negative side effects. It appears to improve sleep and other quality of life metrics, if at all.”

Green light therapy shown to reduce migraine frequency, intensity

During the trial, patients were exposed to white light for one to two hours per day for ten weeks. After a two-week respite, they were subjected to green light for ten weeks. They conducted regular surveys and questionnaires to track the number of headaches they had and the strength of those headaches, as well as quality of life variables such as the capacity to fall and stay asleep or to perform work.

Green light exposure led in a 60% reduction in pain, from 8 to 3.2 on a numeric pain scale of 0 to 10. Green light therapy also reduced the duration of headaches and enhanced participants’ abilities to fall and remain asleep, accomplish chores, exercise, and work. None of the study participants reported any side effects of green light exposure.

“We treated green light as a medicine in this research,” Dr. Ibrahim explained. “It’s not just any old green light. It must have the proper intensity, frequency, exposure period, and exposure modalities. There is a sweet spot with light, just as there is with drugs.”

Dr. Ibrahim has been approached by physicians from all over the world, including Europe, Africa, and Asia, who have all requested the green light parameters and schematic design for their own patients. “As you might expect, LED lighting is inexpensive,” he explained. “Especially in locations where resources are few and individuals have to think twice before spending their money, offering something economical is an excellent choice to consider.”

Cephalalgia, the journal of the International Headache Society, released the study, “Evaluation of green light exposure on headache frequency and quality of life in migraine patients: A preliminary one-way cross-over clinical experiment,” online.

“These are fantastic discoveries, but this is just the beginning,” Dr. Ibrahim explained. “As a scientist, I’m quite curious about how this works because if I understand the mechanism, I’ll be able to apply it to different conditions. I can utilize it as a tool to alter biological systems in order to achieve as much as possible.”