Light moves in waves of varying lengths and, as each colour has a different wavelength, we sense them all individually. Colour therapists (or chromatherapists) believe that different colours in the spectrum correspond with the body's inner vibrations. If your vibrations are off-kilter, therapists believe that colour can harmonise and rebalance them if treated with the right colours.
The seven colours of the spectrum relate to the seven main chakras - or energy centres - of the body. Depending on your mood and physical health, the colour therapist will use specific colours to treat the afflicted parts of your body.
Colour therapy is administered in several ways. In many treatments coloured lights are shone on the body or coloured silks are worn. Other practitioners use different coloured liquids in bottles or small torches with coloured beams that are pointed at the relevant acupressure (also known as colourpuncture) points.
Is there any evidence?
There is some evidence that colour affects our mood and general wellbeing. In 1958, US scientist Robert Gerard conducted a study that claimed red stimulates and makes us anxious, while blue promotes calm. He also showed that colour could affect appetite, blood pressure and aggression.
Prisons in Texas have begun to dress inmates in pink, partly to humiliate them, and partly because, anecdotally, pink is said to reduce aggression.
Ingrid Collins, a consultant psychologist is convinced that chromatherapy can effect our energy levels. "We know that the cells of the human body are constructed from atoms and that each atom consists of particles of energy in constant motion," she says. "We are therefore at the most fundamental level made of energy and information, so when we add a particular colour we are adding energy into our lives."
Where does it come from?
Papyrus scrolls dating back to 1550BC suggest that the ancient Egyptians used colour to cure ailments. Ancient Chinese texts also record colour therapies.
Colour therapy became more widely used during the 20th century, when Swiss psychologist Dr Max Lüscher developed the Lüscher-Colour-Diagnostic test. During the test, the recipient is asked to select eight coloured bottles in order of preference. The results are said to reveal your worries and their solution.
Who can do it?
According to therapist June Mcleod, colour therapy is a gentle treatment suitable for "everyone from the young to the old. Anyone suffering from stress and immune deficiency problems through to insomnia and critical illness can gain comfort and support from colour treatment."
What results can I expect?
After a session you might expect to feel empowered and enlivened. Colour therapist Pippa Merivale explains: "Colour is light; it throws light on things and shows you what you've not spotted in yourself - talents and gifts and hidden strengths, as well as the erroneous zones that it can help you to dissolve and flush out if you choose. You will emerge from a consultation with a feeling of freshness, a sense of authentic power that's exciting and very new."
Therapists believe there are different contra-indications for each colour. Your colour therapist should discuss any issues with you before you begin treatment