Reducing Migraine Frequency And Intensity Through Green Light Therapy

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The disabling headaches and symptoms of chronic migraine can affect almost every aspect of life. It can make you feel like your head is going to explode from the pain. There are times when you’ll feel like you can’t power through them, and even with the help of medication, you may be pushed to stop what you’re doing until they go away.

Migraine is also considered the third most prevalent illness in the world, affecting 39 million people in the United States and 1 billion worldwide. Several drugs can help lessen migraine discomfort and other symptoms. These treatments provide pain relief rather than a solution for migraines, and just like most medications, they have some adverse effects. A migraine patient may eventually need to transition to preventative therapy. This is typically required when migraine attacks occur more frequently than once per week or when preventative drugs are ineffective more frequently than 50% of the time.

In relation, 2020 research from the University of Arizona Health Sciences suggested a potential preventive therapy for patients with migraine involving green light. It is said to be the first to examine how green light therapy may benefit people suffering from migraines. 

Evaluating Green Light Therapy As A New Approach To Migraine

A migraine is a headache that typically affects one side of the head and can be extremely painful, throbbing, or pulsating. It frequently comes with high light and sound sensitivity, as well as nausea and vomiting. The pain that comes from a migraine attack can be too much that it interferes with your regular activities and could go on for hours or even days.

At the moment, there are no medications that precisely stop migraines. But many medications used for other diseases can also help prevent migraines. These include specific herbal remedies, antidepressants, some blood pressure meds, and anti-seizure medications. 

Despite the available pharmaceutical treatments for migraine, some individuals do not have sufficient pain relief or may not be able to endure their side effects. Additionally, some patients could favor nonpharmacological methods of pain management. 

As a result, the authors of the University of Arizona Health Sciences study suggested that providing a drug-free therapeutic option would be advantageous independently of or in addition to pharmaceutical therapies. They thought about it and assessed a cutting-edge strategy utilizing green light therapy.

The researchers have been studying the effects of green light exposure for several years. All 29 participants in this initial clinical study had episodic or chronic migraines and had tried and failed numerous conventional treatments, including oral medicines and Botox injections.

Patients were exposed to white light for one to two hours each day for ten weeks during the trial. They were exposed to green light for ten weeks after a two-week hiatus. They responded to periodic surveys and questionnaires that measured their quality of life, including their ability to do work or fall and stay asleep and the frequency and severity of the headaches they encountered.

In their analysis, the researchers found that:

  • Most participants in the study—86% of which have episodic migraine and 63% of those with chronic migraine—reported a decrease in headache days per month of more than 50%.
  • Participants observed that exposure to green light caused a 60% reduction in discomfort, from 8 to 3.2, on a scale of 0 to 10.
  • Green light therapy reduced the length of headaches and enhanced participants’ capacity to go to sleep and stay asleep, as well as complete tasks, exercise, and work.
  • None of the study participants mentioned any adverse effects from exposure to green light.

The researchers concluded that exposure to green light reduced the number of headache days per month in people with episodic and chronic migraine. Additionally, it enhanced the quality of life for people with episodic and recurrent migraines. The fact that the patients experienced no adverse side effects after being exposed to green light supports the safety of using green light exposure as a migraine treatment method.

Using green light-emitting diodes as a therapeutic option or complementing other treatment modalities may be appropriate for patients who choose nonpharmacological therapies.

In sum, there is a potential in doing a more extensive study considering the safety, affordability, and effectiveness of green light exposure. Green light emitting diodes can also be easily believed to offer a therapeutic option for patients who choose nonpharmacological therapies or may be considered a complement to existing treatment approaches.

Journal Reference

Martin, L. F., Patwardhan, A. M., Jain, S. V., Salloum, M. M., Freeman, J., Khanna, R., Gannala, P., Goel, V., Jones-MacFarland, F. N., Killgore, W. D. S., Porreca, F., & Ibrahim, M. M. (2020). Evaluation of green light exposure on headache frequency and quality of life in migraine patients: A preliminary one-way cross-over clinical trial. Cephalalgia, 41(2), 135–147. https://doi.org/10.1177/0333102420956711 

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