Phototherapy is the clinical approach to treating various ailments with the use of light. Although this really has little or nothing to do with visual perception, over the years I have been approached to provide assistance to those who wanted information on this subject. My reply for many years was that "I don't know anything about it."
In 1982/83 while on sabbatical leave I decided to do a critical review of the literature on phototherapy. The results of this effort were published in COLOR RESEARCH AND APPLICATION. (Phototherapy using chromatic, white and ultraviolet light, vol. 9, Number 4, Winter 1984, pp. 195-205.)
Here I can give only a brief synopsis of this journal article published in 1984.
"The purposes of this article are to (1) convince the reader that the vast majority of color-therapy literature is ill-conceived and a potential danger to society; (2) review various research methodologies that would aid in the effective investigation of color therapy; (3) review the existing research literature using color therapy; (4) review a selected research literature using white, and ultraviolet light for therapeutic purposes; this latter research, plus that involving phototherapy with jaundice, represents examples worthy of being followed by the general field of color therapy research; and (5)review some basic research that shows the biological interaction of humans with light; this area of research suggests that the area of color therapy is worth further exploration if done by competent investigators." (p. 195)
In the main body of the journal article I present a table that shows the myriad of ailments ostensibly treated with various colored lights. In this table I present the references that show where these alleged successful treatments are reported. The vast majority of this literature is not scientific and not published in peer reviewed sources.
A simplified conclusion of my journal article is as follows"
"The use of light as a therapeutic agent has a long history. However, there is little or no scientific foundation for much of what has been published in the area of color therapy. There is a good foundation for the treatment of neonatal jaundice using blue light. Preliminary basic research suggests that when used with photodynamic agents, some malignant tumors may be treatable with white light. Other studies suggest that psoriasis can be treated with ultraviolet light when the affected area is first covered with anthracene. Evidence is accumulating that show how the human body does interact with light at a hormonal, metabolic, and endocrine level. I conclude that there has never been a better time for competent scientists to investigate whether there are additional effective color therapeutic procedures in addition to the use of blue light for jaundice."
I can not stress strongly enough that the article I wrote and from which I quote above is more than 15 years old. A lot has happened since then One of the treatments that has received a great deal of attention in the public media and I believe has a good scientific foundation is the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorders (SAD) with white light.
Below I provide a number of links to websites I found on the WWW.
information on treating neonatal jaundice with blue light
http://www.aad.org/guidelinephotother.html information on the use of phototherapy and photochemotherapy
http://www.ama-assn.org/sci-pubs/journals/archive/ajdc/vol_151/no_12/poa7127a.htm information on risk factor in phototherapy with neonatal jaundice
http://www.psoriasis.org/bulletin/28-6/uvbphoto.html asks whether UVB used in phototherapy is carcinogenic
http://www.uv-light.com/ information on UVA and UVB phototherapy
http://www.skindex.com/features/focus/cf1101.html discusses using 311 nm light for phototherapy
The above links are by no means a complete list. But it may be enough to provide a start for those interested in pursing this subject.
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