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According to the theory of colors, certain colors have a different effect on the human psyche. For example, red conveys a feeling of warmth and makes you active, while blue exudes a certain coolness and calm. These different color moods also make themselves felt Chromotherapy (Chromotherapy) to treat certain psychological complaints or to stimulate overall brain performance. How exactly the color therapy works, we recorded for you in the following article.
Color therapy - what is it?
The basics of color therapy go back to ancient times. Already in ancient Egypt, as in the folk medicine of numerous primitive peoples, color treatments for healing purposes were experimented with and patients were coated with color pastes or wrapped in colored healing cloths to solve various health problems. Various color concepts have emerged over the centuries. For example, the allocation of colors to certain seasons, which mostly follows the color gradient and is structured as follows, is best known:
- Spring: turquoise to green,
- Summer: yellow to orange,
- Autumn: red to pink,
- Winter: violet to blue.
Based on this seasonal color classification, certain elements, character traits and even healing stones or zodiac signs are sometimes associated with the colors. The basic colors red, blue and yellow usually serve as a starting point. However, the symbolism of mixed colors such as green or violet, which result from the mixture of two primary colors, is also common in certain areas.
Red is generally considered the color of fire, temperament and the urge to act and is therefore in the zodiac the color of the fire signs Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. Likewise, romance and passion, but also aggressiveness and potential danger are associated with the red color. The latter can be observed well on warning signs, which usually have a red warning signal. Depending on the color principle, the mixed color of red and yellow (orange) can also stand for the same properties, but then in a weakened form.
Blue is usually the color of the water and the watermarks Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. It symbolizes emotionality and calm, but also imagination and creativity. The latter are sometimes associated with the color of magic violet, which is a mixed color of red and blue.
Yellow and sometimes orange are often the colors of the wind as well as the wind signs Gemini, Libra and Aquarius, whereby Aquarius already indicates that the color assignment can often vary between yellow and blue, sometimes between blue and white, depending on the color theory. In any case, the wind is a symbol of logical thinking, intellect, rationality and the ability to change. In the latter function, the air often has a spiritual meaning, since it is regarded as an intermediary between the other elements and is regarded as a medium for the similarly intangible ether.
The mixed color of yellow and blue, green, almost always has to do with the earth, the flora or nature in the color theory. This is already indicated by her name, which is derived from the old high German word "gruoen" for "to grow", "to sprout" or "to thrive". Accordingly, the earth signs Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn are assigned to them, which symbolize durability, physical strength, robustness and growth. Green can also be represented by the color brown, which emerges as a second-order mixed color from a combination of green and red.
From these associations later came the color type theory, which plays a role above all in interior design and style advice for fashion and make-up. Even astrological and esoteric concepts cannot do without the color assignment schemes of the elements and personality traits.
Incidentally, the color theory of Taoism is very similar. Here colors are not only associated with certain elements, seasons and characteristics, but also with individual organs. Thus, color therapy is an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and plays a certain role in numerous treatment measures, such as acupuncture or reflexology.
In Western cultures, on the other hand, the theory of colors was important for art until the late Middle Ages. The famous color wheel, as it is still taught in every art class, comes from the pen of the legendary poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. He wrote several writings on the effect of colors and thus designed one of the first common variants of modern color theory.
However, the American doctor Edwin D. Babitt developed a concrete concept for color therapy in the West towards the end of the 19th century. In his chromotherapeutic work “The Principles of Light and Color”, published in 1878, he dealt in detail with the effect of colors and light on the human psyche on the basis of Goethe's theory of colors. His ideas later made use of numerous neurologists and psychotherapists, which is why color therapy is used today in particular for the treatment of psychological complaints such as depression and in coping with trauma. Child psychology in particular is increasingly relying on painting and color therapies to treat the child's psyche as gently as possible with the help of creative expressiveness. Depending on the treatment goal, there are now numerous different forms of color therapy.
Color meridian therapy
TCM believes that the flow of energy in the body is regulated by so-called meridians. This is understood to mean energy channels that run through the whole body and each of which is assigned to a specific organ and thus also to a specific color. The color meridian therapy, which was developed by the German physiotherapist and physician Christel Heidemann, now aims to positively influence the energy flow of the meridians by means of suitable colored patches or colored pieces of fabric. Natural colors or vegetable colors are used for this. The plasters and pieces of fabric are soaked in advance with these colors and then placed in the form of one-centimeter silk circles on the affected area of the body.
While the color corresponding to the meridian stimulates functional weaknesses, the complementary color, i.e. the color opposite the meridian color in the color wheel, can calm the meridian in the event of overreactions. In order to determine a malfunctioning meridian, the connective tissue on the back is scanned in advance of the color meridian therapy. The therapy is said to help particularly well with pain complaints and disease prevention.
As already shown, numerous treatment practices are based on a certain color theory. The color puncture represents a further development of the usual acupuncture based on the color therapy. It was invented by the German alternative practitioner Peter Mandel and is based on a targeted irradiation of the acupuncture points with bundled colored light, which is directed at the respective acupuncture point via pen-shaped lamps.
The procedure is usually combined with conventional acupuncture and is therefore an addition to the traditional acupuncture procedure. The aim is to use the color radiation to support the body to bring its energy vibrations back into balance. Depending on which body meridian is subject to a disorder, different radiation colors are used according to the TCM teaching. Color puncture is used very often in
- Liver disease,
- Muscle tension,
- Sleep disorders.
Therapeutic painting consists less of a targeted application of colors to the patient, but rather of letting the patient apply appropriate colors. There are two different types of therapy:
- Anthroposophical painting therapy: The anthroposophical painting therapy was developed by the Scottish-French painting therapist Liane Collot d’Herbois in collaboration with the German doctor and anthroposophist Margarethe Hauschka-Stavenhagen. The process assumes that colors can be understood as abstract entities between light and darkness and that they can help to purify the soul by actively experiencing the color spectrum. For anthroposophical painting therapy, primarily watercolor and vegetable colors are used, which allow the painter in a special way to explore his own natural polarities of light (symbolized by yellow) and dark (symbolized by blue).
- Deep Psychological Painting Therapy: The basics of deep psychological painting therapy go back to the psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung. The patient is provided with a palette of colors with which he can paint a picture as he likes. In deep psychology, the image is understood as a visualization of unconscious symbolic representations that represent an expression of mental processes. After the painting therapy, the therapist and the therapist interpret the painting during a therapy discussion.
More color therapies
The concept of color therapy even extends to nutrition, personal hygiene, cosmetics and interior design. There are innumerable therapeutic approaches here, which can be roughly defined as follows:
Color therapy in the diet
In order to “charge” foods with the energetic effect of certain colors, they are irradiated with colored light before consumption. A charging of beverages is also conceivable, whereby still mineral water or medicinal water is used for such purposes.
Color charging of water can also be used in the context of a color bath. For this purpose, the bath water is irradiated with colored light beforehand or colored directly with natural colors. Some also work here with colorful flower blossoms, which should support the color healing effect.
Cosmetic color charging of water takes place during the Aura Soma treatment. Around 1984, the Englishwoman Vicky Wall developed special aura-soma bottles, which are also known as equilibrium and each consist of 50% of two differently colored liquids. While the upper layer of liquid mostly consists of colored lotus flower or olive oil, the lower layer is made up of colored water, which comes from a special healing spring in Glastonbury (United Kingdom). The color combinations are based on the Indian chakra teaching and should have a positive cosmetic effect when used.
Color therapy in interior design
Colors also have a special effect in the area of interior design. In particular, public institutions such as doctor's surgeries, kindergartens or training facilities are now increasingly using color concepts that are intended to have a particularly positive influence on the psyche of visitors. Soft pastel colors that calm and relax the mind, such as light green or light blue, are common, but also activity-promoting colors, such as strong shades of red and orange in facilities such as gyms.
Colors to see and touch
Playing with color perception even goes so far that some therapists and alternative practitioners consciously let their patients look at certain colors over a certain period of time or have colored objects touched in order to achieve a healing effect. Such therapy approaches are usually combined with other treatment approaches aimed at sensory perception, such as aromatherapy or sound therapy.
Effectiveness of color therapy
It has not yet been scientifically proven whether all of these color therapy measures are actually effective. However, the basic effect of certain colors on the psyche cannot be disputed, which is why there are well-founded treatment successes, at least in one or the other color therapy. Numerous concepts were also developed by professional specialists, which at least suggests that the procedures have been sufficiently checked in advance. Everyone has to find out for themselves whether they can actually help with specific complaints. (ma)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Miriam Adam, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
- Kraaz von Rohr, Ingrid: Color therapy: the basic knowledge about the effect and application of colors, Feb. 2008
- Jörg Grünwald, Christof Jänicke: Alternatively, heal. Competent advice from science and practice, GU Sep. 2006
- Paul Mohr: Color therapies: activate the self-healing powers - naturally and without side effects, Pro Business digital, 2013
- Thomas Künne: Healing with cosmic colors: coherent color applications for health and well-being, Mankau Verlag, April 2017