Green Light for Pain Relief: Migraines

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A conversation with his brother propelled a University of Arizona researcher to study green light as a pain reliever. (KFSN)

A conversation with his brother propelled a University of Arizona researcher to study green light as a pain reliever. Dr. Mohab Ibrahim's brother said sitting among green trees eased his headache. It worked for Dr. Ibrahim too, but he believed using green light would be easier to test.

Debi Lesneski's migraines were debilitating.

"So it was one migraine after another. There was no break in between," Lesneski told Ivanhoe.

She was depressed and sick, unable to get out of bed some days. Then, she heard about her pain doctor's trial. Participants stared at LED green lights one to two hours a day for ten weeks.

Lesneski explained she was "very skeptical, because it is so simple and it doesn't make any sense that some light can fix a problem that modern medicine can't even address. And it worked."

Mohab Ibrahim, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Departments of Anesthesiology and Pharmacology, Director of the Chronic Pain Clinic and Chronic Pain Fellowship at Banner-University Medical Center said, "Regardless of the mechanism, the outcome is what really matters and people are both feeling better and their pain is getting better." (Read Full Interview)

Dr. Ibrahim and Rajesh Khanna, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Arizona, are trying to figure out why. It worked on rats, so they ran a study using green lights on eight people, white on five more. The green light group said their pain from migraine and fibromyalgia dropped 40 to 50 percent. It could be partly psychological.

"But also, at a chemical, a neurochemical level, it does something to tune the system so essentially what it's doing is increasing your happy hormones, your level of endogenous opioids," Khanna explained.

Dr. Ibrahim said, "The people in the green light group, they actually refused to return the green lights, and they wanted to keep it, so we let them keep it."

That includes Debi, who uses the lights 15 minutes, three times a week, and has stopped taking pain meds.

Dr. Ibrahim and Professor Khanna hope to get grants from the Department of Defense and the NIH so they can expand the study. They also caution people not to give up their pain medication.

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Mohab Ibrahim

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