HealthWatch: Green Light for Pain Relief: Migraines


PHOENIX, Ariz. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — 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.” 

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. 

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Wendy Chioji, Field Producer; Bruce Maniscalco, Videographer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT: MB #4288

BACKGROUND: A migraine can cause severe throbbing pain or pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. I can even get to the point where symptoms may result in nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.  Migraine attacks can cause severe pain for hours, even days! There are warning symptoms called aura that can happen before a headache. These include flashes of light, blind spots, or tingling on one side of the face or in the arm or leg. Overall, there are four stages to a migraine: prodrome, aura, headache and post-drome. Prodrome occurs two days before the headache and has symptoms of constipation, neck stiffness, increased thirst and urination, and frequent yawning. The post-drome however may leave you feeling dizziness, weakness, and confusion. If one is regularly experiencing migraines, they should consult a doctor. 

(Source: ) 

TREATMENT:  Pain-relieving medications can be used to treat migraines. These are also known as abortive and acute treatment. Preventative medications are another option and are taken regularly to reduce severity or frequency of migraines. Alternative treatments are acupuncture, massage therapy, vitamins such as vitamin B-2, cognitive behavioral therapy, and a relaxation technique called biofeedback. Furthermore, lifestyle changes can be a big help for some. It is suggested to take needed rest, and enough sleep.  


NEW TREATMENT:  Green light has been found to ease the pain of migraines. White, blue, and red light increase migraine pain, however, low-intensity green light seems to reduce it.  The thalamus in the brain has neurons that transmit sensory information from our retinas. These cross over with other neurons that signal pain. As a result, during migraine, light can worsen pain and pain can cause visual disturbance. The brain and eye recordings taken from volunteers showed that green light created a lesser amount of electrical activity, both in the eye and the brain, than any other color of light. Researchers are hoping that there will be sunglasses that filter out different wavelengths of light, except green to help aide those with migraines. The team also experimented with other colors, and found that for whatever reason, green worked the best.


Dr. Mohab Ibrahim)


Mohab Ibrahim 

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

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