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Chromotherapy is a form of alternative medicine that involves exposing people to specific colors to treat disease. This therapeutic technique is designed to be used as a supplement to other treatment modalities. People can integrate chromotherapy into conventional medicine; in these circumstances, it would be classified as complementary medicine because it is being used as an adjunct to conventional medical practice.
There are a number of different forms of chromotherapy, rooted in various alternative medicine systems. Most forms are rooted in the idea that disease can be explained by energy imbalances in and around the body and that correcting these imbalances will resolve the disease. With chromotherapy, specific colors are supposed to correspond to particular organ systems, moods, or areas of the body. A therapist can interview a patient, determine where an imbalance lies, and provide appropriate chromotherapy treatment to balance a patient's energies.
Different practices associate various meanings to colors. Chromotherapy charts that map out various colors and their effects can be found in stores that stock reference materials for alternative medical practitioners. There are also resources available on the Internet at chromotherapy sites.
Chromotherapy can be done with filtered lights that bathe people in color. Some practitioners also believe that people can benefit from wearing specific colors, having objects of particular colors around them, or using certain colors in their paint schemes. Steady exposure to a color believed to alleviate depression, for example, may be recommended to someone who experiences mental illness.
A great deal of research has been done on how people respond to color. Research has shown that some colors can have an effect on mood and other mental processes, and exposure to color is especially important for infant development. Some colors, such as pastel shades of purple and green, are believed to have a calming effect, while bright colors like red can be invigorating. When used as a supplement to other treatments, chromotherapy can be especially beneficial for people with mental illness.
Research has not, however, demonstrated that color exposure can cure systemic disease. While people being treated for conditions like cancer and infections may benefit mentally from exposure to colors that relieve stress, they need more appropriate and more invasive treatment for their conditions. People who are interested in chromotherapy as a supplement to alternative or conventional medical practice can discuss it with a chromotherapist or mental health professional who integrates color therapy into his or her work.