Green Light for Migraine? New Study Indicates It Could Help

We all know the horrors of photosensitivity – when even the smallest hint of light feels like a sledgehammer across the temple. When a migraine attack hits, many of us find ourselves confined to the darkest, quietest place we can find – an isolation that can be as detrimental to our ability to function normally as any other symptom. Now, however, a new study suggests complete darkness may not be our only hope for relief.

A small study conducted in Boston and recently released in Brain indicates that a narrow band of green light may actually be beneficial for some migraineurs. According to the study, a “narrow band of green light worsens migraine significantly less than all other colors of light and that at low intensities green light can even reduce headache pain” by as much as 20% in some patients.

As someone who hates being confined to complete darkness, I found this study intriguing. Unfortunately, it is only one study, and it was a small sample size. So, instead of waiting for a replication study, I decided to try the information out for myself.

After much researching online, I ordered a grow light with an actual green bulb. From what I could find, it was one of the only bulbs that emits light in the specific spectrum of pure green the research suggests helps. Green-covered, incandescent lights – like those found at a typical discount or party store – do not appear to emit this wavelength. The cost for the light was much higher than a typical light bulb (about $23), but I didn’t consider it prohibitive since it is supposed to last for thousands of hours. Still, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect, until my bulb arrived.

Now, all I can say is: I love it. I love, love, love it. As each of our migraine disease manifests itself in unique ways, I’m quite sure not all of you will have this experience, but I love this light.

One of the things I find most frustrating when I experience an attack is my inability to distract myself by reading (one of my favorite activities – and a quiet one). Sometimes this is because of the dizziness that is often a major symptom for me, but other times it is simply because I can’t bear the light. Until now.

Even in the midst of a horrific migraine attack, I can leave on this light. Better still, if I am experiencing the beginnings of an attack brought on by too much computer-screen time and/or too much time under fluorescent lights, I can retreat to my bedroom – and this light – and I feel relief almost instantly. The pain decreases, and the nausea wanes. Not completely, of course, but enough to feel a difference.

Again, I don’t expect the rest of you to necessarily have the same experience as me, but I’ve been too thrilled with this light not to share. How about anyone else? Have any of you tried a green spectrum light for your migraine? What was your experience? Please share in the comments below. Anything that helps one of us, may help another!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (9)
  • Drew Spathaky
    1 year ago

    Hi Sarah,

    I’m currently developing a light based on that study for use in workplaces and it’s great to hear this works for you.

    Do you find that the green light can be used to prevent the migraine progression or that it just relieves symptoms?

  • Sarah Hackley author
    1 year ago

    I’ve moved to my green-light room when I’ve felt a migraine attack coming on. Sometimes it helps prevent progression, if I move fast enough. Other times, it simply reduces the symptoms. I hope that helps, and good luck wiht your light! That sounds promising!

  • Drew Spathaky
    1 year ago

    That’s really helpful, thank you so much!

  • Antzus
    2 years ago

    I feel like I’ve missed something. What is the wavelength they tested exactly? “Pure green” is, if I understand it correctly, and after a wiki check, centred on 510nm.

    I notice the output of that bulb you link to is a bit higher, putting your green closer to amber, further away from blue. Which might be wise, since they specifically mention blue as tending toward more migrainining. Or is there something more detailed you’ve found?

    Photosensitivity is something I’ve noticed since primary school – decades before I got a migraine diagnosis. These days, it seems to have more to do with reflections and glare off shiny man-made surfaces, though flicker of computer screens and fluoro lighting definitely play roles in shutting down my brain.

  • Sarah Hackley author
    2 years ago

    The light I purchased gives off a spectral output of between 520-560 nm (nanometers). Green light is roughly between 500-600 nm, with the “purest” green centering around 530-560, according to the sources I’ve found online. You are correct in that the lower end of the spectrum is closer to blue, while the top of the spectrum is closer to yellow. This one, however, is very, very green – though also very bright. I muted it with a shade, which kept the color, but enabled me to make it dimmer. Hope that helps!

  • Holly H.
    2 years ago

    Although I have chronic/constant migraines of 3 types, the ocular with aura has become the dominant. Last evening, I was changing the light bulb in my lamp, and it had an LED light, so I put in an LED light. When the light came on, I felt pure pain zap into my eyes… like an ice cream brain freeze into my already-painful eyes and brain. Therefore, this information is very timely and apropos.

  • Sarah Hackley author
    2 years ago

    Holly,

    I’m sorry you’re having so much pain. The bulb I purchased actually is an LED light, but it is a particular spectrum of light in the green family. It may or may not help others, but my experience was positive, so I wanted to share. However, the one I purchased was an LED. There may be others you could find in the right spectrum that are not LED, but I couldn’t find any online. I hope that helps! Thank you for reading.

  • EllenR
    2 years ago

    Could you share a link or description for your green bulb?

  • Sarah Hackley author
    2 years ago

    I purchased a grow light through Amazon. As mentioned, it was the only one I could find that had the spectrum of light that research suggested might be helpful. This is the one I found: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00TP5V2C6/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 I’m sure there are others that would work, though.

  • Poll