Green Light To Milder Migraine Pain


There is hope yet for migraineurs. If science cannot do away with migraines altogether, the word is out that you can at least have lower intensity pain episodes than what you experience in your migraine episode.

Tests were conducted by Dr Rajesh Khanna. a professor of pharmacology at the University of Arizona and Dr. Mohab Ibrahim, director of the Chronic Pain Clinic and Chronic Pain Fellowship at Banner-University Medical Center.

The tests were initially run on rats with significant results and then they were extended to pain patients who were subjected to 2 hours a day of green light for a period of 10 weeks. Some other pain patients were exposed to a similar period of white light.  The green light group said their pain from migraine and fibromyalgia dropped 40 to 50 percent.

As per Dr. Khanna, “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.” (1)

Ibrahim and 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. A detailed report along with the findings can be viewed here:

Results of a similar study were published in Brain last year in May. A group of scientists at Harvard Medical School had conducted those tests.

In a migraine attack, the migraineurs experiences not just incapacitating pain, but also develop aversion to light and sound as well as array of other symptoms like nausea, visual and motor impairment. Aversion to light or photophobia during a migraine episode affects 80% of all migraineurs.

The study showed that a narrow band of green light at low intensity reduces the intensity of the pain being experienced. Burstein, Professor of Anesthesia at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard Medical School, and lead author of the study, and his colleagues found, unexpectedly, that green light actually reduced their pain by about 20%. (2)

Bands of light in other colors and higher intensity lights including green actually pegged up the pain experience.

To be able to comprehend this phenomenon, the scientists devised experiments in which they measured the magnitude of the electrical signals generated by the retina (in the eye) and the cortex (in the brain) of these patients in response to each colour of light. They found that green light generated the smallest electrical signals in both the retina and cortex.


1.     Health Beat: Green light for pain relief: Migraines; Melanie Falcon, August 7, 2017;
2.     Science Daily: A narrow band of green light could improve migraines; May 17, 2016;


Rodrigo Noseda, Carolyn A. Bernstein, Rony-Reuven Nir, Alice J. Lee, Anne B. Fulton, Suzanne M. Bertisch, Alexandra Hovaguimian, Dean M. Cestari, Rodrigo Saavedra-Walker, David Borsook, Bruce L. Doran, Catherine Buettner, Rami Burstein. Migraine photophobia originating in cone-driven retinal pathways. Brain, 2016 DOI: 10.1093/brain/aww119

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