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Curing pain with light

Posting in Energy

Lighting up. This pain therapy session in Munich includes the use of light.

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Here's the latest hope for chronic pain sufferers: Doctors in Germany think that the cure could reside in the flick of a switch.

Researchers at Munich's Center for Interdisciplinary Pain Therapy believe that controlled lighting can reduce pain by stimulating a patient's mood, sleep patterns and activity levels. They are testing their theory using a collection of LED and fluorescent bulbs that shine "intensive light" that reaches the patient's lower retina, an area of the eye that stimulates brain functions.

The center's director, Prof. Thomas Tolle, noted in an interview published by lighting supplier Osram that:

"As a psychologist and neurologist, I have often been confronted with the question of whether light could influence the mental state. My conviction has always been that the use of light could influence sleep, mood and hence also quality of life. Our pain therapy centre now has the possibility of systematically investigating the effect of light on patients suffering from severe pain. It is high time that light's importance to human beings was documented."

Pain therapy patients have continual contact with the light in the center's various rooms. The Osram system varies the light's brightness and warmth.

Research began earlier this year at the center, known in German as the Zentrum fur Interdisziplinare Schmerztherapie.

Patients have so far reported initial surprise at the intensity of the light, but have said that their activity levels have increased once they've adjusted to it.

Photo from Osram

Shining more light on health:

— By on July 28, 2013, 8:25 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure