Researchers Explore A Drug-Free Idea To Relieve Chronic Pain: Green Light
Will Stone for NPR
In a separate clinical trial, researchers at Duke University are trying to see if that problem can be solved through a wearable treatment.
“Having a patient sit in a room with green ambient light is not necessarily conducive to normal life,” says Padma Gulur, a professor of anesthesiology, who is leading the Duke study.
Gulur’s NIH-funded study is looking at how different shades of glasses — clear, blue and green — affect postoperative pain and fibromyalgia. She says the early results are encouraging her to pursue larger human studies for multiple conditions.
“It just goes to show the power of our nervous system in how it responds and adapts to different stimuli,” says Gulur.
She says “minimal harm, ease of access and compliance” are all strong cases for seriously considering the feasibility of green light.
“Even if we see 50% of patients benefit from this, then already it becomes something worth trying,” she says.
Some people aren’t waiting for more research.
Duane Lowe is a chiropractor with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Grand Junction, Colorado. He works with patients in chronic pain. After reading some of Ibrahim’s research, Lowe wanted to see if it could help his own patients.
He ordered some green glasses online.
“I just gave them to patients to try for a week,” he says. “After a very short period of time, patients were coming back giving very positive reviews.”
So he kept doing it.
He makes sure to tell the patients that this is experimental — no one knows how well glasses work compared with the LED light or how long you need to wear them.
“I didn’t actually have to worry about whether these studies have been done, because the side effects of giving someone green glasses is almost nil,” he says.
Dr. Mohab Ibrahim enjoys the simplicity of the treatment too.
“In my opinion, the most ideal drug or therapy is something that’s first safe, effective and affordable,” he says.