Effects of Colors on Migraine Attacks

Many migraine warriors would agree that exposure to light often makes migraine attacks worse. This makes sense when we consider the fact that during migraine attacks, there is usually an increased sensitivity to both light and sound. A well-lit room can make the migraine headaches more painful and unbearable, but there’s more to it.



Photophobia, or simply increased sensitivity to light, not only triggers migraine attacks but can also make the attacks worse. In Migraine Buddy, light sensitivity is a commonly recorded migraine symptom for some 760,000 users. This sensitivity to light usually makes the migraine attacks worse and explains why withdrawing to a dark room is one of the self-care actions that many migraine warriors would take.

Interestingly, studies have demonstrated that the color of light exposed to can affect migraine attacks. The implication of this is that not all light colors are actually bad during a migraine attack.



A team of researchers conducted a study in 2016 to shed more light on the questions raised from their prior research about the exacerbation of migraine headache by light in blind patients [1]. This round of study involved 69 people who experienced migraine attacks and unlike in the first study, these participants were not blind and could detect lights of all colors.

During the studies, participants were exposed to lights of varying colors and in thin bands: white, red, blue, green, and amber. The light was intense enough to illuminate a room sufficiently. The research participants were assessed on the following criteria upon exposure to the different colored lights: “(i) intensity of their headache; (ii) throbbing; (iii) muscle tenderness; and (iv) cephalic areas affected by the pain” [2]. 



At the end of the study, it was discovered that all but one of the colors did not worsen the migraine attacks. The results of this study revealed that “nearly 80% of the patients demonstrated an intensification of headache” and this observation was held true to all but one of the colors—green, in which half of the participants were affected by [2]. An astonishing point highlighted is that the exposure to green light actually made migraine attacks less painful, as reported by around 20% of the participants. 

In a different study in 2018, researchers recorded that green light aggravated migraine symptoms at a lower frequency (40%) in contrast to other colors like white, blue, amber, and red lights (80%). Additionally, it was concluded that “compared to all other colors, green light is also significantly less likely to trigger a headache during the interictal [non-migraine] phase” [3].

Did you previously know about the effects of colors on migraine? What do you think this means for the future of migraine relief methods (hint: green light therapy)? Share your thoughts below ?




[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2818758/

[2] https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/139/7/1971/2464334

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6347023/

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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