History of Color Therapy

Ancient Civilizations and the Power of Color Therapy

What colors improve your mood?

If blue makes you feel relaxed or yellow makes you feel happy, you’re not alone.

In fact science has repeatedly shown how color can influence mood, affect your emotions and improve your overall health.

It’s easy to think these findings are modern, but color therapy – also known as chromotherapy – stretches back thousands of years. Many different civilizations throughout history experimented with color therapy, from ancient Egypt right up until modern times.

Get ready for a brief history lesson with a splash of color.

Read on to learn more about the ancient healing powers of color therapy.

Color therapy in ancient Egypt

According to ancient Egyptian mythology, color therapy was founded by the God Thoth.

As the ancient Egyptians worshiped the sun, they believed shining the rays of the sun through colored crystals would penetrate the body in specific locations and heal ailments. As color is just light of varying wavelengths, each color has its own frequency – so they were ahead of their time.

Based on this knowledge the Egyptians built temples dedicated entirely to healing through light, with different rooms dedicated to the healing powers of different colors.

There is evidence of ancient Egyptian color therapy stretching back to 1550 BC in the form of ‘color cures’ listed on papyrus, which makes the Egyptians the forefathers of today’s modern color therapy practice.

Move over pyramids, ancient Egypt has a new claim to fame.

Color therapy in ancient Greece

Similar to the ancient Egyptians, the ancient Greeks built temples devoted to color therapy. These were built for healing purposes also, with sunlight shining through color components to create individual color light treatments.

More than a fringe therapy, many of ancient Greece’s brightest minds spent time unlocking the healing powers of color.

Philosopher Aristotle conducted some of the earliest studies of color therapy, discovering that two colors mixed together could create a third color – using a piece of yellow glass and a piece of blue glass he created green.

While ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, built on Aristotle’s findings and noted the link between health and color. That’s a few thousand years of research already!

Color therapy in ancient India

Ancient Indian sculptures, such as Atharvana Veda, show the use of color therapy in yet another ancient civilization.

As well as harnessing light through crystals, the ancient Indian’s practiced the tradition of ‘Ayurveda’ or the science of light. This practice combined the healing powers of light (which refract to create color) with elements of taste (sweet, salty, sour, pungent and astringent).

Instead of using the colors to heal externally, ancient Indian civilizations believed colors could be used to penetrate the body and remove blockages to internal energy centers – known as chakras.

The future of color therapy

It’s easy to take color for granted.

You can choose any color of clothing you like, and decorate your life with the colors that make you happy and healthy. For ancient civilizations this wasn’t always the case, which makes their use of light and color all the more creative and incredible.

It’s easy to think modern forms of color therapy have come from Western science over the past decades – but the truth is much more ancient.

Color therapy grew out of ancient practices common to many cultures spread across the world. Just as past civilizations recognized the healing power of color, our modern society can benefit from the natural healing powers around us too.