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UA researchers continue green light therapy study

Posted at 9:10 PM, May 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-11 17:50:00-04

About a year ago KGUN9 introduced you to an experimental study at the pain clinic at Banner University Medical Center South.      

READ MORE: Could spending an hour or two around concentrated, green LED light relieve pain?

The study is led by the director of the pain center Dr. Mohab Ibrahim. He was also assisted by University of Arizona Pharmacology professor Raj Khanna. 

"Green light seems to be increasing the level of your endogenous opioids," Khanna said last year. "Not the opioids we all hear about that people are taking -- the epidemic and the abuse -- but your level of neurochemical endogenously change. And that's really what we think is how green light is bringing about the pain relief."

KGUN9 recently caught up with Dr. Ibrahim after he gave a lecture about the experiment. A year later, he says the green light therapy has helped patients with migraines and fibromyalgia. Patients were able to fall asleep and stay asleep, which improved about 80% on average he said. Most of the people that enrolled reported multiple benefits,including pain control. 

Eventually Dr. Ibrahim said they'll look into more practical uses for humans like green tinted sunglasses or contacts, which are being tested on rats. He says more work needs to be done to determine if this kind of therapy could have an impact on opioid use.

"I see possibilities, but I don't have solid numbers to say 'yes, opioids decreased," Dr. Ibrahim said. "But just looking at the trend it seems that when pain gets better, people tend to use less pain medications."

Up to 20 more patients are expected to enroll in the study, Dr. Ibrahim said, and in the last year and a half he has had between 16 and 20 patients.

They are also exploring other options for funding to continue the research. In terms of human use, Ibrahim says he wants to expand the types of pain and conditions that would be responsive to the green light therapy. 

Dr. Ibrahim said one thing that surprised him is what he's learning about how other colors impact us. More results should be released soon, he says.