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Color as MedicineHandling physical and mental health with color therapy
Jo Eun-ho  |  eunho0504@yonsei.ac.kr
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승인 2016.10.06  01:06:05
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EVERYTHING WE see in life has colors: the sky, the sun, cars, clothes and more. Our eyes are caught in a world full of colors every day. Nowadays, those various colors are often used for treatment in the practice of “color therapy” coloring books and colored food would be its two representative types. Color therapy is increasingly receiving attention as a new method of healing both body and mind, since it causes no pain and complements more direct and invasive treatment methods such as medication and surgery. What exactly, then, is color therapy, and how is it used in our daily lives?
 

How color therapy works 
Color therapy is one of many kinds of indirect healing methods that help improve one’s physical and mental condition. Earlier methods of color therapy can be divided into two categories: Western and Eastern medical science. In the West, stained lights and shattered jewels were used to create different combinations of colors. In the East, doctors applied the theory of yin and yang in their diagnosis – they considered the human body as a small universe in which colors were connected with internal organs.
In the present, color therapy can be explained as a phenomenon in which people use the power of color according to their physical and mental needs. Modern color therapy is composed of three methods: the Eastern medical method, the Western medical method, and the gene color method. According to Jang Seong-ryong (Prof., Dept. of Fine Arts & Health Science, Keimyung Univ.), exactly 1,250 colors are designated as colors that can be used to heal various diseases.
In the East, the principle of acupuncture is used based on the belief that one’s spirit circulates throughout the body and is controlled by colors. In the West, it is more common to apply an actual item with the desired color onto an injured part of the body. Then, there is the gene color method which seeks to cure diseases caused by DNA mutation. Its range of application is large since it helps alleviate cancer, adult diseases, and more. For example, colors can control the frequency of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) enzymes that cells use to store energy produced by mitochondria in our cells. By doing so, it decreases the amount of active oxygen produced and consequently invigorates the cells’ metabolic energy. Therefore, color therapy naturally strengthens people’s immunity. Professor Jang says this third method is gaining more and more attention nowadays due to its effectiveness in improving the patients’ conditions.
An easy way to apply color therapy on your own would be to use the method of Wu Xing. Wu Xing is a traditional Chinese concept which explains various phenomena with five basic elements: wood, water, metal, earth, and fire. Color therapy is closely related to Wu Xing in that traditional Chinese have associated each element with a specific color, organ, body part, and so on. The concept of Wu Xing has spread from China to Korea over thousands of years of cultural exchange. Traditional medics have used and still are using the element chart, which connects a single organ to a particular color, in order to alleviate troubling symptoms for their patients. After painting aluminum plates with those colors, place the plates on parts of the body. Each color can help each organ to regain strength. For example, not only Wu Xing but Professor Jang has also proven that red is good for the heart, blue for spleen, white for lung, and so forth. These colors affect not only our bodies but also our states of mind. Since the human body and mind interact, the physical effects of color would eventually bring positive mental effects, as well. Likewise, one’s mental transformation due to color also brings about a physical reaction.
 

Does each color have its own symbol? 
Novels and other genres of fiction use colors for symbolization. Color symbols are not only applied in fiction but also in mental and physical color therapy treatments. Although the meaning can be different depending on each person, each color resembles nature and parts of the human body.
Based on Wu Xing and Professor Jang’s research, the color red is mostly known to have active properties – it is the color of blood, fire, and love. Among all colors, red fits best with the meaning of full vitality. Yellow has the meaning of warmth, softness, and enthusiasm. It is also the color of love and grace; therefore, children’s feelings toward their parents are usually expressed with this color. Green is the symbol of both weariness and calmness. It is a complementary color to red; when mixed with red, the green color disappears and a new and neutral gray color appears. It is also interesting to know that the meaning of green contrasts with the meaning of red. On the other hand, blue is the color of water and self-control. Water damps down fire and lets everything flow away. Blue gives rest to our minds, helps us let go of what needs to be given up, and also helps us look objectively at each situation. Meanwhile, purple means disease and death; black means fear and oppression; white means failure and wariness; gray means lethargy.
It is helpful to know this basic information about each color’s symbols and apply them in our lives. However, according to Baek Nak-seon Chief Manager of Korea Suenaga Color Therapy Lab, a professional lab which conducts research and education on color psychology and color therapy it could be dangerous to simply analyze colors by yourself or depend on analysis of colors that is easily found on the internet. Baek states that there can be different meanings for the same color, depending on the person. Nevertheless, color gives us an emotional language, as we unconsciously express our emotions with colors. We can use colors as a medium to discover emotion itself and to help us during the healing process.
 
   
Source: media_oregonlive_com

Color therapy in daily life 
There are various ways to utilize color therapy in everyday life. To begin, makeup therapy is one method of using color therapy in daily life. In the Journal of the Korean Beauty Art Society Vol. 7, Baek Sook-yung (Prof., Dept. of Beauty Arts, Seokyeong Univ.) states that one can analyze what kind of color is needed to enhance one’s strength, and then wear makeup using certain colors that suit him or her. A well matched color make-up makes one’s face lively and also stabilizes the mental state. This method is useful in that it can be applied easily in daily life. A similar therapy could be fashion therapy – people can wear the colors, too.
There is also color food therapy which many people are already familiar with. As the saying, “What looks good tastes good” implies, the color of food is very important to improve one’s feelings and help the body absorb inherent energy in the food. According to Professor Jang’s thesis, foods that belong to the same color spectrum contain similar components that bring about certain results. For example, red colored foods such as strawberry, apple, tomato, and red pepper contain sufficient amount of iron to alleviate anemia, energize people, and filter unclean blood. Green colored foods, on the other hand, such as kiwi, broccoli, and vegetables, are abundant in chlorophyll that are good for maintaining a physical balance, recovering from fatigue, and increasing the natural immunity level.
Color therapy can be applied to interior designs, as well. The usage of various colors to decorate rooms gives people visual and physiological stimulation. In surgery rooms, green color is used because green erases the afterimage of the color red in blood. The color orange enhances one’s appetite; therefore, many restaurants incorporate this color in their designs.
 
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Color therapy helps enhance our physical and mental health. Although the meaning of a certain color can be different for each person, each color has various inherent effects. Also, this healing method is one that people can easily apply in their daily lives, and each of us can even become a color therapist by learning the theories and conducting our own studies ourselves. By practicing color therapy, we can effectively use colors to help improve our body and mind.
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