Chromotherapy sauna lights- a rainbow of health or just colorful fancy?


All the rage

“Google” anything to do with sauna and you will soon be deluged with advertisements of beautiful men and women relaxing inside infrared cabins.  Their sleek, muscular bodies are enveloped in colored lights. The practice of sitting in colored light is broadly known as chromotherapy. The purported health benefits of chromotherapy range from purifying the skin to reducing or eliminating cancer. Chromotherapy has been touted so loudly on health blogs and social media that it’s benefits are widely recognized as factual. Not surprisingly chromotherapy lights are now standard accessories in nearly every infrared cabin sold around the world.

Colorful history

Chromotherapy in crude form goes back at least to 1500 B.C.  Egyptians built temple rooms that allowed sunlight to pass through colored crystals. The ancient Chinese believed colored light increased energy and enhanced the physical body. But the most recognizable ancient form is the Hindu methodology of Chakra because it is an integral part of Yoga. In yoga there are seven chakras (energy centers) in the human body which control health and emotions. These chakras are each identified by a color. Yoga practitioners believe chakras can be stimulated by exposure to their specific colors of light. The popularity of yoga and the affordability of infrared cabins have combined to fuel an explosion of interest in sauna chromotherapy. Undoubtedly there are more chromotherapy adherents under a rainbow of colored lights today than in any previous time in history.

Fact or fiction?

The internet is a wellspring of information regarding the supposed health benefits of chromotherapy. Unfortunately most of this info is generated by companies that sell infrared cabins. They claim that chromotherapy induces physical and spiritual healing, treats hepatitis, lubricates joints, clears up urinary infections as well as a long list of other maladies. But read closely and you will see little or no documented scientific evidence for these claims. Treat health benefit claims from infrared companies with skepticism. Remember, these manufacturers are sales organizations, not medical providers.

You will also find health blogs written by well-meaning folks who use chromotherapy in their own alternative medicine approaches. One such blogger- a cancer survivor-  prescribes a combination of light colors depending on three things: your preference, your mental and physical well being, and your desired outcome. This is hardly a methodology based on scientific research. This is simply feel-good pseudo-science.

What about legitimate medical information sources? A search of “chromotherapy” on WebMD produces “0” results. This is immediately followed by Ads for chromotherapy lights available on Amazon. A search of the respected Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) produces a single article from June 11th, 1938. The article concludes that the only benefit MAY be a psychic one, not a medical one. Hardly a ringing endorsement.

So why chromotheraphy in your sauna?

Chromotherapy’s popularity isn’t based on sound science but rather the result of online mass marketing and new age ideas. So are there any good reasons to install colored lights in your sauna? There are at least four reasons:

1)  They do look kinda cool.

2) Lifting weights before jumping into a green hued sauna gives a body the appearance of being “Hulk-like”, at least temporarily.

3) Colored light emanating from a sauna into an urban condo or master bathroom suite does add an element of swag.

4) You might think it’s just good fun. Your colorful sauna may become your “happy place” if it isn’t already. There’s no harm in that.

If you do decide on chromotherapy lights make sure the system is heat-rated for extreme temperatures in your sauna. A good system will include three light pucks that can be linked to more lights for larger saunas. A digital light panel allows you to select from a range of fixed colors or a slowly rotating blend of vibrant hues. Consider purchasing your lights from a local sauna professional. His or her professional guidance will help you identify the best system for your sauna. Your sauna Pro will also know the “ins and outs” of proper lighting location and installation.