New research from the University of Arizona Health Sciences found that people who suffer from migraine may benefit from green light therapy, which was shown to reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches and improve patient quality of life. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraine is the third most prevalent illness in the world, affecting 39 million people in the United States and 1 billion worldwide.
“This is the first clinical study to evaluate green light exposure as a potential preventive therapy for patients with migraine, ” said Mohab Ibrahim, MD, Ph.D., lead author of the study, an associate professor in the UArizona College of Medicine—Tucson’s Department of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology, and Neurosurgery and director of the Chronic Pain Management Clinic. “As a physician, this is really exciting. Now I have another tool in my toolbox to treat one of the most difficult neurological conditions—migraine.”
Overall, green light exposure reduced the number of headache days per month by an average of about 60%. A majority of study participants—86% of episodic migraine patients and 63% of chronic migraine patients—reported a more than 50% reduction in headache days per month. Episodic migraine is characterized by up to 14 headache days per month, while chronic migraine is 15 or more headache days per month.
“The overall average benefit was statistically significant. Most of the people were extremely happy,” Dr. Ibrahim said of the participants, who were given light strips and instructions to follow while completing the study at home. “One of the ways we measured participant satisfaction was, when we enrolled people, we told them they would have to return the light at the end of the study. But when it came to the end of the study, we offered them the option to keep the light, and 28 out of the 29 decided to keep the light.”
Dr. Ibrahim and co-author Amol Patwardhan, MD, Ph.D., who are affiliated with the UArizona Health Sciences Comprehensive Pain and Addiction Center, have been studying the effects of green light exposure for several years. This initial clinical study included 29 people, all of whom experience episodic or chronic migraine and failed multiple traditional therapies, such as oral medications and Botox injections/
“Despite recent advances, the treatment of migraine headaches is still a challenge,” said Dr. Patwardhan, an associate professor and the vice chair of research in the Department of Anesthesiology. “The use of a nonpharmacological therapy such as green light can be of tremendous help to a variety of patients that either do not want to be on medications or do not respond to them. The beauty of this approach is the lack of associated side effects. If at all, it appears to improve sleep and other quality of life measures.”
Originallly published by Medical Xpress