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Health Beat: Green light for pain relief: Migraines

Health Beat: Green light for pain...

PHOENIX - Debi Lesneski's migraines were debilitating.

"So it was one migraine after another. There was no break in between," she said.

Lesneski was depressed and sick, unable to get out of bed some days. Then, she heard about her pain doctor's trial. Participants stared at LED green lights one to two hours a day for 10 weeks.

Lesneski explained she was "very skeptical, because it is so simple and it doesn't make any sense that some light can fix a problem that modern medicine can't even address, and it worked."

"Regardless of the mechanism, the outcome is what really matters, and people are both feeling better and their pain is getting better," said Dr. Mohab Ibrahim, the director of the Chronic Pain Clinic and Chronic Pain Fellowship at Banner-University Medical Center.

Ibrahim and Rajesh Khanna, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Arizona, are trying to figure out why. It worked on rats, so they ran a study using green lights on eight people, white on five more. The green light group said their pain from migraine and fibromyalgia dropped 40 to 50 percent. It could be partly psychological.

"But also, at a chemical, a neurochemical level, it does something to tune the system, so essentially what it's doing is increasing your happy hormones, your level of endogenous opioids," Khanna explained.

"The people in the green light group, they actually refused to return the green lights, and they wanted to keep it, so we let them keep it," Ibrahim said.

That includes Lesneski, who uses the lights 15 minutes, three times a week, and has stopped taking pain medication.

Ibrahim and Khanna hope to get grants from the Department of Defense and the NIH so they can expand the study. They also caution people not to give up their pain medication.


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