A woman with large glasses and bright lipstick standing in front of a wall of color swatches.

Photo courtesy of @izabel.quezada/Twenty20

According to Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medical practice, the colors that surround you can impact your health. Today, studies show that these subcontinental healers of yore may have been on to something. So those looking to enhance day-to-day wellness may want to consider everything from the color they chose in an infrared sauna, to the colors they paint their walls at home.

The Ayurvedics broke-down the spectrum’s effect on humans (roughly) as such:

  • Red: stimulating
  • Orange: vitalizing
  • Yellow: cleansing
  • Green: healing
  • Blue: soothing
  • Violet: calming

Although colors are known mood enhancers, Sally Augustin, PhD, an environmental and design psychologist at Design With Science, notes that scientific research does not back claims that colors can actually impact your physical being — notably the activity of your organs, systems, or glands. There isn’t much support for color-therapy programs,” she says, of the idea that immersing oneself in color produces long-term changes.

A woman in white sunglasses jumping in joy in front of a bright yellow building.

Photo courtesy of @isabelcastronet/Twenty20

There is, however, compelling research that exposure to certain colors can at least temporarily impact your mental outlook. Looking at red does give you a burst of strength,” she says. This seems to support claims that sitting in a sauna lit by red infrared light leaves you feeling energized. And seeing shades of green has been shown to boost creative-thinking.” 

There are also cultural associations that may impact our subconscious interpretation of colors. Companies, for instance, tend to gravitate towards orange in their logos, because we have this association orange of being with good value,” she continues. But we associate blue with trustworthiness, dependability. Think true blue’ and all that. So in a room where you want to relax, you’ll be happier if the paint color contributes to that relaxation. This is why a light, dusty blue could be a good color for your bedroom.”

A close-up of a hand and blue paint roller applying paint to a white wall.

Photo courtesy of @chibelek/Twenty20

The holistic crowd tends to embrace yellow as a frequent go-to for good vibes, but Augustin warns that certain colors can be a little more complicated. While some associate yellow with the healing powers of Eastern spirituality, in France, yellow is linked to being cheated on by your partner. Even in our culture, there are associations such as cowardice.”

The most important consideration to make before you start redecorating? Colors have three components: hue (or shade), saturation (its purity), and brightness (the amount of whiteness in a color). For instance, colors that are more bright than saturated — think sage green — promote relaxation. Meanwhile, a more saturated green, such as emerald, will be more energizing.

The bottom line is that you should use the above research as guideposts. Get some swatches; stare deeply at colors. Then think about how they make you feel. Because the impact of color ultimately lies in the eye of the beholder.

Articles from The Natural should not be considered medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, please consult a medical professional.