The Healing Properties of Light: An Interview With Researcher Anna Cocliovo
By Jennifer Waters, LAc, Dipl. Ac
This interview is with Anna Cocliovo, a light researcher and Acupuncturist in Arizona. During my own research in light, I came across the article she published for the American Journal of Acupuncture and sought her out as a result.
Anna's journey in medicine and healing began as a physician's assistant in 1978.
Over the years, she has held positions in internal medicine, mental health, family medicine, women's health, adolescent health, pain research, pain treatment and integrative holistic medicine. Since her first P.A. job with Kaiser Permanente, and throughout her practice in allopathic (Western) medicine, Anna has studied and integrated various holistic approaches such as nutrition, relaxation techniques, fitness and recognition of the body/mind connection.
In 1989, she and her family moved to Prescott, Arizona, and she has operated the Acupuncture Center of Prescott since then. She has developed, taught and published on the subject of Colored Light Therapy, which she incorporates in her practice.
JW: Tell us how you got involved with light.
AC: I got involved with light the same way I got involved with all the major personal and professional experiences in my life - through heeding synchronicity and serendipity. My ex-husband, Tony Cocilovo, is an inventor and iridologist who was inspired to create a colored light therapy device for use on the iris. The result was the Photon Stimulator, which is currently used to promote healing of the areas within the eye, which shows disease or problems. It then behooved me to figure out what I could do with this device clinically in an acupuncture practice setting. I started reading everything I could find on colored light therapy, particularly the work of Dinshah Ghadiali, commonly referred to as Dinshah.
JW: Tell us how you use light over acupuncture and meridians?
AC: I use light simply. I never studied complex systems of applying colored light to acupuncture points and the meridian system, like Mandel's "colorpuncture" system, which involves attending a series of seminars, certification, etc. Not that it is without merit. I just don't think it is necessary. I use light on auricular points. If nothing else, you can treat Points Zero and Shenmen. I use the Ting points (beginning and/or ending points) to irradiate a meridian. I use Chakra points for the three Jiaos, depending on patient presentation, Yintang, CV 17, and CV 8. I may use a simple point prescription as we do with acupuncture, i.e., LI 4, ST 36, Lv 3, KI 1, etc. Shining light directly over a wound works incredibly to speed and promote healing, especially invaluable in cases of non-healing skin ulcers. I also use green light on my own face regularly for facial rejuvenation and to slow down the aging process.
JW: What is the current research trend in using light as a healing modality?
AC: Since I first got involved with light therapy about 15 years ago, there has been quite an expansion in application of light for healing and therapeutic purposes. Prior to that, in our country, awareness of light's effects on biological systems was primarily restricted to its influence on S.A.D., Seasonal Affective Disorder. Now, there is an explosion of development of medical devices utilizing light for medical imaging and treatments. My son is an optical (ie, science of light) engineer at University of Arizona doing research on a magnetic field sensor system with fiber optics. The idea is to develop a cap to wear on the head for measuring brain wave activity. MRI's actually utilize light. There is an entire field called bio photonics, which is about utilizing light for medical diagnosis and treatment.
Much of "conventional" light therapy is going in the direction of laser (coherent) therapies. But, there is also a lot more going on with LED (incoherent) light devices for therapeutic effects. Especially for facial cosmetic treatments. Individual practitioners all over the world are innovating with light and getting amazing results in their private practices. They are treating everything from pain and stress to internal organ problems. One man in Greece has set up several clinics using the Photon Stimulator as the main stay intervention helping children with autism, ADHD and many other disorders.
JW: How does light enter the body?
AC: Light enters the body through the skin, and most readily through acupuncture points. That's just common sense to acupuncturists since we know that the acu-points are more electrically conductive, and are portals to the subtle energy system of the body. Scientifically, it is accomplished through the photo-electric effect. The photo-electric effect states that when light strikes any material substance, electrons are discharged, which creates a current. In other words, light interacts with matter as the energy of the light is transferred to electrons. The intensity of the light determines how many photons strike a given surface, and therefore, how many electrons are discharged. The color, or frequency, of the light determines the acceleration of the photon energy when it is transferred to the electron. So, different colors have different effects.
JW: Please share with us how you use Light and/or Frequency in your clinical practice.
AC: In addition to what I have already described, I especially like to use light for stress, anxiety and insomnia on ear points once I have the needles placed. Likewise, for trigeminal neuralgia on Ear Zero, Shenmen, Trigeminal Nerve, and Master Sensorial. As stands to reason, I choose a color from the cool end of the spectrum like purple or violet for the sedating qualities in cases like this. To cover the whole body with one fell swoop, I shine whatever color is applicable on CV 8, kind of one stop shopping. I shine blue light directly over a rash - helps it heal and decreases the itching. To cover specific meridians, I use the Ting points as stated above.
JW: What kind of results do you see?
AC: Light for stress and relaxation works every time. The same holds true for wound healing, as long as there isn't a biomechanical issue perpetuating the condition. My trigeminal neuralgia patients seem to have a subjective sense that the light makes a difference, and ask for it if it slips my mind after I get the acupuncture needles in place. We have had so many case reports in my practice, from acupuncturists, other practitioners, and lay individuals over the years of incredible results with light. The reader can Google an article I published in 1999 to read some of them. One Alaskan claims he saved his father's life from severe COPD when he sent him a Photon Stimulator after doctors had given up on him. When I was post surgical earlier this year for reconstruction of a shattered elbow, the only way I could control the pain every evening was with light therapy on all the Ting points of that hand. The possibilities when using Light are endless.
JW: Is light therapy a stand alone therapy or an adjunct?
AC: Light therapy is both an adjunctive treatment and a stand alone therapy. Of course, as with everything in life, this involves judgment.
JW: What is the best way to learn how to use light in a clinical setting?
AC: I am not going to claim to know the best way of doing anything. But I know a very good way, which is to do it the way I did, jump in with both feet first! Get Dinshah's book, Let There be Light to get a sense of what the different colors do - the "attributes" of the colors. His system involves 12 specific frequencies (colors) which correspond with the action of the body mineral which exhibits that color on spectrographic analysis. Nine colors of the spectrum, plus three outside the spectrum, magenta, scarlet and purple. Acupuncturists will readily see that many of the color attributes dove tail nicely with 5 Element Theory, and the 8 Principles. Warm colors activate, tonify and cool colors sedate. If you want to do auricular therapy with light, get Terry Oleson's Auriculotherapy Manual, which is a great source of point prescriptions for a myriad of disorders. As you start doing it, you will soon find that you can second guess Dinshah's color choice as you develop an understanding of the rationale.
JW: You state that "meridians are like the fiber optics of the body," can you explain this for us?
AC: When I started learning about how light enters the body through the skin, and can be traced along acupuncture meridians, it hit me that, this is what meridians are - a fiber optic light communication system. Fiber optic cables are actually long strands of glass which can be stretched out for miles without breaking, and capable of transmitting information via light. A single photon (unit of light) can carry vast amounts of information, this is the fundamental way in which acupuncture works - through influencing and activating light within the body mind. This concept bridges the gap between modern science and the stumbling block of our theory of Qi. All living cells emit biophotons of light. Light organizes cellular function and is responsible for communication within and between cells through DNA. Diseased or cancerous cells emit more light as their capacity for organization breaks down. Phonons, or units of sound, also play a role in intra and intercellular communication. Sound and light are the two most basic forms of energy, are they not? But sound theory is outside my area of expertise. I have resonated more with light therapy. The practitioners who use tuning forks for therapeutic effects can address that.
JW: Anything else you think acupuncturists should know about using Light?
AC: Coherent laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) therapy devices work fast and deep, but there is thought that repetitive use of laser on an acupuncture point can damage the point. Also, laser damages the retina if shined in the eyes. There is plenty of evidence that incoherent light - light which scatters (sunlight, light bulbs, LED's, etc.) is just as effective as coherent light. In fact, coherent light is converted to incoherent light when it enters the body. So let's not forget the wisdom of thousands of years of our medicine which is based on balance and subtleties. As the Yellow Emperor says, "When you hold a needle in your hand, you hold a tiger by the tail." So too with light therapy.
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