Weird or wonderful? A weekly look at alternative therapies

I must confess to some timidity as I knock on Pauline Wills's door. Colour therapy, I think: she could well be barmy. She may well insist that I wear only flame red, or paint my kitchen green. The calm, middle aged woman who greets me, however, does not look crazed. As she sits me down in her neutrally decorated therapy room I realise she's already got me pegged. "Colour therapy," she tells me sternly, "is about the properties of light. It is not about pigment." It isn't, then, about how you paint your lounge? "No, it's about energy: colour is the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum." This means that it's somewhere between radio waves and X-rays. Apparently, Hippocrates, Paracelsus and the ancient Egyptians all used colour for healing. I'm no physicist, but there could be more to colour than meets the eye.

Colour therapists believe you can heal the body by applying coloured light to it. This is because you have an "aura" (a coloured electromagnetic field that surrounds your body. The colours radiate from "chakras", or energy centres in the aura). Each part of your body, from its skeleton to its muscles and organs "vibrates to" one of these colours. When you're peaky it's because these vibrations have somehow gone off-kilter - an area of your aura will be either colourless, or vibrating to the wrong colour. So by applying the right colour to the bit of you that's unwell, you can readjust the vibrations and heal the illness.

Clearly, this isn't easily proven. But Pauline also uses reflexology, which has become so accepted that it's even used by many hospitals. Reflexologists believe that your feet are "mirror images" of your body. So each bit of your foot corresponds to a specific part of your body (by pressing part of the ball of your foot, for instance, you can ease a stiff neck). Reflexology can also be used to diagnose - the tender parts of your foot signal the weaknesses in your body. Pauline is, she tells me, going to assess what bits of me need help using reflexology, then use colour to treat them.

Pauline rubs my feet, asking sensitive questions about my life and health. Before long, I'm dying to unburden myself of every worry I've ever had. She's seen this before. Physical ailments, she believes, are rooted in emotional ones. And over her twenty odd years as an alternative therapist Pauline has become an excellent counsellor.

What my feet say about my emotional state is anyone's guess. But as she kneads away, a remarkably accurate map of my physical weaknesses emerges. She's particularly concerned about my womb, lower back and bladder, all of which would probably have been affected by a caesarean section I had a year ago. This diagnosis suggests either that Pauline is freakishly lucky or that reflexology works.

I honestly can't say whether colour therapy is effective or not. Pauline takes a plastic implement that looks like the injecting device from Star Trek. She fits an orange filter onto it, switches it on and holds it to the side of my foot. The colour will, she says, help strengthen and heal my womb. Finally, she suffuses my feet with orange then blue light from two large lamps. This is for general all over well-being.

If you're not persuaded by colour therapy it's worth remembering that hospitals often treat jaundiced premature babies with blue light (it destroys the excess bilirubin that the immature liver can't remove). So if you're willing to believe that other colours can do similar things, and don't mind having your feet rubbed, then a course of "colour integrated with reflexology" could do you the world of good. Apart from anything else, Pauline is a wonderful listener.

For more information contact Pauline Wills on 0181 204 7672 or email

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