NorbRELIEF Green Light Review

12:49 PM chronicmigraineellie 14 Comments


If you've been on social media recently, you may have seen the rise of green light therapy for pain relief. While it may seem new in the migraine world, the effects of green light therapy are well-documented. According to Dr. Bing Liao, a neurologist at Houston Methodist Hospital, green light can change the level of serotonin and alter the endogenous opioid system, a pain-relieving system, throughout the central and peripheral nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, and immune system. 

In a study from the University of Arizona, green light exposure reduced the number of headache days per month by an average of 60%, with a majority of the study participants reporting more than 50% reductions in headache days per month. Participants found that green light exposure resulted in a 60% reduction in pain. Using a scale to rate pain from 0 to 10, green light therapy reduced pain levels from an 8 to a 3.2. Green light therapy was also reported to shorten the duration of headaches and improve quality of life for participants with migraine. 


Norb was kind enough to send me their NorbRELIEF green light bulb for free in exchange for my honest review of it, and I've been using it for a month and a half. Norb has a patent-pending for its narrowband green light bulb, which also is designed to not have a flicker. On its website, Norb states that NorbRELIEF if for ambient lighting, as a way to illuminate your space.

Diagram from Norb's website detailing how the bulb differs from regular or green-coated light bulbs

As seen in the picture above, NorbRELIEF differs from regular lightbulbs and even other green-coated light bulbs. Using a green-coated light bulb still lets red, white, blue, and yellow light come through, which can contribute to photosensitivity during migraine attacks. Narrow band green light is less likely to trigger migraine attacks, and the low-intensity narrow band green light can help soothe or reduce the severity of headache and migraine pain. 

My Review

At first, I was slightly skeptical that green light could help my migraine attacks, especially since I do have frequent photosensitivity during attacks. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the NorbRelief light and its effects. The green is pleasant to look at and creates a great glow in my room. I didn't feel light-sensitive when looking at it, even with a mild attack. 

About three weeks in, I was having one of the worst migraine attacks I've had in a while. I was at 9/10 pain, extremely nauseous, and absolutely miserable. I switched on my Norb green light and turned over in bed, waiting for my meds to kick in. Within around 10 minutes of the light being on, my nausea started decreasing. My pain levels were still high, but I was able to not be in complete darkness. Over the course of the next couple of hours, with the green light on, my pain levels came down and I was actually able to eat dinner! I was very surprised that the green light would work so well, especially in conjunction with my medications.

Over the past month and a half, my Norb green light has been a great tool for me. Even when I'm working and feeling some pain, I'll switch it on and it'll help slightly lower pain levels and my nausea, and help with my eye fatigue. Furthermore, at $19.99, this green light bulb is a great and inexpensive addition to my migraine toolbox. It even just looks cool too! 

Nutmeg looking adorable in my room with the green light on!

My green light is next to my bed, and my only issue is that I wish my lamp had a dimmer on it. While the light does not hurt my eyes, there are some times that I wish I could dim it slightly, so I would highly recommend using a lamp with a dimmer for optimal use.  

Another hilarious realization is that after turning off the NorbRELIEF light and walking into normal light, everything looks purple! Norb notes on its website that purple is the opposite color of green for the human visual system. Human retinas contain red, blue, and green photoreceptors, which become saturated by the green of the light, so momentarily the red and blue cones are able to activate after the pigments are recycled by the green photoreceptor cones. This will usually take 30 seconds to a couple of minutes to get back to normal. It still is a fun perk to emerge from my room after an attack subsides and have everything look purple. 

Overall, I highly recommend NorbRELIEF as a tool for people living with migraine as an inexpensive, drug-free addition to their migraine toolkit for acute attacks and daily life. For any people living with migraine, NorbRELIEF is a great way to test out the benefits of green light therapy without breaking the bank. In addition to migraine, Norb also can work for other pain conditions like fibromyalgia and other forms of neuropathy.  I love that the green light allows me to not be in complete darkness while having an attack. It provides some additional freedom to still read, be in my room, or just relax with a cool green light! 

You can buy a NorbRELIEF green light on their website here for $19.99. Use code SUPPORT10 for a 10% discount!

*I do not make any profit from any purchases made from this review. This is my honest opinion of the NorbRELIEF light bulb in exchange for trying the product. 


Shades for Migraine Awareness, Headache Disparities and Expanding Access to Life-Changing Medications

2:00 PM chronicmigraineellie 20 Comments

Today is Shades for Migraine Day! It’s part of Migraine and Headache Awareness Month (#MHAM2020) to raise awareness about living with migraine. Post your photo on social media with the hashtag #shadesformigraune and challenge 3 friends!

I wanted to talk about some facts about migraine and headache disparities today. So, here are some quick facts:

  1. Migraine is a serious neurological disease. It’s not “just a headache.” 
  2. Migraine is the 3rd most prevalent illness in the world and the 6th most disabling. 
  3. There is a serious lack of availability in specialists for headache disorders, with only about 500 certified headache specialists in the U.S and 40 million sufferers. The U.S. has less than 1/6th of the number of doctors that we need, which is why organizations like the Headache and Migraine Policy Forum and Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and other organizations are advocating for increased federal funding for headache fellowships to end the shortage and increase access to care. 
  4. Racial disparities in headache treatment are widespread. In one study, 46% of African Americans were less likely than 72% of Caucasian Americans to receive treatment for migraine disorder in their primary health clinic, and less likely to be prescribed acute medications. I highly recommend reading Migraine Diva's recent post on disparities in headache diseases. We can and must do more to make sure that we address implicit bias in health care and in our daily lives. 
  5. While there are has been an increase in new migraine medications like CGRPs, access to these medications is far from equitable or accessible. Many insurers force patients to "fail" two treatments in one category (either preventative or acute. Usually, it can take months for patients to adequately "fail" the treatments, losing time, quality of life, and money, before new treatments will be covered. Sign this petition to urge insurers and government agencies that provide healthcare insurance to provide access to these drugs. 
  6. Educate those around you: Migraine is an invisible disease. Many people do not know how living with migraine affects your life. Take MHAM as a reason to talk with your friends, families, and coworkers about what migraine is and begin to break down stereotypes. Another great way to start the conversation is by watching the Out of My Head documentary, which is now streaming on Amazon. If you want to talk about how to have these conversations, feel free to send me a DM on Instagram or Facebook
I've had some time in the last couple of months to reflect on my experience with migraine. I've been living with migraines for 8 years at this point. I've thought about how much that my life has changed, but also about what I've been able to accomplish. By writing about my experiences, I've learned about how to talk to doctors, friends, bosses, and family about my disease and break down stereotypes in my own circles. I've become a patient advocate for migraine and headache disorders, bringing my story to Capitol Hill to discuss with lawmakers how they can better support the 40 million people in the U.S. that live with headache disorders. I've also been working on the policy side as well. COVID-19 has changed the way healthcare is delivered. Migraine is one of the disease that would greatly benefit from increased telehealth capacity because of the lack of qualified specialists. Telehealth allows patients to see specialists and neurologists from the comfort of their own home, which is extremely important given the challenges that people with migraine face with travel. It is exciting to be working on the forefront of these issues as I am working to blend my advocacy with policy. 

Migraine and Headache Awareness Month is always one of my favorite months. It is amazing how much that one conversation can change things. We all start somewhere.  Advocacy is still advocacy, no matter how many people you reach. 


Life Update: Looking Ahead to Headache on the Hill 2020 By Reflecting on the Past

11:13 AM chronicmigraineellie 5 Comments

It's been a while since I've written a blog here. In the past year, I wrote a thesis that got high honors, graduated college, moved to a new city and started a full-time job, all while navigating my life with migraine disease. I've joined as a writer and Lyfebulb as a patient ambassador. This past week, I co-hosted #MigraineChat with Beth Morton (My Counterfactual Brain) and talked about migraine advocacy. Since Headache on the Hill (HOH) is next week, I wanted to take some time and reflect on how I got here, some formative experiences and how lucky I feel to have a voice in the migraine community.

I stumbled into migraine advocacy. I started this blog because I felt alone and isolated in my experience. I started writing about my life - the good, the bad, and the ugly of living with migraine disease. It truly is a way for me to process what I've gone through in my life. To learn that there is an amazing community of support out there for people living with migraine completely changed my life. Walking into Headache on the HIll for the first time in 2017, I was overcome with emotion being around people who understood the daily struggles and pain that I live with. For once in my life, I didn't have to pretend that I was okay.

Last year, I was in a meeting at HOH2019 and I got a migraine attack in the meeting. I was having trouble putting words together and was beginning to get upset that I was failing to do what I had traveled so far to do. But Kevin Lenaburg (CHAMP) picked up on what was going on and told the staffer, "This is an example of what happens during a debilitating migraine attack." Even though I was frustrated with myself, that moment made me realize the importance of education even more than I already knew. Migraine is a misunderstood condition. Not many people realize how debilitating and life-altering that it is. And while I was embarrassed, my very apparent disability helped prove our point in that meeting that for people living with migraine, your ability to function can disappear instantaneously with an attack.

In the past 4 and a half years, I've tried to change the narrative and stigma in my daily life surrounding migraine. Looking back at three years of advocacy, participating in workshops, writing online and having discussions with people, I am always surprised when people outside of the migraine community tell me that I am inspirational and have helped them understand a bit more what it's like to live with migraine.

So much of my life has been defined by the negative experiences I've had. The times that people fail to understand the daily level of pain that I go through because they can't see it, and I "don't look sick," when others have flat out told me that I would never achieve anything because of my disability or can't have accommodations because they're not "fair" to other people or aren't included in my benefits. But I am not their negative perceptions. In fact, the people that live with migraine are some of the strongest and most resilient people that I know. We go every day living in excruciating pain and somehow, still are able to keep fighting through.

At the end of the day, our power comes when we speak up collectively. There are over 40 million people in the United States who live with migraine. Many of us have comorbid disorders or live with other pain syndromes. Not everyone will understand what we go through, but if we continue to lift each other up, we will get there.

I took a break from blogging because I had to figure out who I am and what I am doing. I needed to adjust to working in a full-time job, navigate migraine days at work, and the emotional and physical toll that comes with those experiences. Furthermore, I felt embarrassed that I was having so much difficulty. I kept thinking, how can I be an advocate when I'm not even getting the accommodations that I need? How can I claim to be educating people when I feel like I'm failing to be transparent and educate people in my workplace?

I realized that I was doing myself a disservice by downplaying the severity of my migraines. My bosses knew that they hired someone with chronic migraine, but didn't know the full extent of my severity because I didn't share it with them. They still don't fully understand what I go through, but now I am trying my best to be more transparent with them about what I go through. If I keep pushing myself silently, they don't know what is going on. Even though I'm scared, I've begun making a concerted effort to tell them when I am not okay and when I do need to go home. I was telling them the other day about how there's a shortage of headache specialists in the U.S., which is why I've been having issues getting a new doctor in my new city. They were shocked, and couldn't believe that it's only 1.2 specialists per 100,000 people with migraine. That's a six-fold disparity.

Yet as people living with migraine, we know this. We know how hard it is to get an appointment, and how hard it is to get care when you actually need it. We know how hard it is to get insurance to cover our medications, to get bosses to give us reasonable accommodations that we are entitled to, and to live our lives in an environment full of triggers. But somehow, we still do it.

In 2020, I'm going to continue my advocacy work to amplify the experiences, struggles and policy barriers that people with migraine experience. In the past couple of months when I was not writing, I  was trying to figure out what I can contribute to the migraine community and where my voice fits in. I'm going to continue writing about my life, but I also want to start writing about the work I've been doing in health policy and the knowledge I have there. I believe that if I can provide some background on what's currently going on with Medicare and Medicaid, public options, telehealth and social determinants of health initiatives, I can help some of you understand the fractured system that we live in a bit better. If this is something of interest to you or you'd like to discuss a specific topic,  please reach out to me through email or on social media.

I'm excited for Headache on the Hill 2020 next week as well. Let me know if you're going to be there! I'll write a blog after talking about our ask and my experiences.

Until then,