Infrared Sauna Use As A Treatment For Depression

Whole-body hyperthermia treatment for depression and insomnia


Clearlight would like to remind users that this should not be taken as direct medical advice, and users should always consult a medical professional if complications arise from prolonged use.

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What are whole-body hyperthermia protocols?

Whole-body hyperthermia (WBH) protocols are a form of extreme heat treatment in which a patient is exposed to high temperatures for prolonged periods of time. Not to be confused with your average sauna bathing session, the use of a WBH protocol has recently been linked as a possible future treatment for people suffering from depression.

What is the difference between sauna vs whole-body hyperthermia protocols?

A key differentiator between average sauna bathing and a WBH protocol is the excessive amount of time a patient is exposed to infrared heat. While your normal sauna session may involve alternating from cold plunges/showers and consistent in and out of your sauna to remain comfortable, WBH aims to increase your core temperature to 38.5 degrees celsius and these protocols can last up to a continual 110 minutes.

Another difference for many of these WBH protocols is that the protocols utilise a Clearlight® Dome Sauna™ or equivalent in that the patient's head remains outside of the heating elements of the sauna. This is due to the treatment not needing to heat the head for a physiological response, and because previous studies found that patients could not last in a sauna cabin for the time needed to reach a core body temperature of 38.5 degrees celsius.


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When was the link between whole-body hyperthermia and depression found?

A 2016 study used randomised participants who suffered from clinical depression to undergo a whole-body hyperthermia protocol. Half of the patients would receive the full protocol in that the core temperature would be raised to 38.5 degrees celsius, while the other half would undergo a fake protocol that would very mildly increase the core temperature. 70% of the patients who received the placebo WBH protocol said that they believed they received the full WBH protocol. Findings saw a noticeable difference in the reduced symptoms between the two groups and sparked interest for further studies.

How long did the effects of the whole-body hyperthermia protocols take?

A study in 2021 found that patients who were exposed to the WBH protocol felt noticeable results in their symptoms of depression only 1 week after a single session. More notably, results were found to last for up to 6 weeks after the initial session showing promising results for patients.

If you're interested in the Clearlight® Dome Sauna™ for whole-body hyperthermia protocols visit our website and enquire by clicking here.

Dr. Rhonda Patrick interviews Dr. Ashley Mason on Whole-Body Hyperthermia Protocol

Lastly, if you're interested in learning more about this topic, consider the page we've created on the health benefits of infrared saunas. The sauna benefits for stress and fatigue are one of the major topics treated on that page, as well as related topics such as boosting the immune system.


Feasibility and acceptability of a Whole-Body hyperthermia (WBH) protocol: Ashley E. Mason, Sarah M. Fisher, Anoushka Chowdhary, Ekaterina Guvva, Danou Veasna, Erin Floyd, Sean B. Fender & Charles Raison (2021) Feasibility and acceptability of a Whole-Body hyperthermia (WBH) protocol, International Journal of Hyperthermia, 38:1,1529-1535, DOI:10.1080/02656736.2021.1991010

Whole-Body Hyperthermia for the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial: 2016 Aug 1;73(8):789-95. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.1031.


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