January 07,2022
5 min read

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.

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.

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


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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