• 20 May, 2024
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Pioneering Study at UCSF Shows Promising Results in Combating Depression with Infrared Sauna Therapy

In celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month, groundbreaking research from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is shedding new light on innovative treatments for depression. A new 2024 clinical trial led by Dr. Ashley E. Mason, a clinical psychologist associated with the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Health and the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, has indicated notable reductions in depression symptoms through a combined approach of whole-body hyperthermia (WBH) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

The study, officially published on May 14, 2024 in The International Journal of Hyperthermia, is pioneering in its integration of infrared sauna sessions with conventional psychotherapy. Utilizing Clearlight’s Curve™ Far Infrared Sauna Dome, the trial treated 16 adults diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) over eight weekly sessions, blending the therapeutic effects of heat with structured psychological counseling.

Read the full press release here.


Why Whole-Body Hyperthermia and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?


Dr. Mason’s inspiration for this innovative approach came from previous studies that showcased the rapid alleviation of depressive symptoms through infrared heat treatment. The integrated treatment approach aims to harness the synergistic effects of physical and mental therapies. Infrared saunas are known for their ability to induce deep relaxation and improve mood, which could translate into powerful mental health benefits when combined with CBT, a widely recognized method for treating depression.


Remarkable Preliminary Results

The preliminary findings from Dr. Mason’s trial offer a beacon of hope for those battling depression. Out of the 12 participants who completed the combined treatment, an impressive 11 individuals no longer met the criteria for major depressive disorder by the end of the study. This significant result suggests that the dual approach of WBH and CBT could be a transformative treatment for depression.

“This is exciting work, and it is early days,” remarked Dr. Mason. “That 11 of 12 participants who completed treatment no longer met criteria for major depressive disorder sends a positive message – we need to continue researching this treatment package.”


Man Using Clearlight® Curve™ Infrared Sauna Dome


Health & Wellness Industry Leaders Back the Findings


Clearlight’s Founder and CEO, Dr. Raleigh Duncan, expressed strong support for the trial’s promising results. According to Dr. Duncan, “This groundbreaking study on depression from UCSF aligns with what we have been hearing from our customers for the past 25 years. People have been telling us how using our infrared saunas has changed their lives by reducing stress and lifting their spirits. Thanks to Dr. Ashley Mason and all the people at UCSF who have worked tirelessly to bring these facts to light so that people can find new ways to heal.”

Dr. Duncan has been a pioneer in infrared therapy, contributing significantly to advancements in technologies designed to heal the human body.


A Promising Future for Sauna and Depression Research


While the results from Dr. Mason’s trial are indeed promising, she acknowledges that further research is essential. Future trials will aim to validate these findings across larger groups and differing demographics to more fully understand the therapeutic potential and practical implementation of this innovative treatment. This UCSF study marks a hopeful step toward newer, more effective treatments for depression.

For those interested in delving deeper into the scientific nuances of the study, the full research is available here.

As mental health challenges continue to impact millions of lives, pioneering research like this demonstrates the importance of exploring diverse treatment options. By leveraging the benefits of infrared sauna therapy and CBT, this UCSF study illuminates a promising path forward in the ongoing battle against depression.

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