Use Your Ears to Change Your Mood

Ear lighting seasonal depression treatment proven effective in two trials

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Light therapy, classically referred to as heliotherapy, has been used for years to treat seasonal affective disorder. Originally it was believed that the eyes were the only source of photosensitivity.

Recent studies have proven otherwise and information is set to be released this week about delivering controlled-light through a different bodily orifice.

Valkee, a company out of Finland, produced the first ever bright light headset, shown to be effective in treating seasonal depression in a majority of test subjects.

Valkee presented a specialized MRI scan (fMRI) illustrating the specific activation of brain networks at an international conference for medical professionals earlier this year, providing evidence that the brain responds to light via ear canal. 

"Talk to your doctor about the bright light therapy for your seasonal depression."

The Valkee bright light headset works by channeling bright light through the ear canal directly to the human brain to treat depression, mood swings, and circadian-rhythm disorders. Scientists from the University of Oulu in Finland will present the trials for inventor company Valkee this week at the International Forum for Mood and Anxiety Disorders—all results currently published in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice’s peer-reviewed conference supplement.

Clinical trials showed that this bright light ear therapy was effective for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) sufferers with 9 out of 10 patients experiencing total relief within two weeks with a daily dose between 8-12 minutes. Chief physician at Oulu Deaconess Institute, professor Timo Takala, MD., Ph.D. states: “these two trials show that bright light channeled into the brain via ear canal is an important future method to treat seasonal affective disorder.”

The first study, a self-rated questionnaire, showed that 92% of patients with seasonal affective disorder were completely free of symptoms with a 8-12 minute daily Valkee dosage for four weeks. The second study reviewed 89 subjects suffering from severe SAD given a 12-minute daily Valkee dosage in three separate, random subgroups. Response rates within the subgroups averaged around 75% for seasonal depression and around 50-60% for anxiety disorders. 

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Review Date: 
November 8, 2011
Last Updated:
November 9, 2011