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1. The effect on serotonin and MDA levels in depressed patients with insomnia when far-infrared rays are applied to acupoints.

Am J Chin Med. 2009;37(5):837-42.

Chang Y, Liu YP, Liu CF.

Source: Jenteh Junior College of Medicine and Nursing Management, Miaoli, Taiwan.


Little is known about the effect of far-infrared rays (FIR) on serotonin and malondialdehyde levels in depressed patients with insomnia. The purpose of this study is to assess the effect of far-infrared rays on depressed people with insomnia. A randomized design was used to determine this effect. A total of 70 inpatients were recruited with the clinical diagnosis of depression with sleep disturbance.

In the experimental group, far-infrared rays (FIR) were applied to three chosen acupuncture points by a patch-like sticker for a period of 15 minutes twice a week. The three acupuncture points are Nei-Kuan (PC6), Shenmen (HT7) and Sanyinjiao (SP6). The total duration of experiment was four weeks. For both experimental and control groups, serum levels of serotonin (5HT) and malondialdehyde (MDA) were examined before and after the introduction of FIR.

The experimental group revealed disparate changes over different dependent variables, in which serotonin increased but MDA decreased after the introduction of far-infrared rays (FIR). These observations indicate that the serotonin pathway is involved in the pathophysiological mechanism responsible for the damaging effects of MDA on depressed patients with insomnia.

2. The signs of depression, can be reduced after prolonged (4 weeks) exposure to infrared irradiation in the animal model. Infrared irradiation has a potential antidepressant effect.

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Oct 1;31(7):1397-400. Epub 2007 Jun 19

Tsai JF, Hsiao S, Wang SY.

Source: Department of Psychiatry, Buddhist Tzu-Chi General Hospital, Hualien, Taiwan. wccho5255@yahoo.com.tw

PURPOSE: Light therapy was only partially effective in treatment of depression when compared with summer’s sunlight. The antidepressant effect of infrared irradiation was evaluated using an experimental animal model.

METHODS: Seventeen mice were randomly assigned to the exposure group (n = 9) and the control group (n = 8). The mice in the exposure group received infrared irradiation for 60 min daily during the study period of 4 weeks. The two groups were given forced swim test once a week to evaluate depression with the measurement of the immobility time.

RESULTS: We found that the exposure group showed a tendency of less immobility time by the end of the 3rd week when compared with the control group, and at the end of 4th week the difference reached a statistical significance (t(15) = 2.873; p = 0.012).

CONCLUSIONS: The result indicates that the immobility time in forced swim test, the sign of depression, can be reduced after prolonged (4 weeks) exposure to infrared irradiation in the animal model. The result suggests that a continuous application of infrared irradiation has an antidepressant effect.

 3. Repeated (Far Infrared) thermal therapy diminishes appetite loss and subjective complaints in mildly depressed patients.

Psychosom Med. 2005 Jul-Aug;67(4):643-7.

Masuda A, Nakazato M, Kihara T, Minagoe S, Tei C.

Source:Psychosomatic Medicine, Respiratory and Stress Care center, Kagoshima University Hospital, Kagoshima City, Japan. masudaak@m.kufm.kagoshima-u.ac.jp


OBJECTIVE: We observed that repeated thermal therapy improved appetite loss and general well-being in patients with chronic heart failure. The purpose of this study is to clarify the effects of repeated thermal therapy in mildly depressed patients with appetite loss and subjective complaints.

METHODS: Twenty-eight mildly depressed inpatients with general fatigue, appetite loss, and somatic and mental complaints were randomly assigned to thermal therapy group (n = 14) or nonthermal therapy group (n = 14). Patients in the thermal therapy group were treated with 60 degrees C far-infrared ray dry sauna for 15 minutes and were then kept at bed rest with a blanket for 30 minutes once a day, 5 days a week for a total of 20 sessions in 4 weeks.

RESULTS: Four weeks after admission, somatic complaints, hunger, and relaxation scores significantly improved (p < .001, p < .0001, p < .0001, respectively) and mental complaints slightly improved (p = .054) in the thermal therapy group compared with the nonthermal therapy group. Furthermore, the plasma ghrelin concentrations and daily caloric intake in the thermal therapy group significantly increased compared with the nonthermal therapy group (p < .05).

CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that repeated (Far Infrared) thermal therapy may be useful for mildly depressed patients with appetite loss and subjective complaints.