Can these Valkee light in-earbuds treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
Update: Please read the comments below for a response from Valkee’s CEO which clears up a few of the issues discussed in the article.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), according to the NHS, is a type of depression that has a seasonal pattern. The episodes of depression tend to occur at the same time each year, usually during the winter.
The reason for SAD is thought to be down to the lack of sunlight in the winter months. So now is the prime time for the winter blues. Because their is less sunlight, your body receives less vitamin D (or close to zero in the UK). In turn this then reduced the production of the hormone melatonin and serotonin. The body’s internal clock can also be affected, causing people to become more lethargic.
A popular form of treatment to SAD is a light box. This provides the light you’re not receiving from the sun during winter months and tops you up with vitamin D (you can also take vitamin D pills). The light boxes are generally large, not portable and not very inconspicuous.
But now, one company, Valkee, is selling a more discrete and portable solution, and one that shines light not at a person’s face, but inside their ear canal.
Based on their own research, Valkee found that the human brain is sensitive to light, not just our eyes, and that it responds functionally to light when it’s administered directly through the ear canal. After creating the light earbuds, a further study showed that 92% of SAD sufferers experienced total symptom relief with 8-12 minutes.
It sounds great, but some are not convinced. In fact, a website has been set up to debunk the Valkee story, earlightswindle.com. The site points out that the only research carried out has been by the company itself, and that in Finland (the home country of Valkee) the company is known for being a con, with it now trying to break into other markets because of this.
At €200, it is quite the investment. Of course the money is absolutely worth it (in my opinion) for sufferes of SAD. But whether or not it works is up for question. And to spend €200 to find out is more than most can bear.
What do you think of Valkee? Have you tried it? Would you try it? Let us know in the comments below.