Daily Mail-Shining a light in your ear 'can brighten your mood in winter'

As the nights get longer, those who suffer from the winter blues will be planning ways to escape to the sunshine.

But there may be a much simpler way of cheering yourself up... simply shining a bright light into your ear canal.

Up to one in four Britons suffer from seasonal affective disorder, with seven per cent of the population having full-blown SAD.

It is caused by the brain not receiving enough daylight which is needed to trigger serotonin, a hormone that regulates mood. Symptoms range from mild lethargy to depression and insomnia, but a cure might be in sight.

Two clinical trials, run by Valkee - who make a device that can shine light into your ear - and the University of Oulu in Finland,  have found that carefully targeted light can help prevent the condition.

Juuso Nissilä, Valkee's co-founder and chief scientist said: 'We presented earlier that the human brain is sensitive to light.

'These two clinical trials demonstrate that channeling bright light via ear canal into brain's photosensitive areas effectively prevents and treats seasonal affective disorder.'

An iPod that emits light: Valkee launched its £185 headset in August 2010. It is classed as a medical device under EU regulations

An iPod that emits light: Valkee launched its £185 headset in August 2010. It is classed as a medical device under EU regulations

The University of Oulu reported that in their first study, 92 per cent of the patients with seasonal affective disorder achieved full remission after a month of daily eight-to-12 minute doses of light from the Valkee.

Timo Takala, chief physician at the at Oulu Deaconess Institute said: '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 results were presented at the International Forum for Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Budapest.

Valkee launched its bright-light headset in August 2010. It is classed as a medical device under EU regulations.

The device channels bright light direct to the brain via the ear canal to prevent and cure depression, mood swings and even circadian-rhythm disorders such as jetlag.

It costs £169 and looks like an iPod - only the earphones emit light rather than sound.

Anyone wanting to replicate the effects with a torch is likely to be disappointed, they emit the wrong kind of light that is apparently too yellow.

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