are Negative Ions or more correctly, NEGATIVE-CHARGED ions?
They're oxygen atoms with an extra electron and they can help you feel better.
In ancient textbooks on yoga, that venerable mystic discipline of the East, it's suggested that a student wishing to perfect his body and mind through breathing exercises should practice near a waterfall, in a cave or (best of all) in a cave under a waterfall.
While it's obvious that pure air is better than polluted air, the proposition that there's more energy in one kind of pure air than in another would, to many people, seem specious, if not superstitious. But science over the past 20 years has proved that some air does give us more energy than other air.
A quick crammer on ions: An ion is any atom or molecule that has gained or lost an electron (a teeny-weeny charge of energy, for those who slept through eighth-grade science).
A negative air ion is an oxygen atom or molecule that has gained an electron and a positive air ion is usually a carbon-dioxide molecule that has lost an electron. Nature provides both positive and negative ions in abundance, but when it comes to feeling good, it's the negative ions that are important.
How are negative ions produced?
Well, the best generator is lightning, followed by ocean surf and waterfalls. Negative ions are also abundant in mountains and forests (all plants give off some ions).
You'll notice that the highest negative ion concentrations are in natural environments and if you suspect that the air in your air-conditioned, or heated office isn't so good, you're right. That's because of one or more of the following factors:
1. The surrounding
grounded steel structure draws off any negative ions.
2. Central heating and air conditioning actually strips the air of negative ions.
3. Synthetics used in carpets, draperies and upholstery carry a high positive charge and absorb negative ions. Let's review the effects of different ion levels:
IONS PER C.C. EFFECTS
air, oppressive, difficulty of concentration; virus and germs flourish.
500-1000 Normal air found indoors where pollution is low and the building has open windows.
1000-5000 "Country fresh air," the minimum level one should sleep, work and live in .
5000 + Exceptionally fresh, clean and invigorating air, "mountain air."
50,000 + Pure air, very stimulating, exhilarating and relaxing, germs cannot live in this air.
Place or Condition Ions Per C.C.
sealed steel-structure office building, with central heating/Air conditioning
0-250 Inside and Airplane 20-250
Smoky indoor air 0-100
Normal indoor air (windows open) 250-500
Urban Air in average industrial city 250-750
Country Air 1000-2000
Mountain Air 1000-5000
Inside Caves 5000-20,000
What Do Negative Ions Do For You?
The negative ions cause microscopic particles (particulates) floating in a room, that cause some people to have allergic reactions, to clump together and fall to the floor (or other surfaces) where they can be vacuumed up. This is due to an electrostatic charge between the negative ions and other air molecules and particles in the air.
According to the book The Ion Effect, negative ions are effective for allergies, asthma, catarrh, hay fever, sinusitus, eczema, burns, emphysema, and even as a substitute for tranquilizers. It was discovered that negative ions balance serotonin in the body, and this explains why people tend to feel more alert, stable and energized in the presence of negative ions.
Dr. Krenger found that bacteria, staphylococci, and fungi growth is halted in the presence of negative ions, which explains the healing side effect. Dr. I. Kombluch mounted experiments at Northeastern Hospital, and at the Frankford Hospital in Philadelphia where he was able to report that 63% of patients suffering from hay fever or bronchial asthma "have experienced partial or total relief" from negative ion therapy. Russian studies reveal that positive (not negative) ions, on the other hand, make breathing more difficult. Negative ions neutralize positive ions. "While ionization of the air is mandatory in many European and Russian hospitals and work places, it has only recently come to light in our country with the growing problem of toxic air in our urban environments." Technically Speaking:
"Ions are charged particles in the air that are formed in nature when enough energy acts upon a molecule such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, water, or nitrogen to eject an electron from the molecule leaving a positively charged Ion. The displaced electron attaches itself to a nearby molecule, which then becomes a negatively charged Ion. It is the negative ion of oxygen that affects us the most."
Self", Spring 1991, an article entitled "Ions and Consciousness."
In the magazine, "Whole Self", Spring 1991, an article appeared
entitled "Ions and Consciousness.
It explains: "Ions are charged particles in the air that are formed when enough energy acts upon a molecule, such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, water, or nitrogen--to eject an electron. The displaced electron attaches itself to a nearby molecule, which then becomes a negative ion. It is the negative ion of oxygen that affects us most. Remember that feeling you've experienced near a waterfall or high in the mountains? Those are two such places where thousand of negative ions occur. They create an effect on human biochemistry." In 1984, a study was published in the "Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology" named, "Negative Air Ionization Improves Memory and Attention in Learning-Disabled and Mentally Retarded Children.
The effectiveness of negative ions on mental performance was tested by researching the power of negative ions to improve the cognitive abilities of mentally handicapped children, as well as the abilities of normal children. Fourth graders were divided into three groups: normal, learning-disabled, and mildly mentally retarded The results were encouraging--on page 353 of the journal, the article reads as follows:
"Half in each group were assigned randomly to an unmodified air-placebo condition under double-blind testing procedures. All of the children breathing negatively ionized air were superior in incidental memory... The action of negative ions on the neurotransmitter, serotonin, may be the mechanism by which negative ions produce such behavioral effects." On page 358, the article states: "Table I shows enhanced performance on the order of 8.4% for the normal, 23.6% for the learning-disabled, and 54.8% for the mildly retarded."
The following is a transcript from CBS News 2/14/95 6:30-7:00 PM, Connie Chung.
Is it possible that changing the air you breath can treat those negative vibes and actually relieve depression?
Dr. Bob Arnot: If the blustery winds of winter blowing across the nation this week are bringing you down, there's good reason.
Researchers now believe that the ill winds strip away highly charged subatomic particles called Negative Ions from the air around us, contributing to a seasonal form of depression. Ms Mahala Holmes (patient): As far back as I can recall, I had feelings, of dreading the winter and ... and went through this kind depression. Dr. Arnot: Doctors at Columbia demonstrated the use of this machine to pump high-density negative ions into the air surrounding Mahala Holmes to treat her depression, known as seasonal affective disorder.
Ms Mahala Homes: While I was on treatment, I felt excited, I felt energized. I felt alive.
Dr. Arnot: Here's why. Level of brain chemical responsible for mood, called serotonin, are often lower in cases of season depression. Serotonin levels can be elevated by increased exposure to light or by antidepressants like Prozac.
Researchers say negative ions may also increase brain levels of serotonin.
Dr. Michael Terman: (Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center): People noticed that daytime energy was returning to normal levels. They lost that pressure for increased sleep, the difficulty awakening in time to get to work.
Dr. Arnot: A study in the current "Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine" concluded that 58 percent of patients treated with high-density negative ions had significant relief of their symptoms, almost identical to the number improved with drugs, but without drug side effects.
Dr. Norman Rosenthal (National Institute of Mental Health): From a scientific point of view, it's very exciting. It needs to be replicated.
Dr. Arnot: The whole idea of using negative ions as a legitimate medical treatment may seem just a little bit odd. But while many doctors are still highly skeptical about alternative medicines, more and more Americans are turning to them because they haven't found the satisfaction they want from mainstream medicine. This is not the first study to prove the benefits of negative ion generators. About 15 years ago, a double-blind study was conducted at the Air Force Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. The study was published in the August, 1982 issue of the prominent medical journal "Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine" in an article entitled "Subjective Response to Negative Air Ion Exposure."
The study was conducted as follows, quoting from page 822 of the journal:
"Procedure: One group of subjects served as controls and was confined to the test chamber for a 6 hour period under air ion conditions typical of an energy efficient building. The second group was similarly confined, but ion generators began operating 2 hours before occupancy and continued all 6 hours of confinement. Generators were masked for al indications of operation, and were also present under control conditions but not turned on. Data from both groups were collected under double-blind conditions."
of the study were encouraging, as stated on page 823 of the journal: "Subjective
perceptions of psychological state, using individual 'normalcy' as standard,
reflected significant differences between control and negative ion exposure
groups. Prominent perceptions reported were reductions in irritability, depression,
and tenseness, and increases in calmness and stimulation associated with ion
exposure...For psychological state, negative ion exposure appeared associated
with feeling better about self, less sensitive, and more responsive or innervated
In October, 1981, a journal article entitled "The Influence of Negative Air Ions on Human Performance and Mood, appeared in the respected journal, Human Factors. On page 633 of the journal, the abstract of the article reads: "44 female and 12 male 17-61 year olds were tested either in a normal-ion environment (control group) or in a predominantly negative ion environment (experimental group). After a 15-minute acclimation period, subjects asserted their psychological state and completed 2 performance tasks. Results indicate that subjects had faster reaction times and reported feeling significantly more energetic under negative-air-ion conditions that under normal-air conditions." Later that year, in December of 1981, a study conducted at California State University, Sacramento entitled, "The Influence of Air Ions, Temperature, and Humidity on Subjective Well being and Comfort," was published in the "Journal of Environmental Psychology". The findings were encouraging.
On page 279 of the journal, the abstract of the article states: "106 employees kept daily assessment records of their office environment and health over a 12-week period. Temperatures about 23 degrees Celsius were associated with increased sensations of stuffiness, discomfort, and unpleasantness, but appeared to produce a decrease in the number of complaints of headaches. The office environment was found to be depleted of small air ions. The introduction of a negative ion generator increased the subjective rating of alertness, atmospheric freshness, and environmental and personal warmth. Ions reduced the complaint rate for headache by 50% and significantly reduced the number of complaints of nausea and dizziness." Of course, much of the early research concerning negative ions has been conducted on animals. One of the earliest studies of the effects of negative ions was published in 1935 in the "Journal of Industrial Hygiene" in an article, "The Effect of High Concentrations of Light Negative Atmospheric Ions on the Growth and Activity of the Albino Rat." In it, researchers Herrington and Smith evaluate the effects of negatively ionized air on the activity of rats as measured by means of an activity wheel. They found that activity increased significantly with rats subjected to a reported negative ion concentration of 1.2 million ions/cc. In 1956, a researcher named J.V.
Brady published a study in "Annals of New York Academic Science" which showed that the strength of the conditioned emotional responses of fear and anxiety in animals can be dramatically reduced by the daily administration of the psychoactive drug reserpine. Years later, in 1967, a similar study was conducted by Allan H. Frey at the Institute for Research, Pennsylvania State University, and published in the "Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology". The major difference was that this time, the effect of reserpine was compared to that of negative ion treatment. The study concluded: "Results of 2 experiments, the 2nd essentially a replication of the 1st, are in accordance with prediction. The inhibition of response in the animal was reduced by treatment with small negative air ions, as it was with reserpine." In other words, when the animals were treated with negative ions, the animals were less inhibited--less likely to experience fear and anxiety. These results are similar to the results of experiments studying the anti-anxiety effects of tranquilizers such as Valium and Xanax.
It has also been shown that in addition to possibly having a profound effect on mood and energy, negative ions may have a strong impact on cognitive functioning. In 1965, in the journal "Psychophysiology", a study, "Behavioral Effects of Ionized Air on Rats", was published. In this study, the effects of negatively ionized air on the mental functioning of rats was tested. Researchers Duffee and Koontz reported on page 358 of the journal: "the water-maze performance improved by 350%," showing a dramatic improvement in cognitive functioning. To support that negative ions also improve the cognitive functioning of humans as well, in April of 1978, in the science journal "Ergonomics", a study was conducted at the University of Surrey, England, and published in an article entitled, "Air Ions and Human Performance". Once again, the results were encouraging. On page 273, the article reads: "Studied the effects of artificial negative or positive ionization of the air on the performance of psychomotor tasks with 45 18-26 year-old healthy males... Three testing environments were used: natural, negative, and positive ionizations. Negative ionization was associated with a significant increment in performance as compared to controls."