The Importance of Negative Ions
The Importance of Negative Ions
For many of us impacted by lockdowns and quarantines, dwelling indoors for long periods of time has become the norm. Unfortunately, aside from the health benefits lost by not being outdoors (especially in nature), there is a further detriment to our health: indoor air and positive ions. Add to this situation the potential this summer for more wildfires, leading to a further degeneration in air quality, and I believe it is time for me to spread the word about positive and negative ions, and how they affect our health. As I have already written on the subject elsewhere, this newsletter is a chapter taken from my book, Health Secrets for the 21st Century: Volume 2.
At the end of this material, I will suggest a relatively affordable ($200) device that I have had very good feedback on, especially from those with stagnant air (poor circulation indoors), and mold problems. As well, according to the owner of the store from which this negative ion machine was purchased, this device performed far better than expensive air cleaners during the last bout of wildfire smoke.
A good negative ion machine is like bringing the best of the outdoors, indoors.
An excess of positively charged ions can contribute to a variety of ailments, including constriction of the veins, depression, fatigue, and irritability. The opposite of positive ions are negative ions, which make your electrons spin in a clockwise direction, helping stabilize your cell membranes, and prevent oxidation (free radical damage). Thus, in this case, the “positive” has a negative effect, and the “negative” has a positive effect.
The existence of positive and negative ions was first identified by Dr. P.E.A. Lenard, who, in 1915, discovered that water, when atomized, separates the negative and positive charges. After an impact of a water droplet, the molecules discharged from the surface of the water carry a negative charge, and the remaining large drops of water carry the positive charge. This is why we find the highest natural sources of negative ions where water is being atomized.
Technically, a negative ion (anion) is an atom (or molecule) that has gained one, or more, extra negatively charged electrons. Negative ions are generated by sunlight, storms, rivers, ocean waves, waterfalls, and water evaporating after a rainfall. Even a shower will generate negative ions, which is the reason a shower is more invigorating than a bath.
A positive ion (cation), then, is an atom (or molecule) that has lost one, or more, electrons due to a high-energy impact. Natural forces that generate positive ions include decaying radioactive materials, radon gas, forest fires, lightning, and ultraviolet rays.
In the 1930s, a Russian scientist, A.L. Tchijevski, discovered he could reduce the growth of bacteria by subjecting it to negative ion exposure—a result of negative ions actually killing the bacteria. (Due to this research, many hospitals today use industrial-strength negative ion machines to help maintain a germ-free environment.) By the time World War II broke out, German military planes had negative ion generators installed in them to prevent fatigue, and reduce the frequency of illness, in pilots.
There are places in the world where certain winds are considered almost evil. When these winds blow through an area, bad things happen—crime rates, hospital admissions, and suicides, all increase. As well, a wide range of symptoms show up in the general population, including breathing problems, depression, fatigue, irritability, inflammation, migraines, nausea, heart palpitations, sleep disorders, tremors, and vertigo.
These winds are known by different names in different countries—Chinook in the Rockies, Santa Ana in Southern California, Sharav in Israel, and Simoon in Africa—but everywhere, results are the same: ill health. As these desert and sea winds tear through arid areas, the ensuing dust strips out negative ions, leaving about 33 times more positive ions—it is the presence of massive amounts of positive ions that causes these health problems.
Unnatural sources of positive ions include smog, cigarette smoke, indoor environments with poor circulation, vehicle interiors, anything plastic, electronic devices, and synthetic building materials, clothing, and furniture coverings. City living exposes us to unnaturally high levels of positive ions due to buildings, concrete, and pavement, all disrupting the electrical balance between the atmosphere and the earth. As a result, modern living has left us floating in a sea of positive ions.
Positive ions must balance themselves by collecting negative ions. Even though electronic devices put out massive amounts of positive ions, as long as there are plenty of negative ions around you (like fresh air, and plants), the positive ions will ‘feed’ on the natural negative ions, balancing their charge.
However, in the absence of negative ions, positive ions will go for the nearest thing that provides the missing component—they will steal negative ions from your body, causing mental, physical, and emotional imbalance. The widespread prevalence of electronics in modern life is creating a massive deficit in negative ions—another mechanism whereby they are proving to be detrimental to human well-being.
Positive ions increase levels of the inhibitory neurotransmitter, serotonin, in the body, and negative ions suppress serotonin levels. So, when the environment is depleted of negative ions, we experience the drowsiness and relaxation that comes with elevated serotonin levels. This may not be problematic at night, but is an issue during the day, when we need energy, alertness, and mental agility. What might be problematic at night is the tendency of positive ions to also cause inflammation, whereas negative ions can prevent this from occurring (or at least reduce the severity of it).
BENEFITS OF NEGATIVE IONS
Since the advent of negative ion machines, it has been possible to test the benefits of being exposed to high levels of these “good” ions. Of course, these “high” levels are really just close to what we would have been exposed to centuries ago, when we lived in nature—before the advent of modern cities.
Studies have found negative ions reduce anxiety and neurosis, improve appetite, and stimulate sexual behavior. And, they improve reaction time in drivers, reducing accident rates (you can buy small negative ion machines for cars, which plug into the cigarette lighter). In academic settings, negative ions improve learning capacity and mental functioning, reduce agitation in hyperactive children, and ameliorate teacher fatigue.
Negative ions, in medical settings, are used to alleviate hay fever symptoms, and migraines, and to reduce post-surgical pain. When burn victims are subjected to high levels of negative ions, they experience pain reduction, fewer infections, faster healing, and less scarring. And, some hospitals use the machines because of the demonstrated ability of negative ions to kill germs.
Many of the health benefits provided by negative ions are (theoretically) a result of them increasing our ability to absorb and utilize oxygen, thereby improving delivery of oxygen to the cells and tissues of the body.
CREATING NEGATIVE IONS
Since negative ions occur in nature, simply getting into nature frequently will allow you to breathe in these healing ions, reducing some of the effects of exposure to city living, and electrosmog. An especially good way to pick up negative ions is to go for a walk on the beach, through a forest, or anywhere after a rainstorm. Indoors, the most powerful negative ion generator you have is the shower, which, if you have a shower filter, can be used frequently to recharge yourself. If you do not have a shower filter, then the benefits of the negative ions must be weighed against the detriment of inhaling chlorine gas from city water.
It should be pointed out here that negative ions have to be inhaled on a regular basis to see the full benefits, and, since nature does not always provide enough to counteract modern living, a machine is more likely to be of value for those in poor health. Indeed, all of the research, referred to herein, was carried out, by necessity, with negative ion generating machines—so the subjects had continuous high-level exposure.
The other thing to be aware of is negative ions are best absorbed through the olfactory nerves. Thus, when attempting to absorb them, be sure to breathe in mostly through your nose, not through your mouth.
Try to keep a good flow of fresh air coming into your living, and work, spaces, in order to wash away positive ions, and keep levels of negative ions high. Plant leaves produce some negative ions, so the more plants you can have in your living and working spaces, the more protection you will have from electronically-produced positive ions.
Certain plants also remove toxins from the air. According to NASA research, some of the best ones are, bamboo palm, Chinese evergreen, English ivy, ficus (weeping fig), golden pothos, peace lily, philodendron, and spider plants. For best results, have at least one six-inch plant for every 100 square feet— though in this case, more is better.
Proponents of the Himalayan salt crystal lamps claim that they are natural negative ion producers, and that such devices flood the air with these ions when heated. In so doing, they redress any imbalance between positive and negative ions. These lamps do produce negative ions, as I have seen one analyzed with an ion detector, but the ions only radiated out for a couple of feet. Nonetheless, if you have a number of these salt lamps, and leave them on most of the time, the consistent production of negative ions should influence a room positively.
Pure beeswax is nontoxic, naturally aromatic, and, when burned as candles, emits beneficial negative ions, which help to purify the air. This does not hold true for petrochemical wax (used in most commercial candles), which is polluting in nature.
REDUCING POSITIVE IONS
It is a good idea to shut off electronic equipment, and fluorescent lights, when not in use. Otherwise, when left on, they will continue to deplete negative ions from the air, and increase the number of positive ions—leaving the environment ionically imbalanced. Unless you have a frequent flow of fresh air through it, a computer room will harbor about six times more positive than negative ions.
NEGATIVE ION MACHINES
Negative ions can be artificially generated by devices, which use an external electric power source to create large quantities of them. These negative ion generators went through a surge of popularity in North America, in the 1980s, and then faded into relative obscurity. However, they never fully went away because the benefits proved obvious to the users.
Now, it turns out, negative ions are part of our arsenal for fighting electrosmog, since electromagnetic pollution creates large amounts of positive ions. The irony of using an electronic device, to neutralize the detrimental effects of other electronic devices, is not lost on me. Fight fire with fire, they say. But, like with any electrical device, take care not to be too close to the negative ion generator when it is on, since it will still produce an electromagnetic field.
Most people in North America are not familiar with the negative ion concept, but in other parts of the world—especially Europe—such generators have been widely used for decades. In Germany, and Russia, negative ion generators are commonly found in factories, homes, hospitals, offices, restaurants, schools, spas, and vehicles. Whereas in the U.S., such machines are mostly found in submarines, and industrial settings, like auto spray paint booths, chemical spray factories, food processing plants, and grain storage bins.
You see, when there is a high enough concentration of negative ions in the air, they will attract positively-charged floating particles, in large numbers. This causes the particle to become too heavy to remain airborne. As a result, the particle will fall out of the air, and can then be collected by normal cleaning activities, such as vacuuming. This explains the prevalence of these devices in the aforementioned American industrial settings, where there are many airborne particles.
CHOOSING A MACHINE
There are many machines on the market designed to boost negative ions in the home, office, or vehicle. However, since this is a fairly unregulated area, with a lack of industry accepted and mandated standards, it is a case of “buyer beware”.
For example, certain air purifiers will produce some negative ions, but those are produced inside the machine, and never actually enter the room. Many of the air purifiers that claim to produce negative ions are usually also ozone generators. Reading the fine print will reveal they only produce ozone, even though it will be implied they also create negative ions.
However, unlike negative ions, ozone is unstable, and easily destroyed by other pollutants in the air. Ozone never provides the benefits that true negative ions do. That being said, ozone is excellent at neutralizing airborne chemicals, strong odors, mold, and pollutants. So, these machines do have their place, as air cleaners. However, be aware, excess ozone can be dangerous—so much so that you cannot safely remain in a room with an industrial-strength ozone machine operating.
Nonetheless, these machines can be highly effective at removing serious mold, or mildew, build-up, in certain circumstances, and with the advice of a professional. Therefore, before you buy any kind of negative ion generator, you will want to do your research. Be sure to read any informative material provided, from package details, to a manual, if available. Find forums, and/or customer reviews, on a given product, to ensure it has satisfied customers.
I did some research (given the debatable quality of some negative ion machines), and can confidently recommend the very affordable “Wein Vortex VI-3500 Room Ionic Air Purifier” (local supplier: Triangle Healing).
A more expensive product—the kind used in hospitals—is the ELANRA Therapeutic Ionizer, produced by Bionic Products in Australia (since 1967). Trademarked, and patented internationally, ELANRA Ionizers claim to be the number one medical ionizer in the world. The cost ranges from $800 to $1,000, for home units. (www.negativeions.com)
The ELANRA Ionizer defines its quality by the size of the negative ions it produces. While medium to large negative ions will clean the air, only the small ions are biologically active—which means these small ions can be breathed in, and will enter the bloodstream by way of the lungs.
As an interesting side note, literature on the ELANRA Ionizer claims that within one minute of exposure to the unit, the “Schumann Resonance” was detected in the brain waves of humans. This frequency (the one the earth resonates at), is something missing from modern life, as we are separated from the earth by concrete, pavement, houses, and shoes. (The rest of this chapter now goes into the subject of “Earthing”.
For the full story on negative ions, I recommend reading The Ion Effect, by Fred Soyka.