Alternative medicine therapies are becoming more and more popular as people seek a more natural way to support their health and wellbeing or manage some health condition. Negative ion therapy is one of those approaches. This therapy is popular among famous people too, like Novak Djokovic.
If the idea of negative ion therapy seems unclear and you’re not sure what’s it about or whether it works, to begin with, this post is for you. Read on to learn more about negative ion therapy.
What Are Negative Ions?
Negative ions are molecules that have been charged with electricity and they float in the air or atmosphere. While these biologically active tiny particles are a part of our environment we can’t really see them due to their microscopic size. Just like we can’t see hydrogen peroxide, which also occurs in the air naturally!
In the environment, negative ions are found in many places as there are several generators of these particles in nature. Some of these negative ion generators include ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun.
Other factors that produce negative ions include electricity discharge in the air after a lightning strike or thunderclap. The normal growth process of many plants can act as a generator of negative ions or oxygen atoms. The tiny particles may also occur due to water collisions with itself (e.g. waterfall).
How Are Negative Ions Generated?
Ions are electrically charged particles that can be positive or negative. A positive ion is called cation whereas negative ions are named anions.
When atoms gain or lose electrons the ions are formed. Keeping in mind electrons have a negative electrical charge, an atom that loses one or more of them is positively charged.
On the flip side, an atom that gains one or more electrons is negatively charged. Positively charged particles could be harmful to our health and they are emitted from electronic devices such as cell phones, and fluorescent lights.
Negative ions are created in nature when molecules of air break apart due to several factors including radiation, sunlight, and moving water and air. More precisely, negative ions are generated in the following ways:
- Lenard effect (the separation of electric charges that accompany the aerodynamic breakup of water drops) i.e. whenever water collides itself e.g. ocean shore or waterfalls
- Minerals (shellfish, coral, clay, fossil)
- Sun’s UV rays, the most well-known negative ion generator
- Electric discharge (single pole charge: electrification of water and oil, air activator)
- Catalytic equation (oxidized titanium, metal)
- Electromagnetic induction (minus electrical potential, electric potential system, jewel friction)
- Natural mineral (e.g. magnetic iron)
- Radiating substances (radium, radon)
- Corona discharge; an electrical discharge occurring from ionization of fluid
How Does Negative Ion Therapy Work?
The main premise behind negative ion therapy is that positive ions are bad for us whereas their negative counterparts are good for our health and well-being. But, what is a negative ion therapy, in the first place?
Negative ion therapy is a type of alternative medicine that relies on air ionizers to treat various health problems including respiratory conditions.
Negative ions are believed to increase the flow of oxygen to the brain and make us more alert or relaxed like infrared heating pads unlike harmful positive ions. In other words, decreased drowsiness is one effect of negative ion therapy.
Additionally, negative ion therapy could protect us against germs in the air and produce biochemical reactions.
Negative ion therapy requires short- or long-term negative ion exposure. This is primarily achieved with an air ionizer, a device that releases negative ions into the air.
Ionizers improve the quality of the indoor air and they can work in several ways. Some air purifiers come with negative ion technology. These devices can remove particulate matter including that from cigarette smoke from the indoor air.
Other methods include the use of fans and air conditioning with an ionizing setting to remove ultrafine particles and other airborne particles. Bipolar ionization is also a viable option for air quality improvement.
In some cases, people get negative ion therapy by visiting places known for high concentrations of negative ions including beaches, springs, dense forests, and mountains. These places induce pleasurable feelings and emotions just like infrared sauna blankets do.
Negative Ions Benefits
Many people decide to give negative ion therapy a try in order to improve their health in a natural way. But, what are the benefits of negative ions?
First, it is important to point out that several studies have explored and confirmed certain benefits of negative ions. At the same time, many claims are yet to be scientifically confirmed.
If you decide to give negative ion therapy a try, the best thing to do is to stick to the benefits that were scientifically proven. These are:
- Improved sleep pattern; the therapy may prevent sleep deprivation and enhance the quality of sleep
- More mental energy levels and better mood thanks to increased levels of mood chemical serotonin
- Stress management; exposure to negative ions can relieve stress levels
- Stronger immune system
- Faster metabolism; negative ions increase the rate at which the body metabolizes fats and carbs
- Antiviral and antibacterial properties; negative ion therapy could induce a significant differences in protecting the body against some microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria, and mold spores even. Negative ions have the potential to inhibit the growth of pathogenic microorganisms including E. coli, tuberculosis, and Staphylococcus aureus
Additionally, negative ions can improve cardiovascular health. You see, negative ions allow for coronary expansion and improve blood flow. As a result, they can improve heart rate, regulate blood pressure, and may relieve angina.
Scientific Evidence Behind Negative Ion Therapy
As mentioned above, some benefits of negative ion therapy were confirmed by science. Below, we’re going to focus on the most significant research examples.
The September 2018 issue of the International Journal of Molecular Sciences published a study that described current knowledge on the impact of negative air ions on human health and air quality.
Negative ions, which have been discovered over 100 years ago, are used in modern operations that improve the quality of air. The findings of the paper show negative ions can effectively decrease the intensity and frequency of symptoms linked to allergic reactions to the presence of dust and mold spores. The therapy may also work for other causes of allergies such as pet dander.
Additionally, the presence of negative ions in the air can decrease particulate matter levels. Particulate matter is, essentially, an air pollutant that may harm human health.
Besides these beneficial effects, the paper also explains that exposing some plants to pulsed electrical field stimulation can increase the production of negative ions. This method could take the air quality in homes as well as public areas like hospitals, schools, and airports to the next level.
When discussing scientific research on negative ions, it’s useful to mention a study from the Journal of Negative Results in Biomedicine, published in September 2013, which focused on the impact of negative ions on the respiratory system.
The paper reviewed 23 studies on this subject. Scientists concluded the scientific literature doesn’t clearly support the positive effects of negative air ions on respiratory function. That being said, it’s important to remember studies included in this review were carried out before 2000. For that reason, it is necessary to focus on more recent studies.
Additionally, some studies in this review did have positive results which showed negative ions could improve various aspects of the human body including oxygen consumption, lung function, heart rate, respiratory heat loss, and peak expiratory flow rate.
Research from BMC Psychiatry found negative ionizers had no influence on general mental health, but they did have a notable impact on persons with depression. Hours of exposure to negative ions can decrease scores of chronic depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Many claims about this therapy including those related to applied cognitive sciences require further investigation.
Negative Ions and Cancer
Negative ion therapy requires further research to confirm whether it’s truly beneficial for cancer treatment or not. A paper from the Cancer Letters reported that water-generated negative ions had a long life and may significantly enhance the cytotoxic activity of the natural killer cells. These ions can also reduce cancer incidence and inhibit tumor growth.
One case study showed negative ions had a positive impact on ovarian cancer in a 36-year-old woman. However, a lot more evidence is necessary to determine whether negative ion therapy can have a positive effect on prevention of different types of cancer.
Underlying mechanisms are also necessary to elucidate. They could be down to the regulation of oxidative stress and improved immune function. Negative ions are a source of superoxide dismutase antioxidant enzyme.
Negative Ions Health Risks
Every therapy comes with certain risks and natural treatments are no exception. The greatest risk of negative ion therapy is in situations when air ionization is used in small spaces. This can lead to the release of tropospheric ozone particles, which are ground-level ozone particles that may worsen symptoms of respiratory disorders. You’d achieve the opposite effect instead of improving the quality of air molecules.
The use of an ionizer in a small space can also lead to static electricity buildup. As a result, dangerously high concentrations of electrical charge in the air may occur. Additionally, using electronic devices as ionizers in smaller rooms can cause respiratory irritation.
Also, exposure to negative ions in a natural setting is a lot more beneficial than ionizing devices which are poorly explored.
On the other hand, going outdoors, into the mountains or forests far away from air pollution is always a good idea. Spending time outdoors can help alleviate depression and revitalize you, which is exactly what we need in these hectic times.
Positive and negative ions are present in the environment, but we can’t see them. Advocates of negative ion therapy believe exposure to negative ions can improve our health and well-being in more ways than one.
Some benefits of negative ion therapy are scientifically confirmed whereas others are not. The best way to generate negative ions is to go outside, into deep forests, mountains, and other areas known for the high presence of these particles.
While ionizing devices are available today, it may not be the best idea to use them in small places where they can pose a threat to our well-being. A lot more research is necessary to determine how effective negative ion therapy really is.
What are negative ions good for?
Negative ions are good for our physical and mental health and well-being. Many claims still need further studies in order to be scientifically confirmed.
How do negative ions affect the human body?
Negative ions can increase the flow of oxygen to the brain and improve alertness. Additionally, they can improve respiratory function, cardiovascular health, and immune system defenses, among other things.
How do you increase negative ions in the body?
The best way to increase negative ions in the body is to spend time outdoors. More specifically, dense pine forests, mountains, waterfalls, and beaches are known for high levels of negative ions.
What do negative ionizers do?
Ionizers remove small particles from the air. These particles are pathogenic and could harm us, especially persons with respiratory diseases.