Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
20 Aug

Dear Mark: What Are the Health Benefits of Negative Ions?

niagaraAnyone who’s been through a health store has heard about ions. If it’s not someone offering samples of ionized water, it’s someone selling ionized bracelets. It sounds wacky, woo-woo, crazy, and as if it belongs firmly in the same realm as crystals, magnet therapy, and cryptozoology (although the kid in me is still holding out hope that both Squatch and Nessie are found), but is there actual science behind this negative ion stuff, or are the people who buy into this stuff totally off their rockers? Today, we venture into what some might consider the realm of the non-scientific to discuss negative ionizers – both the natural kinds (like waterfalls) and the man-made variety (negative ion generators).

Let’s get to it:

Hi Mark,

I’m almost scared/embarrassed to even ask you about this, but here goes: my friend, who’s into crystals, homeopathy, and other types of alternative health modalities with less than concrete supporting evidence, has been talking my ear off about negative and positive ions. She’s got her entire house decked out with negative ion generators and she’s always trying to “avoid positive ions.” I’ve even seen her ducking past air conditioners. Is there anything to this, or is she crazy?

Thanks,

Beth

Maybe. Let’s take a look.

But first, lest we fall into the trap of talking about abstractions (a la “toxins”), let’s define our terms. What are ions?

Ions are atoms or molecules in which the number of electrons is different than the number of protons. In other words, an ion is a negatively (more electrons than protons) or positively (more protons than electrons) charged atom or molecule. Positively charged ions are called cations, while negatively charged ions are called anions. Because they are either positively or negatively charged, ions are “mobile.”

Negative ions generally appear in natural settings in greater numbers than positive ions. For instance, negative ions are generated by moving water – rivers, waterfalls, crashing waves, even showers and fountains – and the presence of negative ions is actually used to identify potential sources of water on other planetary bodies, like Enceladus and Titan. Waterfalls are probably the greatest producers of negative ions, thanks to the violence with which falling water breaks apart on both hard and aqueous surfaces (PDF). Plants also produce negative ions, especially when exposed to intense light during photosynthesis.

Okay, that’s great and all. Everyone likes waterfalls and all, but does the fact that they generate lots of negative air ions have any bearing on our health?

They can certainly exert “physiological effects” on living things. In fact, that negative and positive air ions could have physiological effects on people was once a field of serious study, but after snake oil salesmen released a slew of air ion generators with the promise that they’d cure cancer, heart disease, and just about every malady under the sun in the 1950s, the reputation of the field was forever tarnished. Research continued, but its name was sullied, and little serious attention was paid to its findings. The result is that anytime anyone even mentions “ions,” they’ll get laughed out of the room or immediately branded a nut job. And that’s a shame, because there is something to this stuff.

Even if some modern skeptics pride themselves on discarding an idea that sounds a little kooky without doing any actual research, that doesn’t mean evidence doesn’t exist. Let’s see what the research says:

Mood

Not everyone with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can afford to slumber amidst the babbling mist of a nearby brook with the gentle caress of the day’s first sun softly nudging them awake. It’s ideal, but studies indicate that simulating those conditions with negative ion generators, naturalistic dawn simulating lights, and someone blowing raspberries at your face can be just as effective at combating SAD as bright light therapy (okay, maybe not that last one).

Chronic non-seasonal depression has also been shown to be improved with negative ion therapy. High density ion therapy was far more effective than low density ion therapy.

Negative ions (along with bright light and auditory stimuli) reduced subjective measurements of depression, improved mood, and reduced anger in both depressed and non-depressed college students.

Stress

In a study on the salivary responses of people completing a 40-minute word processing task on the computer, exposure to negative air ions reduced the rise in salivary chromogranin A-like immunoreactivity (a marker of stress and anxiety) and improved performance.

Breathing

The trachea is the windpipe, the passage through which air travels into our lungs. Along the trachea are cilia, tiny organelles which keep airborne particles from passing into the lungs. If cilial activity is inhibited, as in cystic fibrosis, more foreign particles are introduced into the lungs. If cilial activity is uninhibited, the junk is kept out of the lungs and discharged later via saliva and mucus. Research shows that negative ion exposure increases cilial activity in the trachea of humans and monkeys, while positive ion exposure inhibits it.

Another study in asthmatic children found that exposure to positively ionized air exacerbated their asthmatic response to exercise.

All told, there does appear to be something to it.

Maybe that’s why sitting around a campfire with your buddies surrounded by towering examples of plant life feels so good. Toss in a nearby river gurgling over stones, throwing mist up in the air? You’ve got a potent recipe for negative air ions. Could that be why camping out in the great outdoors is so rejuvenating and so energizing? Sure, you could argue that camping is just a way for us to get away from the madness of work and city life, get some fresh air and exercise, and reconnect with our Primal selves… but there has to be a physiological mechanism for that. What if negative ions play an important role in that mechanism? What if part of what we’re “getting away from” is the glaring lack of negative ions?

How to Get Exposure to Negative Ions

The best way to get exposure to negative ions is of course going to be the old, natural way. Go to the beach (and play in the water, don’t sit bundled up on the shore). Climb a mountain. Go for a hike. Spend an afternoon reading a great book in a garden, surrounded by plant life. Swim underneath a waterfall. Heck, even just stepping outside the stifling stuffy air of your office, turning off the AC and lowering the car windows, or letting some cross breeze into your house will help.

Take a shower. The closest thing many of us get to moving water is our regular showers. And that’s not so bad. Moving water is moving water, and showers do a good job of producing negative ions in their own right.

Another way is to design a negative ion-generating garden, using running water (preferably a waterfall or fountains) and plenty of green life. This method is a mite more involved than simply buying a generator or visiting natural sites of negative ion generation, but here’s a study in which researchers mapped out the distribution of positive and negative ions across a sample garden (PDF). It should give you an idea for your own garden. The important factor appears to be the presence of running water, since the negative ions were highest right around the waterfall.

For your home or office, I highly recommend a negative ion generator. Many of them aren’t terribly expensive. For, say, 50 bucks you can enrich your stale office in negative ions and filter out impurities to boot. Give it a shot, especially if you don’t spend time in the natural settings where negative ions predominate. If you’re stuck inside all day, bathed in air conditioning, a negative ion generator is worthy of serious consideration.

Or, if you’re handy enough, you could always just make your own ioniser.

Anyway, I’d like to hear about your experiences with negative ionizers (and negative ions in general). Have you noticed anything? Let us know in the comment section!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Hi Mark,

    Nice article.

    So let’s assume negative ions are good. How do I measure them to confirm they are there and how many there are?

    John

    John wrote on August 20th, 2012
    • Instructions
      1. Push the power button on your ion tester for several seconds until a negative sign flashes on the small screen on the front of the tester.

      2. Find the small metal piece on the back of the tester. Hold the tester level so the metal piece points at the ground. A reading will display. This reading helps the ion tester calibrate itself and gives you a measurement to test against.

      conrack wrote on August 20th, 2012
      • 3. Press the pad of your thumb over the small metal square on the front of the tester. Hold the tester so the square on the back points toward your negative ion generator, air purifier, or simply into the center of the room.

        4. Watch for a reading to display. A small minus sign will appear before negative ion readings. If you see no minus sign, the ion tester is measuring positive ions and your generator isn’t working very well or too few negative ions are present to measure.

        5. Compare the original calibration reading to the reading from the negative ion generator. Ideally, the second reading should be much lower than the first. For example, if the first reading was -10, the second reading should ideally be -80, -90 or higher. The higher the reading, the more negative ions are in your environment.

        conrack wrote on August 20th, 2012
    • Mark

      The study on SADS and dawn simulation did not say what you summarized. It said that bright light, dawn simulation or pulsed low level light were superior to low levels of negative ion radiation. Why there was no control group is beyond me. We can’t really tell if the remission rate was better than no treatment at all.

      Bruce wrote on August 20th, 2012
    • Similarly, the study on light and ionization did not necessarily mean that high levels of negative ions were helpful. It could be that exposure to low levels of negative ions is detrimental. Without a control group, you can’t really tell if this is a real effect or just a test-retest effect.

      Bruce wrote on August 20th, 2012
      • I used a negative ionizer stick for a while to make my tap water more alkaline, that certainly seemed to increase my energy levels… that was part of general experimentation on reducing acidity in the body.

        SAD lights makes sense to me, when you consider the low LUX generated by office lights vs lovely sunshine… definitely need a dose of bright lights to lift the mood in gloomy months. Ask anyone from Scandinavia or northern Canada how depressed people get in the winter months!

        Patrice wrote on August 20th, 2012
        • I’m from Canada, and I have to say that now, living in the US Pacific Northwest, I feel much more light-deprived than I ever did in northern Ontario!

          Amy wrote on August 20th, 2012
        • I used to live in a house with a wood stove in the basement, which (along with the furnace) heated the house but more enjoyably provided some entertainment on cold, snowed-in Canadian winter days (not that far North however). I’d get hypnotized by the fire. It was better than TV sometimes. And to start it, Grok-squatting or kneeling was required – Grok squatting probably being the better option.

          Animanarchy wrote on August 21st, 2012
        • Sorry, don’t understand. I live in Sydney haha. It will be sunny and 70 all through winter

          Todd wrote on May 17th, 2014
  2. I insist on positive ions, I already have too much negativity in my life.

    rob wrote on August 20th, 2012
    • Your lack of negative ions is the cause of many negativity in your life. If you’ll learn the meaning and the benefit of negative ion and apply it in your life, then your negativity will soon disappear out of your life.

      I am an open minded person who is willing to learn about the unknown and apply them into my life. It doesn’t hurt to try! Nothing changes over night either, so don’t expect it to work for you immediately. Every healing method takes time, faith, and patience to heal.

      Mimi wrote on July 13th, 2013
  3. Rob, I think you may of miss understood the ion bit (unless I did). We want the negative ions around us to make us feel better.

    My question is (unless I missed it in the article), what comon everyday things produces positive ions? Knowing these I can reduce as many in my day to day living.

    And any ideas on the braclelts? Are they any good? If so any brand I should look for?

    Thanks for your time.

    Chris wrote on August 20th, 2012
    • I think you may have missed the joke… :)

      yoolieboolie wrote on August 20th, 2012
    • I bought a negative ion contraption about 20 years ago. I put it in the bedroom since it was supposed to help me breathe and sleep better. All it did was make a dirty spot on the wall, so I guess it was doing something. My allergies remained the same until I eliminated sweets, grain products and a few other things that bother me. Maybe the newer ones work better, or maybe they’re just a scam.

      I also bought a Q-Link a while back, on the theory that they protect you from the negative effects of EMF. Didn’t notice any difference with that either.

      Shary wrote on August 20th, 2012
      • I bought a q-link as well. It was junk, didn’t do anything.

        Perry wrote on August 24th, 2012
      • Your symptoms may be a lack of healthy eating and deficiency of nutrition plus the unhealthy air in your environment.

        According to my experience, frequent intake of vitamin C helps me to boost my immune system to fight off virus, allergy symptoms during the allergy season, and any infection.

        Leave all windows open during the cool night and in the morning to let fresh air and light in so you wouldn’t be too stuff inside.

        House Plants also contained a lot of negative ion which also attract dust and give off natural oxygen into your house to help eliminate allergies.

        Learn to use and store certain minerals inside your house to bring the natural negative ion. I used Quantum science scalar energy pendant to heal any joint and muscle pain which it contained a very high amount of negative ion.

        Negative ion generators are very expensive and it’s not even a guarantee to solve your health problems.

        Mimi wrote on July 13th, 2013
        • I am a spiritual healer and I used minerals and quantum pendant scalar energy to help enhance my energy/vibration level. I tested my energy by having another spiritual healer to read and view my energy level. She said that I have the highest and a very unusual high energy level compared to her other clients. I also learned that plants and tamed animals could be attracted to human who has been exposed to high negative ion. That’s why some people have a green thumb and are good with plants. Animal can sense a humble and happy person because he or she may have been effected by the negative ions.

          Mimi wrote on July 13th, 2013
    • Electrical devices produce positive ions. For example it’s kind of unhealthy to use a computer – positive ions and radiation (though apparently we can adapt to low levels of electromagnetic radiation – computer’s seem like a sensible indulgence, or worth using). It would help to have good ventilation, and maybe a hazmat suit. Negative ion generator of course.

      Animanarchy wrote on August 21st, 2012
      • “‘s” have to point out that grammar glitch for ego’s sake before anyone else gets a chance

        Animanarchy wrote on August 21st, 2012
  4. What are your thoughts on the ion cleanse technology?

    Carrie wrote on August 20th, 2012
    • They do work when designed correctly, because the charge of the ion attracts dust down to very small particles (like pollen). The particles aggregate and can be filtered more easily.

      Ted wrote on August 20th, 2012
  5. Now if only my negative attitude would turn out to have a positive influence on people I would be good to go!

    Groktimus Primal wrote on August 20th, 2012
  6. Okay, but what about Thetans?

    2Tall wrote on August 20th, 2012
  7. Hmmm, interesting. I’d always found the thing about ions to be a little too woo-woo for me, although I’m with you on the Nessie thing. :-)

    Alison Golden wrote on August 20th, 2012
    • I caught a frog with six legs once (two sets of back legs, both worked!). Probably the closest I came to seeing a monster, wish I took a picture of it. Based on watching it swim in a bucket with other frogs, I think its extra legs made it just a bit faster.
      And in BC I saw a weird skeleton on the beach that looked like a cross between a fish and a lizard, maybe around a meter or a bit less in length with the tail being about half the body.

      Animanarchy wrote on August 21st, 2012
  8. Im building one myself. I know just what shelf to put it on. Time to throw out the flux capaciter. It was a miserable failure!

    Kim wrote on August 20th, 2012
  9. The study on mood change is suggestive but inconclusive. Using a Beck inventory score of 10 to classify someone as depressed is a joke. I have patients that score 55/60 on the Beck. It suggests that students in a lousy mood report some mood improvement. Also, the comparison conditions are suspect. A better “active control” would be some other activity deemed to have minimal antidepressant activity… doing puzzles? The evidence presented really is weak and I would not make recommendations (or invest in a negative ion generator) based on them. I would not want negative ion generators to be subsidized by tax dollars.

    I would like to spend time by a waterfall.

    Bruce wrote on August 20th, 2012
  10. I’ve had a negative ioniser by my bed for the last 30 years. In the days when we didn’t know about wheat damage, it was useful for reducing asthma at night. However, loosing the wheat has a far more powerful effect, and I wouldn’t bother to get one now-a-days – although I will carry on using mine because I have it.

    Jenny W wrote on August 20th, 2012
  11. Why don’t you get specific instead of just being rude?

    Jenny wrote on August 20th, 2012
    • +1
      Now who’s the troll!

      Animanarchy wrote on August 21st, 2012
  12. I’ve had an ionizer for several years, it really DOES help with my allergies and asthma. I also have a small fish pond in my house which has a fountain. If nothing else, the sound of the fountain is very relaxing and soporific.
    I have only been doing the Primal Blueprint for 7 weeks, I’m not sure when/if I will see any improvement in the allergy arena. Thanks for the great blog Mark!

    MoodyGirl wrote on August 20th, 2012
    • the allergy thing is tricky as there seem to be so many cofactors producing not only the reactions but often the conditions where said cofactors will cause a reaction. Example: i’ve been basically primal for 3.5 years (no grains etc etc but with dairy) 8 years ago i had all amalgam removed suspecting it responsible for increasing digestive issues – but left a root canal. all digestive issues cleared (that worked!) but remaining was virtually constant post nasal drip and throat clearing. i finally pulled the (still stable but suspect) molar/root canal and low and behold – – no more compulsive throat clearing within 6 weeks! however i still have a residual runny sinus that hangs on no matter what. is it an allergy to something more i have not changed? dropping dairy does nothing to change it –

      my point moodygirl is that you may find certain things changing/getting better but still get to play detective with other chronic issues that may seem allergy related but may or may not be – good luck!

      ravi wrote on August 20th, 2012
      • Sometimes the runny nose is simply tears that don’t come thru the eyes but sinus. I don’t know if it’s because I block the crying when I don’t want to be seen crying that makes that happen or not but I always carry a hanky so that I have something to catch the tears from my nose. Usually happens when there is a difference in temps, like from outside to in or when the hated AC kicks up it’s ugly heals. Perhaps I need to stand in the shower and cry on a regular basis to get that to stop……

        2Rae wrote on June 29th, 2013
  13. I would not recommend the cheaper ion generators, nor to build your own. These devices generate significant amounts of ozone. You can even smell it sometimes.
    I find ozone causing sore throat, beside possible other side effects I have not encountered myself.

    Ted wrote on August 20th, 2012
    • Let’s be explicit here. Breathing ozone is bad.
      Try wikipedia or the the United States EPA .

      Mark wrote on August 20th, 2012
      • because that make it yourself site also has ozone generators claiming…

        “Make a surprisingly effective ozone generator for freshening the air in your home or workshop”.

        Please don’t do that. Ozone is good for killing microbes in food packing and lots of other applications, but not for breathing.

        Mark wrote on August 21st, 2012
      • I would gather to say that the EPA isn’t exactly the harbinger of all things good.

        Plus, as Wired.com has shown, Wikipedia can be modified to fit whatever narrative is necessary.

        Here are a couple of links to some really thurough evidence on Ozone, Oxygen, and Hydrogen Peroxide.

        http://educate-yourself.org/cancer/ozonebymajidli17jul03.shtml

        http://educate-yourself.org/ozone/

        Dobropet wrote on November 1st, 2012
  14. I was actually thining about getting a purifier a few weeks ago! I purchased some scentedpop-popouri to try and make my bedroom/office smell “fresh”, but it did nothing.

    Now I’m confused. I’ve done a little searching for HEPA Ionic Air purifier, but it seems it’s wither HEPA OR Ionic… Is this true? I don’t really think that a filter-less one will do as good job, albeit UV probably is good, I don’t want a blue light when sleeping.

    Does anyone have a HEPA Ionic Purifier?

    Thanks!

    Nathan wrote on August 20th, 2012
  15. I also gathered that the way Ionisers work is that attract other ions in the air and “weight them down”. They then settle on furniture to be cleaned off? Seems a little counter-intuitive? Would a HEPA air purifier still be good, if it doesn’t have a ioniser?

    Nathan wrote on August 20th, 2012
  16. Sorry, still pretty skeptical. What kinds of ions are these (i.e., what’s the molecule or atom)? What’s supposed to be the mechanism for their interacting with our body? I’m guessing a chemical reaction (since it seems like the most obvious way ions interact with other things) but in that case what specifically are they reacting with?? The discussion of ‘ions’ is just so so so vague and unscientific that it really gives no information to be able to judge its merits. Even if there were some effect there’s way too little information here to have any idea what’s going on, or even if it’s the charge or the molecule overall that matter, or if it’s the interaction of the ‘negative ions’ with something in your body that matters or if they are simply reacting with other ions in the environment and removing them…. I remain a skeptic for now.

    TO wrote on August 20th, 2012
    • Agree. A negative ion of *what*? I would think it matters.

      Brad wrote on August 20th, 2012
      • Yeah, if negative electric charges literally had some kind of positive health effects, purely by virtue of being negative charges, then we could all get all kinds of benefits from things like walking across a carpet in socks or wearing wool sweaters in the winter. And I can think of some negative ions (as well as positive ones) that are dangerously reactive (causing explosions or burns or leaching minerals from the body).

        IMHO, it’s either simply not a real thing, or if there’s anything in it at least what’s going on is very different from how it’s being explained.

        TO wrote on August 20th, 2012
    • Maybe the extra electrons pass from the ions to us, acting like antioxidants.

      Animanarchy wrote on August 21st, 2012
    • +1. “Negative ion” means nothing without talking about which negative ion it is. Superoxide anion is a negative ion that is quite toxic. Maybe some “negative ions” have benefits, but without specifying which ones, it’s not

      trojan_n_phoenix wrote on August 22nd, 2012
      • …science.

        trojan_n_phoenix wrote on August 22nd, 2012
  17. “Because they are either positively or negatively charged, ions are “mobile.”” Took me a bit to decipher this but I imagine this must be a reference to electrical mobility rather than to what we normally mean by mobility in common speech? Electrical mobility just refers to how much something moves in an electric field, which is useful if you’re trying to apply a voltage to it and use it to conduct electricity. However it’s not clear to me what it’s got to do with the rest of this article, or to the proposed health effects of charged particles?

    TO wrote on August 20th, 2012
  18. I grew up in Niagara Falls (apparently the home of massive numbers of negative ions) I worked many summers beside the falls. I feel a difference in how I feel outside versus inside stale air vs fresh?)but the falls does nothing for me. Pretty! Yes, but thats it!

    Cindy wrote on August 20th, 2012
  19. Thanks a lot for this Mark! I had just written the ion thing off as a bunch of hippie quackery. I’ve even heard that we should be drinking ionized water. Is there any validity to that?

    Thanks for the great content as usual!

    Daniel wrote on August 20th, 2012
  20. This feels oddy biased toward negative ions without much compelling evidence. But, hey, maybe it’s just a mark of how REALLY awesome most other MDA articles are? We’re just a bit spoiled now, but these articles can’t all be winners!

    BrassyDel wrote on August 20th, 2012
    • Yeah, frankly, this doesn’t really seem to be an area that Mark has any background in, and I’m afraid it shows.

      TO wrote on August 20th, 2012
      • How rude, Too.
        There are ways of studying to gain knowledge without going to university to learn about any topic of interest. In the past, there were encyclopaedia sets and libraries. Today we have the internet. The truly curious will check sources and read widely, in either case. The other day I read a point made that the internet is as great a step for today as the Gutenberg press had been in its time. A decade or so ago the accepted authorities would distain the uninitiated for gathering information from libraries; today the same chime in regarding studying on the internet. Medical doctors are particularly arrogant in this matter.
        We all do our best to protect interests to our belief system and our means of employment. The foundation to modern theoretical physics today stands upon shaky ground; the meaning of red shift when it is applied to galaxies is coming under question. Likewise, medicine is under assault. Forty percent of Americans seek naturopathic advice today. The numbers are gaining. Should, probably more specifically, ‘when’ these two subject have to be re-evaluated, the wind will be taken out of the sails of the proudly presumptuous in all fields of belief. Such would be a good thing. When we take personal belief systems too seriously, minds close to new possibilities.

        I applaud Mark for broaching this topic. The effects are not felt by everyone and that has been noted since the idea of negative ion generators for health was first introduced.

        mhikl wrote on January 16th, 2014
  21. With all the wi-fi around. Does this give off positive ions??

    Upbeat wrote on August 20th, 2012
  22. How is this any different than going barefoot in the dirt or “grounding”?

    kk wrote on August 20th, 2012
  23. I feel good when i take a shower. I feel good when I get sunlight (not too much sunlight that burns me like in arizona right now). I feel good walking barefoot on a turf, in a creek, etc.. that’s all i need to know.. lol

    Gift clumsywarrior wrote on August 20th, 2012
  24. I’ve always been skeptical of this ion stuff (at least, the way it was explained to me) because apparently some outdoor scenarios are bad. Apparently very windy places and deserts are positively ionized. But I’ve felt at my most relaxed in deserts, and what about the inevitable wind around large waterfalls? How are they both positive and negative? Why do desert tribes not report high levels of allergies if this is true?

    My personal opinion is that it’s hokum, but I’m open to evidence to the contrary. I don’t think the evidence exists in this article, though.

    Mia wrote on August 20th, 2012
    • Equal amounts of positive and negative sounds a lot simpler than having mainly one, actually. Most things are charge neutral, in which case to create a negative ion you have to create a positive one at the same time. In order to have an imbalance between the number of positive vs negative charges many of one would have to be removed somehow or moved to a different location.

      TO wrote on August 20th, 2012
  25. this is quite interesting, and something i will have to consider – just never heard of it before!

    Marissa wrote on August 20th, 2012
  26. I have a Lasko tower fan with a negative ionizer button. It might be my imagination, but the air feels cooler and fresher when I run it with the ionizer feature on.
    The whole issue is interesting… our food supply and other ways of living are so different than they were pre-industrialization, perhaps our air is, too.

    Ayla wrote on August 20th, 2012
  27. One of the things that’s inconsistent here is that I see discussion of at least three completely different things under the heading of ‘ions’, which seem to have very little to do with each other. 1) ionized particles (not sure ionized particles of what substance) in the air being brought into the respiratory system 2) water ‘ionization’ which seems to refer to adding certain minerals? in an attempt to change its pH? and 3) static electricity being used to attract dust and particulate matter in air filters.

    None of these things seem to have anything to do with each other that I can see :).

    TO wrote on August 20th, 2012
    • Sorry, I was skeptic on this topic and I stay skeptic.
      Ok, let’s produce tons of “negative ions”:

      – Where do the positive go? Annihilated? Back to pure energy according to E=Mc2?

      – Positive and negative irresistibly attract. How long can a “negative ion” stay far away from a ionizer which is constantly charging more and more positively. And how far can it travel most of all: as it freely is floating in the air, it must simply return to the ionizer.

      – Ions of which? -CN (cyanide) for example is a negative ion and sure it is not healthy.

      – I once studied in details the photosynthesis. Now I cannot remember every single electron moving but as far as I remember there are indeed ions which are generated at a certain point. The fact is that they are reabsorbed immediately. The tree is not a nuclear power plant producing beta rays 8 hours per day!!!

      – As for the results of the researches, how much bias is there? We want to prove that ions are so good, we find a way to prove it. Mood, stress and also breath are very psychological (placebo effect?) and me too, despite being skeptic, feel more relaxed in a wood next to a waterfall instead of sitting in my office

      There are many other points I could rise, but that would make the post endless. I’ll continue later, maybe ;)

      primal_alex wrote on August 20th, 2012
  28. I was given one of those Ion Bracelets as a gift by my mum and told of all the miracle wonders it somehow creates, so I thought why not, i’d give it a go, thinking it was probably plenty of nonsense but no harm in wearing it for a few days.

    Within 30 minutes I had the most obscene migraine coming on that i’ve had since I used to be a refined sugar fanatic back before going primal.

    I stuck it out for two days hoping it was a coincidence, but couldn’t for the life of me shift it even with every migraine technique under the sun I could think of.

    Within an hour of taking it off, the migraine pretty much lifted as though it’d never been there at all.

    I’ve tried them out twice since as experiments, and both times i’ve ended up bedridden!

    They definitely do something…

    Probably best to just go on a walk to a waterfall.

    clarissa wrote on August 20th, 2012
  29. I use Himalayan Salt Lamps at home and in the office. They also in use them at my primal gym. The lamps are a large chunk of himalayan salt with a light in the middle of them (cheap too) and emit negative ions… as well as casting a pink, yellow, orange glow… which is great for pre-sleep. The neg-ions attach to positive ions in the air and neutralise them. I found them to be beneficial

    Ben wrote on August 20th, 2012
  30. I haven’t had any experience with an ion generator. However, nothing washes away negativity like a shower. When I was at sea in the Navy I felt exhilarated. When I was a welfare case worker (negativity you could drown in) I was only able to cope by long immersion in water, after my showers. Showers while recovering from a cold or flu speed recovery. I’m not an expert, but it absolutely works for me.

    TruckerLady wrote on August 20th, 2012
  31. Great article, and yes,maybe we should think of Paleo as broader reaching – being aware of our surroundings as the Natives Americans who would not drink water out of the river for more than a day or so because it was “no longer alive.”
    Positive ions, like fake food have invaded our lives at every turn. Even wearing synthetic fabrics creates positive ions, as to surrounding ourselves with synthetic carpets, fabrics, pseudo wood, Wi-Fi, etc, but especially surrounding ourselves with METAL. This causes the “Faraday cage effect”, ramping up positive ion discharge with measurable decrease in vitality. Studies were done first in submarines on sailors shut in for long periods, and later in cosmonauts, then in Western Europe in metal confines like cars,planes, trailers,and industrial warehouses. (no data at hand, just remember reading it in various books). When I hear of another “green” container vacation home, or a friend buying a vintage Airstream to be close to nature and all that fresh air to get negative ions, I cringe.

    Elsie Harrington wrote on August 21st, 2012
  32. Reading the comments and seeing how much confusion this brought up is really a shame…

    The research feels suggestive at best and the mechanic behind the supposed effect is still very unclear. It cause more harm than it helps seeing comments like “With all the wi-fi around. Does this give off positive ions???”…

    The crazy train is coming, woo-woooo…

    Victor Rosberg wrote on August 21st, 2012
  33. Nice post, learned some new stuff and this doesn’t happen too often :D
    Off to check out that negative ionizer scheme

    Mario wrote on August 21st, 2012
  34. Bottom line….
    go out to your local forest,or park, and take a Primal Bath….

    Fred wrote on August 21st, 2012
  35. Ions and water have been going around for seemingly aeons now.

    Triumph Fitness wrote on August 21st, 2012
  36. Good grief people!
    This discussion reminds me of what I imagine people in times past sounded like when the germ theory was introduced.
    No one believed it until the microscope was invented and could actual SEE the ” wee animals”.
    Semmelweis was run out of medicine and only after he died was lauded for his work to prevent ” childbirth fever”- by washing his hands to remove pathogens.

    Just because you can’t see it, touch it, and fully understand it at this time, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Lessons in history, look back.

    RenegadeRN wrote on August 21st, 2012
    • Well, here’s a double blind study:
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1907639

      “Just because you can’t see it, touch it, and fully understand it at this time, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.” What an ion is is basic chemistry and electrostatics that’s pretty well understood for around a hundred years. Most of modern technology depends on it. It CAN be measured and modeled and looked at with great accuracy and is all the time on a routine basis.

      How the body works may not be that well understood, sure. But what an ion is? It’s really not that hard to get a basic understanding of high school level or first year university level chemistry.

      TO wrote on August 21st, 2012
      • Lots of chemicals react in different ways with the body so in principle I can imagine that many kinds of particles in the air may have certain effects when breathed, either helpful or unhelpful. No reason to believe some of those particles might not be charged.

        But that’s such a vague and general statement as to be almost meaningless as far as practical application goes.

        TO wrote on August 21st, 2012
        • I wonder if smoking, as bad an idea as it is overall, might actually provide a small benefit as well by boosting trace minerals in the body.
          Are you low on cyanide? Popeye’s Brand (artificial as far as I know) cigarettes give you 100,000X your daily dose!

          Animanarchy wrote on August 21st, 2012
    • Pasteur and Semmelweis and those who expanded on their original ideas searched and found solid and repeatable evidence, which is why their theories were eventually accepted to be true among all the other equally new and interesting theories coming up at the time.

      TO wrote on August 21st, 2012
    • Good point.
      Who used to think holding off on the butter was a smart choice?
      After a couple out of body experiences I’m not hasty to discount any theories that seem like they might make sense.

      Animanarchy wrote on August 21st, 2012
  37. Can anyone recommend a certain brand/model?

    glorth2 wrote on August 21st, 2012
  38. My doctor talked me into a negative ion generator that was also an air purifier that generated ozone. The ozone caused destruction of my already weak lungs before I realized what was causing it. Plus, some of us are sensitive to or allergic to certain electrical fields and these air purifiers pump out a large amount of electromagnetic field. So…I’d be cautious if you are the sensitive type. Go with nature, not man-made, if you can. Wouldn’t want anyone to learn the way I did.

    Paula wrote on August 21st, 2012
  39. Having crystals (and some metals) around makes me feel good mentally. Maybe it’s just because I like how they look. My Grandma has chunks of amethyst in her house and as a kid I used to go up to them and stare and run my fingers along the edges. I was absolutely fascinated. I’ve also always like quartz a lot. I had a rock collection for years and used to pick up just about every piece of quartz I found, and even as a teen arranged the more interesting rocks like quartz, obsidian, and tiger’s eye in patterns or shapes on my dresser. When I was bored I’d take a minute to examine the artwork or individual rocks. Not sure if the energy of the crystals does anything to our physiology but the aesthetic aspect of them benefited my mood.

    Animanarchy wrote on August 21st, 2012
    • I think we often underestimate the effect of beauty on our mind, attention, mood, and stress (and all those do trickle down to physical health effects — besides the more direct effect on quality of life).

      It’s good to take time to appreciate our senses — sights, sounds, tastes, touch, smells.

      TO wrote on August 21st, 2012
    • I recently found a nice quartz stone that fills my fist and a smaller one about the size of a big snail. I keep them in the corner of the windowsill in my room in the shelter I currently stay at so I can see some light shining through their edges and they’re close to my head when I sleep. Makes my life a little better.

      Animanarchy wrote on September 25th, 2012
  40. I think many of the mistakes we’ve made in modern society come from trying to pick out and isolate individual good elements of things we don’t really understand, rather than going directly to their whole, natural, full form.

    E.g., trying to figure out what’s the important element of a certain healthy food (and we usually end up being wrong or incomplete) and recreate and bottle it in an artificial way is one of the mistakes that’s led us to invent all kinds of processed foods that turned out in hindsight to be unhealthy.

    In this case, it may be that sitting near a waterfall or bubbling stream is healthy, but to me the answer to that is not to try to guess what the ‘magic ingredient’ that makes it healthy is –

    — the answer is to find ways to live our lives so we get to spend some time sitting next to waterfalls and bubbling streams.

    TO wrote on August 21st, 2012
    • Partly because I strongly suspect that there isn’t one single magic ingredient to why sitting near a stream is good for you, but a complex combination of many different things going on. No electronic box is ever going to be any kind of substitute for actually going and hanging out near some water.

      TO wrote on August 21st, 2012
    • I couldn’t agree more TO!

      RenegadeRN wrote on August 23rd, 2012

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