The Positivity of Negative Ions

You may have heard that exposure to negative ions is good for our overall wellbeing, but really wonder what is the hype all about, and also whether any of this is true. The basic science of it is that ions are invisible charged particles in the air we breathe – either molecules or atoms, which bear an electric charge. Some particles are positively charged and some are negatively charged. Negative ions have an extra electron, while positive ions are missing an electron. Negative ions are abundant in nature, especially around waterfalls, on the ocean surf, at the beach and after a storm. They are widespread in mountains and forests. According to, Niagara Falls is one of the highest natural producers of negative ions in the world…

Positive ions are often associated with pollutant particles like smoke, smog, and dust are more prevalent indoors, in urban areas, and in the winter. They are also released into the atmosphere by air conditioners, televisions, computers and other electronic devices. These positive ions are responsible for a variety of symptoms including headaches, fatigue, nausea, and dizziness. These symptoms originate from the fact that electronic devices deplete the air of negative ions. Positive ions are commonly known as “free radicals”.

You may have experienced the power of negative ions when you previously went to a beach or walked beneath a waterfall. While part of the euphoria is simply being around these wonderful settings and away from the usual pressures of home and work, the air circulating in the mountains and the beach is known to contain tens of thousands of negative ions, much more than the average home or office building, which contain dozens or hundreds or even none. “The action of the pounding surf creates negative air ions and we also see it immediately after spring thunderstorms when people report lightened moods,” says ion researcher Michael Terman, PhD, of Columbia University in New York. Visit his webpage for an in-depth analysis at

Potential Health Benefits of Negative Ions

Studies have indicated that 33% of people who are sensitive to the negative ion effects. So for 1 in 3 of us, negative ions can make us feel like we are walking on air. You have probably one of them if you feel instantly refreshed the moment you open a window and breathe in fresh, humid air. Another indicator is that if you feel sleepy when you are around an air-conditioner, but feel immediately refreshed and invigorated when you step outside or roll down the car window. It has been shown that air conditioning depletes the atmosphere of negative ions, but an ion generator can replenish the negative ions that air conditioners removed.

European scientists have conducted research regarding the influence of ions to the human body, and they proposed the hypothesis that negatively charged ions are beneficial to the human body in 4 major ways :

  1. It strengthens the functions of autonomic nervesThe autonomic nervous system or ANS is in charge of the involuntary functions of the body i.e. the heart and digestive system, and other basic functions such as breathing through the lungs. Because it is so automatic, we are seldom conscious of it, even though it has significant impact on our overall wellbeing. By balancing the ANS, it can promote deep sleep and healthy digestion
  2. Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) Diagram, Source :

    It reinforces collagen (tissues that are resilient and tension-related)Increase blood flow with resultant increased oxygen-carrying capacity, both of which are basic to help the body healing itself.

  3. It improves cell metabolism, in this case the permeability of the cell’s prototype plasma membranes – Cell metabolism is the process of acquiring nutrients from the blood and excreting waste out of the body, and is extremely important process to revitalize the human cells. Negative ions help to optimize body’s oxygen intake and waste elimination in our cells, hence keeping them revitalized and healthy.
  4. It strengthens the body’s immune system by neutralizing free radicals (i.e. positive ions) in the bloodstream which renders slower and less efficient cell metabolism in your body. Free radicals causes the body’s cells to become weak and you will tend to get sick more easily and age faster as a result of poorer immune system

In addition, other studies have also shown a link between negative ion treatment and benefits for the following:

  1. Alleviation of Depression and Stress Reduction – Once they reach our bloodstream, negative ions are believed to produce biochemical reactions that raise the levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy. “Negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain; resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy,” says Pierce J. Howard, PhD, author of The Owners Manual for the Brain. Negative air ionization therapy is a well known use of air ionisers as an experimental non-pharmaceutical treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and mild depression. The mainstream scientific community considers it pseudoscience. In another 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.
  2. Fatigue Relief and Improve Sleep – The overproduction of serotonin (chemical produced inside the brain) also causes fatigue and sleep disorders, and negative ions regulate the production of serotonin inside the brain. A study in France reported that negative ionizers helped people to sleep better, by regulating the production of the chemical serotonin in the brain.
  3. Reduction of Allergies and Asthma by clearing the air of airborne allergens such as pollen, mold spores, bacteria and viruses. Besides they also clear the air of dust, pet dander and cigarette smoke. Negative ions perform this function by attaching themselves to positively charged particles in large numbers and negatively charging those particles. As a result, these viruses, bacteria and pollen spores become too heavy to remain airborne and are thus prevented from entering your breathing passage where they can make you fall sick. A recent study by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture found that ionizing a room led to 52% less dust in the air, and 95% less bacteria in the air (since many of the pollutants found in the air reside on floating dust particles). Another study in asthmatic children found that exposure to positively ionized air exacerbated their asthmatic response to exercise (
  4. Protect against germs in the air, resulting in decreased irritation due to inhaling various particles that make you sneeze, cough, or have a throat irritation. The USDA had performed another study to test the effectiveness of negative ionization at removing airborne Salmonella Enteritidis. The negative ions drastically reduced the airborne salmonella particles, prompting the following statement from the USDA: “These results indicate that negative air ionization can have a significant impact on the airborne microbial load in a poultry house and at least a portion of this effect is through direct killing of the organisms.”
  5. Improve Physical Performance – Due to test results performed by Russian scientists, negative ionizers were always installed in the locker rooms and resting places for the Russian athletes.

How to Increase your Exposure to Negative Ions

There are free, natural and simple ways that you can increase your exposure to negative ions inside and outside your home/office immediately without heading to the forest or the beach:

  1. Take a Shower – the closest thing many of us get to moving water is our regular showers which produces negative ions with it’s splashing water. Rain and your shower produce negative ions because they are generated by the “Lenard effect” where water splashes. Far more negative ions can be found in the basin of a waterfall because water is splashed more violently and humidity is lower. Negative ions can exist stably when humidity is 40-60%, while it is usually higher than this level when raining or in your shower room. Ref “Electricity in a waterfall” written by Lenard, Philipp Eduard Anton.
  2. Install “shower head” tap in your Kitchen to create Lenard effect when washing
  3. Spend time in your Garden as plants produce negative ions, especially when exposed to intense light during photosynthesis, and if you can, it will be great to install a small running water fall or fountain

Given the abundant health benefits of negative ions, it is also not surprising that there are also many products available out there to help you increase the negative ions at home. Remember that going natural is always better, but there will be situations for some individuals where there is no other better options especially when you spend long hours working and/or sleep in an air-conditioned room, or live in a polluted city without quick access to negative-ion rich environments like gardens, forests, waterfalls and the beach.

    1. Negative Ions Generators
      • An air ioniser (or negative ion generator) is a device that uses high voltage to ionise (electrically charge) air molecules.
      • Most commercial air purifiers are now designed to generate negative ions. Negative ion air purifiers help you to breathe cleaner, healthier air and protect yourself from exposure to allergens and viruses. The constant flow of negative ions will help to keep away viruses, dust mites and other pollutants that can make you sick.
      • Nowadays, humidifiers come with ioniser function as well.
      • Another type of air ioniser is the electrostatic discharge (ESD) ioniser (balanced ion generator) used to neutralise static charge.
      • When deciding whether to buy that negative-ion generator advertised in the local paper or on the web, buyer beware, says Columbia’s Terman. “There is a major problem with advertised units,” he tells WebMD. “Output levels are not … specified in a way that could advise antidepressant dose. Room air circulation, heat and humidity, the proximity of grounded devices that may emit counteracting positive ions (such as computer monitors) may affect output levels (of a negative-ion generator)”, he explains.
      • There are many affordable Negative Ions Generators available in the market, of which a few are listed below :

    1. Negative Ions Clothes & Beddings
      • Negative ion clothing has been gaining some popularity, with some merchants claiming enormous health benefits including curing cancers.
      • Caution to be exercised to check the amount of negative ions so as not to fall prey to product scams which are frequently reported.
      • Examples of Negative Ion Clothing are listed below.

    1. Negative Ions Jewellery
      • This ranges from necklaces to bracelets, and crystals such as Tourmaline.
      • Tourmaline generates negative ions when external pressure is applied to it. It is possible that this is due to the piezoelectric effect but no formula/theory has been established yet. When no external force is applied to tourmaline, it generates as little amount of negative ions as found naturally in the air. Tourmaline bedsheets, underwear and supporters generate negative ions while in use because pressure is applied by the user. However, there are some tourmaline products to which no such force is applied. It is important to make sure that if the tourmaline product you are about to purchase will generate negative ions.

  1. Negative Ions Water Purifier
      • Ionised water is getting very popular recently and is produced by a home water filtration system that not only filters out unhealthy contaminants from the source water, but it uses electrolysis to restructure the water.
      • Many of these water ionizers also incorporate alkalizing function to capture a bigger pie of the health market.
      • Just in the past few years, dozens of companies have jumped on the water ionizer bandwagon to capitalize on a booming market.

How Much Negative Ions is Enough?

There are commercial available Air Ion counters if you would like to check the level of negative ions in your environment and also negative ion producing products you may have bought. How much negative ions is sufficient to achieve some of the positive health effects ?

When the amount of negative ions contained one cc of air inhaled reaches 5,000 to 50,000, it is believed to strengthen the body’s resistance and immunity; and when the amount of negative ions contained in one cc of air reaches 100,000 to 500,000, it is believed to be able to relieve illnesses.

85% of the negative ions are absorbed from our skin, while only 15% is inhaled and absorbed through our lungs (quoted from page 56 of Negatively Charged Electric Ion Treatment, issued by Youth Publishing).

Environment Number of Negative Ions per cc of Air Potential Health Effects
Industrial, Heavy traffic road 0-300  
Office, Open Window home 400-500  
Garden, Park 400-1,000  
Countryside 1,000-5,000 Helpful to Human Health
Waterfall / Forest 10,000-20,000 Enhance Immunity
Human induced negative ion environment 100,000-500,000 Enhance Healing Abilities to Chronic Illnesses



Whether you believe it or not, there many scientific studies that indicate the health benefits of higher exposure of negative ions. So next time you feel a little down and out, give a try by increasing your exposure to negative ions – you may be thankful to experience another good way to stay happier and healthier.


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