My interest in negative ions has taken me
on quite a journey. I have sifted through many abstracts and quite a bit of information and
following is what I learned.
I am particularly excited about negative
ions because I, personally, have had good success using an ion generator. After only 2 or 3 days I
was sleeping much better. I have had insomnia problems for years, and before this, nothing other
than sleeping pills has ever worked for me. About 3 weeks after plugging it in, I find that my mood
is elevated. I bought a small machine for my car, and another desk machine for my office. I have
always suffered from the side effects of the anti-depressant medications, so finding relief without
those side effects is very exciting. I am not offering this as a therapy, just sharing some
Since everyone reading this information is
in front of a computer, the first article here is of interest because it discusses the fact that
cathode ray tubes in computer monitors emit harmful positive ions (which are the opposite of
negative ions). I called my local Computer City store where a technician told me that all computer
monitors, other than lap tops with liquid crystal displays, use cathode ray tubes.
If you decide to
purchase a negative ion generator, be sure to look on the box or ask the retailer for the ion
density, and make sure it is in the millions/cc. All of the ionizers I looked at in local
stores had low ion densities, only in the thousands/cc, so be careful. Also, make sure that the
generator is filterless so that the negative ions are released into the air, and not into a filter,
or else you'll never "feel" them. None of the ionizers I read about in the research
literature had filters in them.
Unfortunately for us computer users, it
seems that harmful positive ions--the opposite of negative ions, are emitted by our computer
monitors. In the Palo Alto, California newspaper, "The Peninsula Times Tribune", the
following article appeared:
"Beating a case of the VODS: Negative
ions maybe an answer to the video blahs"
By William Johnson - Times Tribune Staff
REDWOOD CITY - A case of the blahs at work
may really be a case of the VODS.
VODS stands for Video
Operator Distress Syndrome, and the troublesome malady is not uncommon of the millions of workers
who use computer video display terminals.
Charles Wallach, consultant to the Food
and Drug Administration on the effects of working with electronic video equipment, told reporters in
the San Mateo County Hall of Justice and Records pressroom how to beat a case of the VODS.
Wallach, 64, works in Washington DC. He
has served as a consultant to may government agencies and industries to create a more healthy indoor
The cause of the VODS, Wallach said, is a
high electrostatic charge generated on the face of a video screen's cathode ray tube. Government
standards protect the intrinsic safety of cathode ray tubes, Wallach said, but the VODS nevertheless
still can do bodily harm. The charge, which may quickly reach many thousands of volts when the tube
is energized, is not in itself a hazard. The tube merely creates the hazard within the foot or so of
air space between itself and the operator's face," Wallach said. Those who work too close to
the face of a cathode ray tube or who work before a terminal for too long a time typically
experience increased fatigue levels, eye strain, blurred vision, skin rash, headaches, back pains,
irritability, anxiety, depression and general apathy.
While the cause of these symptoms may also
be a depleted bank account, domestic troubles or a tyrannical boss, they can be caused by the
computer terminal, Wallach said. The culprits that cause the VODS are positive ions or charged
molecules of air, created at the face of the video display terminal. What are needed in the
workplace, Wallach explained, are negative ions. In contrast to positive ions, negatively charged
molecules of air, or negative ions, promote a sense of well-being for people.
Negative ions are typically found in the
natural environment at the seashore, near waterfalls and in pine forests, Wallach explained.
"Every place people like to be is rich in negative ions," Wallach said. Video display
terminal operators need their negative ions. "In weighing the evidence, I am convinced that the
aero-electrostatic qualities of an indoor environment are the most significant single factor in the
control of unavoidable air pollution," Wallach said. Most commonly, offices need to install
equipment to generate negative ions in the air above the video terminal operators. The devices
typically look like small bristle brushes used to clean glasses or test tubes. They are suspended
for the ceiling at the end of long rods. At the northern Santa Clara County Communications Center in
Palo Alto City Hall, negative ion generators were installed on the ceiling over the dispatchers
about a year and a half ago.
Cliff Almeida, operations manager at the
communications center, said Monday that the ionizers have definitely filtered out pipe and cigarette
smoke. But he declined to speculate whether the ionizers created a better working environment with
The topic of negative ions is not a new
area of research. Just one that appears not to have been publicized well, for reasons that I do not
The benefits of exposure to relatively
high concentrations of negative ions produced by high density negative ion generators have been well
documented over decades. Literally dozens of studies published in respected journals have concluded
that negative ions can have a profoundly beneficial effect on both the mind and body.
Listed here are some excerpts from just a
few of the scientific studies on the subject of negative ions.
The most recent and exciting study was
published in the February, 1995 issue of "Journal of Alternative and Comparative
Medicine", a journal of the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. The results of this study
were also reported on CBS News with Connie Chung.
Researchers Dr. Michael Terman (head of
Columbia's Winter depression department) and Dr. Jiuan Su Terman conducted a study of the impact of
negative ion therapy on people suffering from seasonal affective disorder (winter depression)--an
illness that is often symptomatically indistinguishable from "all-year" depression;
researchers believe that the biology of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is very similar to that of
"all-year" depression, hence, the same antidepressant drugs (such as Prozac) are used to
The study was conducted in double blind
fashion and divided clinically depressed subjects into two groups. The subjects in the first group
were treated for 30 minutes a day for 20 days with a low density ion generator that produced only
10,000 ions/cubic centimeter (the control group). The subjects in the second group were treated for
30 minutes a day for 20 days with a high density ion generator that produced 2,700,000 ions/cubic
centimeter (the experimental group). The remission or "cure" criterion used was a 50% or
greater reduction in symptom frequency and severity using the SAD version of the Hamilton Depression
Rating Scale. The results of this study shocked the medical community: While a low density negative
ion generator provided little benefit, a high density negative ion generator gave relief from
depression comparable to that given by Prozac and other antidepressants, without drug side effects.
The following is a transcript from CBS
News 2/14/95 6:30-7:00 PM, Connie Chung. To order your own hard-copy, call
Burell's Transcripts at 1-800-777-8398.
Connie Chung, co-anchor: This is the age
of wonder drugs and high-tech cures, but alternative treatments, from herbs to acupuncture, have
true believers, too, even among some mainstream doctors and researchers. Latest case in point: the
wintertime blues. Is it possible that changing the air you breathe can treat those negative vibes
and actually relieve depression?
Dr. Bob Arnot has the story.
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 all indications of operation, and were also present under control conditions but not
turned on. Data from both groups were collected under double-blind conditions."
The results 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 [energized]."
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 Wellbeing 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."
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
"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 normals, 23.6% for the learning-disabled, and 54.8% for the mildly
There is much research supporting the
effectiveness of negative ions on mood, energy, and performance. But, you are probably wondering
what negative ions are, and how they benefit us.
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."