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More scientific research related to depression, mood, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD or winter depression), and how negative ions might help those conditions.

Negative Ions and Depression

When Negative Ions Are Missing from the air we breathe, we can become Moody or Depressed.


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"A study in the "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."
"...a high density negative ion generator gave relief from depression comparable to that given by Prozac and other antidepressants, without drug side effects."
"While ionization of the air is mandatory in many European and Russian hospitals and workplaces, it has only recently come to light in our country with the growing problem of toxic air in our urban environments."


The mood benefits of exposure to relatively high concentrations of (high density) negative ions produced by high density negative ion generators have been well documented over decades.

It has been scientifically proven that positive ions can make some people very depressed. And positive ions are often found indoors; here are just a few of many reasons why:

  • Air pollution - Some electrical appliances - Isolation from outdoors - city environments - Solar activity - etc.
  • The air moving through ductwork creates positive ions by electrons being torn from oxygen as they rush past the inside surface of the ducts.
  • Low indoor humidity can greatly reduce the amount of negative ions and increase the number of positive ions.


Negative ions can have a profoundly beneficial effect on both the mind and body. Literally dozens of studies published in respected publications have concluded that.

  • newWikipedia article on Negative air ionization therapy
    [Click here to view snapshot taken on 5-30-2012]
  • "Fresh country air has negative ions that have been demonstrated to both treat and prevent depression."
        From Depression: The Way Out, by Neil Nedley, M.D.
  • Studies have shown that some people become very depressed when negative ion counts are very low, or in the wintertime (seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder [S.A.D.]).
  • A high negative ion exposure appeared associated with feeling better about self, less sensitive, and more responsive or innervated (energized).
        From August, 1982 issue of Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine.
  • "Results indicated that subjects had faster reaction times and reported feeling significantly more energetic under negative Air Ion conditions than under normal air conditions."
      - From Influence of Negative Air Ions on Human performance and Mood.
  • "... The introduction of negative ion generation increased the subjective rating of alertness, atmospheric freshness, and environmental and personal warmth.


<- Please check out the links in the left column near the top for much more information.


Dear Net friend,

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.

IG-133A ionizerI 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 research.

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 working environment.

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 less stress."


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 know.

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 treat both.

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 follows:

"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 retarded."


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."

"The normal ion count in fresh country air is 2,000 to 4,000 negative ions per cubic centimeter (about the size of a sugar cube). At Yosemite Falls, you'll experience over 100,000 negative ions per cubic centimeter. On the other hand, the level is far below 100 per cubic centimeter of Los Angeles freeways during rush hour."

"Research on ions began in the 1950s with Dr. Albert Kreuger, professor emeritus of the University of California at Berkeley, and Dr. Felix Sulman, professor of pharmacology at the Hebrew University in Israel."

"Dr. Kreuger excited the scientific world when he discovered ions to be biologically active, stimulated production of the powerful chemical serotonin, 5-HT. Serotonin is a very active neuro-hormone which causes profound neural, glandular, and digestive effects throughout the body."

"Dr. Sulman corroborated Kreuger's findings while studying positive ion victims of the hot, dry Sharav winds in Jerusalem. He demonstrated three effects of positive ion excess: irritation and tension, exhaustion, and hyperthyroid response. Most of these conditions, along with symptoms of depression, anxiety, headaches, and low-energy physical and mental functions, were shown to be alleviated or totally eliminated by increasing the negative ion count in the air."

"While ionization of the air is mandatory in many European and Russian hospitals and workplaces, it has only recently come to light in our country with the growing problem of toxic air in our urban environments."

As I said earlier, a negative ion generator dramatically improved the quality of my life and, therefore, I find the topic to be very exciting.

Date: Tue, 20 Jun 1995 12:22:01 -0400
From: [email protected] (Daniel Stapleton) [email protected]
Subject: Negative Ion Information - feel free to share info



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