It is a known fact that everything around us is made up of atoms. Going deeper into science, it is also known that every atom in the universe is made up of subatomic particles known as protons, neutrons, and electrons. A proton is positively charged, an electron is negatively charged, and a neutron is neutrally charged (or net charge of 0). A certain number of these dictate the atom's "identity", or most commonly known as "element". For example, an atom with 1 proton and 1 electron is a hydrogen atom, and an atom with 26 protons and 26 electrons is an iron atom.
While ions are incredibly important in the advanced studies of physics and engineering, various studies over the past decades suggest that they also have health benefits. Several studies claim that exposure to them is beneficial and can be done through various ways such as making contact with objects charged with anions or being in the presence of an event that produces negative ions.
Benefits of Negative Ions
First of all, most of the health benefits of negative ionization are related to one's mental well-being and are supported by numerous studies; however, a clear and definite explanation as to why this works is yet to be published. To be specific, researches suggest that exposure to negative ions includes benefits such as preventing depression, minimizing depression symptoms, enhancing cognitive performance, improving focus, and preventing antimicrobial activity in the surroundings. All these are supported by studies with evidence, but some other claimed benefits are yet to be proven such as helping in anxiety management, lowering blood pressure, and improving one's breathing.(1)
To go further in-depth, scientific publications from the year 1957 to 2012 were reviewed by researchers from BMC Psychiatry in 2013 and showed that negative ionization had very little to no effect on people's general mental wellbeing, but had great effects on people suffering from depression.(2) Most of the studies showed that improvements in the survey scores of depressed patients who were exposed to negative ions for prolonged periods. After several hours of negative ionization, patients showed fewer symptoms of depression than they initially had. Patients with "Seasonal Affective Disorder" may also benefit from negative ionization, requiring a shorter period of exposure.
A study from PubMed Central (PMC) in 2015 also provided experimental results showing that negative ionization also helped improve cognitive performance and focus after brief exposures to increased anions.(3) A study in 2018 from the Internal Journal of Molecular Science also reviewed research in the past century (100 years of studies) to find evidence on the health benefits of negative ionization.(4) The research showed that negative ions could help people regulate sleep patterns, improve moods, reduce stress, improve metabolism, boost the immune system, aid in fat burning, and kill bacteria, viruses, and mold species that may pose a threat to people's health. However, other claims of negative ionization helping with anxiety management, blood pressure management, and breathing have no evidence or any supporting details.
How To Get Exposure To Negative Ions
Due to the various health benefits of negative ionization found and proven by countless studies, people around the world are gaining interest in how to expose themselves to negative ions. Some of the simplest and easiest ways one could expose themselves to negative ions include going to the beach, visiting a waterfall, creek, ocean shore, or riverbank. This is because negative ions are created when water collides upon itself, creating the "Lenard Effect". One could also step out in the rain as discharges of negative ions occur during thunderstorms because of lightning strikes. Taking a walk outdoors in the sun every day is also a great way to negatively ionize oneself as ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun also emit negative ions.(5)
Because of the growth in popularity of negative ions, companies have also found ways to deliver negatively ionizing products to consumers. One of these products is the ionizer, a device that can be placed anywhere in the house to produce negative ions. This is an effective way to expose the residents to negative ions and enjoy the various health benefits that come with it. The device uses electricity to create negative ions and then discharges them in the air. Another more affordable alternative is a Himalayan salt lamp. These are crystals carved from rock salt and claim to pull in toxins, allergens, and pollutants while it releases negative ions from the attraction and evaporation of water molecules on its warm surface.
Another potential source of negative ionization is a trending method called "earthing" or "grounding". This is the practice of walking barefoot or placing one's bare skin on the earth's soil or grass to absorb negative ions, considering that the earth is negatively charged and has a large supply of anions. Earthing or grounding costs people very little to absolutely no money at all and can be done anywhere. This can be done by simply going out on a walk in your garden barefoot, or visiting the woods and sitting under the tree and exposing as much of your skin as you can to the earth's ground. It can also be done by walking in the sand on the beach, which has the bonus of exposing you to negative ions from the sea's Lenard Effect mentioned earlier. There are also a variety of so-called "Earthing" products available which recreate the effect of sleeping exposed to the ground, even in your own home, by grounding the body with a wire connected to (electrical) ground.
Due to various studies over many years pointing out the tested benefits of negative ionization, its effects have not gone unnoticed. Researchers still have not found the reason behind their positive effects, but the topic is continuously being studied by several experts. As negative ions grow in popularity over the years, people have started to invest in ionizers and salt lamps to increase exposure to these ions. However, one can be exposed to negative ions for free and in simple methods such as taking a walk during the day, visiting the beach, and even sitting under a tree barefoot. It is comforting to learn that one can enjoy the benefits of negative ions in various easy ways.