Have you ever been at the beach or in the mountains and suddenly felt happier?
It might not just be the joy of nature…
In fact, it might actually be the effects of negative ions.
Many researchers have found that “negative ionization” can have positive effects on health. (1)
Part of this is due to the way that negative ions interact with your body’s tissues and DNA.
But how strong is the evidence about these claims?
In this article, we take a closer look at the research behind negative ions and your health.
By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know the potential benefits, risks, and side effects of negative ions.
Let’s dive in!

What Are Negative Ions?

Negative ions are molecules floating in the air that are charged with electricity.
They are invisible, odorless, and tasteless.
Over the course of the day, you inhale a lot of them in natural environments.
Negative ions have gained one or more electrons.
Positive ions, on the other hand, are molecules that have a shortage of electrons.
As a result, they are low on the vibrant energy that can boost your health.

Where Do You Find Negative Ions In Nature?

There is a delicate balance of positive and negative ions in nature.
For example, in a thunderstorm, the natural ratio of positive and negative ions changes easily.
As a result, the air can be packed with negative ions during thunderstorms.
Similarly, the air molecules in nature can become negatively charged due to…
  • Sunlight
  • Radiation
  • Ultraviolet rays
  • Moving air and water
  • The vital energy in plants
Regardless, negative ions are not harmful, even if they are highly concentrated.
As a matter of fact, negative ions positively affect the body’s natural 24-hour cycle.
However, man-made environments like shopping malls, offices and factories are full of positive ions.
Because we spend so much time in these places, it’s important to spend more time in natural environments.
Areas with high concentrations of negative ions include:
  • Forests (especially pine forests)
  • Springs
  • Mountains
  • Waterfalls
  • Parks
  • Beaches
Believe it or not, any area with a lot of natural motion tends to be more negatively charged.
For example, beaches with pounding surf are more highly charged. (2)
As a matter of fact, even your bathroom shower contains more negative ions when the water is running.
So when it’s time to stock up on negative ions, think beaches, waterfalls, and mountains.
Wherever water flows, air collides or the sun shines is a good source of negative ions.
Even plants give off negative ions as a normal part of their growth process, so get out in nature!

Some People More Sensitive to Negative Ions Than Others

On average, roughly one in three people are extremely sensitive to negative ions.
Within minutes, they can make you feel instantly refreshed like you’re walking on air.
How can you tell if you’re sensitive to a change in positive or negative ions?
Well, for example, you might be sensitive if you feel tired when you walk into an air-conditioned room and then are immediately refreshed when you step outside.
If you’re sensitive, rolling down the car window can feel amazing too.
This is because air conditioning depletes the air of negative ions.
On the contrary, ion generator machines re-release the negative ions that air conditioners remove, but more on that later…

Possible Health Benefits of Negative Ions

Scientists who support the health benefits of negative ionization make a lot of bold claims.
They’re especially confident about their mental health benefits.
But how strong is the research really?
Before we take a deep dive, here’s a quick summary of the research.
Overall, there’s enough research to support the effectiveness of negative ions to:
  • Treat depression in some people
  • Have antimicrobial properties
  • Affect cognitive performance
However, there is insufficient evidence for treating anxiety and lowering blood pressure.
Let’s take a closer look at the research surrounding the health benefits of negative ions.

1. Protect Against Germs In the Air

Negative ions may protect the respiratory system from germs in the air.
As a result, they can reduce symptoms like throat irritation, coughing, and sneezing caused by airborne germs.
For example, a 2018 review found that negative ions can affect indoor air pollution. (3)
However, keep in mind that this study was conducted in controlled environments without major sources of new pollutants.
As a result, we still don’t know how effective ions may be in real-life environments.

2. Allergies and Asthma

Negative ions may reduce symptoms like throat irritation, coughing, and sneezing caused by airborne germs.
However, although preliminary evidence is encouraging, we still don’t know if negative ions improve the symptoms of allergy and asthma patients.
The best strategy for these patients is to avoid air pollution as much as possible.

3. Supports Mental Health

Research shows that negative ions affect mental health for a variety of reasons.
In general, negative ions increase oxygen flow to the brain.
As a result, this can boost alertness, reduce fatigue, and increase mental energy.
Once negative ions reach the bloodstream, they can produce biochemical reactions that increase serotonin.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a big role in stress, anxiety, and depression.
A 2013 review found that negative ions can affect mood. (4)
The study analyzed all the studies published between 1957 and 2012.
Researchers found that negative ions had a significant impact on depression.
According to the study, several hours of negative ion exposure reduced symptoms.
Not only that, but the same study found that it can help with the seasonal affective disorder (SAD) too.
Even shorter durations of 30 minutes still improved symptoms of SAD.
However, not all studies have been conclusive.
For example, a very small 2015 study failed to find any major mental health benefits of negative ions. (5)
However, researchers did find a small improvement in cognitive performance.

Are There Any Risks with Negative Ion Exposure?

Although negative ions in nature are entirely harmless, ion generators used in small spaces come with some risks.
Ionizers create negative ions by sending electrical currents into the air.
In a nutshell, they’re similar to miniature thunderstorms.
If you run an ionizer for too long in a bedroom, it can release ozone particles that may make asthma symptoms worse.
However, a 2013 review found no significant evidence to be worried about this. (6)
At the same time, a separate study found that mild throat irritation can occur if charged particles stick to the lining of the windpipe and lungs. (7)
Static electricity buildup may be another concern.
Ultimately, the extra energy released by ionizers may lead to dangerous levels of electrical charges in your home.

Do Ion Generator Machines Actually Work?

Although negative ions in nature have several health benefits, the question remains if ion generator machines are even worth the fuss.
One thing is for sure: they definitely can clean the air.
Ionizers reduce pollution particles that are five feet off the ground by up to 97 percent. (8)
But what about treating depression?
By the looks of it, ionizers can be an effective treatment for chronic depression in some individuals.
However, researchers have not yet investigated possible interactions between antidepressant drugs and negative ion therapy.
For this reason, you should always consult with your doctor if you’re taking antidepressants.
And, can they relieve allergies caused by dander and dust mites?
Unfortunately, it’s too early to tell.
Heat, humidity, air circulation can also impact the results.

The Bottom Line

According to a 2018 review of over 100 years of studies, researchers have found several effects of ionization on human health. (9)
Negative ion therapy can:
  • Reduce stress
  • Treat depression
  • Support immunity
  • Kill bacteria, viruses, and mold
  • Improve mood
  • Support the lungs
  • Regulate sleep patterns
  • Boost metabolism of carbs and fats
However, there still isn’t enough research to confidently say that negative ions can lower pressure or help manage anxiety.
If you have any more questions about the health effects of negative ions, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.