On a recent episode of Shark Tank, Mark Cuban, and some of the other sharks, spoke out against negative ion technology. When Ryan Naylor for Esso watches gave his demonstration, Mark Cuban had some harsh words: “I’m allergic to scams, seriously; this is not new, its been disproven. What you just saw was placebo effect. Theres athletes that wear it. It’s a joke. It’s a scam. It’s not real. I’m out.”
Naylor admitted that he had no laboratory testing to back any of the claims he made.
Balance bracelets have become very popular in recents years, and many companies have come under fire for making false claims that cannot be backed by any scientific evidence. One of the largest companies to fail in this category is Power Balance, who was making $11 million a year before filing for bankruptcy because they could not back their claims.
LifeStrength, a company specializing in negative ion bracelets and technology is now speaking out, saying their products are legitimate.
“We have third party verification for every claim we make, and we can objectively measure the negative ions our produced (sic) by our product,” says Brand Hunt, Director of Retail Channel Development at LifeStrength.”
“Overall, we do everything in our power to avoid looking like the business on Shark Tank,” says Joshua Taylor ,a rep for LifeStrength. “We have never felt the need to defend our product because we’ve made the research available to our customers.”
Opinions on these types of products vary widely. Obviously some people believe they work, because they are being purchased in major retailers across the country. Others thinks there is not enough evidence to justify their business. What do you think?
Ions are invisible particles, either molecules or atoms, which bear an electric charge. Atoms, for instance, consist of an atomic nucleus that contains neutral neutrons and positively charged protons, as well as orbiting electrons that are negatively charged. When an atom is in a neutral condition, the number of protons (+) and electrons (-) is equal. When the number of protons and electrons is not the same, the particle becomes an ion that is either positively or negatively charged.
Positive Ion (Cation): an atom (or molecule) that has lost one or more electrons due to a high-energy impact. Natural forces that generate positive ions include the decay of radioactive minerals, radon gas, forest fires, lightning and ultraviolet rays.
Negative Ion (Anion): an atom (or molecule) that has gained one or more extra negatively charged electrons. Negative ions are naturally generated by evaporating water, ocean surf, waterfalls and ionic minerals such as Tourmaline.
How are Negative Ions generated naturally?
There are also certain minerals that emit Negative Ions for example Tourmaline and Germanium.
Can Negative Ions be generated artificially?
Negative Ions can be artificially generated by electrical devices such as Air Ionisers which use an external power source (electricity) to generate large quantities of Negative Ions. Our USB Personal Air Purifier Ioniser and our 8 in 1 Room Air Purifier Ioniser both use electricity to generate Negative Ions.
Facts about Negative Ions
Urban areas typically have much lower concentrations of Negative Ions in the air than rural areas.
Ionisation is mandatory in many European and Russian Hospitals.
In March of 1999, Good Housekeeping Magazine had its engineers test an ionizer by using a smoke test, and found that it cleared out the smoke in a tank.
A recent study by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture found that ionising 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).
How Negative Ions Purify the Air
Virtually all particles in the air have a positive charge, while negative ions have a negative charge. In which case, negative ions and particles magnetically attract to one another. When there is a high enough concentration of negative ions in the air, they will attract to floating particles in large numbers. This causes the particle to become too heavy to remain airborne. As a result, the particle will fall out of the air, and will then be collected by normal cleaning activities, such as vacuuming or dusting.
In nature, negative ions are generated by processes such as sunlight, lightening, waves from the ocean, and from waterfalls. "Concrete Jungles" minimize the natural production of negative ions by disrupting the delicate electrical balance between the atmosphere and the earth. Ioniser/ionic air purifiers recreate them with electrode pins ("needlepoints") to electrically produce negative ions.
What Ionic Products are available?
The most popular product we stock is the Ionic Balance Band (worn on the wrist) which uses Tourmaline to naturally emit Negative Ions. We carry a range of ionic products suitable for humans and pets.
Are there any scientific studies on Negative Ions?
Ancient peoples recognized that the air is "electric" so to speak, but it is thought that the formal study of ions did not begin until fairly recently. In 1899, two German scientists, Elster and Geitel, discovered that there are particles in the atmosphere that carry electricity. These particles were later named "air ions" by the British scientist Faraday. The word "ion" was taken from the Greek language, in which it means to "go" or "wander about."
To date over 5000 studies have been conducted on Negative Ions. Many of these are available online.
Negative ion therapy is an alternative form of health treatment that is based on the idea of using negative ions to drain the body of toxins that lead to a number of different health problems. While it is not generally accepted by the established medical community, many people report improvements in specific health ailments after undergoing the therapy, or making use of specially designed equipment to ride the home of irritants and toxins that inhibit the action of the negative ion charge in the space.
The basis for negative ion therapy as a health care alternative rests in the idea that the atmosphere is loaded with negatively charged electrons or ions. By using those electrons to remove elements that have an adverse effect on the physical and emotional well being of the individual, the body’s natural defense system can begin to make the necessary repairs and bring the individual back to a healthy state. Because the purpose of this therapy is to drain the toxins from the environment and the body, any condition that is interfering with the natural function of the muscles and nervous system are isolated and reduced through continued administrations of the therapy. As the impediments to good health are brought under control, the individual begins to enjoy an enhanced state of physical and mental health.
When certain kinds of winds begin to blow throughout the world, hospital admissions, suicides, and crime rates skyrocket . One country- Switzerland- even accepts the blowing of the "Foehn" during the commission of a crime as mitigating evidence in court.
These "notorious" desert and sea winds are also linked to minor illnesses and malaise epidemics. Victims’ claims range from sleeplessness, irritability, tension, migraine, nausea, palpitations and hot flashes with sweating or chills, to tremor, vertigo, swelling, breathing difficulty, and frequent intestinal movement. In addition, elderly persons are affected with depression, apathy, and fatigue.
What causes these "witches’ winds," as they’re often called, to differ from others? What do they possess or lack that make them a dread to the lands or oceans they blow across?
Nothing more than an ambulance of invisible, minute particles with an imperceptive electrical charge- positive and negative ions.
According to the experts, positive ions rob us of our good senses and dispositions, while their stimulating everything from plant growth to the human sex drive.
For the uninitiated ions are charged particles in the air, formed when enough energy acts on 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- neg-ion. The original molecule (minus an electron) is now a positive ion- pos-ion. These ions, in turn, react with dust and pollutants to form larger ions. Small neg-ions -usually no more than 12 gaseous molecules clustered around a charged atom or molecule- are short-lived and highly mobile.
As long as 1789, the Abbe Bertholon, a European monk, speculated that ions exist and affect people. He recorded the responses of medical patients and normal people to changes in the electrical state of the ambient air. More than a century later, in 1899, two scientists named Elster and Geital proved the existence of ions. Only since the 1930s have researchers been probing their secrets.
In nature, ions are formed in a variety of ways. About half are created by radioactive gases. Radioactive substances in the soil, cosmic rays, ultraviolet rays, air flow friction, falling water and plants all produce the other half. For example, they stream off the leaves of plants, most notable pines and asparagus ferns.
Ions are apparently also created by the phenomenon of "subterranean suspiration." As Fred Soyka, author of The Ion Effect, told the first Ions and Light Conference held this summer in Atherton, California. "Solar and lunar influences cause the water table to rise, forcing air out of the earth." This prompted Federal Aviation Administration research psychologist, Bruce Rosenberg, to charge the earth with having "bad breath." Being negatively charged, he said, "it breathes positive ions."
Normally only about one atom in 100,000,000,000,000,000 is ionized, making a total of maybe 1000-2000 ions per cubic centimeter (that’s like a handful of planets floating in a circle 4 billion miles in diameter). These are usually balanced pretty evenly between positive and negative, with a slight edge toward positive. "However, the normal may not be the optimal," Fred Soyka told New Realities. "On the seashore, where water is always falling, you have about 2000 negative to 1000 positive. That seems to be the ratio that human beings respond to most favorably."
We have all experienced this positive effect, regardless of our proximity to waterfall or the ocean. Every home has a built-in, natural ionizer- the shower. Our daily bath rituals are, in effect, the practice of preventive medicine. Research has shown that falling water creates thousands of negative ions by splitting otherwise neutral particles of air, freeing electrons to manifest their vitalizing function. These electrons join up with smaller air particles, thus giving them a predominantly negative charge.
Waterfalls have always been the favorite habitat of mystics and artists. The inspiration and romance generated at places like Niagara Falls and Yosemite have a direct relationship to the lowering of serotonin levels in the blood, caused by the waves of negative ions from the spray of these falls.
Those notorious desert and sea winds mentioned previously raise the ion count, but over-balance the positive- up to a ration of 33 to 1 positive. As the winds blow through arid areas, they stir up dust and the neg-ions are leeched out. In Israel such winds are called the Sharav; in the Alps the Foehn; along the Mediterranean the Sharkiye (called the Sirocco in Italy and the Xlokk in Malta); in Africa the Simoon, France, the Mistral. There’s the Boras of the Adriatic, the Karaburan of the Gobi, the Zondi of Argentina, the Tramontana of Spain. In the U.S., the Chinook plagues the Rockies and the Santa Ana the southern California desert. Still other winds pos-ionize India and Australia. But whatever their name, throughout the world, they are known to blow no good.
One might postulate that the culprit is really humidity, wind or temperature changes, not positive ionization. That has been considered, but doesn’t account for the fact that weather-sensitive people react to the approaching Sharav 12 to 24 hours before meteorological instruments do. Positive ionization remains the culprit. So much for natural pos-ions.
The really lethal doses of pos-ions lie within our polluted cities, which William Radley, president of Bio-Environmental Systems, refers to as "ion prisons." Car exhausts, factory fumes, tire dust, cigarette smoke, cooking and heating fumes, dust and soot gobble up neg-ions, either neutralizing or positively charging them. Inside, steel and concrete building act as electro-magnetic Faraday cages, absorbing the charges of negative ions. Synthetic building materials, clothing and furniture covering eat up more; so do the metal ducts covering heating and air conditioning outlets. The positive static charge of plastics takes care of the rest so that in a typical interior, the neg-ion count may be below 100 per cubic centimeter. (the minimal amount for optimum human functioning is about 1000/ccm.) In the words of Dr. William Rea, Chief of Surgery at Brookhaven Medical Center in Texas, "Houses don’t breathe like they used to."
Several people have investigated the mechanisms of pos-ions debilitating effects. According to the Russian ion pioneer Vasil’yev, ions act on the endings of pulmonary afferent nerve fibers, altering the functional state of the central nervous system and through it, the peripheral organs. Sulman et al (1970) found that weather-sensitive people excrete more of the neuro-hormone serotonin than non-sensitive people. Serotonin is secreted by the pineal gland and the intestines. It affects sleep, mood, nerve impulses, blood-clotting and contraction of smooth muscles. LSD effects are caused by serotonin inhibitor and chronic serotonin depletion is characteristic of some types of mental anomalies.
Sulman’s work supports the findings of American ion dean Dr. Albert P. Krueger, who discovered that the specific negative ion of oxygen -O- speeds up the rate at which serotonin is oxidized in the bloodstream.
Krueger also found that pos-ions slow the sweeping action of the tiny hairs in our throats form 900 to 600 beats per minute and cut mucus flow, thus lowering our resistance to airborne allergens. For example, the pos-ion carbon dioxide (CO2) causes contracture of the back tracheal wall. Pos-ions also cause vasoconstriction and increased respiration rate.
Oddly enough, notes ion author Soyka, "About five percent of the population seems to react well to a positive charge. They feel euphoric."
If pos-ions are the bad guys, neg-ions wear white hats and shoot silver bullets. Their beneficial effect was first discovered in 1932 by Dr. C.W. Hansell at RCA Laboratories. Dr. Hansell was startled by the violent mood shifts of a co-worker who sat beside and electrostatic generator. He observed carefully and discovered that his colleague was ebullient when the machine produced neg-ions, morose when it made pos-ions.
Subsequent researchers (mostly abroad) have found that neg-ions reduce neurosis and anxiety, heighten appetite and thirst and stimulate sexual behavior. They improve performance of voluntary movements: 81.2 percent of drivers with neg-ion generators scored in the top half on reaction time. And in school they sharpen mental functioning and reduce error rates. After a year with neg-ion generators in their classrooms, a group of kindergarten teachers reported that their students concentrated better and showed almost no "weather effect." Hyperactive kids were calmer, absenteeism was down (except on Mondays) and the teachers themselves felt less fatigued.
Neg-ions promote alpha brainwaves and increase brainwave amplitude, which translates to a higher awareness level. Neg-ion induced alpha waves spread from the occipital area to the parietal and temporal and even reach the frontal lobes, spreading evenly across the right and left brain hemispheres. All of this creates an overall calming effect.
On the physical side, they have given relief from hay fever, migraine and burn and post-operative pains. Along with the burn pain relief, they lessen infection, dry the burns faster, heal them more quickly and leave less scarring. After operations, not only did 57 percent of Dr. Igho Hart Kornblueh’s patients treated with large do ses of neg-ions (10,000/ccm) feel less pain (as opposed to 22.5 percent of controls), but restlessness and infection were also reduced and healing quickened.
But why are ions therapeutic? Partly because they kill germs. Back in the 1930s, a Russian team headed by A.L. Tchijevski found that large ion doses of either polarity retarded bacteria colony formation on plates. Ionization also sterilized enclosed air. Later experiments duplicating Tchijevski’s work noted an exponential bacteria decay rate of 23 percent per minute for untreated air, 34 percent per minute for air with pos-ions, and 78 percent per minute for negatively charged air. They concluded that the pos-ion decay rate was due to simple bonding of the ions with the bacteria, whereas the neg-ions actually killed them.
Interestingly, animals larger than microbes find neg-ions beneficial. Rats learn better and are less anxious. Mice live longer. (Mice with flu die more quickly if deprived of neg-ions.) Silkworms eggs hatch earlier, larvae grow faster, spinning begins sooner, cocoons are heavier. Chickens lay more eggs and grow more plump. Sheep grow faster and supply more wool.
And in the vegetable kingdom, plant seedlings grow up to 50 percent more when charged. Fruit stays fresh longer: after 10 days, ionized tomatoes were still fresh while untreated controls rotted.
Researchers offer a variety of reasons for ion effects. Dr. Krueger explains that plants benefit from both positive and negative ions because "ions expedite both the uptake of iron and its utilization in the production of iron-containing enzymes.... (and) stimulate the metabolism of ATP in the chloroplasts and augment both nucleic acid metabolism and oxygen uptake."
In humans, most researchers think that neg-ions act on our capacity to absorb and utilize oxygen, accelerating the blood’s delivery of oxygen to our cells and tissues. Dr. R. Gualaterotti of the University of Milan says they make wider cell nuclei with more volume. The weight of evidence supports Krueger’s theory that ions break down serotonin in the bloodstream.
Lest negative ions sound too much like a cure-all, testers report that neg-ions work only so long as they’re being inhaled. As the charge is most readily absorbed through the olfactory nerves, you need to breathe them in through your nose, not your mouth. Dr. Krueger cautions that "the biological (non -clinical) effects produced by atmospheric ions are not dramatic; on the contrary, they tend to be limited in degree."
But that’s atmospheric ions. Artificially generated ions are another story. Just as positive ions can be generated artificially by pollution, so can negative ions be man made- with negative ion generators. It’s true, you can’t plug in an ionizer at night and expect new muscles in the morning. But their effects are not always subtle. "People are allergic to the Twentieth Century," says Bio-Environmental Systems President William Radley. "Our architects and interior designers are poisoning us. Some people are so sick or so intolerant of chemical that sometimes the results of ionization are quite dramatic.
Since the 1950s, manufacturers have produced dozens of ion generators for laboratory and home use. Early machines ionized atoms and molecules via high-voltage electrical fields, incandescent materials, ultraviolet light, x-rays and alpha- or beta-radiation from the isotopes. The output of the electrostatic, incandescent, and ultraviolet generators tended to deteriorate rapidly. In addition, electrostatic and ultraviolet machines produced ozone, a toxic oxygen allotrope, as a by-product.
Dr. Krueger used tritium-based generators during the ‘50s. Tritium is a betaradiating hydrogen isotope with a half-life of 12.5 years. A minute amount of the gas is sealed in zirconium and deposited on a stainless steel foil. An electrical potential difference varying from 300 to 2000 volts DC is used to separate pos-ions from neg-ions before they recombine in the plasma. Tritium machines allow precise dosages, but unfortunately tritium is so dangerous that it’s illegal (except in fusion power plants). Thus, the tritium generators manufactured during this period were seized by the FDA.
During the 1960s, ion collectors drew air through an electrostatic field between parallel plates or concentric cylinders; the ions were collected on the plates.
Present ion units apply a high-voltage electrical signal directly to the air to create an intense electric field around the emitters.
Why not set up a monster ionizer over Manhattan? Well, a safety dictates a size limit. Dr. Robert Massy of the University of the Trees reported at the Ions and Light Conference that, whereas a 5,000 volt machine produces less than .05 parts per million of ozone (the limit allowed by the FDA), extremely high-voltage units invariably fail to meet standards.
Although most people in the U.S. are not ion-wise, generators have been popular elsewhere in the world for decades. In World War II, Luftwaffe planes were Negatively ionized by electric field generators, in order to reduce pilot fatigue. And it worked! (Electric field generators are like female ion generates: instead of ejecting ions, they attract them.) Germany and USSR use them in government buildings, hospitals, schools, factories, restaurants, health spas, beauty salons, homes, offices, cars and trucks. In Canada, Fred Soyka notes, "Ionization has become a household word. My book became a best-seller and innumerable articles have come out."
The U.S. has equipped nuclear submarines with ion machines. Ionizers are being used industrially in auto spray paint booths, food processing plants, grain storage bins and chemical spray factories.
Architects and designers are beginning to see the health benefits from fountains and rooftops solariums placed in urban environments, echoing the wisdom of their forefathers in the Roman culture. The growing recognition of our biological needs amidst our artificial interiors is opening up whole new industries aimed at replicating nature indoors.
In addition, we could all take Rosenberg’s advice and wear underwear of polyvinyl chloride to attract neg-ions. From BVD’s to PVC’s then, it’s the negative ion generation.
Several machines are now in the market for home and office use ranging in cost from about $70 to several thousand dollars. You just plug them in and they ionize away. But, here are some considerations to keep in mind. If something or someone is between you and the generator, the ion count around you will drop. If you and the machine are in contact with the same dielectric material (as, for instance, if it and your arms are on the same desk), a charge will build up between you and it, and this charge will repel ions. (Supposedly this doesn’t happen with the latest machines.) Also, you own static charge will often repel ions, especially in dry, indoor wintertime air. Synthetic clothing absorbs ions: wear cotton or wool, which have neutral charges.
At the Ions and Light Conference, Fred Soyka told New Realities of some in-progress Swiss research on ion machine frequencies. Frequencies of 60-100 Hz (cycles/sec) are stimulating to a person, while less than 25 Hz are relaxing. "If you have 60-100 frequency machine,:" Soyka says, "you may have trouble sleeping well with it on. Manufacturers ought to look into machines with adjustable frequency ranges. Some European machines already modulate frequency, so people can dial their needs electrically."
A problem with ionizers has been determining their effectiveness. A typical generator may supposedly churn out 100 billion ions per second. But how many of them survive a yard past the machine? Ion counters do exist, but until now no store or salesperson selling generators has had one around. Inexpensive units are now on the assembly line. Ion counters must be used carefully: within a room the ion concentration varies a lot, depending on how far you are from the generator, from conducting wall, from charge buildup on insulating walls, from curtains or draperies.
Poor measurability partly explains why shoddy machines have been marketed (and confiscated by the FDA) in the past. Today, regrettably, the field is still not without its quacks. According to Bruce Sullivan, president of Environmental Sciences Corp. "Some people are selling generators for thousands. One company calls its machine The Air Doctor."
Advanced technology has eliminated most problems associated with previous ion devices, and as such there are more on the market today. Moreover, it is now possible to create higher voltages with lower current, thereby reducing or eliminating the production of ozone (Federal law prohibits more than .05 parts per million ozone level). So to ensure that a device meets the buyer’s needs, one should carefully examine the manufacturer’s literature.
In addition, buyers should look for a warranty on parts and labor, including a description of the room size affected by the machine, and even a money-back trial period offer. A list of authorized service centers should also be provided to the consumer. So caution is still the watch-word since industry standardization has yet to be instituted, although industry standard for ion measurement and output are currently being drawn up by several manufactures.
The first call for some kind of industry standards was issued by ion pioneer Igho Hart Kornblueh back in 1961: "Standardization of the generating and metering equipment by an independent authority would terminate the hasty and regrettable trend to market ion generators of questionable safety, quality and output."
Today Fred Soyka echoes his words: "Measuring the sending capacity of these machines is very important. You should by able to say, like when you buy a 60-watt light bulb. I’m getting an ionizer of this and this capacity. And to correlate that to room sizes."
A giant step was taken at the Ions and Light Conference, where the International Bio-Environmental Society was formed to set up standards and regulations within the industry. "We’ve already gone through our Inquisition on ionization," said president Bruce Sullivan, "We don’t need another one." The Association is building a box within which the ion output of different machines can be counted at a standard distance and humidity.
Ions have been around for eons. Science has had its eye on the ion for 80 years. But public ignorance, generally non-ionized interiors and lack of generator standards is the hallmark of a science and industry still in its infancy. Dr. E.R. Holiday thinks we know as much about air today as we did about food 70 years ago, when biochemists thought protein, fat, and carbohydrates were all we needed. Then a substance was discovered that prevented rickets: the first vitamin. Ions might well be, as Holiday suggests, "the vitamin of the air."
James Karnstedt is a writer, lecturer and researcher whose interests lie in the field of light, color, sound and ions as they affect human consciousness and health.
Don Strachan, a freelance writer, lives in Los Angeles and is a book reviewer for the Los Angeles Times.
Here you will find information about negative ions and thier beneficial influence on our lives
Is ‘positive’ always ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ always ‘negative’?
Proper understanding of terms of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ ion’s is very important to our wellbeing.
Sometimes, as in case of negative ions; ‘negative’ bears positive meaning for our wellbeing. Please, follow us here in order to appreciate how negative ions are beneficial to our health and wellbeing.
Nature generates negative ions.
Why do we feel so good walking in the woods, on a beach or near a river, breathing fresh air in the mountains, or just breathing fresh air after rain or storm? Simple…We feel like that due to benign properties of negative ions that are so abundant in these environments.
Negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy.
Negative ions help recovery from physical exhaustion and fatigue – achieved by increasing oxygen levels in the blood.
Negative ions stabilize brain function – effect - relaxation and calmness.
Negative ions aid in blood purification by increasing the levels of calcium and sodium (healthy salt intake) in the blood stream, negative ions help restore a healthy (slightly alkaline) pH balance to the blood.
Negative ions increase metabolism by stimulating exchange of electronic substances in cells.
Negative ions strengthen immune system - high levels of negative ions promote production of globulin (proteins that are found extensively in blood plasma) in the blood, resulting in stronger resistance to illness.
Negative ions balance autonomic nervous system by balancing the opposing sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system.
Negative ions promote better digestion - by counteracting over-arousal of the sympathetic nervous system, negative ions help ease tension in the stomach and intestines, promoting the production of digestive enzymes and enhancing digestion.
Negative ions promote cell rejuvenation by revitalizing cell metabolism, negative ions enhance vitality of muscle tissue and strengthening internal organs.
Approaching it scientifically:
When an atom (or molecule; more than one atom together) contains one more electron than protons it will have an overall negative charge.
Negative ions are atoms or molecules with one or more electrons.
Positive ions are atoms or molecules with one or more protons.
Negative ions can be found in the most natural areas, such as: waterfalls, beaches, fresh country and pine forests.
Research from leading institutions, along with thousands of worldwide studies, concur that negative ions are beneficial for us and positive ions are not!
Dr. Svante August Arrhenius, a Swedish chemist who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1903, discovered that waterfalls and forests are full of negative ions. That is why the air is so fresh.
Dr. Phillip Eduard Anton Lennard, at the turn of the 20th century, Nobel Prize Winner in Physics, confirmed that negative ions are found in very high density in the basin of waterfalls where we feel especially refreshed and re-energized.
Dr. Jacob, Professor of Physiology with the Public Sanitation Institute of Harvard University acclaims negative ions as "Vitamins of the Air".
Having experienced the phenomenal effect of LifeStrength negative ion bands for myself, I decided to look into the research behind them to see how it stacked up.
Of course, there are many manufacturers of negative ion bands and “balance bracelets” with similar or related claims about how their bracelets work to produce their balance and strength effects. In the main these come down to the output of negative ions (anions), which are said to balance the excess of positive ions (cations) produced by electronic equipment, especially EMF sources like mobile phones, WiFi and bluetooth devices and also by intense exercise and lifestyle stress.
We'll get onto just how relevant all this is in a minute, but first of all it is important to say that this is WHY we are testing the LifeStrength negative ion band in the first place. LifeStrength make a big deal out of the fact that, of all the various negative ion bands and bracelets out there, their band produces way more negative ions than any other – claiming a difference of a factor of 20 (i.e. the LifeStrength negative ion band produces 20 times the number of ions as other bands). This is clearly a large difference, and seems to be backed up by examination of the LifeStrength bracelet with a simple ion meter, which does indeed indicate a far higher incidence of ions present, as measured by the device! (1-2,000 ions/cc versus 20-50 in other brands)
But what does this mean? Is it significant or is it just a meaningless fact?
In fact, from a natural health perspective, this makes perfect sense and is highly significant.
As far as I am aware no-one has ever produced a theory to suggest how these balance bracelets work, so let me be the first!
The production of negative ions has long been known to have beneficial effects. (ref). The ions themselves are simply atoms or molecules that have gained an extra electron, giving them a negative charge. This occurs in nature from friction, often between air and water.
From sitting by waterfalls, strolling on the beach or just venturing out after a thunderstorm, we all know that “fresh” feeling that arises when the air is full of negative ions. Conversely, when the air is full of positive ions, the opposite is true – air seems stale and dust collects in areas such as computer rooms, on TV screens and in front of computer monitors, where a whole new condition known as VODS (Video Operator Distress Syndrome) has been named. These are all sources of high numbers of positive ions which, as we will see are not beneficial to health.
Going to the extreme, air that is de-ionized cannot support life (neither can de-ionized water). Animals raised in air that has been de-ionized die within 2 weeks. The inability to use oxygen properly is fatal unless negative ions are added to the chamber they are in, which leads to an immediate and startling recovery). Conversely, the addition of positive ions to even sufficient air makes them lethargic (sleepy and uninterested) and has been shown to negatively affect concentration and brain function. Perhaps this is why NASA has made sure all spacecraft included ionizers since the earliest days of space travel.
"...it was concluded that ionized air prevents weak individuals from early death, increases the growth of birds and their productiveness (egg laying), helps to assimilate food, increases general metabolism, raises physical activity, improves reproduction, favourably affects the composition of blood, increases the resistance of an organism [animal] and has preventive and therapeutic value in some diseases." (A.L. Romanoff. The application of artificially ionized air; Science 81 (2109) 536-7. )
Sounds pretty positive to me, but it doesn't stop there. Negative ions have been shown to have many, many positive health effects, from reducing dust, viruses and bacteria (so helping prevent respiratory disease) to improving sleep patterns, reducing depression and protecting from toxic chemicals, such as cigarette smoke. Indeed, as one of the key advocates of negative ion use, Fred Soyka puts it
“... based on 5,000+ scientific documents that have been published regarding negative ion studies, all support the conclusion that an overload of negative ions seems to be beneficial”
So why are negative ions so beneficial, whilst positive ions can be dangerous?
Well, as far as my limited resources have shown, no-one seems to have come up with the answer (or even really tried). Some statistics, such as a reduction in respiratory disease may simply be attributable to the huge reduction in bacteria, viruses and dust shown by numerous studies, although there may also be other effects taking place. The scale of these effects (66% and 78% reduction in sickness days in 2 frequently-quoted studies) is so enormous that it is virtually unprecedented in its impact.
However, although this is extremely interesting, from a natural health perspective, the sheer breadth of effects on everything from egg production to blood composition and immune system function is staggering. The impact on animals who were otherwise on a certain road to asphyxiation is even more telling as the use of negative ions was, in that case, literally the difference between life and death. And perhaps it is this, as well as the seemingly protective effect against multiple toxins that gives us the biggest clue to how negative ions benefit health and how negative ion bands might be very supportive of health.
A radical suggestion. As many eminent scientists have shown over the years, our bodies are under assault 24 hours a day from chemicals known as “free radicals”. These can either come from our environment or be generated within the body itself, but the effect is the same whatever the source – they “steal” an electron from another atom or molecule in order to become electrically “stable”, damaging cells and tissues in the process. Indeed, free radical damage has been suggested as the main cause in numerous diseases, from ischemic heart disease (the biggest single cause of death in the western World) to cancer and autoimmune diseases like ALS (Lou Gehrigs disease).
One of the answers to this has been to introduce antioxidants into the body, usually via the diet. Antioxidants are naturally occurring chemicals extracted from fruits and vegetables that readily “give up” a spare electron, neutralising free radicals and so preventing them from doing their damage. The protective effects are very similar to those seen with negative ion bands abnd generators, and it is therefore not an enormous leap of faith to think that the effect may actually be not just similar, but exactly the same.
Perhaps, by providing an excess of negative ions (and therefore spare electrons), ion generators (and also “negative ion bands”) ensure that the body has a plentiful supply of electrons ready to neutralise the free radicals we combat every day, and so prevent the “disease” they would otherwise cause. This would explain why, for example, it can take an animal up to 2 weeks to die from being in a de-ionized environment (as the damage over time gradually increases) but the introduction of negative ions causes a sudden and dramatic improvement (by neutralising the free radicals and so preventing any further damage as well as providing improved oxygen absorption).
Could it really be this simple? Occam's razor states that the simplest answer is usually the correct one and this simple answer seems to fit all the boxes about WHY balance bracelets and negative ion bands work. It would also back up the claims made by the manufacturers of the LifeStrength negative ion bands that the higher the output of negative ions from such a band or bracelet, the more beneficial it could be. Of course, the converse would also then be true – if your band produces little or no ions that could enter your system, then it is unlikely to help much, either in preventing disease or improving physical function.
Anyone who’s been through a health store has heard about ions. If it’s not someone offering samples of ionized water, it’s someone selling ionized bracelets. It sounds wacky, woo-woo, crazy, and as if it belongs firmly in the same realm as crystals, magnet therapy, and cryptozoology (although the kid in me is still holding out hope that both Squatch and Nessie are found), but is there actual science behind this negative ion stuff, or are the people who buy into this stuff totally off their rockers? Today, we venture into what some might consider the realm of the non-scientific to discuss negative ionizers – both the natural kinds (like waterfalls) and the man-made variety (negative ion generators).
Let’s get to it:
I’m almost scared/embarrassed to even ask you about this, but here goes: my friend, who’s into crystals, homeopathy, and other types of alternative health modalities with less than concrete supporting evidence, has been talking my ear off about negative and positive ions. She’s got her entire house decked out with negative ion generators and she’s always trying to “avoid positive ions.” I’ve even seen her ducking past air conditioners. Is there anything to this, or is she crazy?
Maybe. Let’s take a look.
But first, lest we fall into the trap of talking about abstractions (a la “toxins”), let’s define our terms. What are ions?
Ions are atoms or molecules in which the number of electrons is different than the number of protons. In other words, an ion is a negatively (more electrons than protons) or positively (more protons than electrons) charged atom or molecule. Positively charged ions are called cations, while negatively charged ions are called anions. Because they are either positively or negatively charged, ions are “mobile.”
Okay, that’s great and all. Everyone likes waterfalls and all, but does the fact that they generate lots of negative air ions have any bearing on our health?
They can certainly exert “physiological effects” on living things. In fact, that negative and positive air ions could have physiological effects on people was once a field of serious study, but after snake oil salesmen released a slew of air ion generators with the promise that they’d cure cancer, heart disease, and just about every malady under the sun in the 1950s, the reputation of the field was forever tarnished. Research continued, but its name was sullied, and little serious attention was paid to its findings. The result is that anytime anyone even mentions “ions,” they’ll get laughed out of the room or immediately branded a nut job. And that’s a shame, because there is something to this stuff.
Even if some modern skeptics pride themselves on discarding an idea that sounds a little kooky without doing any actual research, that doesn’t mean evidence doesn’t exist. Let’s see what the research says:
Not everyone with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can afford to slumber amidst the babbling mist of a nearby brook with the gentle caress of the day’s first sun softly nudging them awake. It’s ideal, but studies indicate that simulating those conditions with negative ion generators, naturalistic dawn simulating lights, and someone blowing raspberries at your face can be just as effective at combating SAD as bright light therapy (okay, maybe not that last one).
Chronic non-seasonal depression has also been shown to be improved with negative ion therapy. High density ion therapy was far more effective than low density ion therapy.
In a 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.
The trachea is the windpipe, the passage through which air travels into our lungs. Along the trachea are cilia, tiny organelles which keep airborne particles from passing into the lungs. If cilial activity is inhibited, as in cystic fibrosis, more foreign particles are introduced into the lungs. If cilial activity is uninhibited, the junk is kept out of the lungs and discharged later via saliva and mucus. Research shows that negative ion exposure increases cilial activity in the trachea of humans and monkeys, while positive ion exposure inhibits it.
Another study in asthmatic children found that exposure to positively ionized air exacerbated their asthmatic response to exercise.
All told, there does appear to be something to it.
Maybe that’s why sitting around a campfire with your buddies surrounded by towering examples of plant life feels so good. Toss in a nearby river gurgling over stones, throwing mist up in the air? You’ve got a potent recipe for negative air ions. Could that be why camping out in the great outdoors is so rejuvenating and so energizing? Sure, you could argue that camping is just a way for us to get away from the madness of work and city life, get some fresh air and exercise, and reconnect with our Primal selves… but there has to be a physiological mechanism for that. What if negative ions play an important role in that mechanism? What if part of what we’re “getting away from” is the glaring lack of negative ions?
How to Get Exposure to Negative Ions
The best way to get exposure to negative ions is of course going to be the old, natural way. Go to the beach (and play in the water, don’t sit bundled up on the shore). Climb a mountain. Go for a hike. Spend an afternoon reading a great book in a garden, surrounded by plant life. Swim underneath a waterfall. Heck, even just stepping outside the stifling stuffy air of your office, turning off the AC and lowering the car windows, or letting some cross breeze into your house will help.
Take a shower. The closest thing many of us get to moving water is our regular showers. And that’s not so bad. Moving water is moving water, and showers do a good job of producing negative ions in their own right.
Another way is to design a negative ion-generating garden, using running water (preferably a waterfall or fountains) and plenty of green life. This method is a mite more involved than simply buying a generator or visiting natural sites of negative ion generation, but here’s a study in which researchers mapped out the distribution of positive and negative ions across a sample garden (PDF). It should give you an idea for your own garden. The important factor appears to be the presence of running water, since the negative ions were highest right around the waterfall.
For your home or office, I highly recommend a negative ion generator. Many of them aren’t terribly expensive. For, say, 50 bucks you can enrich your stale office in negative ions and filter out impurities to boot. Give it a shot, especially if you don’t spend time in the natural settings where negative ions predominate. If you’re stuck inside all day, bathed in air conditioning, a negative ion generator is worthy of serious consideration.
May 6, 2002 -- There's something in the air and while it may not be love, some say it's the next best thing -- negative ions.
Negative ions are odorless, tasteless, and invisible molecules that we inhale in abundance in certain environments. Think mountains, waterfalls, and beaches. Once they reach our bloodstream, negative ions are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy.
And these are a few of the reasons we see negative-ion generators being sold in stores and all over the Internet, but do they really work as well as antidepressants? Can they also relieve allergies by filtering out dust mites and dander?
It's too early to tell for sure, experts tell WebMD, but that's not to say there is not some sound science behind the concept.
Ions are molecules that have gained or lost an electrical charge. . They are created in nature as air molecules break apart due to sunlight, radiation, and moving air and water. You may have experienced the power of negative ions when you last set foot on the beach or walked beneath a waterfall. While part of the euphoria is simply being around these wondrous settings and away from the normal pressures of home and work, the air circulating in the mountains and the beach is said to contain tens of thousands of negative ions -- Much more than the average home or office building, which contain dozens or hundreds, and many register a flat zero.
"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.
In fact, Columbia University studies of people with winter and chronic depression show that negative ion generators relieve depression as much as antidepressants. "The best part is that there are relatively no side effects, but we still need to figure out appropriate doses and which people it works best on," he says.
Vitamins of the Air?
Generally speaking, 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: Everyday Applications from Mind Brain Research and director of research at the Center for Applied Cognitive Sciences in Charlotte, N.C.
"They also may 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."
And for a whopping one in three of us who are sensitive to their effects, negative ions can make us feel like we are walking on air. You are one of them if you feel instantly refreshed the moment you open a window and breathe in fresh, humid air.
"You may be one of them 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," Howard tells WebMD. "Air conditioning depletes the atmosphere of negative ions, but an ion generator re-releases the ions that air conditioners remove."
Generating Negative Ions
In fact, every home has a built in natural ionizer -- the shower.
But when it comes to springing for that negative-ion generator you saw 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."
And, he says, the cost of apparently equivalent units ranges from $100 to $1,000.
"The safest course of action, in my opinion, would be to use units that have been demonstrated effective in our clinical trials and trials to come," he advises WebMD readers.
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
"We have tried to minimize the influence of these factors by adding grounded wrist-straps [commercially available] or grounded bed sheets [not yet available] for connection to the ionizer," he says.
The possible interaction of negative-air ion therapy and antidepressant drug or light therapy for seasonal depression has not yet been investigated, he says. "It stands to reason, for example, that drug ... dose could be tapered [even to zero], if the patient responds to negative ion exposure.
"I would advise anyone who experiences clinically significant depression to try negative-ion therapy only under doctor's guidance, and that doctors read up on this methodology before OKing such a trial, especially if the patient is already receiving other treatment," he advises.
What About Allergies and Asthma?
Harold Nelson, MD, professor of medicine at National Jewish Medical Center in Denver, was so excited when he first heard of negative-ion generators 20 years ago that he went out and bought one to study among allergy and asthma patients.
Unfortunately, the findings were "not terribly encouraging. We couldn't demonstrate anything," he tells WebMD. "I was disappointed. I had high expectations and they did not pan out, " he says.
The best bet for people with allergies and/or allergic asthma is to try to eliminate exposures, he says. "If you can't, or if you still have symptoms, then medication is the next step and fortunately we now have excellent medications," he says.