It’s not often that something negative is actually positive, but in the realm of ions—specifically negative ions—this is one of those rare instances. You might have heard terms like “earthing” and “forest bathing” and thought to yourself, “what lovely words, but what in the world do they mean?” You’ve likely also heard terms like electromagnetic fields and free radicals, which certainly carry a more negative vibe. But where there is a negative, there is always a positive. In this kind of counterintuitively-called case, the negative mitigates the positive and produces profoundly positive effects for your holistic wellbeing.
What Are Negative Ions?
Simply put, negative ions are molecules adrift in the air or atmosphere that have picked up a negative electrical charge due to at least one additional electron. Negative ions might be invisible, but they are undoubtedly tangible once you become aware of their existence. And the places that they exist in abundance also happen to be some of the most beautiful environments on our planet. But you probably already knew that Mother Earth’s gifts are bountiful!
While positive ions have rightfully earned a sinister reputation—which you’ll soon learn more about—negative ions have been referred to as “vitamins of the air.” To really simplify things, you can view positive ions as free radicals which lead to oxidative stress and negative ions as antioxidants.
Both negative and positive ions exist naturally in nature. However, with the continuous growth of our population, technology, and modern conveniences, the air has taken on a predominantly positive ionic charge. This human-made imbalance is directly linked to a collective wellness crisis, especially for those of us living in the highly-concentrated concrete jungles of the world.
However, we must remember that balance is key in nearly every facet, and health is holistic. Right now, there is a whole lot that is out of balance, starting with the ratio of negative and positive ions in our immediate everyday environment.
What Are Sources of Negative Ions
You know that immediately invigorating and at the same time, calming feeling that washes over you when you find yourself by the sea or surrounded by statuesque trees? Well, that feeling, which can manifest in many different physical and emotional sentiments, occurs in part because these types of environments are saturated with negative ions.
Of course, the sheer fact that forests, beaches, mountains, running rivers, and waterfalls are innately mystical and peaceful, their ability to rejuvenate, heal, and help create balance in the mind, body, and soul is undeniable—and negative ions are in part to thank.
What Are Sources of Positive Ions?
On the other hand, positive ions are generated in abundance by us; well, by the things we’ve created and use daily. Basically, anything that generates an electromagnetic field/electromagnetic radiation (EMF/EMR) or that’s toxic also generates harmful positive ions. This includes but is not limited to cell phones, computers, tablets, televisions, Wi-Fi routers, air conditioning systems, fluorescent lights, fumes from our vehicles and other modes of transportation, and industrial, household, commercial, and agrochemical pollutants.
It should also be noted that positive ions are generated in nature by strong winds, building storms, dust, and other natural air pollutants. But, as you can see by the incomplete list of sources above, our EMF-inundated, convenience and comfort-fueled, human-made environment is an unavoidable minefield of positive ion generators. Many of the places that most of us spend on average 90% of our time—indoors at home or work—are essentially void of negative ions. In many urban environments, Nature and her negative ions have been booted out.
What Are the Health Benefits of Negative Ions?
The benefits of negative ions are more or less the exact opposite of the consequences associated with a positive ion overrun environment and EMF toxicity. A high concentration of negative ions is critical to supporting a healthy and properly performing immune system, maintaining mental health, regulating sleep patterns, and inhibiting the growth of bacteria, viruses, and mold species. Negative ions can even help protect the respiratory system from germs and harmful particles in the air.
Negative ions also activate and enhance cell activity by facilitating functions that keep cells healthy and promoting oxygen absorption. Their ability to increase oxygen flow also results in a heightened sense of alertness, decreased symptoms of fatigue, and elevated mental energy and clarity.
Exposure to a flood of negative ions, as found in a forest or in the presence of mighty ocean waves, can promote an overall sense of ease, wellbeing, and equilibrium. The combination of just being outdoors in nature, away from everyday stresses, obligations, distractions, and heavy EMF exposure, and spending time in an environment where there are more negative ions than positive ones, can tip the scale in favor of better overall health.
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How to Mitigate Chronic EMF Exposure with Negative Ion Exposure
As electrical beings, we are directly affected by both natural and human-made electrical fields. Our modern world is buzzing with electromagnetic radiation, and the constant and accumulative effects of EMF exposure “have been linked to neurological, psychological, immunological, and physiological disorders and conditions. This includes but is not limited to insomnia, depression, anxiety, thyroid malfunction, cancer, and fertility complications. The cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems aren’t immune to disruptions by artificial EMFs either.”
As EMFs generate positive ions, one simple solution to mitigate some of the detrimental effects is exposure to negative ions. Sounds easy, right?
5 Ways to Harness the Power of Natural Negative Ionization Therapy
All too often, we seek out medicine to mask the undesirable symptoms of an underlying condition instead of recognizing the causes of such conditions and taking preventative and proactive steps towards healing and maintaining our natural state of health. Our bodies are designed to maintain a state of homeostasis, and when an imbalance occurs or an intruder enters, our bodies can right the wrongs under ideal conditions. But a body inundated with positive ions, toxins, and inflammation cannot perform its duties as efficiently as it was designed to do.
Fortunately, Mother Earth has your back!
Walk on the Earth
Earthing, also called grounding, is the practice of placing your bare feet to the earth. By doing so, you are essentially creating a closed circuit for energy transfer from the earth to your body. In this practice that was once probably natural when you were a child, the earth supplies you with electrons, which neutralize your excessive positive charge. This infusion of electrons supports your body in achieving the equilibrium it seeks to maintain.
As perfectly stated in an article written for Forest Bathing Central, “Earthing the human body may be an essential element in the health equation along with sunshine, clear air, water, nutritious food, and physical activity.”
Our modern society has been built in such a way that many of us rarely touch our shoeless feet to the ground; hence why many of us often feel ungrounded in all senses of the word.
So, embrace your inner child, kick off your shoes, and let your soles and soul reconnect with the earth; your wellness depends on it.
Bathe in the Forest
The art of forest bathing—or shinrin-yoku as it’s called in Japan where the age-old practice was given a proper name—involves simply spending time amongst the trees (with your clothes on). It’s about mindfully taking notice of your sylvan surroundings and allowing the forest to seep in and share with you its many tremendous benefits.
This practice essentially involves bathing in negative ions since the trees are oozing with them! You can enjoy an added bonus if you take your forest bath barefoot. Aside from spending time in a negative ion-dense environment, disconnecting from the digital world and reconnecting with the natural world has the ability to rejuvenate, relax, and recenter us.
According to Dr. Qing Li, author of the book Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness:
“The key to unlocking the power of the forest is in the five senses. Let nature enter through your ears, eyes, nose, mouth, hands, and feet. Listen to the birds singing and the breeze rustling in the leaves of the trees. Look at the different greens of the trees and the sunlight filtering through the branches. Smell the fragrance of the forest and breathe in the natural aromatherapy of phytoncides. Taste the freshness of the air as you take deep breaths. Place your hands on the trunk of a tree. Dip your fingers or toes in a stream. Lie on the ground. Drink in the flavor of the forest and release your sense of joy and calm.”
Stand in the Presence of Waterfalls and Waves
Negative ions can be found in abundance around running, crashing, or falling water. The Lenard Effect explains that water droplets become negatively charged when they collide with one another. In the case of thunderous waterfalls or roaring waves where water droplets are colliding with each other at an incredible rate of consistency and force, you can see how standing in the presence of either is an opportune place to soak up some negative ions.
Step Outside After a Thunderstorm
Thunderstorms and lightning create a natural phenomenon called corona discharge. This occurs following very high electric field conditions, such as that with an electrical storm. Negative ions are generated out of this discharge and in substantial amounts. The negative ions generated after a storm are not long-lasting, but if you walk outside right after the storm has safely passed, you can soak in the lingering ions. You might notice that the air actually feels different too right after a big electrical storm; this is partly because the charge of the air has switched from positive leading up to the storm to total negative ion saturation as the storm subsides.
Keep to Indoor Plants
Not all of us have unlimited and regular access to the ocean or a forest, or even a place you’d want to walk barefoot on. Fret not; you can bring the power of nature indoors! Plants naturally generate negative ions, as well as produce oxygen and purify the air. Keeping indoor plants is a wonderful way to harness the Earth’s natural health and healing properties.
The areca palm, money plant, spider plant, weeping fig, rubber plant, aloe vera, and peace lily are all perfect indoor plants that will add negative ions to your indoor environment.
Bring Back the Negative Ions
It seems like the more connected we’ve become through electromagnetic radiation-riddled technology, the more disconnected we’ve become from nature and our bodies’ natural ability to heal and maintain homeostasis on a mental, physical, and spiritual plane. We’ve become habituated to instant gratification and quick fixes, which has led many of us down a path of pills and symptom management, whether for migraines or mental health reasons. Sometimes the simplest solutions, though, are right under our feet, literally.
To tip the scale back in favor of holistic wellness, identifying the imbalances is the first step. One great imbalance is the ratio of positive to negative ions in our everyday environments. We’ve managed to successfully replace many of the sources of the negative ions with positive ions in our daily lives, but we can still right our wrongs and work them back in. We can turn a negative into a positive!
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Disclaimer: The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products or treatments mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult a licensed medical practitioner for medical advice.
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