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.
I am particularly excited about negative ions because I, personally, have had good success using
a 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 at about
three feet from the ionizer. 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
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
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
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
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 breath 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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."