Lenard (1915) found that when water is atomized (e.g. on impact of a water droplet), negative and positive charges are separated.
Molecules which are torn from the surface of the water bear a negative charge (small negative ions) whereas large drops or the entire mass of water are positive.
This provided an unexpected explanation for the refreshing, invigorating effect of residences close to a waterfall or spring, or even after rain.
Some of these reactions which improve well-being and physical and mental capacity have since become known.
1. Negative ions accelerate the oxidative degradation serotonin whereas positive ions have the opposite action and inactivate the enzymes which break down serotonin.
2. An increase in the serotonin level (5-hydroxytryptamine) produces:
◦ a rise in blood pressure,
◦ bronchospasm going as far as asthma attack,
◦ increased intestinal peristalsis (contractions and dilations of the intestines to move the contents onwards),
◦ increased sensitivity to pain,
◦ increased aggression.
3. A decrease in the serotonin level is calming and increases defenses against infection (as proven with influenza 'the flu').
4. Negative ions produce an increase in hemoglobin/oxygen affinity so that the partial oxygen pressure in the blood rises but the partial carbon dioxide pressure decreases. This results in reduced respiratory rate and enhances the metabolism of water-soluble vitamins.
In addition, negative ions produce an increase in PH and, in particular, an increase in the secretory performance of the mucosa with an increase in ciliary movement in the airways.
According to the studies of Fleischer and Pantlitschko, negative ions probably also improve blood flow by increasing the release of proteolytic enzymes with fibrinolytic activity. Wordens studied the adrenals of golden hamsters kept under the same experimental conditions. The adrenals of animals treated with positive ions weighed 33% less than the adrenals of animals treated with normal respiratory air.
There are no known side-effects to inhaling small negative ions of oxygen. In fact, breathing in an abundance of small negative ions can do wonders for physical health. They have been reported to speed up healing, promote restful sleep, and to bring relief to sufferers of asthma, hay fever, allergies and skin complaints.
In studies carried out at the Intensive Care Unit of the St James Hospital, engineers from the University of Leeds, England, proved that negative ions actually kill airborne viruses and bacteria before they reach the body.
Scientific research at La Trobe University in Melbourne has demonstrated that the tiny negative ions boost the production of Immunoglobulin-A, boosting the immune system’s ability to fight off illness and infection.
Recognising the potential benefits, Australian inventor, Joshua Shaw, set out to develop a machine that would produce a reliable supply of small negative ions. He realised that the ‘negative ion generators’ on the market cleaned the air of dust and pollutants for a time, but failed to sustain a flow of negative ions.
Go to the beach or the mountains. The air circulating in these areas contain thousands of negative ions. Crashing waves and the scent of rain create negative ions and elevate moods, says Dr. Michael Terman, of Columbia University.
Take a hot shower. The steam releases negative ions into the atmosphere.
Practice feng shui. Feng shui uses indoor water fountains, which spray negative ions into the air. Ferns and other indoor plants release negative ions into the room
The brain responds to incoming stimuli according to its level of alertness. When we need a creative solution to a problem, we need as much inspiration as we can acquire. The word inspire is based on the roots "in" and "spire" or literally, to breathe in. To be inspired is to be full of the breath of life. Yogic disciplines teach that the air we breathe is full of "prana" or the spirit of life. The Chinese call this energy "chi". Thus to be inspired is to be filled with spirit.
From a scientific standpoint levels of oxygen in the brain are tied to levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is the hormone that allows us to be awake and alert. You can regulate your levels of brain serotonin by controlling your breath. Too much serotonin in the brain causes irritation, tension, and stress. Dropping the levels of serotonin can result in greater relaxation and allow the brain's intuitive, nonlinear activities to flow more smoothly.
It has also been clinically proven that holding your breath has beneficial side effects. This raises the level of carbon dioxide in the body and brain. It also increases the level of nitrogen. For short periods of time, this can be very refreshing to the brain. Carbon dioxide has many beneficial effects on the body. As with anything, there needs to be a proper balance. It has been found that increasing the carbon dioxide levels not only improves clear thought but also aids those who suffer from asthma.
The electrical quality of the air you breathe also has an effect on serotonin levels and thus creative alertness. The number of positive or negative ions present measures electric air quality. Negative ions are displaced electrons, which attach themselves to nearby molecules. These molecules become negatively charged. It is the negative ion of oxygen that affects us most.
If you have ever stood by a waterfall or in a deep forest full of evergreens and felt exhilarated, you have felt the effects of negatively ionized air. The normal ion count in fresh country air is 2,000 - 4,000 negative ions per cubic centimeter. At Yosemite Falls, you'll experience over 100,000 negative ions per cubic centimeter. On the other hand, on a Los Angeles freeway the negative ion count is below 100 per cubic centimeter.
Increasing the negative ion content of the brain promotes alpha brain waves and increases brain wave amplitude. This produces a different kind of awareness than that of heightened serotonin alertness. Ion induced alpha waves spread from the occipital areas to the parietal and temporal, reaching the front lobes, spreading evenly across the right and left brain hemispheres. This creates an overall clear and calming effect, thus, promoting better concentration.
When you need to produce a more heightened state of awareness for immediate problem solving you can simply control your breathing. This facilitates your brain's ability to concentrate properly. Here are three methods for increasing brain hormonal and hemispherical balance.
• One method is slow deep breathing, holding the breath momentarily between breaths. Holding the breath oxygenates the brain and facilitates clarity, as well as raises carbon dioxide levels. Deep breathing promotes alpha brain waves and relaxes the body and mind.
• Another method is to breathe through alternating nostrils. The Chinese believe that the nostrils are an indication of hemispherical dominance. Whichever nostril you habitually breathe through can tell you which side of the brain you favor. One way to open the alternate side of the brain, to facilitate cross-hemispherical or whole brain thinking, is to breathe through the other nostril until it is opened. You can also hold one nostril closed, breath in, hold the breath for five seconds, and breath out through the other nostril. If you practice this for about ten minutes you will markedly improve your mental clarity. You will also slow down your brain waves, from beta to alpha, thus facilitating intuitive, inspired thought.
• The third and most radical, but highly effective method of creative problem solving is to relax and hold the breath for as long as you can. The great Japanese inventor Yoshiro Nakamats, Ph.D. attributes much of his phenomenal creativity to underwater swimming. He is credited with more patents than Thomas Edison. He swims to deeper parts of a swimming pool where he sits and contemplates underwater. He has a special metal pad and pen so he can make notes. You don’t need to go underwater to simply hold your breath for as long as you can. This helps to alter the carbon/oxygen balance in the brain and bring greater clarity to the mind.