​Why are negative ions so important?

Without fresh air, the average human being would only last three minutes, and we must breathe 10,000 litres each day to survive. Why then, do we continue to take this vital life support system for granted and vaguely assume that all air is the same?

The difference between fresh air in an open natural environment and that found in stuffy, polluted buildings and vehicles is not merely academic. We physically experience the difference, yet may find it difficult to qualify this difference. We simply know that inhaling fresh air “feels good”.

Our efforts to control our environment have led us to develop air conditionning to regulate the temperature and ‘freshness’ of the air in our homes, clubs, shops and workplaces. Unfortunately, this also reduces the quality of the air we depend on for survival.

Even in pleasant climates like that found on much of Australia’s coastline, we relentlessly interfere with nature, poisoning our environment with pollutants of various types – aerosol sprays, chemical fumes, synthetic fibres, air conditioning systems and tobacco smoke – to name just a few.

Ancient textbooks on yoga suggest that a student wishing to perfect his body and mind through breathing exercises should practise near a waterfall, in a cave or, best of all, in a cave under a waterfall. The yoga masters may not have known about negative ions, but they were familiar with their beneficial effects.

Nature provides both positive and negative ions in abundance, but when it comes to feeling good, it’s the negative ions that are important.

We experience certain environments as invigorating due to the abundance of small (ingestible) negative ions of oxygen in the air. Such environments include waterfalls, pine forests or near the seashore where waves break on the rocks. Alpine areas more than 5,000 feet above sea level also have an enriched negative ion atmosphere which explains the feeling of well-being.

Note how you feel before a storm when the air is charged with positive ions. The still, heavy atmosphere is oppressive, often causing tempers to fray. After the storm the air is charged with negative ions, the birds begin to sing and you feel alive. Inhaling this air, charged with small ingestible oxygen ions, is the key to that ‘recharged’ feeling.