Illustration by SAM IMMANUEL R. MACAISATHERE is no sufficient evidence to prove that negative ions can heal one’s illness.

This is according to Dr. Ma. Cristina Ramos, chairwoman of the Department of Chemistry of the College of Science.

Ions are electrically charged natural particles in the air formed by the gain or loss of one or more electrons, a negatively charged subatomic particle. Positive ions, chemically known as cations, are created by electron loss, while negative ions or anions emerge from electron gain. Ions are created in nature as air molecules break apart due to sunlight, radiation, and air and water movements.

In 1789, a European monk, Abbe Bertholon, speculated that ions exist and affect people by recording the responses of medical patients and normal individuals to changes in the electrical state of the air. A century later, German physicists Julius Elster and Hans Geitel proved the existence of ions.

But it was only in the 1930’s when probing of the effects of ions on human health began.

According to WebMD, a medical information website accredited by the Utilization Review Accreditation Commission—a nonprofit accrediting organization that promotes healthcare quality—negative ions are capable of producing biochemical reactions to increase the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system released for alleviating depression, relieving stress, and boosting daytime energy.

Negative ions are characterized as odorless, tasteless, and invisible molecules abundant in certain environments such as mountains, waterfalls, and beaches.

A 1996 study conducted by Columbia University showed that negative ions can relieve people from winter and chronic depressions as much as antidepressants.

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Meanwhile, in a 2001 study published in the Journal of Food Production, the United States’ Department of Agriculture (USDA) found out that negative ions drastically reduced the airborne Salmonella enteritidis, bacterial particles which can cause food poisoning.

In 2004, USDA findings revealed that ionizing a room led to a 52 percent decrease in dust in the air, and 95 percent less bacteria. The results indicated that negative air ionization can have a significant impact on the airborne microbial load in a poultry house, and at least a portion of this effect is through direct killing of the organisms.

But for Ramos, the health benefits of negative ions remain suspicious.

“If negative ions are indeed beneficial to people’s health, then researches about negative ions should have propagated by now,” she said. “For me, this is still quack medicine. But it is possible that it also has some sound science behind the concept.”


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