The Importance of Negative Ions

Have you ever wondered why we feel so good when we are outside in nature, walking in a forest, or by the beach, hiking up or skiing down a mountain, enjoying a lake or waterfall? We soak up the sun and breathe in the fresh clean air. This air is filled with tens of thousands of negative ions.

Our environment and our body is made up of both positive and negative ions. Ions are particles, either molecules or atoms, which are electrically charged. Some particles are positively charged and some are negatively charged. Positive ions are molecules that have lost one or more electrons. Negative ions, on the other hand, have extra electrons which are negatively charged.

Electrical equipment such as computers, cell phones, air conditioners and other devices which we are constantly surrounded with, can cause an over-exposure to positive ions. Inflammation and pain in the body are due to an excess of positive ions. Positive ions cause our muscles to contract, they weaken us and make us feel tired, depressed or lethargic.

Negative ions on the other hand, increase the flow of oxygen to the brain. We feel more alert. They also produce biochemical reactions in our body that increase the production of the feel-good hormone serotonin. They are believed to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and decrease our pain and boost our physical flexibility and energy. They balance the autonomic nervous system, revitalize cell metabolism, and enhance immune function. They help us to sleep well and to have smooth digestion.

We don’t usually have the choice to leave our cell phone or computer behind and spend the day in nature. Most of us have jobs that require us to be around electronics all day long. Ideally, we should even connect barefoot with the earth every day, a practice which is called earthing. Three years ago, I examined if earthing helps with jetlag and found that it made a huge difference. But for us here in North America, and for many other places in the world, it is winter right now, which makes being barefoot outside challenging.

How else can we get the negative ions we need? Negative ion emitters or insoles for your shoes which release negative ions into your body are two ways of decreasing your inflammation and pain and getting the health benefits.

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Does Earthing Help With Jetlag?

Have you noticed how good it feels when you take your shoes off and walk on the beach? Or when you wander barefoot in the grass?

In the summer months, I start my morning barefoot in the backyard. I consciously walk on the earth and ground myself. I then sit down on the ground or on a chair with my bare feet on the grass for a short morning meditation. Unlike all other grounding methods I learned, the connection with the earth seems to work automatically, easily, and effortlessly.

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There is an emerging science documenting how direct contact with the earth, which is also known as earthing or grounding, is highly beneficial to our health. How does earthing work?

Our body needs electrons to function well. It is known that the Earth maintains a negative electrical potential on its surface. When you are in direct contact with the ground, you are walking, sitting, or laying down on dirt, grass, sand or concrete, the earth’s electrons are conducted through your body, bringing it to the same electrical potential as the earth. This connection seems to be enhanced when the ground is moist or wet.

Research indicates that electrons from the earth can help your body heal inflammation and also have other health benefits. Effects on our immune system, blood, heart rate, cortisol levels, sleep, autonomic nervous system and reduced stress have been documented. This practice also helps people with anxiety and pain issues.

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Our ancestors had continuous contact with the earth. Even until the fifties, we used to wear leather soles, which were conductors for electrons. Only when plastic or rubber soles were introduced did we lose that direct contact with Mother Earth.

For a while now I have been curious to experience how earthing helps to recover from jetlag and I am excited to report on our recent experiment.

We all live in a circadian rhythm, which is a built-in body cycle. This cycle receives external clues from our environment: light, temperature, etc. Rapid long-distance travelling across east-west or west-east transmeridians disrupts our inner circadian rhythm. The condition of jetlag can last several days until one is fully adjusted to the new time zone.

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Yesterday, we landed in England after a seven hour night flight from Toronto, a trip that involved lots of delays and unpredictability, which comes with flying stand-by. We crossed through five time zones. Local time is five hours ahead and we naturally felt the usual effects of jetlag upon arrival.

In the past, it has usually taken us at least three days to fully adjust to European time. By spending half an hour to connect with the earth, we were hoping to readjust quicker. The first piece of grass we found was just at a rest-stop off the motorway. Not the best spot to ground, but a first opportunity to take off our shoes.

Two hours later, upon arrival in Badsey, a tiny town with a population of 2657 people, deep in the British countryside, we had no trouble finding a connection with Mother Earth. We were greeted by romantic little pathways, an old country church and an adjacent cemetery with big old trees overgrown with ivy.

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Walking barefoot in these peaceful calm surroundings, nothing but sounds of nature embraced us: a couple of sheep “bah”ing on a nearby field, the clacking sound of horse shoes on the road as somebody rode by the church, hammering in the distance, a dog barking, a huge wood pigeon landing on the roof of a shed and tap dancing on top of it, and—most soothing of all—the deep, full sound of the church bells striking every hour. It immediately felt grounding and calming, and had a wonderful effect of slowing everything down: our breathing, our thinking. This truly is a place where the soul can “dangle” for a bit.

Instead of just spending half an hour in the grass, I could have spent hours feeling the energy of the old trees and the wind. The earth and the grass feel different in these parts; they remind me of my childhood growing up in Europe. Perhaps we are more connected with the earth close to where we are born?

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Today, we were up bright and early, feeling awake and refreshed, almost completely adjusted to local time. No jet lag headaches, no dizziness and very little tiredness. I am looking forward to starting every day close to nature.

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