IS IT THE WEATHER - OR AM I GOING CRAZY?
By Diana Johnston
In the search for optimum good health, humanity has travelled many roads, from magic spells and sacrificial offerings to the ground-breaking discoveries that eventually led to modern preventative health care. Everyone is now aware of the importance of good hygiene, a varied and nutritious diet, adequate exercise and an optimistic attitude.
But it's hard to stay positive when you're struggling with allergies or asthma, headaches, insomnia or depression that seem to have no real cause - not to mention the general stress of living in a fast-moving,
technological society. Often it seems that nothing can be done, especially when medicine fails us by branding our symptoms psychosomatic. Unfortunately, most medical practitioners are as unaware as their patients that "something in the air" can cause physical and mental distress in human beings.
That "something" is the relationship between living organisms and air ions. For decades scientific teams have studied this relationship, producing irrefutable proof that the air we breathe can make us ill or well. We're not talking about pollution, although that is an important issue - but how many people are aware that the electrical charge of air molecules can exert a beneficial or debilitating effect upon all living creatures?
Negative Air Ions and the Body When we breathe clean mountain air, visit the seaside, or even have a shower we feel refreshed and energised. This same effect can be noted after a thunderstorm. Many of us, when an electrical storm is brewing, experience lethargy, headaches or "jangled nerves". Then, when the storm has passed, we feel relaxed and revitalised. Perhaps you've noticed you experience some distress when certain hot dry winds blow, finding relief only when the weather changes.
Surprisingly, this is not a psychological effect, but largely a physical process. In the mountains, in forests and near moving water, friction between rapidly moving molecules in the atmosphere produces an abundance of tiny negatively charged ions of oxygen. Ionisation also occurs due to natural radiation from the earth's surface.
The smallest oxygen ions can actually be breathed in and enter the bloodstream through the lungs, making us feel relaxed and energised. Large negative ions have no biological effect, while an overload of positively charged ions will raise the body's levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, leading to a variety of unpleasant symptoms.
The Role of Serotonin Serotonin is known to play a part in almost every function of the central nervous system. When the brain under or over-produces serotonin the imbalance can be reflected in distressing symptoms. Abnormally high or low serotonin levels correlate with a range of conditions including depression, psychosis, sexual dysfunction, lethargy, migraine, low pain thresholds, learning disabilities, poor sleep patterns, asthma, aggression and even suicide. Abnormal blood levels of serotonin have been shown to be present in many types of psychiatric disorders and in mental retardation.
In general, high levels lead to hyperactivity, insomnia and anxiety, while low levels result in depression. Treatment with drugs known to influence this hormone, or exposure to small negative ions of oxygen brings the body back into balance, relieving symptoms. An Ill Wind The distressing results of an excess of positive air ions in otherwise healthy subjects has been documented in research throughout the world. In Israel, Dr Felix Sulman treated patients whose symptoms were caused by the Sharav - a hot dry wind that blows out of the desert inflicting migraines, hay fever, mood swings and other ailments on an estimated quarter of the population. He found that exposure to small negative air ions, generated by machines called ionisers, provided relief from symptoms. Studies in other countries where similar seasonal winds cause distress have also successfully employed ionisers to effect a cure.
In 1988 the British Journal of Psychiatry published a report on 'serotonin irritation syndrome' characterised by anxiety, headaches, palpitations and insomnia. The same report listed a total of 15 conditions, ranging from alcoholism and panic disorder to ADD and Alzheimer's disease in which abnormal serotonin levels are involved. Again, exposure to negative ions was recommended as one form of treatment.
Asthma and Allergies
The amount of research proving that negative ionisation brings relief to asthma and allergy sufferers would almost fill a library. Beginning with 30 years' research at the Pavlov Institute in Russia where 85% of asthmatics gained relief from symptoms, to research at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London and at the ANU in Canberra, studies show that improved lung capacity and relief from asthma symptoms are achieved quite rapidly by exposure to small negative air ions. A number of other research projects demonstrate that this dramatic effect applies to other allergies as well, including hay fever, skin rashes, and the discomfort of sinus inflammation.
As Dr John Proynoff explained in an article in Preventative Medicine, "the higher the (negative) ion content, the lower the energy requirement for assimilation of air by the body. Therefore, air ions not only help conserve the body energy supply, but also improve respiration... increasing overall energy and vitality."
If energy and vitality are increased, it would be expected that depression wouldn't stand a chance. Improvements in mood have been demonstrated again and again in patients exposed to negative ions, and it's interesting to note that one of the most commonly-prescribed groups of antidepressant drugs, known as MAO inhibitors, alters the metabolism of serotonin just as ionisation does. This safe, drug-free treatment for depression has even been patented in the USA. In July 1996, Columbia University in New York took out a patent for "treatment with high density negative ions of oxygen for depressive disorders characterised by reverse neuro-vegetative symptoms: hypersomnia, hyperphagia (with carbohydrate cravings) and fatigue." Apparently, the University's academics realised they were onto something big!
PMT, Menopause and Migraine Headaches Can ionisation assist in problems specific to women? It would seem so, for several reasons. The headaches and mood swings some women experience at pre-menstrual times and during the menopause correlate with conditions already known to occur when serotonin levels are elevated. While obviously hormonal imbalance is the root cause, the bodily processes activating these symptoms are still not fully understood.
Among complaints reported by Dr Sulman's weather-sensitive patients and subsequently relieved by ionisation were two common symptoms of the menopause - migraine headaches and hot flushes - the latter being the result of the brain's failure to maintain a constant body temperature. Dr Sulman's experiences plus anecdotal evidence show that this scourge can be relieved by ionisation. In the case of migraine headache, Hemicrania - the journal of the Migraine Trust in Britain, reported as long ago as 1969 that "treatment by negative air ionisation helps the patient either at night time or throughout the day". But how many doctors are aware of this? Many migraine sufferers reading this article will have been prescribed one of the latest 'miracle' treatments - tablets which cost around $25 each. These are in fact no more than a commonly-known serotonin inhibitor, and like all drugs, can have unpleasant side-effects. How much simpler and safer it would be if the medical profession were to recommend ionisation as a first line of treatment.
Sexuality and reproduction can also benefit from ionisation. Experiments with both male and female laboratory animals show that exposure to negative oxygen ions boosts sexual interest and increases fertility. In human subjects, ionisation has been successfully used in obstetric clinics and hospitals to prevent miscarriage in those women most at risk, and to stimulate lactation after birth.
ADD, Autism, Downs Syndrome
European studies long ago concluded that excess serotonin inhibits the flow of information in the brain, interfering with the ability to learn. So it's not surprising that high levels of serotonin are almost always present in children with learning disabilities or attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Learning disabilities and ADD are often found together and both are understood to be the result of poor communication between the right and left brain hemispheres. During the 1980's a number of studies showed conclusively that exposure to negative ions increases processing ability (response between the hemispheres) in learning disabled children. And in a 1982 study, a drug that is specifically used to reduce serotonin levels produced IQ gains and improved behaviour in autistic children. Note that some paediatricians now believe that ADD is a form of 'borderline' autism.
Although there are different types of Downs Syndrome, it is characterised by chromosomal abnormalities and usually lower-than-normal intelligence. Bronchial and heart problems are common. Blood serotonin levels are also low - only about 50% that of the average person. It's now known that, while exposure to small negative ions can't repair the physical deficiencies of Downs syndrome, it will boost serotonin levels to produce an improvement in lung function, mood and general health.
Relaxation and Pain Relief
Ionisers have been used in hospitals to speed up healing and relieve pain throughout Europe, Japan and the former Soviet Union for many years. In 1962, one of many reports on the use of ionisation for pain-reduction in burns patients also noted a 'tranquillising' and 'sedating' effect, adding patients reported "a feeling of relaxation and well-being". An ioniser by the bedside invariably results in deeper sleep, a refreshed feeling on awakening, and the ability to recall dreams.
Perhaps the most convincing study on the wide-ranging benefits of ionisation was carried out in Romania in 1985. Over 100 outpatients at a mental health clinic were exposed to negative air ions for just 40-50 minutes a day. The findings were that after only 3-5 sittings, normal sleep returned in 80% of insomnia patients, pain disappeared in 75% of headache patients, over 50% of depressive patients reported a return to normal, and 100% of the anxiety sufferers said their symptoms had disappeared! For those who are not ill, but occasionally feel 'below par', it's worth remembering that the air we breathe can be a source of problems. Unfortunately, a deficiency of negative ions is a feature of urban living. Electromagnetic fields from appliances, static electricity from synthetic fibres and air that is 'conditioned' indoors or polluted by chemicals outdoors all serve to deplete negative air ions and alter the body's chemistry. The obvious answer is to restore nature's balance, but how best to achieve this?
The Next Step in the Quest for Health
It's important to know that there is only one genuine therapeutic ioniser on sale in the world, and that it was invented and developed by an Australian, Joshua Shaw. His machine, called the Elanra (pronounced el-an-RAH) is fully patented and is the only ioniser which can replicate nature by generating small negative ions of oxygen. There are other ionisers available - some at less cost - but they produce only large negative ions which will eradicate pollutants from the air but have absolutely no biological effect.
Earlier this century, ionisers used potentially dangerous radioactive isotopes to generate the negative ions that produced such wonderful results. Later, advances in electronics enabled the manufacture of safe, compact machines. The only problem was they simply didn't work, and nobody knew why. Joshua Shaw's Elanra is the result of 30 years' painstaking research, carried out here in Australia and at overseas universities and laboratories. He discovered the secret to successful ionisation and has poured thousands of dollars into the development of his completely safe, effective machine.
Today, Elanra is the only ioniser registered by the Commonwealth Health Department as a Therapeutic Device. Since the government has deemed it a medical device, it is also exempt from sales tax, which other machines are not. The cost of Elanra (or part thereof) is recoverable from many Australian health funds, and the machine is currently undergoing trials in the USA for approval by the American Government's Food & Drug Administration.
Being totally programmable, this highly advanced machine can be 'tuned in' to deliver the exact concentration of small negative ions of oxygen each user requires. It is small enough to sit comfortably on your work desk or bedside table and when plugged in, a soft green light indicates that it's operating. That's necessary, since the unit is completely silent while running. Other indicator lights show when the needles producing the negative ions need replacing - and this can be done easily at home without the need for any special equipment.
While you sleep, relax, or work - the Elanra's small negative ions of oxygen are breathed into your lungs and enter your bloodstream to rebalance your system and normalise your body's chemistry. What you are breathing is the air nature intended for you - and you'll notice the difference almost immediately.