At a recent trip to the beach, I had a great discussion with a fellow beachcomber about the positive effects of the ocean on our sense of well-being. We each described how, in almost an instant, our mood seemed to improve, our stresses diminished and long, deep breaths are easier to come by, just by walking along the beach.
Many people are transformed by the sight, smell, touch and sound of moving water, whether it be from a roaring waterfall, rolling waves, babbling brook or peaceful lake. Do you think this transformation is due to stress reduction, or is there something more to the benefits of water?
There is a theory on this phenomenon of being near large bodies of water, and it has to do with (one of) the deepest levels of science: molecules. Essentially, the negative ion (molecules) released from the moving water are beneficial in counteracting the electrical imbalances we all have, caused from free radicals.
"Free radicals" were frequently discussed indirectly in the news and on advertisements a few years ago, in the form of "anti-aging" creams and in nutrition journals warning to avoid "partially hydrogenated oils" (trans fat). The first time I heard about free radicals was from Dr. Andrew Weil, and all I can tell you is that they are bad. Seriously, Dr. Weil says, "[free radicals] are extremely toxic to cells as they oxidize and distort its vital components."
So, if we believe that free radicals are dangerous, and negative ions can counteract them, then this is grounds for a new treatment, right?! There are claims that the negative (hydrogen) ions created from the movement of water (from ocean waves, rivers, streams, waterfalls, even water evaporation) can counteract the 'toxic' effects of free radicals and neutralize the air. The claims sounds great, as this molecular process has said to help increase energy, increase serotonin levels (helping SAD and depression sufferers), improves cognitive abilities and more.
I'm not sure if this will ever be a bona fide alternative treatment, or will continue to be seen as "pop psychology", but it seems as though there is some debate as to the validity of negative ions helping to treat depression and SAD. There are many different methods to be exposed to negative ions; water is one, as is sunlight and negative ion generators (these come with warnings regarding side effects). The question for this treatment is: how much/how often is necessary for exposure to negative hydrogen ions to gain health benefits?
Have you tried any type of negative ion therapy?
Well, my negative ion "therapy" (visiting the beach) is all I need right now, at least once per year. Large bodies of water creates a wonderful setting for problem-solving, gaining perspective, loosening up and chilling out, being "small" before mother nature's creation, and above all, being curious and appreciative about your surroundings and the moment.
I would love to hear your thoughts, as well as any additional information you can add to this discussion.
SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) and Negative Air Ion Therapy
Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D.
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