The positive side of negative

A certain energy had been “raining” in from the skies for days…you couldn’t see it, in fact we were enjoying a glorious Indian summer but I could feel it distinctly in the way my body was feeling so wonderful. I was so grateful for this unexpected extension of summer weather when this season can be the biggest challenge of my year.

Being September, which is typically my “struggle” month as the autumn gets going, I hadn’t set my bar particularly high this year; telling myself I could do as much or as little work as felt right…but actually I was super-energised. A series of very hot days had me outdoors all the time, dressed in tatty shorts and as barefoot and happy as a sand girl, writing all morning and painting all afternoon. I was in my element, you could say…and there was a fizz in my stomach, an excitement I couldn’t pin down to anything, it felt elemental…a chemical reaction…but whatever it was seemed to be bombarding me with a joie de vive that kept on delivering as creative inspiration and incredibly joined-up thinking.

photo-1473163311424-8c01f39bf36dBut then we’d had solar winds for days in the run up to this, delivering a long steady stream of negative polarity ions to the earth’s atmosphere…and I know all about those from the typical response of my health to such ionic variables. Positive ions can make me feel so much pain it’s silly while negative ones uplift me and make me feel energised, ironic as that sounds but there’s perfectly good science to back it up (see below). I installed a negative polarity ioniser in my home about a year ago to counteract the reaction I was having to too many electric gizmos in my house and swore blind it made me feel much better…but then it’s the same effect we get when we stand next to waterfalls or in the shower; we all know how that makes us feel, how we can have a gust of inspiration and a feeling of uplift that seems to transport us right off our world-weary feet.

No surprise, looking back, that I started four new paintings a couple of days ago and all of them, on a whim, were of waterfalls. I had to laugh when I noticed the obvious correlation…and that all my walks, for several days, had seen me heading straight to the weir to stand on the little bridge and gulp down great lungfuls of the elixir of negative ion-charged air. It was as though my body was nudging me to take note; to pay attention to this very obvious antidote to winter’s big squeeze…because, as the days get shorter and darker, the atmosphere more compressed, only positive ions seem to flood my world and I feel it in all the reactions of my body, like a tightening of the cells and a nose-dive into pain. Was this me getting a handle on a core reason for the seasonal variance of my health?

The weather conditions of last week seemed to want to show me what a profound contrast of negative and positive ions in the atmosphere can do. As the fizzy-creative days continued, the pressure rising from worldly matters “underfoot” seemed to increase in response…until, by Thursday, there was a very obvious dialogue between heaven and earth taking place. The pressure in my body started to rise as though coming up through my feet and my mood became mercurial, as did that of the people around me. Things went wrong, situations became heated. I vacillated wildly between blissed-out and pissed-off by petty situations that arose. Tension finally rose to my head, to my shoulders, jaw and teeth; I felt like a cat on a hot tin roof…and then the storm broke, suddenly, causing me to dash indoors with all my painting equipment and just in time as great rods of water fell from the sky and the road outside turned to a fast-moving river. When we walked on the hill between rain showers, just before dark, we watched forked lightning come down from a sunset-tinged cloud and touch with the earth, an electric column that felt something like I had that afternoon. Then the storm came round again (and again) all night long; I watched sheet lightning from my bed and felt release in all of my cells yet, by morning, the atmosphere felt very different. It was as though autumn had arrived all in one day, a 15 degree differential and time for socks and jumpers on my walk. More than the change in the weather, I felt it as a change in the atmosphere; the fizz had been put out, I was flat and uninspired, felt lethargic and done-in and my body ached for no reason so was that my summer over?

You just know when a thunder storm is coming, you can feel the rising pressure in your body as though you’re caught in the middle of a push-pull situation (and you are) and, for me, that can register as great pain and such intense headaches or as tremendous highs and lows occurring in very quick succession. And no wonder:  “Electrons on Earth’s outer surface are repelled by the negatively charged cloud’s bottom surface. This creates an opposite charge on the Earth’s surface. Buildings, trees and even people can experience a buildup of static charge as electrons are repelled by the cloud’s bottom” (this from a Physics Classroom description of the mechanics of lightning).

An influx of negative ions can be invigorating but then I’ve long noticed how, when negative ions are in very high concentration, the earth responds with its opposite…and so do we, in our moods, our health…if there’s anything left unresolved lurking beneath the surface of us.There’s a smell (sorry to share) that comes from the drains of my downstairs loo; we’ve had it investigated a dozen times but nobody can explain what causes it or why it happens at certain times (though I know, from dowsing, that there is a water fault beneath the house and these tend to have a particular polarity; some can be a troublesome energy to live over). That smell…like rotten cabbages…came on the morning of the day when the storm finally broke, long before the first rain so nothing to do with an over-loaded sewers or the rising water table from rainfall; this was something coming “up”, forced by pressure. It suddenly occurred to me, this was another outcome of the big squeeze when a build up of negative ions in the clouds above causes a counter force of positive ions to build in the earth below. The pressure of a massive impulse of positive polarity played out at ground level somehow squeezes out or flares-up what lies unresolved in the ground, just as it does in the cells of the body. I’ve also experienced, many times, how latent viruses, unresolved health issues or any toxic elements stored in the body, tend to “come to the surface” when the environment is positively charged…causing a flare-up of old symptoms long considered dealt with leaving you bewildered at the sudden relapse; something that seems to happen to me a lot in September.

The ions that are found in our atmosphere are “meant” to be in equal ratio of negative and positive, cancelling each other to become neutral but before a storm they polarise (gather to their own type)…and even the occasional burst of polarised energies can be invigorating (like the run-up to a storm or the influx of a negative-polarity solar wind). However positive  ions are increasingly becoming the stagnant “norm”  of our modern existence; pollution, in particular, can have a massive impact on that optimum ratio. To quote the article in the NY Times below “Normally molecules of oxygen, nitrogen and other elements in the air carry their full complement of electrons and are therefore electrically neutral. In various ways, however, an electron may be knocked off such a molecule, leaving it with a positive charge. It is then a ”positive ion…Positive ions may be generated by hot winds, radio and television transmitters, ventilators or direct current power lines”.

So why do the darker months of the year seem to throw up a tendency towards positive polarity that knocks health off-kilter? Well, there simply seems to be a whole lot more positive ions “floating around” during the months of lesser daylight, something I intuited a long time ago and science seems to back this up. Cold fronts and low pressure systems do increase the percentage of positive ions in the atmosphere so this has a knock-on-effect when it comes to the number of negative ions in our bodies and, of course, the way we live our modern lives cooped up indoors with all our electrical gizmos switched on and the heating cranked up over winter really doesn’t help.

In short, keeping the energetic flow balanced or at least moving freely in both directions can make us feel optimally alive, the occasional ionic push and pull serving our higher interests, our health, our creativity. For short bursts, we can even thrive under the sort of pressure that builds to a good thunderstorm but – overall – we seem to thrive somewhat better, day-to-day, when negative ions make up our theme. We think more clearly, feel most positive and uplifted, feel creative, inspired and connected. They have been shown to promote alpha brain waves, which flow seamlessly between left and right hemispheres of the brain, and a general increase in brain wave amplitude which then translates as overall higher awareness levels, an optimal state of “firing on all cylinders” using the full range of our skill set. When negative ions abound, metabolism is enhanced by overall better functioning of the body’s systems for processing nutrients and this also feeds into brain function and increased flow between the logical and the intuitive aspects….so, you could say, we get super-inspired at these times; prime territory for spiritual and creative growth and for human evolution.

When positive ions are dominant in the environment, I notice how I experience this as intense body pains, tiredness and lethargy, stuffy-headedness, tired or blurry eyes, an inability to think clearly or to motivate, low mood and lack of motivation, a flare-up of “old” viruses (such as Epstein Barr: see my earlier post Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue – are they Epstein Barr?), allergies and breathing issues. Both positive and negative ions have been proven to dramatically increase serotonin in the blood stream to beyond optimal levels for day-to-day biological function yet we seem to know how to process serotonin rather more efficiently under the influence of negative ions, converting it to other uses that we probably don’t know the half of yet and which, I suspect, enhance our super-human functioning rather than challenging it. Positive ions, on the other hand, not only boost serotonin levels but switch off the mechanism by which the body breaks it down, causing a serotonin mountain to build-up. Could this sudden surge in serotonin be at the root of some of the health issues that have challenged me winter after winter (not helped by all the information that encouraged me to believe Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) meant I was probably serotonin deficient; as a result of which I dosed with 5-HTP for a number of years).

About a year ago I tripped upon articles that suggest my winter health issues more closely matched the symptoms of serotonin syndrome, i.e. too much serotonin, than a lack of serotonin (they include confusion, agitation or restlessness, headache, changes in blood pressure and/or temperature, nausea and/or vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, tremor, loss of muscle coordination or twitching muscles, shivering and goose bumps, heavy sweating, brain fog, exhaustion from over-activity including mental overstimulation). In fact I tick all these boxes, especially over the winter months; like I am in constant over-drive trying to do way too much yet crashed out in pain, confusion and bouts of neurological breakdown all at the same time. This information confused me so much at the time that I hardly knew what to do with it…I’d been told for years that my depressive tendencies would benefit from a serotonin boost over winter but it feels like the missing part of the jigsaw to realise how this was back-to-front thinking. My health symptoms are more-likely related to a massive increase in positive ionisation during the hibernatory months, stuck beneath a thick winter cloud bank that creates the kind of air pressure (a lid on the world) that cranks up all the pollutants in my environment to toxic level for half a year, especially in the autumn when mould levels proliferate and viruses try to gain a foothold.

I read that positive ions also constrict blood vessels and over-strain the nervous system and, when your winter health issues pivot around inflammation, pressure headaches, super-sensitivity to everything and, worst of all, brain fog (something I haven’t experienced for months now while its been summer weather but I can feel it trying to get a foothold as the seasons change), that’s a detail that is inevitably going to make me sit up and pay attention.

So are we all susceptible to this? Recent tests suggest that some people’s autonomic nervous systems are simply more sensitive to ionisation than others so this could be a root trait of people with fibromyalgia and similar conditions that seem to nose-dive under certain weather conditions and air-pressure circumstances, not to mention being profoundly sensitive to space weather as I am. Most allergens are positively charged and what I’ve said above about viruses plays out – I believe, in my case – as a seasonal flare-up of the long-running, mostly latent Epstein Barr virus during the winter months (see my post above). Most cells are polarized and have distinct plasma membrane domains with a particular charge dominating that environment. I can’t help thinking that EPV and other viruses thrive when that membrane is polarised a particular way – positively charged – which in some way encourages replication of the virus throughout an organism in a way that is inhibited when negative polarity is maintained but I’m not the scientist here; there are bits of research out there that seem to suggest I’m on the right track but this needs filtering down into mainstream.

Of course, we are all much more prone to viruses and infection during the autumn and winter months and this is closely related to matters influenced by ionisation: our extended time spent indoors cooped up in offices and under thick cloud in polluted cities, even wearing and being around synthetic fabrics which can generate positive ions or being around mould, dust and other pollutants that thrive under stagnant or damp conditions. When the atmosphere is negatively charged, dust and spores etc simply drop to the ground (you’ll notice this if you install a negative ioniser) but can remain airborne and active when the opposite applies. I suspect beyond all doubting that the ionic conditions of my living space reflect in my tolerance of electro-magnetic forces generated by electrical appliances and computer technology which can vary widely and, at times, prove intolerable to me. I had a particularly good level of tolerance last week between the negative polarity solar winds and the thunder storm a few days later and this has been noted many times now when conditions have been in my favour….but then I was working outdoors most of the time too, which is certainly a consideration when avoiding over-exposure to positive ions. While we continue to fill our indoors living and working spaces with electro-technology and spend most of our time there, we will continue to tip the balance unfavourably towards positive polarity environments until we become so saturated that our health breaks down in response. In very simple terms, an office and a waterfall are about as diametrically opposed as they could be in terms of positive to negative ion ratio (see article Health Benefits of Negative Ions to view a chart showing this). It’s a no-brainer to make these very obvious connections between our ionic environment and our state of health and general wellbeing.

So how to keep those positive ions pumping around when you don’t live right next to a waterfall, have a good storm brewing or a negative polarity solar wind heading your way or if you can’t work out of doors all the time? Well, by getting close to moving water, to the sea, out in the right kind of wind (some hot, dry winds have the opposite effect – the foehn in Europe, the sharav in Israel and the Santa Ana in southern California – see article in the NY Times) or at higher altitudes…and that’s just for starters. Keeping in mind that less is more when it comes to technology (see my post Living with electrosensitivity) and by keeping a negative ioniser plugged in and well-maintained, switching on Himalayan salt lamps (natural generators of negative ions) in the rooms where you spend a lot of time, wearing tourmaline stones on the body e.g. as a bracelet (these also naturally emit negative ions), sticking to natural fibres on the body and around the home, keeping the body moving, eating organic…these are some of the next level steps you can take. When we talk about food that is alkaline being good for us we are talking about it having more negatively charged hydrogen; this is the antioxidant effect that is so important to life. According to Vinny Pinto in his website “It appears that this tiny and lightweight ion was the original antioxidant for all life forms on earth, and is likely the single most optimal antioxidant for life forms even today. However, this ion is rather fragile in our biosphere, and it is easily driven off or destroyed by processing, bleaching, blanching, or heat. It appears that our ancestors likely ingested a significant amount of this ion in their daily food and water intake, while we modern (“civilized”) folk often receive very little in our diets.” Diet plays a huge part in how well I cope in the winter months and sticking to food that is not over-cooked and certainly not processed in factories will be my mainstay this year; that means salads over stews, whatever the weather.

Equipped with this kind of know-how, we can ride the waves of any seasonal changes that come our way; and when we feel into what I’ve just shared, its all pure instinct really as we know this stuff already but we forget to listen to it and modern lifestyle habits turn us into sleep-walkers. We already know what makes us feel good, what makes us feel less so and these responses in the body just confirm the higher-wisdom that our cells try to remind us of every day. Heading towards the better feelings, the daily fizz, the places and activities that make us feel uplifted and creative (away from those that make us feel stagnant and unwell) is all it really takes to get the positive out of negative…a balancing act that pays dividends in the way that we feel.

Useful resources

Negative ionisers for the home (not be confused with devices that generate ozone which many advertised devices do!) – for information on how to select the right device and to purchase direct from the manufacturer of mine, the “Astrid” ioniser visit The Ionizer Site

About negative ions  – a very comprehensive run-down

Asthma and ions – covers much more than breathing issues; worth noting is that vaporisers negate the effects of having an ioniser in your living space and this certainly tallies with my experience of worsened pain during high levels of humidity

Health benefits of negative ions

The positive effect of negative ions

Ions created by winds may create changes in emotional states 

Negative ions create positive vibes 

Alkaline and acid foods – clearing out confusion (with a section on negative ions)

Serotonin Irritation Syndrome triggered by excess exposure to positive ions including links to research articles

Vinny Pinto’s H-minus Ion Website: “The Negative Hydrogen Ion, aka Hydride Ion or Active Hydrogen”,  a really fascinating place for exploring where the H-minus-ion occurs in our planet and biosphere

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