Negative Air Ionization: Some Questions from Our Visitors

Here are several questions from our visitors, taken from CET’s Ask Our Experts department.  You can ask questions there, too!

Are there any reports of hypomanic episodes with negative air ion therapy?

In clinical trials, when side effects were measured, there were no indications of hypomanic episodes. However, other cases include a small number of users who have become “wired” (or briefly hypomanic) with negative air ion overdose — when, for example, they leave the ionizer on all night. It is safest to use the method as has been investigated: for 30 minutes after waking, or 90 minutes before waking (automatically switched on and off by an electronic timer).

What is the relationship, if any, between negative air ions and ozone?

There is always some ozone production when negative ions are produced. The amount depends on the design of the ionizer. The ionizers that have undergone controlled clinical trials (tests) for seasonal and non-seasonal depression produce negligible ozone levels. This ozone is well below safety thresholds, and scatters in the immediate area of the ionizer electrodes.

That said, however, one sometimes reads claims for a specific therapeutic benefit of high levels of ozone. Such claims are unsubstantiated in the scientific literature, and such treatment should be avoided.  High ozone levels can be toxic.

I’m interested in trying negative air ionization therapy while I sleep, for depression which is treated with medication but not completely resolved. I also use a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, so the air I breathe passes through a filter, over a humidifier chamber, and is heated in the tubing. Would the CPAP affect the negative air ions, and would ionization still be effective?

Most likely, the benefit of negative air ions would be lost while using CPAP.  Our current understanding is that the ionized air has to be inhaled, and routing it through the CPAP machine would likely neutralize it.  That said, there is no evidence that negative air ionization works preferentially during sleep.  Research studies have shown antidepressant efficacy both during sleep and waking hours.

I purchased a negative air ion generator from the CET store almost two years ago, and it has improved my life immeasurably. I am less depressed, and it seems to have also had the happy “side effects” of significantly reducing my snoring, and sinus problems.

Obviously, anecdotal accounts such as mine are easily discounted, but the clinical research (including that supported by CET) should be harder to ignore. Yet, it seems that hardly any clinicians present air ionization to patients as an option, and only relatively few researchers appear interested in this treatment. Why?

Amen and amen. Moving the medical establishment is one obstacle. However, we are learning that the young generation of psychiatry trainees is far more receptive to this treatment than its elders. The elders tend to be steeped in psychopharmacology — the basis of their training — and a generational shift could take 20 years.

In addition, we think many manufacturers are motivated to make a quick profit by marketing devices without FDA regulation. As a result, they refrain from submitting applications for prescription approval, which entail major expense. From CET’s point of view, the result is a paucity of research that might satisfy the FDA about the significance of non-pharmaceutical medical innovations.

It is very important for people like you to make their findings known to try to jog the system. Your participation in CET is one step in that direction!

This collection of questions and answers has been shortened, and edited, for clarity. For more questions, and answers, please go to Ask our Experts.