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A Shower That Heals

Painting of woodlands creatures outside

Deedee Cheriel

Does being near water make you feel relaxed? Therapeutic landscape designers Marco Mencagli and Marco Nieri explain how negative ions—abundant near bodies of water—have a profound, if poorly understood, role in health and happiness.

Among the chemophysical properties of the biosphere that humanity has altered in recent times, the air’s level of ionization is not debated enough. The expression “ionization” refers to the quantity and the quality of electrically charged particles in the atmosphere. It has been observed that in natural environments characterized by well-developed plant life, in particular trees and shrubs, negative ions predominate over positive ions. Environments with a predominance of negative ions are shown to be effective in reducing states of stress and depression and psychophysical maladies connected to stressful events. Various studies and experiments have noted the antidepressant effects of high concentrations of negative ions, called anions, in the air. A review published in the United States in 2013 presents a meta-analysis of five different clinical studies that all confirmed a direct correlation between high negative ionization of environments and improvement in depressive states. Studies conducted in Japan and Romania sh …

Reprinted from The Secret Therapy of Trees: Harness the Healing Energy of Forest Bathing and Natural Landscapes © 2016 by Sperling & Kupfer Editori S.p.A, © 2018 by Mondadori Libri S.p.A for the imprint Sperling & Kupfer. Published in English in 2019 by Rodale Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

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