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MOTHER’S HOME REMEDY: Understanding the Ocean’s Healing Powers

About the Author

Hanna Innocent is a Children & Nature Network Natural Leaders who graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology & Conservation. She is currently interning at the Nathaniel P. Reed Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge in South Florida. Hanna is interested in water quality and pollution as it pertains to the ocean and wetland ecosystems and wildlife.

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I grew up in South Florida, so I spent a lot of time at the beach. As a child, if I got a cut or wasn’t feeling well, my mom always told me to go to the beach. “The ocean will heal you,” she’d say.

I don’t know if it’s a Caribbean thing, a Floridian thing, or both. Either way, I always did it, no questions asked. I don’t remember tracking the healing time of any cuts but I do remember feeling a connection to the ocean because believed that it cared about me and my body.

As an adult, I still go to the beach to feel better. In fact, I tell other people I meet to do it as well. This is how I found out in college that two of my friends, both from South Florida, had parents who told them the exact same thing.

I never actually tested out my mom’s home remedy, but I recently learned that science has proven why her home remedy works.

Scientists found that one of the reasons natural areas, like the ocean, are so good for you is because they possess higher amounts of negative ions. Ions are atoms with an electric charge, either positive or negative, depending on how many electrons they have. If we go back to basic chemistry, atoms have protons (positive) and electrons (negative). An ion doesn’t have an equal amount of protons and electrons. In order to gain a charge, the atom must either lose an electron or gain an electron. Gaining an electron means that the atom becomes negative because now it has more electrons than protons. Losing an electron means the atom becomes positive because it has more protons than electrons.

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Okay, so if natural areas are good for you because of their negative electrons, does that mean positive ions are bad for you? If so, what makes negative ions better? While negative ions are found in abundance in nature, positive ions are found mainly in cities, offices, industrialized areas, etc. These positive ions have unpaired electrons, so to balance themselves out they react with healthy cells in your body and take electrons, causing cellular damage. Negative ions, on the other hand, react with positively charged particles in the air like pollen, mold spores, bacteria, dust, etc. Negative ions weigh them down so they are no longer in the air and cannot enter our bodies.

Now that we know why negative ions are good for us, how does water create more negative ions than positive ones? In very simplified terms, when water is in its liquid form it interacts with environmental light, also known as the sun. Water absorbs the sun’s infrared energy and is changed into what is known as the fourth phase of water, liquid crystalline water. In this state, water is still liquid, but it isn’t soluble. This means it cannot mix with anything. This absorbed energy from the sun splits the water molecules, making them negative. The more light there is, the more molecule separation there is, the more negative ions are created.

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I imagine that South Florida’s beaches must produce an impressive amount of negative ions, so my mom really was looking out for me by taking me to the beach every weekend. If I have kids someday, I’ll probably tell them that the ocean will heal them too. Hopefully, like me, they will develop a special connection to the ocean and nature around them.

Photo Credits: Hanna Innocent

More Reading
BEYOND JOHN MUIR: WHY WE SHOULD KNOW THE BEACH LADY
THE HEALING POWER OF NATURE: When Community and Nature Come Together in the Face of Tragedy
THE RIVER: The Restorative Power of Nature in Difficult Times, by Richard Louv
TECHNOLOGY IS IN OUR NATURE: But to Flourish, We Still Need Our Wild Connection

Additional Resources
How Negative Ions Produce Positive Vibes
Why Negative Ions Have a Positive Effect on the Human Body
Negative Air Ions and Their Effects on Human Health and Air Quality Improvement
Negative Ions Create Positive Vibes
The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor by Gerald H Pollack


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