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The Benefits of “Rain Therapy”

If you’ve ever noticed how, after a spell of rain, there’s an uplifting freshness in the air, you’re not alone. Science has attributed this phenomenon to the presence of negative ions.

Although these ions are scientifically referred to as “negative,” they actually have been found to have a lot of positive effects on our environment, mood, and wellbeing. One of the most important benefits of negative ions is that they clear the air of bacteria, viruses, and allergens such as pollen, pet dander, dust, and mold spores. Therefore, that super-fresh feeling in the air after a downpour is legitimate, as the air has been literally cleansed by all of the negative ions that occur with rain.

Furthermore, once negative ions reach our circulatory system, they have been shown to boost positive neurochemical reactions that increasse feelings of wellbeing and relaxation, and also alleviates stress and depression.

Why Are More Negative Ions Present After Rainfall?

Within the air and our environment, both positive and negative ions are present. Positive ions are heavier and therefore usually drop to the ground, while negative ions are lighter and become airborne. So after a period of rain, negative ions are kicked up into the air resulting in several positive effects on our environment, mood, and wellbeing.

Furthermore, it’s not just rain that increases negative ions in the air; rivers, oceans, and waterfalls are all-natural negative ion generators. That is why people experience tranquillity near large bodies of moving water, and also why it’s recommended to go for walks near water. Therefore, you don’t necessarily need to wait for the rain to experience these uplifting effects; going for a walk on the beach or by a lake or river can also achieve similar benefits.

The healing powers of being close to water have been noted throughout history. For instance, during the mid-1800s, Britain was gripped by an epidemic of tuberculosis and people started to notice that patients who lived by the sea seemed to be more likely to recover from the lung disease. Therefore, seaside resorts began to pop up all along the British coastline to accommodate the vast number of patients wishing to convalesce and heal by the coast. However, what doctors and patients did not know back then, was that this improved rate of healing from TB while being near the ocean was in fact in large part due to the cleansing effects on the air caused by the high concentration of negative ions.

Even during World War II medical staff caring for wounded soldiers started to make a connection between those who were sent to recover by the sea, compared to those who stayed in city hospitals. Doctors and nurses moving between hospital sites started to notice how soldiers in facilities by the seaside seemed to be making faster recoveries, both mentally and physically.

These observations, along with other events, eventually lead to the study and development of what’s now called Blue Mind Science; the study of aquatic environments and their associated health benefits. The marine biologist, Wallace Nichols, author of the book, Blue Mind, advises that “people can experience the benefits of negative ions generated by water whether they’re near an ocean, a lake, river or even a swimming pool”.

So, although we all usually prefer to see the sun shining, we have an extra reason to be thankful for the rain (not just for the plants), but also for ourselves. It has the ability to make us feel uplifted while cleansing the air around us.

-Catherine Smith

Photo by Sourav Mishra (

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