If you’re a water gardener, you already know the emotional boost you get simply from being around water and water gardens. But did you know there’s a physical advantage, as well?
Doylestown Hospital's Health & Wellness Center in Warrington, PA, is a unique combination of business success and human wellness. It was designed to combine both traditional health care elements—physicians' offices, an ambulatory surgical center, medical imaging lab, and rehab therapy—with non-traditional elements, such as a healing garden, pond, waterfall, and stream.
The hospital design team worked from the landscaping up to create a facility that would actually be more enjoyable and less threatening to its patients. They decided to create healing gardens that insulate the building from the parking area to enhance the facility’s inviting appearance. They included meandering pathways of concrete and stone, a pond, a small stream, and a waterfall beside a walking labyrinth complete with several meditation areas.
They placed the gardens adjacent to the building so that patients could look out from nearly any window and see flowers and greenery instead of cars.
The tranquility of the healing gardens stretches into the interior of the building's two-story atrium. The bluestone path marking the structure’s two main entries literally grows into the atrium's walkways, stream, and yet another waterfall indoors.
The waterfall flows down the face of the column until it drops onto a mantel. From there, the water cascades in a 10-foot-tall sheet, falling into a stream that flows through three levels of small ponds, all ringed in bluestone. Adding to the drama and balance of all of this feng shui is a school of koi in a pool surrounded by bamboo-style plantings. The overall effect is mesmerizing. More than that, it’s healing.
Researchers learned as far back as 1915 that, when water is atomized (upon the impact of a water droplet, for example), negative and positive charges are separated.
Molecules that are torn from the surface of the water bear a negative charge (small negative ions) whereas the entire mass of water is positive. It’s these negative ions that explain the refreshing, invigorating effect one experiences when close to a waterfall or a stream, or even after a rain. Negative ions increase overall well-being, as well as physical and mental capacity. Here’s how the process works.
1) Negative ions accelerate the oxidative breakdown of serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical within the body, whereas positive ions have the opposite effect and neutralize the enzymes that break serotonin down.
2) A decrease in serotonin brought about by negative ions results in an overall calming effect and increases internal bodily defenses against infection.
3) Negative ions produce an increase in hemoglobin/oxygen affinity so that the partial oxygen pressure in the blood rises while the partial carbon dioxide pressure decreases. This, in turn, results in reduced respiratory rate and enhances the metabolism of water-soluble vitamins. Your body is able to utilize more of what it craves.
In addition, negative ions produce an increase in pH and, in particular, an increase in the performance of the mucosa with an additional increase in movement in the airways.
According to studies, negative ions probably also improve blood flow. Studies of the adrenal glands of golden hamsters kept under the same experimental conditions showed that the glands of animals treated with positive ions weighed 33% less than those of animals treated with normal respiratory air. On the other hand, the weight of the adrenal glands from golden hamsters treated with negative ions was 29% higher.
Other studies found a 30% enlargement of adrenals in rats after 20 days of treatment with negative ions. This finding suggests that the ability of the adrenals to produce glucocorticoids—a Martha-Stewart good thing—is reduced by positive ions and increased by negative ions.
Studies in 1975 showed that the performance of school children could be increased considerably by so simple an act as changing the electrical conditions of the rooms. Comparable effects have been achieved by the use of ionized air.
According to the latest information in the fields of medicine, biology, and meteorology, atmospheric ions have a significant biological effect on all living things. Atmospheric electrical factors are a component of our environment, and human beings are clearly affected by electro-ionic microclimates to a far greater extent than previously imagined.
An atmosphere with an excess of negative ions, such as frequently occurs under open sky, usually induces a complete vegetative turn-around within two to three weeks. In the curative phase of this total turn-around, the vegetative nervous system is normally restored and the course of infectious diseases is essentially lessened, while the body’s own healing rate is accelerated.
What all of this means to you, of course, is that to increase your physical as well as emotional health, you should surround yourself with as many ponds, water gardens, falls, streams, and fountains as possible--indoors as well as out.
Even a simple small manufactured fountain or spillway that you can place on your bedroom nightstand could have a significant positive effect on your health.
That’s about the least costly and most beneficial action you can take to get well and stay well.