Your Body’s Responses to Air Ions
Figureillustrates the body systems that respond to changes in air ionization. These include the nervous, endocrine, respiratory, and immune systems. The text below describes the nature of these responses.
It has been shown that up to of humans are sensitive to the high positive ion levels in the dry, warm winds just discussed. For example, Robinson and Dirnfeld studied the Sharav, whose prominent features include a sudden rise in temperature, a drop in humidity, and an accompanying wind. They noted that weather-sensitive individuals began to suffer just at the time the total air ion count rose via a disproportionate increase in the number of positive ions; this was -before any other changes occurred in environmental parameters such as wind velocity or direction, temperature, solar radiation, and humidity. Symptoms such as migraine headaches, limb swelling, asthma, heart palpitations, and digestive tract hyperactivity are typical in sensitive individuals.
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Air Ions Effect on the the Brain
Robinson and Dirnfeld also named one cluster of symptoms the serotonin irritation syndrome. From chapteryou will recall that serotonin is a brain neurochemical that directly affects the pituitary and its secretion of the hormones ACTH and prolactin. This clinical name was assigned because the symptoms resembled hyperactivity of serotonin in the midbrain, and because patients excrete abnormally large amounts of serotonin in urine. A subsequent study showed that this illness can be successfully treated by inhalation of air containing large numbers of small negative ions, or by serotonin- blocking drugs. In explaining these clinical observations, Sulman and colleagues concluded that the Sharav winds were stressors that imposed hormonal and metabolic changes on the human body. And, in keeping with the principles of hormone action presented in chapteradditional observations were made regarding the Sharav winds: production of norepinephrine and epinephrine increased; responses differed with time of residence in the Middle East short-term versus long-term; responses differed among individuals possibly because of differences in epinephrine secretion; women are more sensitive to weather changes than men; and children – are less sensitive that adults -.
In a published summary, Doctor Sulman reviewed the nature of the human body’s responses to the Sharav winds. He identified two relevant responses to this harsh environmental stressor; both serve to diminish the HPA axis response to stressors.
Presensitivity to weather. Air ions are positively or negatively charged oxygen or water molecules that reach a region – days before the arrival of a weather front. These ions enter the body via the alveoli of the lungs. Positive ions release an excess of serotonin, which provokes an irritation syndrome see above that inhibits the HPA hormonal axis.
Postsensitivity to weather. Weather-sensitive patients react to hot-dry winds by releasing epinephrine. When exposure is prolonged, adrenal exhaustion can result see above and the body’s response to the Sharav winds is inadequate because insufficient epinephrine is produced.
The existence of the serotonin irritation syndrome was supported by Jonathan Charry’s doctoral dissertation, conducted at New York University inIt demonstrated that this syndrome involved a slower visual reaction time and increased fatigue in sensitive subjects when positive ions were presented in high concentrations.
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