Winds of depression
In certain regions of the world, the seasonal winds that blow have become legendary, bringing little short of misery and chaos to many of the local inhabitants. In these places it has been known for generations that the winds bring feelings of anxiety, stress, depression and sleepless nights. In fact winds like these are surprisingly common across the world:
The Foehn is a dry southerly wind which blows from the Alps across Switzerland and southern Germany. The Sirocco blows in Italy and the Mistral in southern France. (It is said that Winston Churchill avoided visiting the Mediterranean coast when the Mistral was blowing). The Middle East has Sharav – also known to the Arabs as Hamsin (the fifty days wind).
Western Canada and USA have the Chinook – and in the area around California blow the Santa-Ana and winds known in Indian mythology as “The Bitter Winds”.
More recent statistical studies reveal that when these winds appear, road accidents happen more frequently and suicide rates increase. The problem was considered serious enough for judges to make allowances when sentencing. And hospitals would postpone some operations until the winds calmed!
The Swiss Meteorological Institute made extensive studies into the problems arising from their local wind, the Foehn and in 1974 published a list of physical and mental effects it was found to cause. The list was extensive and included:
- Body pains
- Sick headaches
- Variations in body salts – sodium, calcium and magnesium
- Respiratory problems
- Higher incidence of heart attacks
- Slower reaction time
Places of calm and tranquillity.
But while these winds caused such distress, there were certain locations where the effect was totally opposite.
What about the renowned health resorts of the mountains and lakesides, reputed for their special qualities of relaxation and healing? Places to which patients would travel great distances to stay and convalesce after illness.
One well known resort is the Swiss town of Davos. The air in this high valley was deemed excellent by doctors and highly recommended for patients with lung diseases.
The big question was – Why is the air of these resorts so very different to the air blown by the notorious winds?
This was research that many scientists and international organisations became involved in!
In fact the air of Davos became the focus of much of this research. And it was soon discovered that the air’s unique quality was due to its electrical properties.
When air is charged electrically positive it feels oppressive and uncomfortable – but when negatively charged it becomes relaxing, re-vitalising and very healthy for us to breathe.
The next question asked was: How does air actually get this electrical charge.
We understand it today as ionization. The individual gases that form air are ionized into positive ions and negative ions.
The formation of air ions is covered more fully in another section. But broadly speaking, Nature make ions in a variety of ways, wherever energy is imparted into the air, including:
- Friction due to air movement – winds and turbulence in the atmosphere.
- The breaking of water droplets – in waterfalls, surf and rain.
- Ultra violet rays in sunlight.
- Natural radioactivity in rocks.
- Electrical discharge (or lightning).
Whether the process results in air becoming positively or negatively ionized, depends upon various physical conditions at the particular location the ionisation takes place.