With blog posts we like to start with a simple recommendation for those of you that don’t have the patience or time to read the entire post. The simple advice would be:
Take your shoes off and walk barefoot on the ground for 45 minutes each day–there are enormous benefits.
New research confirms that direct physical contact with the enormous supply of electrons on the surface of the Earth is good for health, promoting positive physiological changes and subjective reports of well-being. Unfortunately our current lifestyles have separated us from this much needed direct contact, potentially contributing to unwellness. Earthing (or grounding) refers to obtaining benefits (i.e. better sleep, reduced pain) from walking barefoot outside or being connected to conductive systems that transfer the Earth’s electrons from the ground into the body.
Omnipresent throughout the environment is an overlooked global resource for health maintenance, disease prevention, and clinical therapy: the surface of the Earth. It is a widely unappreciated fact that the Earth’s surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons. The surface of the planet is electrically conductive (except in ultra dry areas such as deserts), and its negative charge is replenished by the global atmospheric electrical circuit. The earth’s negative potential can create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body systems. Moreover, oscillations of the intensity of the Earth’s potential may be important for setting the biological clocks regulating diurnal body rhythms, such as cortisol secretion.
Electrons from antioxidant molecules neutralize reactive oxygen species (free radicals) involved in the body’s immune and inflammatory responses. It is assumed that the influx of free electrons absorbed into the body through direct contact with the Earth likely neutralize free radicals and thereby reduce acute and chronic inflammation. Throughout history, humans mostly walked barefoot or with footwear made of animal skins. They slept on the ground or on skins. Through direct contact or through perspiration-moistened animal skins used as footwear or sleeping mats, the ground’s abundant free electrons were able to enter the body, which is electrically conductive. Through this mechanism, every part of the body could equilibrate with the electrical potential of the Earth, thereby stabilizing the electrical environment of all organs, tissues, and cells.
Our contemporary lifestyles have increasingly separated us from the primeval flow of the Earth’s electrons. In the last century we have increasingly worn insulating rubber or plastic soled shoes, instead of leather shoes made from animal hides. This separation and use of insulating materials has separated us from the Earth’s energy field. Obviously, we no longer sleep on the ground as we did in times past, and we have increasingly raised our living spaces off the ground.
During the same time, chronic illness, immune disorders, and inflammatory diseases have increased dramatically. Some researchers have cited environmental factors as the cause, and the possibility of modern disconnection with the Earth’s surface as a cause should be considered.
In the late 19th century, a back-to-nature movement in Germany claimed many health benefits from being barefoot outdoors, even in cold weather. In the 1920s, White, a medical doctor, investigated the practice of sleeping grounded after being informed by some individuals that they could not sleep properly “unless they were on the ground or connected to the ground in some way.” He reported improved sleeping using these techniques, but the ideas never caught on in mainstream society.
At the end of the last century, experiments were initiated independently by Ober in the USA and K. Sokal and P. Sokal in Poland, revealing distinct physiological and health benefits with the use of conductive bed pads, mats, EKG- and TENS-type electrode patches, and plates connected indoors to the Earth outside. Ober, a retired cable television executive, found a similarity between the human body (a bioelectrical, signal-transmitting organism) and the cable used to transmit cable television signals. When cables are “grounded” to the Earth, interference is virtually eliminated from the signal. Furthermore, all electrical systems are stabilized by grounding them to the Earth. K. Sokal and P. Sokal, meanwhile, discovered that grounding the human body represents a “universal regulating factor in Nature” that strongly influences bioelectrical, bioenergetic, and biochemical processes and appears to offer a significant modulating effect on chronic illnesses encountered daily in their clinical practices.
Emerging scientific research supports the concept that the Earth’s electrons induce multiple physiological changes of clinical significance, including reduced pain, better sleep, a shift from sympathetic to parasympathetic tone in the autonomic nervous system (ANS), and a blood-thinning effect.
Sleep, Stress, and Cortisol
A pilot study looked at how daily rhythms in cortisol correlated with changes in sleep, pain, stress, anxiety, depression, and irritability, as obtained by subjective reporting through daily interviews. Twelve subjects with complaints of sleep dysfunction, pain, and stress slept 8 weeks on a conductive mattress pad grounded to the Earth. To obtain the baseline measurement of cortisol, subjects chewed Dacron salvettes for 2 minutes and then placed them in time-labeled sampling tubes. Sample collections began at 8 AM and were repeated every 4 hours. The samples were processed using a standard radioimmunoassay. After 6 weeks cortisol secretion profiles in the individuals began normalizing to follow predictable patterns (lowest around midnight and highest around 8am). 11 of the 12 participants reported falling asleep more quickly, and all 12 reported waking up fewer times at night. Grounding positively affected morning fatigue levels and daytime energy.
Earthing Reduces Electric Fields Induced on the Body
In 2005 R. Applewhite, an electrical engineer and expert in the design of electrostatic discharge systems in the electronic industry, measured voltage induced on the human body from the electrical environment using a high-impedance measurement head. Measurements were taken while ungrounded and then grounded using a conductive patch and conductive bed pad. He measured the induced fields at three positions: left breast, abdomen, and left thigh. Each method immediately reduced the common alternating current (AC) 60 Hz ambient voltage induced on the body. The study shows that when the body is grounded, its electrical potential becomes equalized with the Earth’s electrical potential through a transfer of electrons from the Earth to the body. This, in turn, prevents the 60 Hz mode from producing an AC electric potential at the surface of the body and from producing perturbations of the electric charges of the molecules inside the body. This study confirms the “umbrella” effect of earthing the body explained by Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman in his lectures on electromagnetism. Feynman said that when the body potential is the same as the Earth’s electric potential (grounded), it becomes an extension of the Earth’s gigantic electric system. The Earth’s potential thus becomes the “working agent that cancels, reduces, or pushes away electric fields from the body.” Applewhite was able to document changes in the ambient voltage induced on the body by monitoring the voltage drop across a resistor, showing he body of the grounded person is not subject to the perturbation of electrons and electrical systems.
It is uncertain if the failure to appropriately ground humans is a factor contributing to potential electropollution, and whether electromagnetic fields in our environment cause a risk to health, but there is no question that the body reacts to the presence of environmental electric fields. This study demonstrates that grounding essentially eliminates the ambient voltage induced on the body from common electricity power sources.
Physiological and Electrophysiological Effects
Reductions in Overall Stress Levels and Tension
Fifty-eight healthy adult subjects (including 30 controls) participated in a randomized double-blind pilot study investigating earthing effects on human physiology. Earthing was accomplished with a conductive adhesive patch placed on the sole of each foot. A biofeedback system recorded electrophysiological and physiological parameters. Experimental subjects were exposed to 28 minutes in the unearthed condition followed by 28 minutes with the earthing wire connected. Controls were unearthed for 56 minutes.
Upon earthing, about half the subjects showed an abrupt, almost instantaneous change in root mean square (rms) values of electroencephalograms (EEGs) from the left hemisphere (but not the right hemisphere) at all frequencies analyzed by the biofeedback system (beta, alpha, theta, and delta).
All grounded subjects presented an abrupt change in rms values of surface electromyograms (SEMGs) from right and left upper trapezius muscles. Earthing decreased blood volume pulse (BVP) in 19 of 22 experimental subjects (statistically significant) and in 8 of 30 controls (not significant). Earthing the human body showed significant effects on electrophysiological properties of the brain and musculature, on the BVP, and on the noise and stability of electrophysiological recordings. Taken together, the changes in EEG, EMG, and BVP suggest reductions in overall stress levels and tensions upon earthing. These results extend the conclusions of previous studies.
Shift from Sympathetic to Parasympathetic
A multiparameter double-blind study was designed to reproduce and expand on previous electrophysiological and physiological parameters measured immediately after grounding with an improved methodology and state-of-the-art equipment. Fourteen men and fourteen women, in good health, ages 18–80, were tested while seated in a comfortable recliner during 2-hour grounding sessions, leaving time for signals to stabilize before, during, and after grounding (40 minutes for each period). 2-hour grounding sessions were also recorded with the same subjects as controls. For each session, statistical analyses were performed on four 10-minute segments: before and after grounding, and before and after ungrounding. The following results were documented:
1. an immediate decrease (within a few seconds) in skin conductance (SC) at grounding and an immediate increase at ungrounding. This indicates a rapid activation of the parasympathetic nervous system and corresponding deactivation of the sympathetic nervous system. No change was seen for the control sessions;
2. respiratory rate (RR) increased during grounding, an effect that lasted after ungrounding. RR variance increased immediately after grounding and then decreased;
3. blood oxygenation (BO) variance decreased during grounding, followed by a dramatic increase after ungrounding;
4. pulse rate (PR) and perfusion index (PI) variances increased toward the end of the grounding period, and this change persisted after ungrounding.
Increased RR, stabilization of BO, and slight rise in heart rate suggest the start of a metabolic healing response necessitating an increase in oxygen consumption.
There are many other tests that have been done on grounding, showing benefits to the immune system, cardiovascular system, glucose regulation, and reducing blood viscosity.
Walk barefoot, go camping, and sleep on the ground or connect directly to the ground any chance you get. It’s what humans were meant to do. We are all just part of the earth’s surface.