Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
12 Jul

Earthing: Another Reason to Go Barefoot?

I’ve written before about the benefits of going barefoot. Anatomically speaking, it’s the best thing you can do for your feet. Lately, however, I’ve been wading through a theory that suggests we have more to gain from ditching footwear than a more natural gait. In a book called Earthing, authors Clinton Ober, Martin Zucker and Dr. Stephen T. Sinatra put forth a bold proposal that body-to-earth contact has the power to directly impact our health. At the heart of their theory is a central physics-based relationship. Since the advent of shoes, houses, flooring, and elevated beds, we’ve lost our contact with the earth and its inherent electrical field. In discarding (or minimizing) this physical connection, we’re forgoing natural healing benefits that previously played a significant role in our physiological functioning. The body, when grounded in the earth, returns to its natural electrical homeostasis as part of the living electrical matrix. It’s an intriguing theory with, as yet, little attention. Is attention warranted though? Is it really the “most important health discovery ever,” as the authors suggest?

Chronic inflammation, that bane of modern existence, is set and kept in motion by free radicals, the well-meaning soldiers in an immune function run amok. (The body, of course, is responding the only way it knows how faced with the novel conditions of chronic stress, pollution, obesity, and other modern instigators. Anyone want a review?) As the authors explain, free radicals are inherently positively charged. They’re on the hunt for an additional electron, and they’ll scavenge whatever they come across to get it – usually (and hopefully) alien bacteria/virus invaders, which their ravaging disable. In the case of chronic physical/mental stress and its immune dysfunction, they target the only thing around, which is healthy tissue. Antioxidants, of course, serve the same role as these supposed free electrons. They offer up electrons to functionally neutralize free radicals and keep inflammation in check. Earthing (also called grounding) in this way acts as a “vitamin G” for our proposed “electron deficiency.”

Although I get the free radical part, the explanation of how this exchange gets set in motion feels scant. The book in numerous places includes reference to the “negatively charged” earth and its ample supply of free electrons. As a result of this negative charge, the ground itself is presumably the best source for these free electrons. When we’re “grounded” in the earth (e.g. barefoot/bare skin contact on unbuffered earth/conductive natural material or in barefoot/bare skin contact with a mechanically grounded device like a conductive pad or bed sheet), our bodies – as natural circuits – naturally absorb the earth’s plentiful free electrons and use them to feed the out of control free radicals. As the authors explain, “our conductive bodies naturally equalize with the earth.”

Call me picky, but I wish the authors spent more time filling in and substantiating these physics related claims. In some cases, there appear to be a number of convenient simplifications to the argument. Although the book makes it sound like the earth is a big ball of striking negative charge, the actual charge of the earth’s surface, for example, isn’t substantially “negative.” It instead hovers remarkably close to neutral and actually fluctuates in a dynamic relationship with the earth’s atmosphere. Generally, yes, it tends to hold a very slightly negative charge and the atmosphere a positive charge. (This relationship exists in a kind of continual exchange, with thunderstorms offering a dramatic shift and exchange of relative charge.) They comment that the physics part of the theory is “common sense,” but I’ll admit I’m not fully sold on the intuitiveness yet. Of course, I’m only a layperson here. Any physics experts out there care to chime in?

Furthermore, the authors assign seemingly random values to things like the voltage difference between a person’s head and feet. The value is likely a product of some probability distribution but has no merit as an absolute value, although this is never mentioned. (Even with a particular height, the actual voltage difference depends on a number of factors like humidity levels, wind velocity, etc.) They claim a specific voltage is inherent to living on a particular floor in an apartment building, and so on. Again, these might seem like minor points, but simplifications bother me, particularly when the persons giving them don’t acknowledge them as such.

But then there’s the biology. The book cites a variety of patient observations and clinical studies. A large part of the book contains anecdotal descriptions of people helped by earthing, which (while intriguing) can’t be counted as objective support. Thermography images (PDF) of patients’ with a variety of ailments and injuries show – after a half an hour of grounding (with no other intervention) – surprising reductions in inflammation where other medications and therapies have had little impact. Microscopic images comparing blood samples after less than an hour of grounding in several subjects suggest a dramatic improvement in viscosity.

One double-blind, controlled clinical trial demonstrated earthing’s impact on a number of biomarkers. Subjects who slept grounded showed statistically significant decreases in serum sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, total protein, albumin concentrations, inorganic phosporus. Free T4 and TSH increased while free T3 decreased. (PDF) In another study, participants were given exercises that induced muscular pain. Those who were grounded showed altered immune activity and reported lesser pain levels than those who were ungrounded. (PDF)

Another controlled study suggested that sleeping grounded can impact cortisol levels and sleep quality. Subjects who slept grounded with conductive mattress pads showed lower night-time cortisol levels as well as an overall “resynchronization” of cortisol secretion “more in alignment with the natural 24-hour circadian rhythm profile.” (PDF) Subjects who were grounded during sleep also reported better sleep and less physical pain and emotional stress. You can check out links to other earthing related studies here.

Clearly, something is happening here. The results are pretty suggestive of some significant phenomenon. As for my part, I’m hopeful but still cautious about the authors’ general theory and the compelling (albeit modest) collection of research that supports earthing’s impact. The concept admittedly appeals to the evolutionary bent in me, but I’m always on the lookout for the snags of naturalistic fallacy.

When I first heard of the concept, I was on the verge of dismissing it out of hand, but a friend convinced me to read the book. I thought it was going to be another artfully construed, new agey round of BS. I finished the book a little disappointed at the vague physics summary and a few infomercial style sections but nonetheless intrigued by the concept and some of the study results.

The research and scholarly discussion on earthing isn’t overwhelming. The vast majority of studies aren’t substantial in size, and few bear the gold standard of randomized, controlled, and double-blind methodology. The inclusion of so many personal stories – with their apparent suggestion that earthing has conferred benefit to virtually every ailment and injury known to humankind (and don’t forget the section on pets!) doesn’t do the authors’ argument any favors. (And I still can’t let go of the thin, unsubstantiated physics explanation.)

Nonetheless, I’ve been spending even more time outside barefoot. I’ve taken to sitting on the beach or grass more often while reading or talking with my kids. I look for the grass, gravel, dirt, sand, or concrete the authors suggest for conductivity.

As of yet, I haven’t picked up any of the equipment, but I’m not ruling it out. I’ll admit part of me is curious. I don’t have any truly chronic pain (although the knee I injured a couple of years ago does get a little irritated now and then) or disease that would offer me the chance to  follow any dramatic observations. The most I could hope for is a more restful night’s sleep and (barring a battery of blood tests, thermography and other images) the benefit of unseen stabilization of my body’s electrical state. Hmmmm…

We’ll see what the coming months bring. For now, it’s one more excuse to go barefoot and enjoy being outside with the sand or grass between my toes. Seriously, who doesn’t love that? It’s all the justification I need really.

Anyone out there familiar with the earthing concept? If you’ve read the book or tried the practices/products suggested by the Earthing authors, I’d be interested in hearing your take. Thanks for reading today, everyone. I’ll look forward to enjoying your thoughts. Have a great week.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. My parents kicked me out and recently let me move back in until I can find an apartment, with some rules to follow, one of those being that I have to go to bed at 11pm, a sleeping time that I find difficult to adhere to. As an alternative I suggested that I set up a tent outside and exit the house through the basement to sleep there once I’m tired so as not to wake anybody up when I go upstairs. They thought I was crazy! Sleeping outside? In the fresh air? Close to nature? You think it’s healthier? Whaaaat????
    In a health food store the other day my mom asked a lady working there to explain to me the importance of whole grains in the diet (even though after not seeing me for a while she commented that I looked healthy, whereas before she thought I looked sickly). After the usual “they are full of nutrients” indoctrination from her I replied that I’ve been avoiding grains for about 5 months and that “I try to eat what prehistoric people probably ate and I doubt that they had fields of wheat” she was speechless at these simple common sense words coming from me, the person, if I may so, possibly with the most natural looking body and definitely the nicest tan in the store! Progress and demonstrate… that’s how we will convert the infidels 😛

    Animanarchy wrote on July 12th, 2011
  2. I heard the author (Sinatra I think) interviewed on talk radio, and he was pretty convincing. It may be he doesn’t understand correctly why it works, but there seems to be something there. The originator stumbled onto the technique by accident, and was intrigued because his own chronic pain seemed to disappear. He tried it on some friends and acquaintances with chronic muscle pain, and they got similar results. Hard to argue with results.

    knepper wrote on July 12th, 2011
  3. I love going barefoot, and I don’t particularly have nice feet. Too bad. It feels good and my feet are stronger for it. Now I’m trying to figure out how to do winter. Thinking heavy wool socks and minimal shoes/sandals. Used to wear my Birkenstocks like that.

    hiker wrote on July 12th, 2011
    • Sounds like a good idea. In the last few winters I’ve worn normal socks under normal running shoes, even when on long treks through deep snow. Usually I can tolerate at least an hour of this before my feet, ankles, and lower legs start to get too numb/painful. Of course the shoes aren’t doing my feet any favours but I assume the little bit of exposure to the cold is healthy. I wonder if rubber socks exist? You could wear thick wool socks or a couple pairs of them under long rubber socks that hug your legs tightly, which would be similar to going barefoot, and probably stay warm and dry enough to be comfortable out in the snow for a long time.

      Animanarchy wrote on July 12th, 2011
  4. I first heard about grounding having a positive health effect from a David Wolfe video (I know, I know…). He’s since made shoes called “Grounders.” I’m not thoroughly convinced on the whole thing.

    Jota wrote on July 12th, 2011
  5. Very interesting! I’m getting shoulder surgery in a couple days (my first time ever being put under) and I’ve been trying to find anything that might help with the healing and recovery. I’ve already been told by a natural-movement-fanatic friend of mine that I should work on barefoot running to keep some aspect of my training up – now there’s even more reason to give that a try!

    As for the “woo-woo” part of it – as long as it could help (pretty heavy anecdotal evidence in those thermograph images) and can’t hurt, I figure, what’s the harm in trying it out? I might be slightly more inclined to try something if there were more truly scientific weight behind it, but especially as this idea appeals to me to start with, I see no reason to focus on the New-Age-y bent as a reason to steer clear.

    Nelly wrote on July 12th, 2011
    • Please check out the Earthing research and scientific commentaries. They are posted at Keep in mind that Earthing is new and so is the research. This is a new frontier, and an exciting one at that.
      Martin Zucker, co-author of the Earthing book

      Martin Zucker wrote on July 13th, 2011
  6. I don’t wish to sound negative, but I don’t intend to go charging in to any new theory unless I’m positive there is some current scientific grounding for the idea – maybe I need something a bit more down to earth?

    Stevemidd wrote on July 12th, 2011
    • what could be more down to earth than your feet on the ground?:)

      Adog wrote on July 12th, 2011
    • The answer below says it all. To paraphrase an old Bob Dylan tune, the answer my friend is flowing in the ground.
      Martin Zucker, co-author of the Earthing book

      Martin Zucker wrote on July 13th, 2011
      • “what could be more down to earth than your feet on the ground”, yeah it was funny but it’s that kind of reasoning that makes me not going to read the book, because I believe the book is full of it.

        And of course, too much anecdotal evidence have also been reported.

        Are there any RCT’s with double blindness on the “earthing effect” and preferably with objective reporting of the subjects health states? Then please let me know.

        alias wrote on March 23rd, 2012
    • I am on the other hand feeling rather positive, so I think it is time for me to put my feet down to the ground for some negativity – to balance things out 😉

      Here I go – charging off – pfft!

      Torsten Nielsen

      Torsten Nielsen wrote on July 15th, 2011
  7. Michael Sandler has a section in his book “Barefoot Running” about the physics of getting grounded. Besides the dissipating of electric charge aspect of going barefoot, he also discusses the natural 7.83 Hz Schumann resonance frequency of the earth, and how it supposedly matches the natural frequency of our brain. He also says that the 7.83 Hz is an average, that it changes predictably throughout the day, and that going barefoot in the morning is especially beneficial since it ties you into this natural variation which then positively affects your circadian rhythms. And he’s also way into the grounding sheets and pads.

    I have a masters in physics and am a physics teacher, and though it does sound a little “woo”, I have been wrong and humbled enough in my life defending conventional scientific wisdom that I certainly am not ready to rule it out, and am even tempted to buy the sheets and perhaps (hopefully) add to the anecdotal success stories.

    Dayle wrote on July 12th, 2011
  8. If nothing else it’s a great excuse to go camping….

    Peter@themensdomain wrote on July 12th, 2011
  9. Living electrical matrix? Sounds like Avatar… I guess James Cameron was right!

    Reiko wrote on July 12th, 2011
  10. I have a phd in physics. The more I learn about physics the more I realise the absolute minute amount we know about anything at all.

    If it makes you feel good forget about why for the most part. You can attempt a hypothesis and extrapolate but in reality you know nothing and at best you’re working under massively simplified approximations. We have reliable models for certain things but there are enormous gaps in our knowledge in areas such as this.

    I would forget about their scientific explanation for the grounding effect, I haven’t read the book but I’m pretty sure it’s a ineffective attempt to scaffold a scientific explanation onto something for which the science doesn’t exist.

    I’m going to try it and call it an experiment. If it works it works.

    David wrote on July 12th, 2011
    • Amen,

      Their explanations are just hypotheses which they have not even attempted to test. The only studies have been on the effects on biological systems.

      The truth is, most of us want a good ‘story’ to explain why something works. The true mechanisms may not be understood for millennia.

      Scott wrote on July 12th, 2011
  11. I really cannot comment on the physics behind grounding, but it does seem to me that varied surfaces would stimulate the nerves, muscles on the bottom of our feet in a way that would be beneficial. Like others have mentioned, walking in the grass sure feels good. Perhaps we are stimulating a primal area of our brain, as well.

    Susan wrote on July 12th, 2011
    • ” Perhaps we are stimulating a primal area of our brain, as well. ”

      THIS is exactly what I think is happening. Lots of people claim they have childhood memories when smelling certain trees and grasses. But what are the memories exactly, nobody can really remember the day they soaked in that particular smell to form a long lasting memory. Are certain scents programmed into our DNA?
      Perhaps ‘grounding’ is one of those things we evolved on and the genetic door is being unlocked. Like walking through the woods and picking up a stick to walk with…or the desire to build a dam with rocks in a creek.

      I see this “unlocking door” a lot in my dogs when I take them hiking. My pitbull finds a carcass and tries to hide it in the woods, but he never does this at home and nobody has taught him this behavior.
      Going barefoot or just putting our butts on the ground opens up the primal doors.

      Primal Palate wrote on July 13th, 2011
  12. I’m not an electrical engineer, nor a scientist, but I have read the book and I do sleep “grounded.”

    First, the authors don’t claim to know the mechanism for many of the effects of grounding. They hypothesize that free electrons have some sort of antioxidant effect on the body. I have know idea what the mechanism may be, BUT it does seem to help my sleep and recovery time from injury and tough workouts.

    Second, grounding does change the charges built up in the body from contact with electronics or standing near electrical outlets. With a $20 volt meter I measured charges of 3-6 volts on my skin depending on where I was standing. By touching my toe to a grounding wire, the measured charge dropped to mere thousandths of a volt.

    Has this been proven to produce health benefits? Absolutely not. However, there are a handful of intriguing studies as Mark points out.

    Our ancestors were “grounded” nearly all of the time until just a few decades ago. I find it unlikely that there are no negative health effects from being ‘insulated’ from the earth most of the time.

    Scott wrote on July 12th, 2011
  13. could we just call it “grounding” instead, in order to mitigate a knee jerk reaction from “woo”-weary individuals?

    Adog wrote on July 12th, 2011
    • Unfortunately, I think the authors of “Earthing” decided to market to the raw-food hippie movement through huckster David Wolfe (No relation to Robb Wolf).

      “Earthing” appeals more to that crowd.

      Scott wrote on July 12th, 2011
      • that it does:)

        Adog wrote on July 12th, 2011
  14. “You’re grounded! Now go to your room!” Is there something evil at work there?

    Animanarchy wrote on July 12th, 2011
  15. OK. This may or may not be a horse of a different color…but has this grounding thing got anything with an ability to “dowse”?…find water sources underground using bent sticks or metal rods?

    Because I have been able to do it since childhood, and my father showed me how. I don’t have to be barefoot, although the response of the “dowsing rod” is always more brisk when I am, and I can use wire hangers, rebar, or sticks. My sisters and brothers never could do it. I can’t explain it, but it always seemed to work for me.

    I had forgotten about it until a year or two ago, when lightning took out the electrical line to our well. Heck, why not try it? I dowsed the location of the water line, but it ran through the garden in a totally different place from where I expected it to be. I really didn’t think it could be there. I marked it with some rocks just to see what the well guys would find.

    The well guys came and used an electronic device to locate the line, and lo and behold! it was the very same place I had dowsed. They dug down just out of curiosity and confirmed it. The guys said the owner of the business, dead these many years, had been able to “water-witch”, and had tried to teach them to no avail.

    It had been years and years since I had tried it…and I still had it. So am I grounded, or what? (Be kind with the comments on the what part, please.)

    Nannsi wrote on July 12th, 2011
    • What!? That’s just so awesome! Wish I had that ability. Some people truly are x-men… maybe not as awesome as the ones in the movies but still =)

      alias wrote on March 23rd, 2012
  16. Intrigued to read the book, warts and all.

    Skepticism is always healthy but science doesn’t have all the answers because it often isn’t looking in the right places.

    Physics has revealed to us that everything is energy. Our bodies, too. So, yes, we’re living in an electrical matrix.

    I’m a Polarity therapist, which means I’m one of those strange ones who can “feel” energy moving. Except not so strange because we all come equipped with the tools; we’ve just never been taught the awareness.

    “Grounding” has been a primary component of numerous meditation and healing systems for eons; grounding the energy of the tail of our spine into the earth.

    Look at Tai Chi, Qigong and others. The Native Americans have a “Mother Earth, Father Sky” meditation.

    The idea, and practice, isn’t new. Whether or not the authors pulled together all the pieces and adequately substantiated them or not, I would hope this community – especially – would keep an open mind and check it out.

    Learning to ground is a key to my health.


    Marsha Stopa wrote on July 12th, 2011
    • Hi Marsha
      We don’t think in any sense that Earthing, as we describe it, is new. It is simply a revival of knowledge that has been around for who knows how long. What has been done here is an attempt to explain a significant and overlooked phenomenon in modern scientific and bioelectrical terms. The research is in a very early stage but if you take a good, open-minded look at it, with all the warts, as you say, you will find some very intriguing and promising information. Some are disturbed or turned off by the information. Most won’t bother looking at it and fall back on knee-jerk dismissal. But those who read it, and better yet, those who apply the information, are often very surprised and gratified. The unsolicited emails I see from people all over the world on a daily basis are so, so gratifying, and indeed bespeak of a remarkably simple, natural, and profound healing factor right beneath our feet.
      Martin Zucker, co-author of the Earthing book

      Martin Zucker wrote on July 22nd, 2011
      • and all of those who bought the book and equipment for whom the stuff didn’t work? Beware to take happy emails as evidence.

        alias wrote on March 23rd, 2012
  17. There may well be an amount of truth in the idea but the question surely isn’t so much about whether there is such an effect, but rather how much it affects us?

    Personally I think it’s likely to be far, far less (to the point of insignificance) than the much more obvious proprioceptive/sensory benefits of going barefoot. I too spend the majority of my time barefoot and it stands to reason that on a daily basis my brain gets more feedback about my environment than the comparatively unchanging feedback that comes from the inside of a pair of shoes.

    Nick Lo wrote on July 12th, 2011
  18. wow mark, you really stirred up a hornet’s nest of wannabe philosophers and pseudo-intellectuals. the only posts that actually say anything of substance besides the ones telling personal stories of their love for the barefoot way, are the jokes. science is art i guess in a way and if you put a painting in a room of 20 people and ask them to interpret it, you’ll have 20 equally stupid answers!!!! lol thanks for the laugh, i really needed it.

    Daniel wrote on July 12th, 2011
  19. This sounds very “Woo” to me but then I don’t really need another reason to barefoot.

    I’m more inclined to accept the notion that barefooting might confer some health benefit because the human foot is littered with very sensitive nerve endings–nerve endings that evolved to be in contact with the ground more than the inside of a padded, heeled shoe. When we’re barefoot, we get the feedback from the enviornment that our brains crave. When swaddled in constraining shoes, we rob our brains of that input. In other words, on both a concious and subconscious level, it simply feels good for our feet to be in contact with the earth. Our nervous system is going to respond to that in a positive way, which in turn effects every other system of the body. And that has to be good for your health. No vaguely supported physics explanations or hype of already over-hyped free-radicals needed.

    fritzy wrote on July 12th, 2011
  20. Mother Earth needs some way to communicate with us. What better way than thru the commonality of “electrical” or grounding? Take your shoes off, people, and “listen” to what She’s telling you!

    PrimalGrandma wrote on July 12th, 2011
  21. I had dinner with a geologist last week (as you do) and she was telling me that the terra or the rocks you live on can be important to health. In fact she said there will be a conference in Italy this September about geology and health. For example, in Naples, because it is a volcanic area, radon is released into the atmosphere, now too much radon is not good for you, but small amounts of radon…make you happy. Naples has been a party town for 2000 years starting with the Roman Empire. So I do not know about earthing or anything like that, but I thought what the geologist said fascinating!

    Belforte wrote on July 12th, 2011
  22. im still wearing “light” shoes.

    Richard wrote on July 13th, 2011
  23. There is a good interview between dr Mercola and James Oschman on youtube concerning the scientific background of grounding.

    I benefit tremendously from grounding,less pain and no migraine since. I think it is as primal as it gets!

    Sofie wrote on July 13th, 2011
  24. Barefoot is the best way to go!
    I always enjoy a yoga session with the grass wiggling between my toes.
    It’s a relaxing feeling to touch the ground directly with your feet.

    Paul Alexander wrote on July 13th, 2011
  25. I’ve learned from my grandma how important it is to stay connected to earth by walking barefoot. I try to do that almost every day. I feel such a charge of energy after. I also made a promise to my self that I will include a full day of nature once a week, it’s healing like no other.

    Tatianna wrote on July 13th, 2011
  26. I don’t have to walk barefoot to get grounded, my wife grounds me all the time. Even when its not my fault!

    Maybe its mumbo-jumbo, maybe not. All I know is that when I walk around barefoot, I feel better. I don’t know why, but I do believe in listening to my body.

    chris wrote on July 13th, 2011
  27. Although this sounds quite interesting I don’t need a reason to go barefoot. I do it because I love it.

    Ashley wrote on July 13th, 2011
  28. All I know is when I walk on certain surfaces and wear shoes I get charged up with electricity. If I then touch somehting metal, I spark.

    So, if we do build up electricity with our movements, even if not to that extend, would that charge not happen then,too?
    It basically happens ALL the time but it’s so low that we don’t feel it.
    I would assume this ‘charge’ would create headaches and heart rythm disruptions.

    Switching to shoes with real leather soles (which are very hard to find in our plastic world) would solve this problem.

    Primal Palate wrote on July 13th, 2011
  29. I, too, am intrigued by the concept, and skimmed through the Earthing book at Barnes and Noble not too long ago. I had a few red flags raise, and I’m also well-aware of the power of the placebo effect. Not to mention the author is clearly trying to profit with his sleep systems, and is naturally biased. I’ll keep going barefoot regardless of the Earthing potential, and I’ll keep my eyes open for more convincing evidence of this Earthing phenomenon.

    John Sifferman wrote on July 13th, 2011
    • If this is a placebo effect, John, it is a humongous one. We just attribute it to Mother Earth. Whatever your choice of reconnecting to Mother Earth, be it going barefoot outdoors or sleeping on an Earthing system that somebody has developed and is making a profit from, please do it regularly. Regular connection with the Earth is what generates the remarkable benefits. By the way, I never knew that profit is a bad thing. Sure beats the opposite. And if one profits by bringing something noble and beneficial and healing to the public, is that a bad thing? We buy things all the time for our well-being and somebody throughout the process is making a profit to develop them, manufacture them, package them, ship them, etc. Martin Zucker, co-author of the Earthing book

      Martin Zucker wrote on July 13th, 2011
  30. I can find a buried pipe in a yard with a simple 2 foot section of stiff wire bent at a 45 degree angle people are amazed when I do this….so there’s definitely some currents running around down there!!

    KS wrote on July 13th, 2011
  31. I love going barefoot! I just feel so free and relaxed when my feet have room to breathe :)

    Mark wrote on July 13th, 2011
  32. I ran across the Barefoot Connections website last year when I was doing some Google research on barefoot running.

    I chased the “Earthing” thing with some more Googling. I decided to give the grounded half sheet thing a try. I was hoping that it might help my wife with her sleeping issues. She frequently wakes up with a backache and blames it on the mattress. We had recently bought a new mattress and that didn’t help.

    She was afraid of the product because you plug it into the electric outlet. I had to demonstrate that I was not being electrocuted before she would give it a try.

    The first night she complained of a tingling in her feet/legs while I felt nothing. Her tingling occurred a few more nights and then no more. Unfortunately, she still wakes up with backaches.

    We still use it because I like the idea that it might be helping me recover from my workouts. And there is little involved in using it other than the additional effort required when replacing the sheets.

    Tsimblist wrote on July 13th, 2011
    • i also wake up with bad backaches from this product that werent there before i used the product. the pain is around the kidney areas of my back. i actually feel worse after using it. my muscles are cramped. i was reading it lowers sodium potassium calcium magnesium and the like. just wondering if those levels are normal to begin with before using the product. if the pad is lowering them too much to the point of deficiency. i also notice big bruises when i get acupuncture that i didnt get before i started using this product. i go out in the yatd barefoot and i dont notice this adverse effects as i do from this mat. my outlets are fine and i dont have any underlying medical conditions. but hell yes i too get that backache

      lynne wrote on August 4th, 2011
  33. Mark
    You have written a superb and thoughtful review of our Earthing book. I am the co-author, the health writer who put it together with Clint Ober and cardiologist Stephen Sinatra.
    There is much to be said about what you wrote and the good comments posted by your readers. The concept of grounding the body to the Earth, that is, making direct skin contact by being barefoot outside or connected to conductive systems indoors, is really a revival of knowledge that has existed throughout history in many cultures. The story of Earthing is fascinating and I hope your readers will check out the book.
    The research we included is a summary, for to expand and focus on nitty-gritty bioelectrical findings is to turn off most readers who do not have the same kind of interest that you have. You and your readers can find the science in full detail on our website at You will also find there many reports and stories that attempt to educate and instruct about this concept that has massive health implications.
    The feeling of well-being that some of the comments refer as a result of being outdoors barefoot are but the tip of the iceberg. Most people will not venture outside barefoot. It is an alien concept for most people in the “developed” society. To bring this concept to a larger, non-barefoot prone population, Clint Ober developed conductive systems like sheets and mats that can be used indoors while sleeping, working, and relaxing. These systems are connected to the Earth’s surface energy — an omnipresent and boundless field of electrons — via an Earthing cord that is plugged into a ground port of a wall outlet or to a ground rod sunk in the Earth outside, say, a bedroom window. Many people who spend hours thus “grounded” report great benefits in terms of deeper sleep, less pain, less stress, and more energy. Many people with a wide variety of health issues report improvements. To be sure, these are all anecdotal.
    In my research, I came across a back-to-Nature movement in Germany in the late 1880s where it was reported that walking barefoot and sleeping on the ground, in connection with Earth, produced many remarkable improvements in health. More anecdotes, to be sure. But such similarities.
    Research has to start somewhere. Earthing research is about 10 years old and has been inspired and promoted by Clint Ober in order to generate proof of concept, that grounding the human body to the Earth generates intriguing physiological changes ranging from the autonomic nervous system to the electrodynamics of blood. You are right to say Earthing research is scant, but research has to start somewhere and unless you have the big bucks of the pharmaceutical industry and government funding, it is a slow process. The research that has been done to date begins to explain the reason why people with so many different health issues feel better and have less pain and fatigue, etc.
    Some of what we wrote in the Earthing book is hypothesis but one thing is for sure. Based on the science and thousands of anecdotal reports, reconnecting with the Earth appears to be nothing less than a law of Nature revealed. We were meant to be in direct physical contact with the Earth, not isolated from it. Many good things happen when we reconnect. We are only scratching the surface (pun intended) of the possibilities. Thank you for keeping an open mind and inviting comments from your readers. You will be hearing more and more about Earthing in the future.
    Best wishes
    Martin Zucker

    Martin Zucker wrote on July 13th, 2011
  34. How exactly does one go about grounding their bed?

    Wes wrote on July 13th, 2011
    • This is described in the Earthing book. I have no stake in the products at all, but if you want to sleep grounded buy yourself a grounding bed sheet via the Earthing website. Or sleep naked outside on the grass…
      My and my husband’s sleep, stresslevels and general health are benefitting enormously from sleeping on an Earthing sheet.
      In Europe (where I live)on traditional farms, sick animals would be taken out of their stables and put into pastures to get better. There are primal customs where people would get up early and walk on bare feet on the dewy grass. I woudl suggest it is too important to dismiss this without seriously reading the book and trying it yourself.

      Sofie wrote on July 13th, 2011
      • Hmmm I’m thinking, attaching a piece of wire to the piping of my apartment? Anddd grounded for free? Probably wouldn’t have the same effect as if I had the real Earthing sheet though.

        Wes wrote on July 13th, 2011
        • You may indeed get the same effect, Wes. So try it. Most people tend not to like the feeling of a copper wire around their ankles and so tend not to continue. There may also be a toxicity factor with long-term skin exposure to copper wire.
          The idea of effective grounding for health is to sustain it, do it indefinitely, make it part of your healthy lifestyle. The Earthing products were created with the idea of giving people convenience and comfort and in recognition of the fact that most people just won’t go barefoot outside. Martin Zucker

          Martin Zucker wrote on July 13th, 2011
        • @Martin, I was thinking more like a wire attached the metal part of the bed frame, not exactly attached to myself.

          Wes wrote on July 13th, 2011
  35. West…it ain’t gonna work unless the wire, or some conductor is in direct contact with the bare skin of your body and the Earth. If you attach the wire to the metal part of the bed frame, it would theoretically work as long as you then make continual physical contact with the frame.

    Martin Zucker wrote on July 13th, 2011
  36. I embraced this idea today while in the park. I took my shoes off and walked around. I got stung in the big toe by a bee. UGH! haha.

    SteveMarie wrote on July 14th, 2011
  37. I can understand why the science here seems “woo” as a lot of people have commented. I think there is just more research needed in this area.

    As for the grounding technology, I bought the products for myself and my mother and we both had amazing results. I can sleep through the night, I wake up with energy, and my chronic pain issues have greatly diminished. When I stopped using the sleeping pad for a while, it all came back. My mother had her knee pain of 2+ years almost completely go away. She used to have to walk with a cane, and now she’s not.

    I would like to understand it better, and I know this is anecdotal, but it’s good enough for me for now!

    Sara wrote on July 14th, 2011
  38. Grounding is a method I picked up from Paul Chek, have been doing it since. And even if there’s no clinical benefit, the relaxing feeling you get for the few seconds/minutes is well-worth it. Sometimes just being disconnected is enough a benefit.

    Ahmed-LivingNotSurviving wrote on July 15th, 2011
  39. Many people testify for the great benefits of earthing according to their own experiences, others are still skeptical.

    I guess you won’t be able to tell unless you try it longer earthing durations for yourself, I suggest getting an earthing product like an earthing bed sheet.


    Alek wrote on July 15th, 2011

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