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?

earthingI’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:

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  1. Reminds me too much of the magnet fad that went around about ten years ago.

    You were supposed to put a matress pad on your bed that had magnets around it to do some sort of hocus-pocus ‘normalization’ of your magnetic field. Even a compass out of a box of Cracker Jacks would reveal that the magnetic field of the earth was far more powerful than the matress pad.

    Whith electronic assembly workers wearing grounding straps on their wrists, surey there could be some sort of correlational study done that would be more convincing than ‘…….we have a very large placebo………..’

    Kenny wrote on July 17th, 2011
  2. “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.”

    “Keep in mind that Earthing is new and so is the research. This is a new frontier, and an exciting one at that.”

    Ok, so far I have anecdotal evidence that Earthing is new and anecdotal evidence that it’s been around since the 1800’s. Unfortunately, both anecdotes come from the same source, a guy named Martin Zucker.

    Which is it?

    Kenny wrote on July 17th, 2011
    • We believe that knowledge of the Earth’s healing effect has been around a long, long time among many different cultures. What is new is the discovery that direct connection with the Earth creates significant changes in the physiology, and this has been the focus of the research done to date. The research is aimed at explaining in scientific terms the multiple, and often remarkable, benefits that people experience after they start grounding themselves.

      Martin Zucker wrote on July 24th, 2011
  3. here in australia, paternalistic past governments tried to build public housing for Aboriginal people in the more remote areas. often the floor boards were ripped up and the people slept on the ground underneath (like they previously did) as they said they had felt that they had lost the “connection” to the earth. of course the government then labelled them “ungrateful” . i have slept on the ground myself and i think the better sleep may be more to do with there being no space beetween you and something solid, making you feel more “secure”. dunno about the electrical side of things however.

    Stewart wrote on July 18th, 2011
  4. i purchased a mat and have been sleeping with it under me for at least 5 hours a night. i have more pain and stiffness than if i dont use it. i wake up with muscle cramping and a tremor as well as a vague headache. i see in your article it claims to decrease electrolytes and such. just maybe its depleting thoe vital nutrients. i dont feel like this if i go outsie and bare my feet in the yard. i just feel this horrible consistently when i use the earthing product. i am a nurse and i dont want to hear a justification of maybe its detoxing me. i have done detoxing regimens and this is not a detox feeling this is a feeling like the product is doing spmething adverse to my body.

    lynne wrote on August 4th, 2011
  5. oh yeah forgot to mention the very painful backache i wake up with when sleeping grounded with the earthing.com ground product. like a kidney area backache. totally not thete when not sleeping with the mat. mr zucker this product hurts my body all over when i use it. and yrs i tested the outlet with your little plug intester included with my product. woo is this product painful. my headache is awful today from this product. wooo

    lynne wrote on August 4th, 2011
  6. i have had this product now for about 5 months. the mat. i also notice that i bruise too easily. big bruises. my labs were done prior to using this product and were normal.i am not on any medications. i have no major medical conditions other than joint pains from injuring them. i dont see any benefit from this product at all. i feel God awfully worse when i use it. my muscles cramp i have numbness and tingling my back hurts considerably more. my gums bleed easily. i just feel like crap from this product.

    lynne wrote on August 4th, 2011
  7. Are you aware how easy it is to make your own Earthing device? The instructions are posted at WikiHow. Have a look! http://www.wikihow.com/Make-an-Earthing-Device

    Jonathan wrote on August 25th, 2011
  8. I’m not as skeptical as most. When I heard about this, I couldn’t wait to get a set of pads for my bed and office. Who cares if there’s not a volume of evidence that proves this works? The theory makes perfect sense to me, and healers have known about this phenomenon for centuries.

    I’m a poor test subject, tho… No aches or pains or lack of energy. I did notice a stream of energy flowing up my legs the first night I slept on my pad, so much so that I didn’t sleep well (a rarity for me). This only lasted the first night. Now I ground myself 12-16 hours a day using the pads.

    After a couple of days of Earthing, I have noticed a significant increase in overall energy, enough that there left no doubt in my mind. This stuff works.

    Stan wrote on September 17th, 2011
  9. This debate is a pure waste of time. It costs $7 to make an Earthing device out of electrical parts. Wear it to bed and it takes up none of your time and requires no effort. I’ve been Earthing this way for 6 weeks and I’m sold… I feel 20 years younger.

    Stan wrote on October 10th, 2011
  10. Hi:

    I have a PhD in physics.

    It is possible that there are substantial health effects as the result of time spent barefoot.

    However, such effects must only be physiological in origin; what those authors say about the transfer of ions and free radicals and electric field of the earth and such is nonsense.

    To make matters worse for them: I am also a martial arts instructor and spend hours a day barefoot. I have chronic inflammation from an autoimmune disease, and I have hypothyroidism.

    This idea almost certainly merely wishful thinking.

    Sean wrote on October 31st, 2011
    • You spend hours a day barefoot – well, is that on a conductive surface or on a plastic mat? Earthing helps me – that’s my direct experience. I practice Tai Chi on grass barefoot and even after 10 minutes this combo works wonders for me.

      Re: chronic inflammatory conditions – these are often multi-factorial. Maybe you’ve got some toxicity issues going on, or unresolved emotional issues – who knows? Healing is often a complex matter – this I have authority to say as have been working in both conventional medicine for 16 yr and alternative and hands-on healing practice for 30 yrs.
      Try practicing martial arts hours a day on the grass – that would allow you to make a fairer comparison than dismissing the earthing concept as wishful thinking.

      Renee wrote on September 12th, 2012
  11. Geez… I feel sorry for skeptics (not!).

    Instead of arguing over whether this makes sense, or could work in scientific terms, you could just try it. I made my own earthing device for $7 worth of electrical hardware and have been grounding myself 12 hours or more every day, with NO effort. Although I felt great before I started, I now feel 20 years younger.

    You guys are missing the boat if you don’t do this.

    stan wrote on November 3rd, 2011
  12. Well, looky here. Luther Standing Bear was an American Indian(Lakota) Philosopher, born in the Mid-1800’s.
    A Quote by Chief Luther Standing Bear.

    “The old people came literally to love the soil and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power. It was good for the skin to touch the earth and the old people liked to remove their moccasins and walk with bare feet on the sacred earth. Their tipis were built upon the earth and their altars were made of earth. The birds that flew into the air came to rest upon the earth and it was the final abiding place of all things that lived and grew. The soil was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing.”

    Luther Standing Bear
    How cool is that?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luther_Standing_Bear

    Digger wrote on December 20th, 2011
  13. Mark,
    Thanks for reading the book and writing a review. My mother gave me this book and a bed sheet for Christmas and before trying it, of course I wanted to read the book and any sort of “spark” notes (ha, haa!!) I could get by scouring the web. I did study electrical engineering in college, the best of which was the 3 semesters of physics. While I changed my major to the liberal arts, I feel very blessed that all that physics and chemistry with philosophy and theology helps me live a thoughtful life. It was my PHYSICS professor that said, the next great leap in physics beyond relativity was going to require a leap of faith. There is so much happening in fields integrating knowledge from various disciplines, I think we would be remiss to dismiss anything just because it hasn’t been vetted by all the disciplines simultaneously.
    I think all the comments about the science in the book being oversimplified are valid. But how many people do well with understanding the relationship between magnetism, electrical flow, etc? If you pull up “earthing” on Wikipedia and try to wade through all the explanation of how you can ground and electrical system to the earth for safety, it would overwhelm most people. So, as infomercial as it may be, I think the authors wrote to their audience using a KISS principle.
    I am not going to offer myself as an N of 1 in a study here, since that’s not good science and I would never drop all the other things I do for good health to control the experiment, but I will try it. At 47 and moving through the “change of life” with lots of the negatives (no pun intended), I’m willing to try something more to improve things.

    Christine wrote on December 28th, 2011
  14. I believe it, I’ve seen David Wolfe’s experiment and explanations but not only that.. It just seems logic for the connection between us and the planet to be so strong, to be healing, it is like a reset.

    Alec Blenche wrote on January 2nd, 2012
  15. Wah doh! (thank you) Mark for your fair and balanced treatment of a concept that has engaged many thoughtful people in the barefoot, primal living and energy healing communities in earnest debate. My halfside teaches Reflexology and was considerably excited by the possibilities of healing and understanding that the “Earthing” book presents. Like you i was troubled by the lack of rigorous scientific discipline in the authors presentation. But what i have to say here comes from my heart,as a scientist.
    Ober, Zucker, Oschman and the whole energy healing science bunch are on the right track – but barking up the wrong tree. My step-grandfather made and lost a fortune in the 1920’s when electromagnetic healing was all the rage. Today, nearly 100 years later, no claim of electromagnetic healing has ever been substantiated by the simple logical standards to which any medical device or drug are held; to wit: double blinded replicated peer reviewed and published methodology. Now the “nothing can be proved by science – its all a theory” crowd has had their say in this discussion but you all are really just showing your arse and your ignorance and contributing to the rise of The Tea Party with those tired old lines. Dinosaurs, Creationists and other anti-intellectuals are extinct. The difference is that dinosaurs know that they are extinct! (No profile needed here!)
    Now, before you Missourians get to chortling, try this on for size. Science makes new discoveries every day and has done so since the days of leaching and bleeding, also a scant 100+ years ago. Actually, leaching has recently made a come-back in surgery. My point is that there is far more under the Sun than our pitiful powers of reason and detection can comprehend. See particle physics and string theory for a start.
    I now refer you to Yolene Thomas’s ‘The History of The Memory of Water’, and quote “‘Homeopathic dilutions’ and ‘Memory of Water’ are two expressions capable of turning a peaceful and intelligent person into a violently irrational one,’ as Michel Schiff points out in the introduction of his book ‘The Memory of Water’. The idea of the memory of water arose in the laboratory of Jacques Benveniste in the late 1980s and 20 years later the debate is still ongoing even though an increasing number of scientists report they have confirmed the basic results.
    http://www.badscience.net/category/journal-club/ Dont let the name of the website fool you – this is for real and deadly serious.
    If you have a reasonably open mind and can decipher scientific research papers please read the rest of Yolene Thomas’ analysis – it will blow your mind. But the overwhelming impression that you will come away with is that – if electromagnetism is at the heart of water’s ability to transfer information, then that mechanism is so complex and in need of greater scientific study, that ex-cable TV CEO Clinton Ober’s club footed muddlings with wired blankets and your home’s ground wires are more likely to get you electrocuted by lightning than healed!
    O Mi Takueye Oyasin (We are all related) – whether we like it or not!
    PS – if you are still not convinced, just cut off the two straight plugs on your electric blanket, separate the ground and plug that in to the round hole of your outlet. You will save $450 bucks and have a better device. As for your shoes, synthetics and rubber insulate you from electric current. Electromagnetism goes right through them.

    Sun Butler wrote on February 2nd, 2012
  16. i bet the concept of Earth being round was a bit “woo” too…

    Catharine wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  17. I can confirm that it works. Earthing has reached Denmark and I am the proud distributor of the products. We get many convincing testimonials from our customers.

    Claus Birger Henriksen wrote on May 1st, 2012
  18. Uhm… We evolved in trees.

    Why would direct contact with the ground be a necessary part of healthy homeostasis? Doesn’t make sense.

    Whole thing smells fishy to me. (And I have a PhD in physics.) The “ozone is healthy” people and “alkaline water” people out to get together with them and celebrate the rise of pseudoscience in the 21st century. Oh, and they should invite the magnetic bracelet and aqueous silver folks.

    Seriously, learn some physics.

    I love that the whole primal movement is based on good, solid scientific research and not just wishful thinking. Please, let’s continue in that fine and fruitful tradition.

    Sean Cordry wrote on May 1st, 2012
  19. After 2 weeks of sleeping earthed (sleeping w/ sheet), going barefoot on the beach as much as possible I can report deeper sleep and a palpable sense of greater well-being. Placebo?? who knows but my goal is to reduce my inflammation numbers so that I can slow/stop sjogren’s disease in it’s tracks. My brother who has been sleeping grounded and spends a few hours a day on a grounded pad for the same 2 weeks is reporting significant pain reduction in pain due to diabetic neuropathy. He spent $200 on the sheet and pad and told me yesterday that he would gladly have paid that for only the 2 weeks relief he’s already experienced.

    maureen lamotte wrote on May 22nd, 2012
  20. I’ve been reading these posts with interest. I first read about earthing several weeks ago and decided to give it a try.
    All I can say is that for me it works. I now have nights of undisturbed, restful sleep (I am 78 years of age) and a debilitating ankle injury, which I have had for many years, no longer gives me any trouble.
    In addition, I now work at my PC wearing an earthed wrist-band. To the skeptics I would say, first try earthing (you don’t need to spend any money) and then come back with your opinions. After all you wouldn’t criticize a book without reading it.

    Eric Rowland wrote on June 25th, 2012
  21. I came here after looking this video http://youtu.be/ii_Up5SVP30 .

    Kestutis S wrote on July 16th, 2012
  22. I have been sleeping grounded via stake in the ground out my window-attached to a conductive anklet for the past six months with remarkable results. After my success sleeping grounded I decided to make this a part of my waking life as well. I was able to find some conductive huarache sandals called earth runners on kickstarter and cant wait to try them. I am bare-footing for now which is great, but not always practical.

    Mark wrote on September 25th, 2012
  23. Please all the intellectuals here sound like skeptic idiots. Spend $59 & change your life. Or just keep on keeping on…also, barefoot a few minutes here & there doesn’t cut it. & if some of the skeptics are basing their research on their here & there “barefoot” time & don’t even use a grounding mat, they just need to be quiet & continue solving the world (in their own minds…)

    just-ground wrote on September 29th, 2012
  24. Why don’t people just test the whole thing for themselves….use a voltmeter and see how many volts you’re inducting with and without earth contact and see for yourself whether you would benefit from earthing. If you go upstairs you’ll notice a higher voltage btw..almost invariably. Of course not everyone would benefit from earthing as in a health improvement…but it’s more complex than that.

    Tino wrote on October 29th, 2012
  25. I have a master’s degree in physics and a master’s in electrical engineering and I think that there may just be something to this. Free radicals are just unbound electrons. When you ground yourself you are just neutralizing all the free charges in your body. It stands to reason that by grounding yourself that you may be able to get rid of those free radicals more easily. This article (and maybe the book too) were obviously written by someone who is not a physicist or electrical engineer but look past that and think about what may be going on and it makes perfect sense.
    I work for a semiconductor manufacturing company and we are required to wear grounding straps on our feet when going onto the factory floor. That is an option (although not a very fashionable one.) Grounding shoes are another option. (They are made for working in the electronics industry.) Although neither of these solutions wouldn’t work very well on carpets.

    Steve wrote on November 4th, 2012
  26. when i was a child i always ran around barefoot. it was a chore for my mother to try and get me to put on shoes. i have wide feet EEE and only wear a 71/2 shoe. i went into the army at age 18 and there was only one pair of shoes that fit me. my mother said when i got home it was because i always ran around barefoot-it widened out my feet. of course that was nonsense as she had wide feet too. i still prefer being barefoot, it helps that i have hard to fit feet. i have slowely learned to love my peasant feet. now i make my own shoes. charming leather, wool and/or viking age style shoes also. i want to feel the earth below me. my husband thinks i am nuts for going outside when the ground is frosty or snowy and chilly rainy wet, but it still only feels right to me.

    dana pallessen wrote on November 14th, 2012
  27. I actually tested out sleeping outside during the day time on the grass. I slept with my body outstretched (i find this VERY hard to do at night, I usually crunch up into a ball) and I might have slept for 20 minutes max yet I woke up feeling as if I had slept for hours.

    Mike wrote on April 7th, 2013
  28. Mark I’ve been going barefoot as much as I can and taking as many naps as I can on the grass after reading this article last week and I can truly tell the difference. You feel energized, not an erratic energy but just calm and really zoned in.

    I love it man and I’m going to keep doing it. Thanks for the great posts and great website!

    Chest Coach wrote on April 9th, 2013
  29. Does anyone worry about ticks and going barefoot? thats why the earthing products would be great if they work. I live in NJ and I have autoimmune problems so the last thing I want to deal with is Lyme.

    Beth wrote on April 16th, 2013
  30. Gravel, sand, soils, and most concretes are very poor conductors of electricity…

    Frasier wrote on April 30th, 2013
  31. I contacted the Earthing Institute to ask if the charge of the ground surface in a country with foul weather like the UK, where I live, is going to be sufficiently negative to be effective. I’m pasting a bit of the very full, very prompt answer I got from Gaetan Chevalier below because it partly addresses some of Mark Sisson’s doubts.

    “In places where it rains often like England, the Earth is still negatively charged almost all of the time, except [during a thunderstorm]. It is still the “ground,” i.e. the region considered at zero potential. Now, the negative charge on the surface in these rainy regions may not be as negative as during very good fair weather. Yet there is much merit in grounding (Earthing) oneself.

    “Also one has to remember that receiving the electrons from the Earth is but one of the benefits from being grounded. Another one is that those electrons vibrate at the frequencies that the body need to give it cues about the time of day and year, including the Shumann resonance (7.8 Hz perfect frequency for brainwaves entrainment in the alpha range).”

    My own experience so far (about 3 weeks) is that I’m sleeping much better than usual. I sleep on the grounding mat sold at groundology.com that people usually put under a computer keyboard. I get the impression from the reviews at amazon.com that the quality control on the silver threaded sheets isn’t great. Some of them seem to be only good for about 10 washes and I wonder if some are not really functioning fully even when they leave the factory.

    Joanna wrote on June 10th, 2013
    • I recently decided to try Earthing to see if it would help me with an insomnia problem that started earlier this year. The insomnia came along with crushing anxiety, breathlessness, and occasional panic attacks during the day. I would get heart palipatations at night that would keep me awake too.

      I’ve been to several doctors and specialists and undergone many tests without any real conclusion as to what the problem is. The best they could offer me were antidepressants to treat the anxiety, which I decided against for various reasons. They also prescibed some medications for sleep. Some of the drugs (like Xanax, Trazadone and Ambien) had disasterous effects.

      Anyways, I eat pretty healthy, not perfect, but it’s okay compared to most people. I avoid gluten, most dairy and try to eat as few processed foods as possible. I take a variety of suppliments (Multis, Vit C, Mg, Fish Oil). I’ve tried various sleep supplements like Meletonin. Meletonin does help me fall asleep faster, but it doesn’t help me stay sleeping throughout the night (which is my main problem).

      I started seeing an acupuncturist about a month ago to help with the insomnia and daily anxiety I suffered. I noticed a difference on the night after my first treatment. I felt like the treatments gave me some relief by helping me stay asleep through the night. It seemed like the effect from acupuncture would wear off after a couple days and I would return to my usual sleep-deprived state. Plus, at $65 per session I don’t think I could continue this treatment indefinitely.

      I started reading more about the mechanism behind acupunture and why it supposedly works. This led me on an adventure into energy medicine and the idea of subtle body electricity, which ultimately led me to the Earthing website. This is an area of medicine and health that is sadly very understudied.

      I will also mention that I work in IT and am constantly surrounded by computers, electronics, wireless. Not to mention most of my hobbies involve using electronics in some sense. It’s something that I’m probably exposed to more than the average person based on the choices I’ve made in life (for better or worse).

      I suspect that years of being occupationally exposed to high powered electronics has left my body in a bit of a chatoic state, electrically. Maybe this is catching up to me just now? I don’t really know. All I know is something is definitely wrong and I don’t feel like I have any control over my body anymore.

      I noticed a difference in my quality and duration of sleep the very first night I slept on my grounded bedsheet. I have it plugged into a grounding rod since there is no real ground in my old home outlets. I also have been shutting off the breakers to my bedroom and any surrounding rooms each night hoping that will help. I’m not sure whether its the grounding or the removal of EMF in my sleep surroundings is helping more, but whatever the case I seem to have something that is definitely helping with sleep.

      I also noticed I get up fewer times in the night to go to the bathroom since I’ve been doing this routine. I would typically wake up 3x per night to go to the bathroom. Since I’ve started grounding it’s usually been 1x, maybe 2x at most. This, in itself, is really helpful.

      I do feel more relaxed during the day too, but I think this is mostly due to the return of regular sleep. It’s not perfect yet and I still have some night where I get less-than-adequate sleep. But we’re talking about the occasional 4hr night of sleep compared with the 1-2hr night of sleep like it was before.

      I did notice that the Earthing still doesn’t help much with physical aches and pains. I run about 3-4 miles 3x per week and sometimes pick up little nagging injuries. So far the grounding hasn’t helped much with those, which is surprising considering how many people claim it helps them recover from exercise and physical pain.

      I can understand from a skeptical point of view why people would be quick to dismiss this. I studied physics in college and ended up with a minor in it, so I’m no stranger to the basics of electricity. I’ve gotten through half of Cliff’s book and I’m not really convinced by his free radical hypothesis. I don’t think the mechanism(s) behind the Earthing affect are understood yet. That said, I think it’s worth a shot, especially for people who have suffered from sleep issues.

      I do think that removing as much EMF from your Earthing/sleeping environment is important. Otherwise, you are acting as the shortest path to ground for any electrical device or wiring in the vicinity of your bed (this includes some in-wall wiring). Get an electrician to figure out what kind of wiring you have and try to eliminate as much as you can either by turning off breakers or getting special on-demand breakers installed. Grounding might be more of a bandaid than a pernament solution to those of us trapped in toxic EMF cages every day, but it’s worth a shot if you’re suffering.

      Hope this helps somebody.

      WI Guy

      WI Guy wrote on August 7th, 2013
  32. Does it matter in some cases whether massive research is done or not? Scientists are taught, “Nothing is assured, everything is iffy.” They, as a group are some of the unhealthiest creatures on earth. If I take arsenic, 99 times out of 100, depending on the dose I take, I die. I don’t need a scientist to let me know whether arsenic will kill or not. How many things came to be without some person with their test tube, microscope, etc., to give their take? Thousands, and look at Madam Curie, simply couldn’t stop looking at her creation until she developed cancer. Weird. Shoes are not made for walking, they’re made for making money. Animals walk on the earth, people walk insulated from the earth. If I walk on the earth and grow old and die, which always happens, that doesn’t mean the earth is going to save my life, only connect me to the earth while I live, we all know that. However, there are several things that separate many of us from the mainstream fat asses of the world and they are the majority. Most of them eat crap, one out of five live with pain, most watch TV and are influenced by it, usually negatively, and, well, you know the rest. What happens to those who eat right, exercise because they like to, go barefoot often, don’t use drugs, booze, late night partying, etc., we are called elitists, social snobs, etc., or weird, fanatical, and other things those who buy the Monsanto madness of the world. Eventually, all those who buy into mainstream medicine, mainstream anything, die and kids, with more open minds and hopefully not addicted to sugar and other toxic junk, say, “Wow, eliminate junk, ugly materialism that enslaves our daily lives, and understand that politicians are not too bright show biz people who have to go since they muck up everything. We don’t need a scientist to say it’s all right, even if some do some will say it won’t. If I feel great going barefoot on the beach the last thing I need is somebody saying, “Wait, I have to check with scientists to see if it works or not. What a drag. People who refer to something as anecdotal often fancy themselves as authorities or wannabe’s and find fault even when there isn’t any. There’s a much better source of truth than test tube mentality, after all, if we look at the 90,000 toxic chemicals, WMD’s, 250,000 people dying each year from mal-practice or hospital errors, the Iraqi and Afghan wars, little or not of this would be happening if scientist were intelligent enough to not step over certain lines knowing that what they’re curious about might harm or kill. Such is the case, one we live with on a daily basis. Doctors, at one time would cut up a body and step in the next room with blood dripping off clothing and hands and terrify and often kill baby and mother because of being insulted they might do so until a fellow doctor said, “Wash your hands you idiots,” or something on that order, though one must be careful not to “insult” morons.

    kindelan wrote on September 10th, 2013
  33. I sent them questions via customer support. It has been a month and no reply. That really irks me. I don’t recommend their crap. I own a multimeter and did several measurements. I get about 0.5V sitting in front of my computer. When I touch my CRT, I measure 0V. Why? I thought CRTs are supposed to emit a lot of radiation? Is it possible my model is grounded? When LCD screens were introduced, there was all this rave about them emitting less radiation. They wouldn’t answer me. I bought it out of desperation, because I had a blood clot. Grounding they claim thins the blood, and I refuse to take Coumadin, rat poison. That crap doesn’t even thin the blood. It is not a true blood thinner as they claim. It is only an anticoagulant. In less than one month, I noticed destroyed blood vessels under my skin. I immediately seized use.

    Karl wrote on September 18th, 2013
  34. I read about earthing or grounding and was skeptical to say the least! So during my sons soccer game I removed my shoes for the whole game, it felt good! I noticed a big difference when I stood up at the end of the game and didn’t have the normal stiffness or pain that I usually have!
    So I got curious! I wasn’t spending that kind of money on something that hokey! So what did I do, what I normally do, made an improvised grounding bed mat out of aluminum window screen! WOW! That was the first time in twenty years that I got out of bed without any of the normal pains and I could stand up straight. The window screen wasn’t a big hit with the wife, so I found some foil bubble wrap in the loading dock. I took it home and made a bed pad that I have been using for a couple of weeks. I have never slept better in my life!
    Since that time I went online and purchased some fabric with the metal thread in it and is used for this purpose. Tonight I will see if the fabric is worth buy to make my own bedsheet or bag! I am sold on this! So are my coworkers, I am making them all mats!

    Glen L wrote on September 18th, 2013
    • It sounds like you went though the same sequence of experiments as myself to realize that earthing really does improve your sleep. These benefits inspired me to help spread how to make your own earthing sheet to test it for yourself. I made a YouTube channel called GroundedSymbiosis where I have two different earthing sheet how to videos with test results as well.

      Mike wrote on October 28th, 2013
      • Thanks Mike, I will look it up. I like to get my bare feet on the ground but now that it’s turning cold here in the Pacific Northwest I’m not inclined to go out and sit much. Brrrrrr.

        2Rae wrote on October 28th, 2013
        • Sure thing 2Rae, I think I may have a solution to your cold feet. Stay tuned to my channel for the release of some new winter earthing footwear options! I don’t know if you”l be able to sit around in these though, you may have to keep it moving:)

          Mike wrote on November 6th, 2013
  35. I just heard about this today and watched a video about it due to the urging of my wife. Do I believe it? I don’t know yet, but I’m going to try it and see. I will say this though, it’s not rocket science to see how far as a society we’ve tried to distance ourselves from the natural world. Are we meant to wear shoes? Are we meant to drive cars? are we meant to eat wheat and corn? Are we meant to eat and drink the milk of another species once we are weaned? Are we meant to sit at desks starring at a computer screen or stand on concrete floors 10 hours a day, five days a week? Are we meant to eat domestically grown grain fed meat and genetically modified fruits and vegetables? Personally I think that only an idiot would answer yes to any of those questions. I think that grounding most likely goes hand in hand with going back to a more primal existence, following a diet and exercise regimen that closely mirrors our evolution. We are animals, predatory animals at that. We are part of nature, we belong in nature, and I think going barefoot can only bring us closer to our natural state.

    Postman wrote on October 26th, 2013
  36. I think it deserves more attention. Not to dismiss it because there are no academics studying it. The native inuits and hunter-gatherers have much better health and nutrition to us westerners and not a scientific bit of proof amongst any of them…yet they are nutritionally superior. Don’t use the words ‘nonsense’ unless you have at least tried it personally and tried to make sense of it with your academic qualifications. Do some work on it. If proved to be nonsense (and it is provable), I will change my views on it.

    Zach Raybould wrote on October 29th, 2013
  37. Another well-balanced viewpoint, especially for the PhD in Physics guy here who keeps crying “nonsense”.

    http://georgewashington2.blogspot.com/2011/04/electrons-and-antioxidants-key-to-good.html

    I have only a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering and even I can say that the premise isn’t unreasonable at all.

    Also, there are ground currents which may act as cues to normalize our circadian rhythms along with light.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geomagnetically_induced_current

    One more thing I want to add is that you don’t need the Earth to be negatively charged for the electron flow hypothesis to be valid.

    In any circuit current flows from a point of higher potential to lower potential. Hence, if one terminal is at say 10 volts and another at say 5 volts, current will still flow from the first terminal to the second terminal ie. there will be electron flow from the second terminal to the first one. What we call electric current is actually the reverse flow of electrons from the relatively lower to the relatively higher potential. Key word, RELATIVE. This is Electricity 101.

    A metaphor, if you will : even if you live at a height of 1000m, as long as the water source is higher that you, water will flow to you, just like current does.

    So, you don’t need the Earth to be negatively charged for theoretical electron flow to occur, you just need it to be LESS positive that YOU.

    Now see this,

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AuneIaI1vKg

    What just happened right when he touched the grounding pad was the induced emf on his body neutralised ie. Free electrons did flow from the ground to his body. No electrical or electronics engineer would dispute that. And at the very least, grounding immediately negates the effects of the emfs in your immediate surroundings on your body.

    We also know that even in the absence of any external emf field, our body generates low amplitude emf itself. We know it because that’s what all doctors use all the time. (EKGs, EEGs).

    Taking those three things together we just saw for ourselves that our body does conduct electricity (else his voltage would not have dropped when he touched the grounding pad), free electrons do flow (from the same demonstration and basic tenets of electrical conduction) and the Earth has constantly varying geomagnetic currents which may (or may not) act as circadian cues just like light, hence validating the Schumann resonance premise too.

    Please don’t get taken in by the armchair intellectualism of the “experts” when you can prove or disprove something to yourself.

    I wonder how much time and money the PhD in Physics here spent on his doctorate, and regurgitating information he has read in textbooks, according to which grounding is “nonsense”, when he could have tested out the hypothesis with half an hour and a $30 multimeter.

    Love,
    Foggy dude

    Ps: Notice I didn’t say anything about my personal experience with grounding, only the science. Though it *has* helped me tremendously.

    Foggy dude wrote on November 6th, 2013
    • Dear Foggy dude:

      I appreciate your attempt at coming up with a suggestion for possible mechanism.

      I am also sure, that as a EE, you are aware that nothing can truly be “grounded” unless it is connected to a pipe or other metal object buried a significant distance into the ground. Someone walking around on the grass or on carpet or a hardwood surface is not grounded; they are walking on a semiconductive surface that may or may not be caring a free charge. If there is a potential difference between the person’s feet and the surface, then — as you noted — current will flow.

      However, current will only flow until equilibrium is achieved, which happens in a fraction of a second. After that, it is impossible for any ions to flow one way or another — into or out of a person’s body. This, of course, is why if you are in your car and a fallen high-voltage wire electrifies your vehicle, you are perfectly safe: you take on the same potential, with a minimal amount of current flowing. However, if you touch the ground, then you are no longer in equilibrium with the wire and a tremendous amount of current will now flow, causing serious injury.

      To get current to flow through your body from the earth, you would need for your head to be in contact with something that’s at a different potential from the earth. This is what happens when you stand in the middle of a field during a thunderstorm and get struck by lightning.

      Agree with you on your three points (bodies are conductive — at least semi-conductive, electrons can flow to create equilibrium, and the earth has changing magnetic fields). Admittedly, I do not what what the Schumann resonance is. If you supply a link, I’ll take a look.

      Now:

      1) Don’t go around making personal attacks. It makes you look stupid, naive, and like you’re merely a troll.

      2) Anything on Youtube can be faked. Such a video hardly constitutes evidenced.

      3) Beware the placebo effect.

      Cordially,

      The Physics PhD who still says that “earthing” is bogus.

      Sean Cordry wrote on November 7th, 2013
  38. I have a scientific background (M.S. in Organic Chemistry and an M.S. in Nutrition) but more of a holistic approach to health and wellness.

    With the scientific background, I’m not sure why so many people are so insistent on having scientific data back up anything and everything. From what I’ve noticed, the majority of peer reviewed data is mostly to get out the professor’s name (or company’s name) and earn grant money or sell a product.

    As far as I’m concerned, we, as humans, know so little about the universe we live in – and I’m sure any physicist worth his or her salt would agree with that. So why do we always need scientific proof? Especially proof about stuff that we know so little about. I mean, if we can’t explain why particles and waves act they way they do (Double Slit Experiment: http://bit.ly/NqLvUf – SFW), do we really think we can prove the existence or non-existence of earthing/grounding?

    But for those of you that want to try and discredit grounding, play around on Jack Kruse’s website. Smartest guy I know with all the scientific and biological proof you need.

    Nathan Brammeier wrote on February 9th, 2014
    • Nathan, well put. Science is great…. to a point. We will never really have full scientific understanding of any aspect of this grand universe.

      Why speculate and say something works or doesn’t work without testing it for ourselves?!

      Anyway, I personally have been using earthing techniques with some good success in several areas (deeper sleep, faster injury recovery times, more energetic, happier, and that’s just off the top).

      I wouldn’t bother saying it works or doesn’t work without looking into it myself.

      After all, everyone in this comment section could say it works wonderfully, but if I don’t try it myself, it is useless to me.

      …and much more useless is to talk about it and post comments saying it works or doesn’t work without trying it.

      So anyway, I enjoyed reading the comments on this page but the ones I did read were a little close minded ALBEIT, I DIDN’T READ ALL THE COMMENTS cuz there’s so many :)

      check out the earthingforum http://earthingforum.com/ for more discussion on earthing. Everyone there seems to have already tried it so you might get a unique perspective.

      Cheers!

      Coz wrote on March 3rd, 2014
  39. Even though I agree we’ll have to wait for better science on this one, I have always felt a need to have my shoes off in my garden despite warnings from friends and relatives. I’ll wear shoes when I have to use a spade or garden fork, but mostly I just know what makes me feel good.

    Shelley T wrote on April 22nd, 2014
  40. This all makes a lot of sense to me intuitively and scientifically. My understanding of the physics, Mark, is that the earth is indeed mostly neutral. However, because it is so massive, it easily “absorbs” the positive charge/ “provides” negative charge without any change to the earth. In the same way as if you add a drop of hot water to a swimming pool, the pool will assimilate it with no appreciable change in temperature.
    My experiences in nature back up the value of returning to our roots, however ascertaining the exact mechanisms from subjective experience is hard.
    Overall, this theory meets my approval.
    Apologies if this explanation has already been posted in the comments.

    Dave wrote on April 22nd, 2014

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