For millions of years humans walked barefoot on the Earth and slept on the ground. They worked, played and rested in direct contact with the Earth’s surface and were always connected to the planet’s life-giving forces. We may recall the free and joyful feeling of running barefoot in the grass, or the warm tingling sensation of walking barefoot on the beach. The feeling of wellbeing we get from touching our skin to the skin of the Earth can last for hours, and the sleep that follows is deep and restful. If only we could feel like that all of the time!
Life is very different now on planet Earth, with most modern humans rarely stepping barefoot on the ground. We live in houses and work in buildings many of which are several stories high above the Earth’s surface. Our environment is filled with disruptive electromagnetic fields produced by modern technology, and when we do go outside, we wear synthetic soled shoes that insulate us from the Earth’s energy disconnecting us from an essential source of healing.
In their “groundbreaking” book, “Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?” authors Clint Ober, integrative cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra, and health writer Martin Zucker describe the profound health benefits of connecting to the Earth. Ober grew up in rural Montana near an Indian reservation where he played barefoot with Native American children. He recalls a Native American mother telling her son to take off his shoes as they would make him sick, and recalls one child on the reservation who became very ill with scarlet fever and healed after lying in a shallow pit in the ground for a couple of days.
As an adult Ober worked in the cable TV industry where he made his fortune heading up the largest cable TV installation company in the U.S.. At age 49 after recovering from a serious illness he sold his possessions, bought an RV and traveled the U.S. for four years looking for a higher purpose in life. One day in 1998 while sitting on a park bench in Sedona, Arizona he noticed that everyone passing by was wearing rubber or plastic soled shoes, an increasing trend since the 1960s when synthetic soles replaced leather. He knew that unlike leather, the insulating materials of modern shoes did not conduct the Earth’s electrical energy and that people were no longer grounded. He remembered from his work in television that before cable, TV images were fuzzy from electromagnetic interference. In homes with cable TV the wiring systems are shielded and connected to a ground rod in the Earth to prevent outside electrical signals from interfering with the transmission carried through the cable. Ober knew that the body conducts electricity and that our environment is charged with electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from electrical and wireless devices that are hazardous to health. He wondered how this electrical interference affected our ungrounded bodies and sought to find out.
Ober performed a simple experiment on himself by fashioning a conductive grid on his bed with metallic duct tape which he connected with a wire to an outside ground rod that he inserted in the earth, thus grounding the bed. He used a voltage meter to measure the EMFs on his body which were highest in his bedroom. He noticed that when laying on the grounded bed the voltage charge went down to near zero which meant that his body was grounded or in sync with the electrical field of the Earth outside. Having suffered from constant back pain and poor sleep for many years, Ober had been taking pain killers to enable him to fall asleep. To his pleasant surprise that first night he fell asleep easily and slept soundly for the first time in years. After sleeping grounded for a week he noticed that his pain had significantly decreased and he no longer needed pain medication. He shared his experience with friends that suffered from poor sleep and a variety of ailments and grounded their beds as well. They all had similar results.
Ober could find no research on the internet or in medical libraries on the health effects of grounding, or “Earthing” as he calls it, so he decided to conduct his own research. He created more sophisticated Earthing bed pads and conducted a 30 day experiment on 60 men and women with a variety of health conditions including sleep disorders and chronic pain. 85% fell asleep more quickly, 93% reported sleeping better, 82% felt significant reduction in muscle stiffness, 74% had elimination or reduction of chronic pain, 100% were more rested when they woke up, and 78% reported improved general health. Some reported significant relief from asthmatic and respiratory conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, sleep apnea, PMS and hot flashes.
In his quest to explain this phenomenon, Ober learned that the Earth is a 6 sextillion metric ton battery that is continually fed by solar radiation, lightning strikes, and tremendous heat from deep within its molten core. These forces charge the Earth’s surface with limitless free electrons. The electrons hold a negative charge and are able to neutralize the positively charged electron-seeking particles and free radicals that cause cellular damage, inflammation, pain, disease, and aging. Mechanical electrical systems are grounded to stabilize and protect them from outside interference, shocks or shorts. In order to function properly the human body’s electrical system must also be grounded for protection from electrostatic and electromagnetic interference from the atmosphere. The primordial energy emanating from the Earth is the ultimate anti-inflammatory and anti-aging medicine.
Ancient civilizations recognized the power of the Earth and Sky. Monks, yogis and druids would meditate seated on the ground to achieve high spiritual states. The Chinese referred to this universal energy as Qi (Chi). Heaven Qi is made up of the forces that the Sun, Moon, and heavenly bodies exert on the Earth, while Earth Qi is influenced and controlled by Heaven Qi and consists of heat beneath the ground and a grid of energy lines on the surface of the Earth. All living things contain their own Qi field which is influenced by the Heaven Qi and Earth Qi. Earth Qi enters the body at an accupoint located on the ball of the foot known as “Bubbling Spring” where it ascends through the water channel throughout the body. Tai Chi and Qi Gong exercises designed to balance and heal the body/mind are often practiced outdoors without footwear to facilitate this process. Biophysicist, James Oschman, Ph.D. refers to the “living matrix” as a network of cells that conduct electrical energy through pathways that connect every cell in the body. When we are disconnected from Earth’s vital energy we are like a flickering light bulb with a tenuous connection to its energy source.
Humans are the only species on the planet that choose to live in an ungrounded state. It has been observed that wild animals are generally healthier than captive animals and adjust much better to extreme temperatures compared to those who live indoors. The Earth’s healing electrons pass easily through the soil, rocks and natural waterways which are rich in minerals that enhance conductivity. Due to its higher mineral content seawater is a better conductor than freshwater. This may be why surfers are known as the strongest, healthiest athletes in the world. Electrons are carried through the nervous system and body fluids which is why it is important to stay hydrated. We have over a thousand nerve endings and an abundance of sweat glands in the soles of the feet and palms of the hands, making them ideal portals for electron transfer. This may be why gardening is so relaxing and rejuvenating.
We can become grounded outdoors by walking on the Earth or cement. We can also ground by touching living trees and plants that are rooted in the ground or touching someone who is grounded. Asphalt does not conduct the Earth’s energy because of the insulating petrochemical component. We are grounded indoors on a ground floor cement slab provided it is not insulated by paint, sealant, linoleum, wood floors or carpeting. We can also ground in the shower as the water flows from the Earth in conductive metal pipes.
It is interesting to note that those who live in densely populated cities have the highest disease rates. In cities and high-rise buildings, the electrosensitive lungs breathe in more positively charged particles from polluted air. A 12 year study at the U. of Iowa showed a 40% higher risk of stroke among those living above the ground compared to those who living on the ground floor. Air travel also creates tremendous stress on the body since levels of damaging radiation rise exponentially as we ascend into the atmosphere.
Through his persistence over the last decade Ober has inspired at least a dozen research studies that further explain the effects of Earthing on health and well-being. To facilitate the research, Ober created more user-friendly comfortable devices that can be used to ground to the Earth’s energy indoors such as conductive fabric bed sheets, mats that can be used on the floor or desk, body bands for direct access to areas of the body in pain, electrode patches that can be applied specific points, and car seat pads that provide partial grounding while driving. Earthing sleeping bags are also available to speed recovery.
All Earthing devices (with the exception of the car seat pads which clip onto to the metal seat frame) come with cords that can be plugged into the grounding port of an electrical outlet or directly into the ground via a grounding rod. When you touch bare skin to an Earthing device you instantly connect with the Earth’s electrical energy just as if you were standing barefoot on the ground. Studies show that Earthing will instantly neutralize any excess body voltage from EMFs, while the healing free electrons can take up to 30 minutes to flow from the soles of the feet to the top of the head. Earthing devices are completely safe in that they only conduct the ground energy and not the electrical power that operates the lights and appliances. Conductive flip flops are also available.
As a cardiologist, Dr. Stephen Sinatra knew the primary role that inflammation played in cardiovascular disease, and was curious to see how Earthing affected the blood. In 2008 he conducted an informal experiment on 12 colleagues including Clint Ober to test blood quality using dark field microscopy live blood cell analysis and found that after only forty minutes of grounding via electrode patches, all but one person’s blood appeared thinner and healthier with significantly less clumping and clotting. The one person with healthy blood before grounding was Clint Ober who had been grounding himself for 10 years. The results suggested that people with thick blood typically found in cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other inflammatory conditions could derive enormous benefit by grounding.
In 2009 Dr. Sinatra partnered with California electrophysiologist Gaeran Chevalier, Ph.D. to study the effects of grounding on the electromagnetic properties of blood with darkfield microscopy. In this case the zeta potential, or degree of negative charge on the surface of red blood cells of 10 healthy individuals was measured before and 2 hours after grounding. Grounding dramatically increased zeta potential which allows the blood to flow more freely with increased ability to carry oxygen and nutrients to the cells.
Inflammation is involved in over 80 chronic illnesses impacting over half of all Americans. Allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, autism, cancer, diabetes 1 and 2, fibromyalgia, intestinal disorders, pancreatitis, psoriasis, eczema, anemia, and all infections and autoimmune disorders are inflammatory conditions that can result from an electron deficiency. Inflammation is a healing response to cells damaged from injury and harmful substances such as viruses, bacteria, and environmental toxins. In the process oxidation creates free radicals which are positively charged molecules that destroy the invaders by stealing electrons from them which creates more free radicals. Without the presence of negatively charged free electrons to bond with the positively charged free radicals and put out the fire, the process can spiral out of control affecting surrounding tissue and creating chronic illness.
Grounding can assist with recovery from injury and trauma. Delayed onset muscle soreness, called DOMS is a common inflammatory response that develops within 24 to 48 hours after strenuous activity. A 2010 study on Earthing’s effect on DOMS was supervised by Dick Brown, Ph.D. a well-known exercise physiologist and trainer of elite athletes. The men were medically tested before and after intense physical activity that typically causes DOMS while half of them were grounded and the other half were not. The grounded men experienced significantly less inflammation and pain and less immune system stress as evidenced by lower white blood count.
William Amalu, D.C., performed Earthing studies on 20 patients with a variety of painful inflammatory conditions, including muscular strains, neuropathies, carpal tunnel, inflamed joints, Lyme disease and chronic sinusitis. Thermographic images were taken before and after Earthing treatments ranging from 30 minutes with electrode patches to several hours, days or weeks at home on sleeping on Earthing bed pads. The results clearly showed a reduction in inflammation after grounding. Some experienced improvement in just one 30 minute session, while up to 80% improvement occurred in some cases within 2 to 4 weeks. With ongoing grounding patients continued to get relief and many recovered completely.
In 2003, electrophysiologists Gaetan Chevalier and Kazuhito Mori conducted a randomized double blind study of 58 healthy adults which measured electrical activity in the brain and muscles. Results showed grounded subjects had reduced stress and tension levels with a shift in the nervous system from stressful sympathetic mode to a calmer parasympathetic mode.
Grounding consistently improves sleep and hormonal balance, both of which are important for overall health. A 2004 study conducted by Dr. Maurice Ghaly measured levels of the stress hormone cortisol on 12 subjects who complained of sleep problems before and after sleeping on a grounded bed pad for 8 weeks. The results showed that before grounding cortisol levels were erratic which is associated with restless sleep, while after grounding cortisol levels synchronized with normal circadian rhythms allowing for better sleep. 8 out of 10 participants also measured an increase in melatonin. Grounded participants reported being able to fall asleep faster, sleep through the night and wake up more refreshed with less fatigue during the day. 5 out of 6 women reported improvement in PMS and hot flashes and 3 reported less TMJ pain after grounding.
As was shown in the sleep study, grounding helps to synchronize our biological clock with the rhythmic pulsations of the Earth. Many people report that walking barefoot on the ground for just 15 minutes after traveling across time zones helps to reduce jet lag.
Grounding may also increase fertility with some women who have not been able to conceive for many years becoming pregnant within a few months of grounding. Studies also show that Earthing improves biochemical factors associated with metabolic syndrome including triglycerides, blood sugar, and C-reactive protein (a marker of chronic inflammation). Earthing can also help to reverse osteoporosis and remineralize the teeth.
Athletes use Earthing for general health and to improve their performance, prevent injury and speed recovery. Jeff Spencer, D.C. a former Olympic cyclist and sports medicine specialist was in charge of the American team during five Tour de France competitions from 2003 to 2007, a grueling long distance cycling race lasting 21 days that has been compared to running a marathon every day. This gave the team a competitive edge and dramatically reduced injuries.
Barefoot running is increasing in popularity as many runners find that running shoeless reduces stress on the body and provides relief from chronic injuries. Daniel Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University and author of a paper appearing in the journal Nature, examined the mechanics of running barefoot versus shod. He found that people who run shoeless have an astonishingly different strike, landing on the middle or front of the foot with almost no impact collision. Shod runners typically land on the heel due to the padding in the shoe changes impact on the body and puts stress on the knees and hips which result in injuries. Olympic champions and world record holders Abebe Bikila, Tegla Loroupe and Zola Budd have won competitions running barefoot. Minimalist shoes with less padding that encourage natural foot strike are now becoming more popular with runners who are not quite ready to run barefoot.
People everywhere are joining the barefoot revolution by connecting with Earth for health and balance. It is truly amazing that something as simple as touching our skin to the ground can yield such profound results. But then, the most important discoveries are usually right under our nose, or in this case our feet!