By Dr. Mercola
For thousands of years, Eastern civilizations have used forms of energy medicine to unblock and regulate energy channels in the body. For example, acupuncture has a long history of success in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The West has been slow to embrace energy medicine, holding a more biochemical view of the human body, as opposed to "the body electric."
Hold a stethoscope to your body and you'll hear a lot of electrical chatter. Your nervous system communicates using electricity (i.e., movement of electrons), receiving and transmitting electrical signals throughout your body. Most of your biological processes are electrical.
Most people in the medical world have no background whatsoever in the electrical world, which is why Clint Ober is so uniquely qualified to offer this fresh perspective, which is brilliantly simple and intuitive, given how our ancestors lived.
Ober spent three decades working in the cable television industry prior to changing course to investigate how Earth's electrical energy influences health. While struggling to recover from his own healing challenges, he received the following internal whisper:
"Become an opposite charge. Status quo is the enemy."
This inspiration was the beginning of what could end up being a discovery as groundbreaking as germ theory. What he has discovered could be a major underlying thread in all chronic disease, a phenomenon he calls "electron deficiency syndrome." The premise is simple. If you are deficient in electrons, your body is unable to effectively combat inflammation.
When inflammation runs rampant, as you probably know, you are vulnerable to a plethora of chronic diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and many other illnesses that are appearing at alarmingly high rates today.
The Earth is the natural antidote for electron deficiency and can provide you with an infinite flow of electrons through grounding, also known as "Earthing." And I will spend a large part of this article explaining how this works. But here's the rub. You can't benefit from this electron flow unless you are directly connected to the Earth. And today, people in industrialized countries are anything BUT connected.
Humankind's Disconnect from a Healing Source: Mother Earth
Industrialization and the introduction of plastics and other synthetic materials have disconnected us from the Earth and her energy. Whereas we once walked barefoot across the grass and slept on the cool dirt floors of a cave, we now live ABOVE the ground, separated from the Earth by raised wooden floors, rubber-soled shoes, and sometimes hundreds of feet of air, if you live (or work) in a high-rise building.
We are ungrounded—literally!
Have you ever noticed how good it feels to walk barefoot on a sandy beach, or in a forest? There is a reason for that—it's called the grounding effect. The reason you feel so good on that sandy beach is you are receiving a surge of healing electrons from the ground. The Earth is a relatively infinite source of electrons, having a slightly negative charge. But the Earth's electrons are free to move. So, when you stand barefoot on that sand, electrons from the Earth flow into your body, a virtual "transfusion" of healing power. This occurs until you equalize with the Earth. Meaning, you cannot get too much—the process simply stops when your charge (your voltage) returns to zero. It's completely safe and natural.
The Earth is the biggest electrical object, and we are part of it. When you are grounded (i.e., in contact with the Earth), it's impossible for your body to carry a charge.
Humans used to be naturally grounded. First, we were barefoot, and then we donned leather-soled shoes, which are still moderately conductive. When you wear a shoe with a leather sole, your feet sweat and permeate the leather with moisture and body salts, so the shoe becomes a semiconductor permitting you to receive some electrons.
But, for the past 50 years or so, we've added carpets, plastics, synthetic-soled shoes, and athletic sneakers, all serving as non-conductive barriers between the Earth and us. During that same period of time, we've seen an explosion of inflammation-based diseases. Our immune systems are struggling.
Pets are designed to be in contact with the Earth as well, but now they live above ground in houses, as we do. Anecdotal evidence shows they are suffering the same effects of electron deficiency as humans. Animals that live in the wild are not bothered with inflammation, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, or even plaque on their teeth. This is why your dog or cat will crawl under the porch and lie on the bare earth if he isn't feeling well.
What animals have always known, "modern science" is just now figuring out.
Even water is influenced by the Earth's electrical energy. Water in contact with the Earth has a structure that makes it conducive to healing. When you are grounded to the Earth, it is thought that the negatively charged electrons you are receiving may help increase the structure of the water in your cells—just as water increases in structure when a negative charge is introduced by an electrode. By going outside, barefoot, touching the earth, and allowing the excess positive charge in your body to discharge into the earth, you can alleviate some of the stress on your system. So how does this grounding effect work?
You Are An Earthly Antenna
Your body is a conductor. You are an antenna for the Earth. When you are ungrounded, electric fields are attracted to your body and create a surface charge—a voltage. You know this to be true if you've ever shocked yourself after walking across a carpeted floor.
When living above Earth, your charge is positive; when connected to the Earth, your charge is negative—in other words, you become an opposite charge. You accumulate this surface charge any time you're not grounded. When your charge reaches 3,000 to 5,000 volts and you touch a metal object, ZAP… this is static discharge, the sudden outflow of built-up electrical energy from your body.
This static electricity is the reason workers in microchip factories must be grounded—so they don't blow the chips. The same goes for operating rooms. Everyone involved in a surgical procedure must be grounded—the patient as well as the medical personnel. Your skin offers some protection from static electricity, but when it's open (as in surgery), that protection disappears. In fact, in the early days of open-heart surgery, this lesson was learned the hard way when many patients died from static electricity because patients weren't grounded.
The higher the conductivity between you and the Earth, the more likely you're going to be grounded. Proximity is key.
The more distance there is between you and the Earth, the greater the charge on your body. In fact, this has been precisely calculated. For every meter you are above the ground, 300 volts of charge will build up in your body. (See The Feynman Lectures on Physics) So, if you are in a second story bedroom, your charge would be 1000 volts, on average. Do you think your risk for illness could be higher living on the second floor? How about the 5th floor, or the 25th? Indeed, a study in 2009 from the University of Iowa revealed a 40 percent increase in stroke risk among people living in multistory homes.
Besides living and working above ground, invisible electromagnetic fields from devices such as cellular and cordless phones, computers, tablets and other technology assault us around the clock. You are bathed in background electricity from ordinary household wiring in the walls of your home, which contributes to your positive electrical charge and therefore increases the stress on your immune system. And if you are on the computer several hours a day, combined with several calls on your cell phone followed by an hour or two of television, you are getting several more hefty exposures to these unnatural electrical fields. If you want an in-depth discussion about Earth's electrical surface potential, read this article by Gaetan Chavalier, PhD.
Playing with a Voltmeter
If you need convincing, you can watch your own body's electrical charge wax and wane by availing yourself of a voltmeter, as Clint Ober demonstrates in the above interview. What you need is a low voltage field detector; one that reads in millivolts. Play with this, as it will show you that grounding works!
Measure your body's charge when you are at varying distances from electrical devices, power cords, your computer, your phone, your refrigerator, etc. You will see that moving away from these objects drops the charge—and grounding zeros you out. This way, you can witness firsthand the effect of these devices on your body, in a very concrete way. You will see that you receive far more electrical noise from devices that are plugged in than from those running on battery power. This is why I recommend NOT using electronic devices while they are charging.
If you're going to experiment with a voltmeter, make sure you do it safely, using conventional cord that has resistors built into it.
Although grounding does not eliminate dangerous exposure to EMFs, your risk for adverse health effects from them is drastically reduced. Still, I don't recommend holding your cell phone right next to your head, even if you're grounded. But grounding is the least expensive, most basic strategy that will allow you to resist that type of biological damage and decrease your body's risk for developing prolonged inflammation.
Electron Deficiency Syndrome and Inflammation
If you Google the word "inflammation," you'll come up with more than 62 million links. This is indicative of just how much of a problem inflammation is. Inflammation is the root of virtually ALL of our chronic diseases. So, the question you should ask next is, what's CAUSING all of this inflammation? It may very well be a deficiency of electrons—at least, this may be one of the most significant factors.
Electricity is as important for powering your body as for powering your computer and household appliances. We are beginning to understand, with the help of scientists like Clint Ober and James Oschman, that the Earth is our greatest source of healing because it supplies us with an unlimited flow of electrons. These electrons act like little antioxidants—cleaning up the free radicals and toxins that are byproducts of everyday human metabolism and environmental exposure.
Free radicals are primarily produced via metabolic processes, although you also get them from the foods you eat, the water you drink and the air you breathe. Your immune system is the main generator of free radicals, and it's in operation 24 hours a day. In the process of oxidizing invading pathogens and disposing of damaged cells, your immune system generates reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are molecules short an electron or with an electron imbalance—they take away electrons from the cell or pathogen.
This creates the need for a "mop" to absorb or give up electrons so that electrical stability can be maintained within your body. Grounding to the Earth fulfills this role—and it's nearly instantaneous.
Many of these metabolic/electric processes are occurring at the speed of light, just like the electrical current in a wire flows immediately to a light bulb when you flip the switch. When grounding to the Earth, electrons flow instantly into your body, much faster than waiting for particles to travel around in your bloodstream.
How Earthing Affects Your Blood
An important discovery is that Earthing thins your blood, making it less viscous. This has huge implications for cardiovascular disease because virtually every aspect of that disease has been correlated with elevated blood viscosity.
Dr. Stephen Sinatra, cardiologist and Earthing expert, discussed the zeta potential of RBC's that decreases blood viscosity, when exposed to an electrical field. Within minutes of grounding to the Earth, your zeta potential quickly rises, meaning your blood cells have a greater charge and actually repel each other. This action causes your blood to flow more easily and your blood pressure to drop. When your zeta potential is lower, your blood cells tend to clump together, which is unfortunately what most people's blood looks like when they are not grounded.
For a visual aid, the difference between grounded and ungrounded blood is like comparing red wine to catsup—thin and flowing with ease, versus thick and sticky and stagnant. Getting back to the increased risk of stroke for folks living in multilevel dwellings, it makes sense when you consider your blood cells being in a perpetual state of "clumping," which increases the risk of clot formation.
Earth's Gift to Athletes
The scientific research related to Earthing is really still in its infancy. Nevertheless, studies so far are very promising for a variety of heath benefits. Clint has been involved in more than 30 Earthing studies over the past decade, which have gradually verified that his inspiration to "become an opposite charge" was right on.
I first met Clint Ober about seven years ago through a chiropractor Jeff Spencer. One of the foundational elements he integrates into his training is Earthing. In fact, 200 to 300 of the world's most elite athletes have been using Earthing as part of their training regimen for the last five years because they feel it offers them a competitive edge, including many professional football players.
Since the athletes were showing such great benefit, researchers at the University of Oregon conducted a study, referred to as the DOMS study (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Researchers induced inflammation by repetitive and intensive use of a muscle group, and then measured both subjective pain experience and objective markers of inflammation in study participants. The participants were divided into two groups, one grounded and one not. The muscle soreness was essentially the same as what you experience after your first weekend of yard work in the spring—when you wake up a couple days later extremely sore and barely able to hobble out of bed. The results of this study were remarkable:
- White blood cell count was extremely elevated in the ungrounded group, but not elevated at all in the grounded group.
- Bilirubin dropped 40 percent in the ungrounded group but only 5 percent in the grounded. Bilirubin is one of your body's primary antioxidants.
- The grounded group experienced less pain than the ungrounded group.
Researchers concluded that all signs point to grounding having the effect of markedly decreasing inflammatory response. And this is HUGE as inflammation is key in just about every chronic disease you can name. Reduce inflammation, and you reduce disease. But Earthing has benefits that reach far beyond preventing sore muscles.
Pain Reduction, Better Adrenal Function and Improved Tolerance to Cold
In addition to decreased inflammation, two studies have shown that grounding can stabilize your autonomic nervous system (ANS). Oftentimes, the inflammatory cycle starts with an illness or injury that fails to heal. Besides pain and inflammation, your body's inability to "restabilize" results in chronic stress. Why is this important? This ongoing stress can lead to adrenal fatigue, which is epidemic today. If your ANS can be stabilized, your chronic stress level will decrease. Grounding appears to be able to do this.
Grounding was found to regulate cortisol levels, according to one small study involving 12 subjects. The 12 were grounded over the course of eight weeks, during which time their saliva levels were monitored for cortisol, DHEA, and other stress-related hormones. All subjects with abnormal cortisol levels normalized, indicating the grounding reduced the stress in their bodies. This has huge implications for public health since the majority of all visits to healthcare practitioners are for stress related disorders.
The new study by Sokal provides even more good news about Earthing's effects on inflammation. Researchers attempted to answer the question of whether or not Earthing affects human physiologic processes. So, they grounded people and tested their blood and urine chemistry. Just like the prior study, researchers found a significant reduction of inflammation indicators in the grounded test subjects. Specifically, in the group that slept Earthed, they found the following:
- Reduced renal excretion of calcium and phosphorus during a 7- to 8-hour period of sleeping grounded (which reflects a reduced risk of osteoporosis)
- Decreased blood glucose levels (reducing risk for diabetes)
- Decreased free tri-iodothyronine, and increased free thyroxin and TSH (meaning better thyroid function)
- Accelerated immune response following vaccination (as evidenced by gamma globulin concentration), which would suggest a more robust immune system
Having a simple, natural way to reduce stress and inflammation would have benefits for a wide array of medical problems, such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes, as well as for issues like carpal tunnel (repetitive stress syndrome). Grounding also appears to help with Raynaud's syndrome, which involves cold peripheral extremities. Although it isn't understood exactly how grounding improves temperature regulation, it may be due to the thinning of your blood and improved circulation. It's interesting that chickens that are allowed to live outside in the pasture don't freeze, but those in chicken coops need artificial heat to keep from freezing on cold nights. Perhaps chickens grounded in the pasture share similar thermoregulation benefits with people who have Raynaud's syndrome.
Unearthing the Fountain of Youth
Earthing may actually slow down the aging process. One of the dominant theories on aging is the free radical theory, which is that aging occurs as a result of cumulative damage to your body by free radicals. While you don't want to completely eliminate ALL free radicals, you do want to maintain a good balance of antioxidant electrons in your body to ensure the damage from free radicals doesn't' get out of hand. Earthing can provide this continuous supply of electrons. According to Dr. James Oschman, biophysicist and coauthor of Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?:
"It looks to me, from my study of biophysics and cell biology, like the body is designed with a semi-conductive fabric that connects everything in the body, including inside of every cell. I refer to this system as the living matrix. Those electrons that enter the bottom of your foot can move anywhere in your body. Any place where a free radical forms, there are electrons nearby that can neutralize that free radical and prevent any of those processes: mitochondrial damage, cross linking of proteins, and mutation or genetic damage. So the whole fabric is basically an antioxidant defense system that is in every part of your body.
We have this material called ground substance, which is part of the connective tissue. It goes everywhere in the body. It's a gel material and it stores electrons. So that if you go barefoot, you will take in electrons and your body will store them, and they will be available at any point where you might have an injury, or any point where a free radical might form."
So, to summarize then, Earthing offers many potential health benefits from better sleep, to less pain and inflammation, to reducing your risk for diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg as research in this area is just getting going. So, how do you basically "get grounded"? Let's take a look at some practical approaches for introducing more Earth energy into your life.
Plugging into the Earth
The best way to gain the benefits of these healing electrons is to simply put your bare feet in contact with the Earth, especially damp Earth, as often as possible. Because water is such a great conductor, seawater is the absolute best. Swimming in seawater, dangling your feet in it, or walking on a sandy beach are all great ways to ground yourself. If you don't have access to a shoreline, damp grass is a good substitute.
Concrete will work to a degree, but better if it's got some moisture to it. Sealed or painted concrete, wood, asphalt, and typical insulators like plastic or rubber soles will not allow electrons to pass through.
As I said earlier, the closer you can get to being grounded 24 hours a day, the more benefits you'll see. Unless you are sleeping in a cave or living on an island somewhere, chances are your domicile isn't allowing you to be grounded all day every day, and so the most practical alternative is making use of new technology… Which brings me to the grounding mat.
Grounding Mats, Sheets and Patches
Necessity is the mother of invention, and this is certainly true for grounding science. Technology now offers us ways to stay grounded while in buildings, cars, and even airplanes.
There are a variety of mats, pads, sheets and patches that you can put in contact with your bare skin to restore this much-needed connection to the Earth. The grounding device is connected to a cord that plugs into the ground of an ordinary household electrical outlet. The grounding devices have resistors incorporated into them, so they are completely safe to use—you are protected from unexpected electrical currents.
For a grounding mat to work, your outlet must be grounded. In the United States, about 40 percent of houses do not have a ground in the bedroom, particularly homes built before 1970. Even if the outlets have been replaced, they are not necessarily connected to any ground wire, and the only way you can tell is to test them. If your outlet isn't grounded, then you can have someone install a ground to those outlets. There are a number of ways to do this.
The most important time to be grounded is while you're sleeping. There are two reasons for this.
First, the average bedroom typically contains more electrical noise than any other room in a house, especially near where your head rests on your bed. You've probably got a tangle of wires behind the wall, as well as wires running under the floor if you're in an upstairs bedroom. Second, you spend a third of your life lying there. This is the time when your body should be repairing and regenerating, and electrical noise interferes with this process, potentially causing chronic stress and inflammation.
I recommend using a grounding sheet on your bed. Earthing happens to be very helpful for sleep. In fact, many people fall asleep within 5 to 10 minutes of becoming grounded. Better sleep and less pain are probably the most immediately appreciated benefits when people begin Earthing.
A Few Medical Precautions
Earthing is so effective that some people have had to decrease their medication dosage. Having to make changes in your meds is not a bad thing, but rather a sign that your body is working better. If you are taking any of the following three types of medications when you begin Earthing, you should be especially careful to observe how you feel and be diligent about monitoring your blood levels:
- Blood Thinners: If you take Coumadin (warfarin) or other blood thinners, your blood is going to get even thinner when you're grounded, as described previously. You will want to be very diligent about monitoring your blood levels and watching for warning signs, such as bleeding or bruising.
- Oral Hypoglycemics: Grounding is shown to reduce blood glucose levels. A study of rats showed that grounding decreased their blood glucose levels, as well as lowering their triglycerides and body weight by 10 percent. So if you take oral hypoglycemics, you will want to monitor your blood sugar carefully.
- Thyroid: Many people who are on thyroid replacement for hypothyroidism started having heart palpitations within the first few days of Earthing, a sign of thyroid excess, which was confirmed by blood tests. These individuals had to decrease their thyroid dose. Lack of free electrons may be the most unrecognized cause of thyroid dysfunction.
Learn More: Download Free Earthing Book
I am very excited about this Earthing information, and the potential it holds for helping you with a staggering range of health concerns. The idea that nature has influences that are vital for the optimal functioning of your mind and body has been around for thousands of years, and continues to be confirmed by science. Earthing may be the link we've been missing, in terms of explaining our inflammation epidemic.
So, you can add Earthing to your "good health tool bag," where it can enhance the benefits you are already receiving from good nutrition, restorative sleep, adequate water, exercise and effective stress management.
To learn more, I highly recommend downloading a free copy of Clint Ober's book on Earthing, which reviews the many benefits of earthing in even greater detail.