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Earthing and Grounding

January 21, 2010 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

A reader recently inquired about an holistic practice commonly referred to as “earthing” or “grounding”. The question was a like a portal to my past. I was first exposed to the concepts behind this therapy when I studied holistic medicine in Arizona many years ago. In essence, grounding is, supposedly, a therapeutic process by which you connect with the earth. A popular theory behind its reputed healing power is that electrons present in the earth’s surface can be passed on to physical bodies when a person walks barefoot or sleeps on the natural ground. An expert in the field of earthing, Dr. James L. Oschman, describes the exchange in this way, “The most reasonable hypothesis to explain the beneficial effects of earthing is that a direct earth connection enables both diurnal (daily) electrical rhythms and free electrons to flow from the earth to the body”. Hypothesis and proposed mechanisms are helpful as far as they go. But the real question in my mind is whether there’s any serious science that supports these assertions and the many claims made by purveyors of grounding products.

The first question that logically comes to mind is why an influx of electrons would have a beneficial effect in the human body. Dr. Oschman believes that direct exposure to the earth’s electrical rhythms may help promote a normalizing effect on hormone production, sleep patterns and stress levels. An interesting side note is an additional theory that “free and mobile electrons from the earth can resolve chronic inflammation by serving as natural antioxidants”. If accurate, these biochemical changes could obviously provide far reaching benefits for much of the world’s population. (1,2,3)

I was able to locate two peer review, published studies on grounding – one from January 2010 and another from October 2004. These scientific inquiries were conducted by two separate research facilities and were deemed worthy enough to be printed in a reputable medical publication, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. The results of the following scientific trials will be the primary basis for my opinion of earthing.

A total of 28 men and women took part in the most recent study of a grounding device. Their ages ranged from 18 – 80 years old. The controlled trial used a double-blind protocol which means that both the participants and the researchers didn’t know when they were using the experimental device or the inactive/placebo device.

  • The study volunteers were asked to sit on a standard reclining chair or one that was fitted with (hidden) grounding technology – which is typically made of metallic yarn.
  • Measurements were taken before, during and after “treatment” that indicated changes in blood oxygenation, pulse rate, perfusion index, respiratory rate and skin conductance.

When the participants were resting on the grounded recliner chair, they exhibited a decrease in skin conductance (an indicator of stress reduction) and an increase in respiratory rate. There were also significant changes noted in blood oxygenation during grounding, shifts in perfusion index (circulation) and pulse rates. Collectively, these responses were suggestive that “Grounding could become important for relaxation, health maintenance and disease prevention”. Additional research was urged by the authors of the study. (4)

An 8 week trial from 2004 examined the effects of a grounding bed in 12 volunteers suffering from pain, sleep disturbance and stress. The bedding used in the trial was described as “using a conductive mattress pad”. Multiple saliva samples were taken at the beginning and at week 6 of the experiment testing for concentrations of cortisol, a stress hormone. Questionnaires were also employed to determine subjective changes in pain, sleep quality and stress levels. Both daytime and nighttime cortisol levels declined significantly after sleeping on the grounded bed. A trend toward normalization of 24 hour cortisol levels was noted overall. The volunteers reported that virtually all of the pain, sleep and stress symptoms were greatly improved or eliminated by the 8 week point. It’s also interesting to note that the female participants appeared to benefit the most from this therapy. The reason why unclear at this time. (5)

Source: New York Magazine April 21, 2008 (link)

Right about now, some of you may be rolling your eyes in disbelief. I do realize that earthing may seem like a rather “new agey” sort of practice. The use of a grounding bed or chair may, in fact, fall into this category. But, in my opinion, the idea of re-connecting with the ground isn’t so far fetched. Human beings haven’t been wearing tennis shoes and sleeping on NASA tested foam bedding for all that long a period of time. These inventions are certainly useful, but they’re far from natural. I’m not suggesting that we all ditch our clothes, mattresses and sneakers and reclaim a stone age way of living. But I think it’s important to remember that there may be some positive practices from our distant past that can be applied to the present. One example is walking barefoot when it’s practical and safe. Beyond any possible grounding effect, walking with bare feet can promote healthier feet and joints. (6,7,8)

I’m going to adopt a “wait and see” attitude about grounding products. There’s a hint of promise there as indicated by the apparently real physiological changes brought about by said products. But that’s about all that can currently be said on their behalf. The many distributor and manufacturer claims far exceed what is verifiably documented in the scientific literature. For the time being, I would feel much more comfortable recommending spending more time in contact with the ground in a natural setting – lying down or walking barefoot in the park or at the beach, etc. If this topic interests you, consider trying it out for yourself. See how non-commercial grounding makes you feel. The worst case scenario is that you’ll probably expose yourself to more fresh air and sunshine. Fortunately, that’s not a side effect that warrants much concern.

Be well!

JP

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34 Comments to “Earthing and Grounding”

  1. Nina K. Says:

    Morning JP,

    oh what a nice issue! i wish it would be already spring or summer :-)

    i have a comment on walking barefoot: if there are any problems with tendons or a flatfoot etc. then its very important to walk barefoot but at the beginning always on a harder ground – not in sand (grit?) because a joint malignment would be strengthened. foot gymnastics are helpful: try to grip something (small toys or a cork (we used corks because they are small warm and soft), balance on something etc. that enhances strength in the foot muscles and its also good for coordination. but really avoid in the beginning walking on a too soft subsoil.

    Stay healthy!
    Nina K.

  2. JP Says:

    Good day, Nina! :)

    Those are excellent tips. Thank you for sharing them!

    Be well!

    JP

  3. Sai Says:

    Good Day JP!

    About 2 years ago i had been to a rolfer for some adjustment and she asked me if i use to walk barefoot or climbed trees with the barefoot when i was young and i said “yes” (In india when i grew up it was very common to be on barefoot while playing outside and climbing trees). She said when someone uses a barefoot especially at the growing age (before 21) the formation of the feet is so perfect with the arch and the heels. Your point is absolutely correct about connecting with the earth!

    Best Regards

    Sai.

  4. JP Says:

    Greetings, Sai! :)

    That’s a great anecdote! Thank you for telling us about it!

    Be well!

    JP

  5. Vikas verma Says:

    Dear, I am an electrical student and want to know that how we can improve the earth resistance.If you can suggest the best composition by which we can do the batter earthing job.
    Thanks

  6. JP Says:

    Vikas,

    This is the latest information I’m aware of:

    http://www.healthyfellow.com/495/mind-body-medicine/

    I think the best way to find a precise answer to your question is to directly contact the author(s) of the studies I’ve linked to – in my two columns about earthing/grounding. I suspect they can offer you more detailed information than I can.

    Be well!

    JP

  7. Maryanne Says:

    I think the best way to learn about earthing is to buy the book by Clint Ober. He eplains the science in plain english and the last third of his book is devoted to people who have benefited from earthing.

  8. JP Says:

    Thank you for the suggestion, Maryanne. :)

    Be well!

    JP

  9. MichaeL Says:

    I concur. I sleep on a well grounded bed. I am not in personal contact with the conductor when sleeping. Though of course I don’t hesitate to touch ground when necessary, to do so discharges valuable potentials one picks up through social contact and personal relationships.

    Instead, beneath the mattress is a sheet of 12″ aluminum foil running the length of the bed, and on top of that is about three feet of small copper tubing connected to a #10 wire that runs to the copper cold water plumbing.

    I sleep better, my nerves are happier, I dream better and about more realistic things, and am not so bothered by the RFI and EM from the 3kv power lines outside my window. All in all, I’m not surprised at charge distress among the people, because of the rapacious gluttony for charges in the monetary system.

    I’ve worked with electricity all kinds for over fifty years.

    If I had a ground floor bedroom I would run the wire to an ground rod especially made for the purpose; these are typically six feet long with a screw type connector on one end, and made of copper plated or pure copper which is much more expensive.

  10. JP Says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience and insight, Michael. Much appreciated!

    Be well!

    JP

  11. Eugene webber Says:

    I recently spoke to my mother about how to sleep grounded. She told me that you can either sleep on the physical ground its self or you can buy blankets that have copper wires in them that will allow the positive energy build up that we have an abundance of to be channeled to the ground. Does any one know where to get these blankets?

  12. Michael Lewis Says:

    Eugene,

    You would not want to sleep on ground potential all the time because, for instance, doing that discharges your well ordered social financial potentials.

    The following refers to typical situations. Unusual instances, such as where your residence is very close to power lines, will require more careful approaches.

    At first though you will want to do it once, thoroughly. You will recover, and notice, your ordered potential distribution returning to normal within a few days. They may be improved, as well. For just one or a few nights,sleep on a strip of aluminum foil to which your ground wire is clipped. This is very uncomfortable because the foil wrinkles and becomes scratchy but it massively discharges imbalances in your charges. Replace it with an unwrinkled piece if necessary. Be sure and have a significant area of bare skin in contact with the foil.

    I sometimes ground my bed, and it is very easy to do. One need not actually ground the blankets. It is quite sufficient to bring an ordinary wire, say #10 or #12 house wire, from any water pipe in the house or to a ground rod outside in the earth, into the bedroom.
    You can put an alligator clip on it for convenience.

    After that, place aluminum foil under the mattress and clip the wire to it. That will discharge all static differences between you and neutral, without compromising the naturally positive potential to which a human being rises.

    If you do become aware of static from the busy outside machine-driven world, you can ground yourself occasionally simply by being conscious of the potential of water faucet handles or other well earthed metals when you touch them, as when drawing a glass of water, or bathing.

    After you have grounded yourself thoroughly for a time, say a season or even a year, you will probably notice that fewer things can unsettle you in relation to charges and potential. Then while you remain in the same place of residence you can do without positively grounding yourself during sleep, because your will notice a natural relation to the household potentials. For instance, you will become more aware of the potentials of trees outside, and of other persons. It is very useful for health.

    Michael Lewis

  13. Jay Says:

    Just heard an interview by Clint Ober and cardiologist, Dr. Steven Sinatra on grounding, which they’re calling “EARTHING”

    There’s also a book out called Earthing by these men.
    http://earthinginstitute.net/index.php/overview
    Here’s the website with lots of interesting info and research. And there are some products developed, like a mat and sheets.

    Amazing anecdotal testimonials – regarding reduction in pain and inflammation, as well as decrease in cortisol levels for those Earthing while they sleep.

    Reply available through today, Sunday. 11-28
    http://www.wellnessrevolutionsummit.com/replay.html

  14. Lila Says:

    being barefoot is actually the best thing you can do for your body as you are more connected to the earth and in tune with nature the way it’s intended. I suggest this video, it explains it very well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYjSXocLWK4
    he has great things to say about all types of health stuff, you should subscribe :)

  15. maria m crespo Says:

    I would like to know what about people with diabetis walking barefooted and earthing

  16. Michael Lewis Says:

    There are the usual dangers with walking barefoot though they are slight if you stay on clean lawns, paths and walkways or around the house. Other than that, it’s better to go barefoot often if you can. Some kinds of pest diseases might aggravate diabetes though you would also probably get trenchfoot or something in the process so you would know not to walk there. Exercising your defenses against disease by exposure to ordinary lawn and garden germs is literally like an inoculation against flu: it strengthens your resistance. Diabetes is one of those diseases that responds well to your own will to just be rid of it. Pay attention to what it is, and consciously reject it. Some people say diabetes is an imaginary diseases that comes from social exploitation or neurosis. That’s what I think, too.

    I walk about twice a week barefoot up and down a long hallway at my place and do a mile that way. It is really good to do.

    Earthing is something you should only have to do once each place you you move to. Once you ground yourself well at your house, you won’t have to worry about it again. Ground yourself for several hours a day or night, several nights until you begin to feel confident about the potentials around you. More won’t help much, unless you study it carefully and want to pay attention to something of interest about it. You might want to do that again after a time, like next season or something, but you will know what you are looking for. I haven’t grounded myself heavily for months when something came up I want to consider more carefully, and before that it was years. The ground wire is still connected though and I can get to it anytime.

  17. Jackie Says:

    Can someone explain the difference between the earthing/grounding pads and mats (promoted by Dr. Oschman and Dr. Stephen Sinatra) and the personal pendants like Q-Link and Bio-Pro/Gia? Am I wrong in thinking they attempt to do the same thing – get us back to the earth’s frequency/Schumann resonance?

  18. Alex Says:

    Hello I had a question regarding grounding around a power line. I recently moved to Tucson about 6 months ago and been increasingly asymptomatic. First started with ear rumbling in left ear, fatigue, then accompanied by tinnitus with a rather low pitch which is bearable at this point. I recently started to become dizzy with slight memory difficulties, particularly with recalling the proper term when describing something. This is driving me crazy. I believe the power lines are no more than 150′ away. I think they are between 100-125kV lines but could be potentially more. I don’t know what to do, I am currently a student and don’t really have any funds to toy around with. I am going to try to sleep on the grass outside to try to ground the EMF’s?? I heard there was a study with sheep living under power lines and there weren’t any observable effects due to the animals being grounded. Will this work if I sleep on the grass? Thank you for your time.

  19. JP Says:

    I’m posting this on behalf of Michael Lewis. These comments were accidentally sent to via e-mail but were clearly intended to address your inquiry, Alex:

    I’m beginning to think that being well grounded in one’s conscious existence is becoming an increasingly sensitive issues in national security. The impact on hearing is that the sensitive entity, whatever it is, is boxing one’s ears.

    As you do ground yourself you begin to sense the local power field more clearly, just as to be sensitive, a good receiver must be well earthed. The grounding or earthing as the British call it eliminates fluctuations in the receiving system that would obscure or be confused with signals.

    As a political isue this is very sensitive because of course the nation is justifiably concerned about the huge number of nuclear weapons that still remain. Other signals which are not so offensive as power lines are nonetheless all lumped together with power lines because the offensive field from power lines is essentially a terribly loud signal like that from a nearby
    megawatt commercial station.

    So there are two sensitivities that are important. One is the sensitivity of national authorities to signals which can include signals from radar and radio, and the other is the sensitivity of human beings to the non-information radiation, quite equivalent to signals, from power lines.

    These two are in sharp distinction because the national authorities view all national radiation as being so important that it must be protected – radio, television, and power lines all together. They and the power companies guard the power lines with furious jealousy, and regard those who complain as weaklings or enemies.

    I don’t know what to do about it because the same symptoms are worse than offensive to me. They are debilitating. The best thing I can think of is to create a Faraday cage, which is not too
    expensive, but it takes some room. Make a long box frame, maybe put hinges on the frame so it can be folded up and stored. Cover the frame with copper or brass screen. Pan put a pad on the bottom side, crawl into and close the screened door. You should have wires that couple the screens all together. Ground the box. Get an hour’s rest once in a while or maybe sleep all night in it.

    I’m planning one but have delayed it because I usually settle for sleeping on a long sheet of aluminum grounded with a long wire to the water supply’s copper pipes.

    The problem is becoming increasingly offensive to many more Americans than talk about it because stability in one’s natural potential is vitally important to health. That means the power regime is abusing hundreds of millions of people.

    Best wishes.

  20. Alex Says:

    Thanks for the advice Michael Lewis and for posting JP. I don’t have the means to do build a Faraday Cage type contraption at this point but I will try the aluminum foil and see how that goes. I don’t have any wire so I think I could possibly use rolled up aluminum as a substitute to run to the stake instead. I believe I do have legitimate ES symptoms because I’ve stood or sat on the ground with bare feet and noticed a decreasing of symptoms after a short period of time. When I put my shoes back on or go back into the house I can tell my equilibrium is off again. Unless it is just placebo, but I doubt placebo effect could be reoccurring the amount of times I’ve been on the ground.

    Sorry to hear about your debilitating symptoms. Do the symptoms come right back when you’re not grounding? I find it ridiculous that ES hasn’t been completely recognized by the medical community at this point. I guess radiation poisoning shouldn’t be recognized either then if that’s how they think. Well apologies for the rant and thanks again. I’ll post to let you know if symptoms improve over the course of about a week.

    Good Luck

  21. Jonathan Says:

    If you want to make your own earthing device, here are the instructions

    http://www.wikihow.com/Make-an-Earthing-Device

    Enjoy!

  22. Gordon Says:

    I made my own ground wire by breaking off the ground plug from an old three prong plug and welded it to a the end of a long piece of wire. On the other end, I stripped about 6″ of the insullation off and welded an alligator clip to it. I wrap the exposed wire around my foot and attach the alligator clip back on the wire so the exposed wire is touching my foot. I plugged the wire into the ground wire hole in the wall outlet. I tested the ground plug to make sure it was working properly. Make sure the wire is long enoung so you can move around the bed ok without it pulling. Make sure to unhook the wire when you get up to go to the bathroom! I’ve been doing this for around 6 months now with great success. My wife made fun of me for months until she realized I was sleeping so much better than her and telling her how great my sleep was. She tried my ground wire one night and the next day asked me to make one for her too because she said it was the best sleep she had in months. We both use them now. It cost me nothing to make because I had old wiring and plugs available and already had a soldering kit.

  23. Fox Says:

    About a month ago, I purchased one of those earthing sheets for your bed. I bought the earthing book at Barnes and Noble, and everything seemed to make perfect sense to me.

    I noticed 2 benefits right away.

    1. I no longer wake up during the night. I used to wake up an average of 2-3 times per night. Now it’s 0-1 time per night, usually 0.

    2. I toss and turn much less. This is kinda the same as #1 because tossing and turning was why I was waking up.

    There have been no other noticeable changes, but I am perfectly satisfied with the technology. These benefits alone made it worth the $189 bucks.

  24. JP Says:

    Thanks for sharing your successful experience with us, Fox.

    In case you happen to drop by again:

    Would you mind sharing your age? I only ask because I’m wondering about the cause of your previously interrupted sleep. Was it due to age-related bathroom issues (enlarged prostate, etc.)? Or, was it caused by more general reasons – poor sleep quality, preoccupations, etc.?

    Be well!

    JP

  25. Amanda Says:

    I have the earthing sheet which I sleep on every night. It connects to the earthing rod outside in the ground. It works – I tested my body voltage in my bedroom on and off the sheet! It’s 1.8 volts off the sheet and .1 on, which is a difference of 18. I journal about earthing at http://www.amandashealthjournal.com/earthing.html

    Thanks for a great article!

    Amanda

  26. gloria Says:

    hello all, i have been experimenting with foil tape, wire, and metal stakes in the ground/homemade grounging, and the manufactured earthing pads and sheets. both seem to make me experience the tingly feeling of a current running through my body, though i have to say the manufactured products are holding up better. i have tested them and know both exhibit as effective grounds.
    i have used both on my bed. my question relates to this. i feel unable to sleep when touching skin to this. my heartbeat seems stronger though not faster, i feel more revved up. this is not problematic when i am awake and grounding ,but frustrating with sleeping efforts. i been at this alittle over a week, by the way. also, i have made a grounded mat of my own below the computer where my son works and he works barefoot. he has had no complaints or benefits that i can see, in the past week. but after one night on the grounded bedsheet, he was tired and said he had not slept well. i’m interested in how fast these effects subside if they do, or if others have similar effects. maybe its not a benefit for some to use it so much? seems to me, there should not be negative effects. i don’t really understand michael lewis’ comments about positive social /financial discharge.

  27. Ginny Says:

    Gloria, I have had the same reaction to an earthing pad, which I have tried to use for about 3 weeks. I felt terrible after sleeping with it (achy and tired) and also had diarrhea. From what I’ve read, this means I’m doing some detoxing. Now I am only using it about 3 hours a day and plan to work up my time until I can sleep with it all night. I had the same reaction when I went camping and used the copper rod and earthing pad.

  28. Jonathan Says:

    The link (above) for the wikihow DIY earthing device no longer works. Here is the new address for the instructions:
    http://naturesplatform.com/earthing.html

  29. Jacqui Hunt Says:

    I am most interested in the last two comments. I have purchased a starter pack of sheet mat for feet and mouse pad for computer. Have also been lying on the ground and walking barefoot for the last week and have had very negative effects. My sleeping has deteriorated last night woke about 5 times. My leg and lower back pain has increased about 8 or 9 out of a ten scale last night. The first two nights I felt terrible in the morning with headache and aching body figured I was detoxing. How long does one keep doing this have written to the suppliers to ask but no advice forthcoming.

  30. G Bini Says:

    That was probably relevant back in 2004.
    However due to the massive increase in earth radiation, or geopathic stress, the resonance being transferred through
    the ground is now toxic.
    Grounding has nothing to do with electrons, it is a resonance issue.
    earthing or grounding products are harmful to humans,and is likely to be another booby trapped technology which sounds nice, however is another energy depleting tool of the Illuminati.

  31. Charlie Says:

    After reading about the positive experiences people have had from earthing, I began sitting in my yard in the evening before bed with my bare feet on the wet grass. I felt it to be relaxing and I seemed to wake up the next morning with less stiffness in my back. So I took the plunge and ordered the bed pad and mat and started sleeping grounded and used the mat when on the computer. The first day after sleeping with the pad, I had diarrhea the entire day. I didn’t make the connection at first and unable to leave the house, I spent the entire day grounded and slept that night again with the bed pad. I woke up extremely achy and the aching increased throughout the day affecting my entire body with loud ringing in my ears. I read in the Earthing book that it might be detoxification so I stopped earthing for a couple of days and felt better. I have tried again sleeping grounded and experienced the same symptoms. I am surprised that I would experience such strong detox symptoms since I am very health conscious and regularly practice such things as fasting, juicing, infrared sauna. I had my amalgam fillings removed about 15 yrs. ago and the symptoms that I am now experiencing are almost identical (except for the diarrhea)that I experienced when I did oral chelation (Cutler protocol) for mercury. I wonder if earthing can be causing a redistribution of mercury for I am not sure that the chelation removed all the mercury. Its been two weeks now and I feel horrible. I decided to take at least a week off and will start again with very short sessions. Hoping that something good will come out of this. Would like to hear from those that have had initially negative experiences.

  32. Paula Says:

    I just want to say thank you for this post. My husband thought I was crazy until he slept on the grounded bed last night. I ordered a rod from Emf Less ,and I drove the rod in to the ground. The wire that came attached to the rod – I placed on our bed. My husband last night slept like a baby. This is wonderful. I am going to ground his chair also. I can not believe the difference. I am excited to ground other areas of our home so that we can live a healthier and more free life. I sit outside all that I can and go barefoot to help. I do not want my earthing hooked to electricity at all. I prefer directly to the ground current, and I chose a place where the trees constantly pull water to them, keeping he negative ions really flowin , I hope. THis is day one and I already see a difference. I can not wait until week eight. Thank you. If you can help me to help myself in any way more, please e-mail me with more information of how to ground other areas of my home. Thank you again.

  33. Marilyn Says:

    Does anyone have any updates on their personal results before I try this?

  34. Ivone Says:

    Hi everybody,
    I just wanna ask if someone that started grounding by using the earthing pad got some problem insid the ears. I got a ringing in my ears and had to stop using the pad. I called the company and they told me to stop and the problem would stop. But, after six months later I am still with the same problem. Please let’s me know if you are experience the same problem and what can I do to stop this ringing.

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