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Earthing: Why Getting “Grounded” Is Not Just For Teens Anymore

on | in Everything Else | by | with 50 Comments

One Part Voodoo & Two Parts Hooey

So I may have left something out when I told you my auto-immune disorder was reversed by experimental laser therapy. Or actually a few things. Like that the lasers were strapped to golf clubs. And that I had to wear funny colored glasses. And um, there is also the fact that Dr. Quackas we affectionately called him – would smack a tuning fork on the counter and place it next to my ear before I got off the table. See, no big deal. Totally normal!

**cough**

Most inventors don’t have fancy labs and manufacturing facilities available to give prototypes the “look” of legitimacy. No, they strap lasers to golf clubs, or use chewing gum to reseal a bond after a crash test. Or, in the case of Clint Ober, adhere electrical tape to bed sheets.

Clint, If You Haven’t Already Heard Of Him . . .

Is the author of Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? – a book in which he describes how simply reconnecting with the earth might help you sleep better, feel more calm, find relief from chronic pain, decrease inflammation, improve blood pressure  and accelerate recovery after intense physical activity (like, um, BIRTH).

“Reconnecting with the earth” is not a euphemism for foraging alone in the woods for three days. Nope, he’s talking about simple physical contact – The same kind a newborn baby needs with mama in order to regulate body temperature, breathing and heart rate while promoting a sense of well-being (babies who experience skin-to-skin contact after birth have lower levels of stress hormones).

Throughout history, humans have strolled, sat, stood, and slept on the ground – the skin of their bodies touching the skin of the earth – oblivious to the fact that such simple contact transfers a natural electrical signal to the body.

What is this “natural electrical signal” you ask? It’s simple: Our bodies carry a positive charge in the form of free radicals.

Free radicals have gotten a bad rap . . . but in reality they perform an essential service to the body. Simply put, they are positive-charged  molecules (short of one or more electrons) that search for free electrons to become stable. You can call them electrophiles – electron lovers. Normally, these free radicals obtain their missing electrons by stripping electrons away from pathogens and damaged tissue.

. . . . Free radicals obviously have starring roles in the immune response, but problems arise when the process fails to wind down completely after the job is done. The good guys become bad guys on a rampage, ripping up innocent, healthy cells. Think of security dogs that snag the burglar and then go after their owner. They continue attacking and oxidize healthy tissue. The immune system gears switch into overdrive, sending in more white blood cells that produce MORE free radicals. This activity is why free radicals have a bad rap and why scientists unanimously agree that free-radical activity is at the basis of chronic disease and the aging process”

Earthing, p. 59-60 (emphasis mine)

So what keeps free radicals on their best behavior? The earth, which is a six-sextillion (that’s a six followed by 21 zeroes) metric ton battery that just happens to carry a negative charge.

Through regular contact it the earth absorbs unused free radicals so they don’t stick around for a healthy tissue buffet once they’ve run out of their normal fare. Or to say it a different way, the excess buildup of free electrons in our bodies is neutralized by contact with the ground – kind of like dragging your footie pajamas across the carpet and then touching a doornob (Don’t lie, I know you have footie pajamas!). Clint Ober calls this exchange “earthing”, or “grounding.”

It’s A Perfect System, Really

Our bodies are like solar batteries, energized and strengthened by Vitamin D synthesis via the sun. On the flip side, direct contact with the earth calms our nervous systems, reduces inflammation and promotes internal healing. But there’s a catch . . . and I’ll bet you’ve already guessed it! These days we sleep in insulated homes (painted or carpeted concrete, asphalt, plastic and even wood surfaces prevent electron flow), drive in insulated cars (rubber tires, no dice!), work in insulated offices (again with the flooring).

And then when we FINALLY do go outside what do we do? We wear synthetic-soled shoes that block the exchange of energy! Living this way is like wearing footie pajamas every day in a world without doorknobs, and the problem is only getting worse. Computers, cell phones, other electronics and even the wiring in our walls all increase the positive charge we carry. This buildup disrupts our internal clocks and hormonal function while increasing oxidative stress (aging) and inflammation.

When Clint discovered the benefits of earthing on human physiology he created special sheets and pads that contain conductive silver fibers. By connecting the sheet to a grounded outlet Clint found he could bring the benefits of outdoor living inside. These pads made it possible to begin running clinical trials on the benefits of earthing.

Consider these thermal images, which were taken just 30 minutes apart before (left) and after (right) earthing.

The spontaneous resolution of red, orange and yellow inflammation “hot spots” is evident. Do you wonder how long this person has been walking around with chronic pain and inflammation which was quickly and easily resolved with no side effects?

And what about this study conducted by Ghalv, M.D. and Dale Teplitz, M.A.

Researchers measured cortisol levels to determine a baseline for study subjects, then gave them special earthing pads to use for eight weeks. What happened? Earthing reduced overall levels of this stress hormone and fine-tuned the secretion cycle so that our levels are highest in the early morning when we need the motivation to get moving for the day.

In another study – which was double blind – one group used ‘earthing sheets’ and the control group used placebo sheets.  In the “grounded” group:

  • 85% went to sleep more quickly
  • 93 percent reported sleeping better throughout the night
  • 82% experience less muscle stiffness
  • 74% experienced an elimination of chronic back/joint pain
  • 100% reported feeling more rested upon waking
  • 78% reported improved general health
  • Some ‘grounded’ participants also reported relief from respiratory issues, RA, hypertension, sleep apnea, hot flashes, and PMS.

And That, Friends . . .

Is why at the risk of sounding like some weirdo with tin foil on their head I have to say this book convinced me. Not just because American cyclists participating in the Tour de France reported a drastic reduction in tendonitis and accelerated wound healing when they slept earthed during the race, or because it’s been endorsed by famous folks like:

Nope. I’m convinced because for the past two months the Potamus family has been outdoors sans shoes as often as possible (thank you Texas!) and sleeping grounded at night. Daddypotamus is reporting a greater sense of well-being when he wakes up despite LOTS of challenges at work. I don’t remember the last time I’ve slept this deeply (if ever) and definitely sense an increased sense of peace and mental clarity throughout my day.

Are you ready to see if earthing can help you sleep better, feel more calm, find relief from chronic pain, decrease inflammation, improve blood pressure  and accelerate recovery from intense physical activity? It’s easy! Wherever you are you are, just . . .

  • Go outside! Ideally shoes should be off, but moccassins or leather-soled shoes are conduits if your feet are nice and toasty (and sweaty – these flip flops are supposed to be conductive too!). Or lay down and get comfy – read a good book or take a nap!
  • Swim in the ocean – The mineral rich salty sea is the best known conductor of the earth negative charge.
  • And/or consider investing in some earthing products – I’ll admit, I was absolutely **not** going to buy special equipment to “earth” with all the free options available. But when I learned that the benefits of earthing compound the longer one is grounded we decided to splurge.
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50 Responses to Earthing: Why Getting “Grounded” Is Not Just For Teens Anymore

  1. Oops! Sorry for the wonky formating at the end. It’s corrected now :)

  2. Liv says:

    So interesting, thank you! With two little ones I could definitely use better sleep, but the sheets are a pretty big investment. Do you know how long they last?

    • Heather says:

      Good question! According to the manufacturer, “Sheets made with cotton, polyester, and conductive silver fiber have withstood rigorous testing conducted by an independent testing lab. After 100 wash/dry cycles, the conductive silver fibers show virtually no breakage or wear. When cared for properly, your sheet should last as long as any good quality bed sheet. It is also recommended that no body lotions or creams be applied before bedtime to any part of the body that will come in direct contact with the sheet. The reason for this is that the creams can easily become absorbed into the sheets. The oils they contain become oxidized by the air and can diminish the conductivity of the silver threads.”

      So at least 100 washes. Since I only wash our sheets every 2 weeks (keeping it real here!) that means a minimum of four years. **Update** After talking with the manufacturer I am going to try to wash them every week. Apparently letting the natural oils from our bodies build up on them can decrease their effectiveness.

  3. Katy says:

    My husband and I always feel amazing and sleep better when we’re at the beach . . . now I know part of the reason why!

    • Heather says:

      We do too, Katy! Though we love exploring other places we always feel most relaxed after a week at the beach. I always thought we were just “beach people” in the same way that some folks are “dog” or “cat” people, but now I think it’s more than that. To be the beauty, sunshine and soothing sound of crashing waves plays a role, but it also just happens to be the time of year we spend mostly barefoot, too :)

  4. Diane says:

    How long does it take to notice a difference?

    • Heather says:

      Some people notice a difference almost immediately (after 30 minutes or so), some after a few days and some a few weeks. Some people never notice a difference. Physiologically, though, tests have revealed that physiologic changes begin within seconds of becoming grounded and accumulate the longer one stays connected to the earth.

  5. Alexis D says:

    Sounds very interesting! Reminds me of a summer in college that I spent out at the Grand Canyon and there were a few nights where we spent the night in a sleeping bag under the stars – beautiful and a good night’s sleep as well!

    Question though – would this “Earthing” be more beneficial for those who have healed their bodies in other areas (for example, being on GAPS versus those who are living with health issues)? Hope that question makes sense!

    Thanks for the detailed post!!! :-)

    • Heather says:

      I think it’s beneficial for everyone. Because it’s been shown to help with inflammation and accelerate wound healing I think earthing is probably helpful for people who need to heal leaky gut. For those who have already experience significant healing it still provides, IMO, vital benefits like lowered cortisol levels, deeper sleep and improved adrenal function. Does that make sense?

  6. Christina says:

    I put the earthing in the back of my head for a LONG time. The more I read, the more I was swayed….we’ve been sleep on a grounding sheet for two months and I really was skeptical. Never expected that my husband and I would actually experience the “reported” benefits. Oh my….the quality of my sleep has drastically changed–for the better. I have three small children under 4. I can’t remember, even before them, sleeping from the moment I closed my eyes until morning. I don’t hear my husbands alarm or shower or bathroom drawers being open and shut in the wee hrs of the morning. I sleep through everything. This only started after the use of the grousing sheet. It’s like I’m on vacation very night. My husband’s blood pressure is finally at/below the standard healthy limits, my aches and pains from exercising are greatly diminished or non-existent, etc. We eat a very strict while foods diet. No gluten, no processed foods, lots of healthy fats and TONS of veggies and fermented foods already. My diet is high raw. The rest of the fam is prob 50/50. So we’ve set ourselves up for great health, but the earthing pad has taken it to a whole new level. Trying to decide if we’re supposed to pony up for the three kids’ beds too…..probably. Quite an investment, but extremely worthwhile. Thanks mommypotamus for the very comprehendible and comprehensive post, today.

    • Heather says:

      “It’s like I’m on vacation every night.” Wow, Christina, I’ve said the EXACT SAME THING! That is so awesome about your husband’s blood pressure and your reduced aches and pains. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Brianne says:

    In the summer (I live in Chicago, so I won’t be barefoot in the winter anytime soon), I often do outdoor yoga, but I still use a yoga mat. Would the mat block the grounding? If I verified my space was sharp object and animal waste free, I could do it w/o a mat. Some of the people do. Thanks for writing about this; it’s an interesting topic!

  8. MM says:

    I’m spending as much time as I can outside in my bare feet the last month. It really calms me and does help me feel better. Yesterday, I napped in my garden on the straw with cats trying to nap ON me. lol

    I’m also very interested in the earthing sheets. But I have read a lot of conflicting reviews of people who say the sheets work great..at first. BUT they don’t last long. They are not remotely coming close to lasting as many washes and then the company is not being at all helpful with repair or replacement even when the person has used “whatever the electrical equipment is called” to show whether it’s working or not. I’d pay that price for 4 years of grounding sheets that worked But I don’t have that kind of money to waste on something that will only work for a few months and then I’m out of luck because the company won’t replace them.

    • Heather says:

      Hi MM! I called the manufacturer because I’d heard similar things and this is what they told me: It is not recommended that people use bleach or fabric softeners because they will break down the silver fibers. Lotions and oils (such as essential oils) should also not be worn at night as these reduce the effectiveness of the sheets. Another thing they mentioned is that some people don’t wash their sheets very often to make them “last longer.” This too is a mistake, they say, because the natural oils from our bodies accumulate and decrease effectiveness. Ideally sheets should be washed once a week to remove this layer of oils/dead skin in warm water without harsh chemicals. Under these circumstances they should last 3-4 years.

  9. Whittney says:

    I need to just read the book, but do clothes/socks/towels, etc. interfere? In other words, does it have to be skin to earth contact? {LOL, skin-to-earth} God made us to crave the things we need because I instinctively do this while outside….in fact, my family members are always on me to put shoes on the kids in the yard and I say “No, it’s good for them” but I’ve not studied this. Now, if only I had a very tall fence and a neighbor that knocked before he comes barging in my yard….then I could practice nude earthing. Yep, I said nude earthing.

    • Heather says:

      Skin to earth is ideal because fabrics (even if they are 100% cotton) do dampen the conductivity flow. The only way to get around this is for them to be slightly damp – people who used to wear moccassins and such would perspire in them with made them conductive. I’m not a huge fan of damps socks, though, so I just go barefoot.

      Nude earthing, lol!

  10. Barbara Alger says:

    I recently bought the small mat that you put your feet on when your using the computer. They’re about $75 but when I was ordering it I had the option of getting an Amazon Credit Card for $50 credit toward the purchase so I did that. I wanted to test the effectiveness and figured if this worked it wouldn’t be such an expense to replace them from time to time. You put it over your legs at night while sleeping. I’ve only used it about four or five times. I’m presently in the processing of negotiating a contract for a house purchase inwhich there is another person who is also making offers on this same house. This is stressful! But I have noticed that I am sleeping through the night and feeling unusually calm about the whole thing today. Can’t say for sure this is related to the mat, but I have a sense that it is helping.

  11. Diane says:

    I’ve read about this on several blogs now, and I’m definitely intrigued! I wonder if I go outside in my bare feet if it would help to heal the heel spur and plantar fasciitis I’ve been suffering from for MONTHS now. How long would one need to be outside per day to gain benefit from this (it’s cold where I live right now but I wouldn’t mind walking around for several minutes each day if it would help).

  12. martine says:

    Is it a recommandation for an earthing floor in my new house?

    • Heather says:

      Bare, unsealed concrete will allow the exchange of electrons if materials in the foundation don’t interfere. Same is true for certain types of tile. Other than that I really have no idea. Sorry!

  13. Raj says:

    Thanks for a very detailed and informative post. The last time I tried discussing it with my very patient husband, he gave a blank look….it wasn’t as good as your explanation I’m afraid. Thanks again.

  14. Cooly creative name and blog, Mommypotamus. This Earthing phenomenon is so, so cool. I’ve been writing about alternative medicine for 35 years and this is the most remarkable thing I have every written about. Regarding some of the comments from your readers, the important thing is to sustain the effort…that is, be outside barefoot regularly for at least 30-40 minutes a day…but that isn’t really practical for most people. Clint Ober, who discovered the health benefits of the Earth’s energy, developed very convenient and comfortable Earthing products for use in the house, including conductive sheets, so that when you are sleeping you are actually getting a treatment that enhances the body’s own self-repair and self-healing mechanisms. These products, originally developed for research, can be used routinely inside the home or office so that you can receive Mother Earth’s natural, subtle electric energy even while you sleep. Sounds kind of far-fetched, but I can assure you it ain’t. It’s for real. And there are now about a dozen scientific studies to show the intriguing effects that Earthing has on the body. More studies on the way. The Earth’s surface energy represents an overlooked health and healing factor….and a big one at that. Hopefully your readers will check out the Earthing book and, better yet, reconnect with the Earth’s energy. If you are at all skeptical, just go outside and plant your bare feet on the ground (sand, dirt, gravel, grass…the wetter the better) and see how you feel after about 15 minutes or a half-hour. Compare your stress or pain level at the beginning and at the end. For most people, it is a very convincing experiment and they never look at the ground again the same way. The ground has a lot of healing magic.
    Martin Zucker
    co-author of the Earthing book

  15. Heather says:

    [head smack] I thought about listing you and Mr. Sinatra when I introduced the book but got tangled up in the wordiness of it all. Boy do I feel sheepish now! Thank you for stopping by, Mr. Zucker. And THANK YOU for helping to bring this book to life – it has truly transformed our sleep and stress levels!

  16. […] inflammation (intestinal inflammation has been linked to depression). In the study I wrote about here nine of the twelve participants reported waking up less frequently, and 9 reported having more […]

  17. Holly says:

    very cool — reading the book now …. hopefully can buy some sheets soon! I’ve always loved walking outside barefoot, being at the beach or just outside period, walking on concrete sidewalks barefoot (yes please!)! and camping — which until recent years was never on an air mattress or anything like that! :) ….. thinkin I need a pair of those flip flops for this summer!

  18. Clair says:

    SO excited to read this! I read that book almost a year ago and like you, couldn’t bring myself to invest without feeling more confident in it. I live in a city, so walking outside is not a great option either. My mom just got a new earthing sheet, so she’s sending me her old one this weekend (great timing!) to give it a try. I love the idea, so I’m hoping to notice a difference in my physical and mental health once I start.

  19. Rebekah says:

    This is crazytown… I always wondered why my (rash-prone) skin always healed up and I slept so well on vacation at the Outer Banks. That really makes sense! And I honestly feel GOOD when I walk around in the dirt, and that’s one of the reasons I love springtime.

    I am getting that book!

  20. […] around barefoot. I am a big believer in the barefoot movement for bone structure and for the earthing component, though it all seems kind of hippie-dippy. I recently hiked Zion without my shoes and […]

  21. […] Earthing: Why Getting “Grounded” is Not Just for Teens Anymore from The Mommypotamus.  Rather “hippie-dippy” as she puts it, but it makes sense to me!  Anyone want to spring for gounded sheets for me to test out? […]

  22. LOVED this blog. Thanks so much for posting it. I’m going to try one of the earthing products you talk about. I really believe it can help so many of us. We truly have lost our connection to Mother Earth. Keep em coming.

  23. Sara Gordon says:

    Assuming not since everyone here has such great things to say about earthing but wonder if anyone knows about possible side effects. I experienced a raving heart and jitters my first night. The next day I had a horrible head ache. Was expecting up wake up refreshed but it was the total opposite. I’ve contacted the company but am also interested in all your thoughts.

  24. Tara says:

    Do you know if it’s okay for babies to sleep on the earthing sheets? Specifically, when co-sleeping with baby, is it okay to use the half-sheet? Baby wouldn’t be totally on the sheet probably, maybe only halfway. I assume it’s safe but didn’t see anything on the product description about it. I figured you might know since I think you co-sleep and have used the sheets; wondering if you’ve done both at the same time. :)

    • Heather says:

      I’m not qualified to give a medical opinion on this, but based on the information I learned I was more motivated to order the sheet because I co-slept. I actually ordered the full sheet and have been sleeping on it with my baby/toddler for a year now :)

  25. Tara says:

    Thanks, Heather! I figured they would put some warning or something if it wasn’t okay for babies and children, but just thought I’d ask what you had uncovered in your research since you’re many steps ahead of me and I’m just finding out about this earthing thing. ;) I was wondering about the half sheet versus the full set of sheets. Does the full set provide much more benefit, making it worth the extra cost? Can you elaborate on why you chose the full sheet size and why you were motivated to order because you co-slept? Do you mean you were motivated to do so because it would provide benefits to your children or because you needed better sleep because you are a Mommy? :) (or both!) ;) I also wondered how well the half sheet stays in place. My little one likes to crawl around and be all wild and silly in the mornings, so I’m wondering if that would be a problem for the half sheet. Not opposed to the whole sheets in principle…just the extra cost makes me wonder if it’s necessary to do the whole sheet set.

    • Heather says:

      Both! I only have the whole sheet so I’m not sure if the half sheet moves around :)

      • Tara says:

        One other thing… You mentioned that you sleep more deeply on the sheets. That sounds delightful, except for that whole co-sleeping thing. That is, I’m afraid of sleeping too deeply and not being roused from sleep when my baby stirs in the night…and then he’d end up rolling onto the floor! Have you experienced any changes in responsiveness or ability to be awakened, or do you still have your Mommy instincts in the night? :)

        • Heather says:

          I most definitely still have my mommy instincts! When I say we sleep better it just means that neither I nor my son stir as much. I’m still aware of everything that’s going on, but **less** is going on so I get to relax and sleep better.

          • Tara says:

            Now THAT sounds appealing. :) If I weren’t already buying the idea, I would be now, haha! Thanks for answering. :)

  26. Tara says:

    Oh, and have you noticed any difference in your co-sleeping little one(s) since using the sheets? Does it help them sleep better or provide any other benefit?

  27. james says:

    Hi there!
    Great site loaded with useful information! Our daughter is obsessed with the Boynton book collection and has been reading them to us since she was 2. Anyway, a quick comment on the earthing concept. My wife and I purchased the sheet a year ago and have both experienced several benefits, especially in our sleep habits. We both fall asleep faster and more soundly now which you can’t put a price on! We both began walking barefoot as much as possible and I have even started running without shoes a couple days week. Just surprised my wife with a pair of Groundals last week, which I purchased online from Get Grounded Footwear. She absolutely loves them and they allow her to stay grounded in certain situations where it may not fly to be barefoot! Anyway, just wanted to share as I noticed several people commented on not being able to go barefoot very often. Their men’s sandals are due out soon so hoping she returns the favor! Great job and thank you for the useful info. James

  28. Lou says:

    Bare foot running on some soft grass has GREATLY helped my 30 year Plantar Fasciitis condition.
    http://healthyprotocols.com/2_earth.htm

    • Angelo says:

      Lou
      I’ve been nursing my old running injury, plantar faciitis for over 2 mos now. Taping it eases off the pain along with some stretching and keep grounding (earthing) using band kit. I heard that this foot inflammation takes time to heal. Pain still throbs .
      Angelo

      • Lou says:

        Angelo

        I found shoe inserts kept my PF from growing worse and enabled me to hike and ski without pain MOSTLY.

        I was only when I got out on the grass with my bare feet that my PF started to HEAL. IMO shoes keep your foot and lower leg from properly EXERCISING.

        Yeah you have to ease SLOWLY back on your feet after an injury.

  29. Valeria says:

    We are also affected positively by “earthing” because that’s our actual beginning! We are made of the earth

  30. Brianne says:

    I know this is an older post so I hope you will see my question. What if you co sleep with a 17 month old. Can you use the earthing sheets? I am having a hard time finding the info on it. She hasn’t slept more then 3-4 hours since birth so I am thinking she might benefit from it as well.

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