Are you grounded?
By Clark Peters
A new theory about health emerged recently that I believe may be of significance for those interested in health and longevity. There is a major caveat here: the clinical trials sufficient to satisfy the authorities have not been done and won’t be for some time. Typically, these trials involve large sample populations split into two groups (one receives treatment; the other, the control group, gets “sham” treatment), take years to complete, and run up costs in the millions. The studies are also run “double-blind”: that is the participants don’t know what group they are in (obvious), nor do the measuring technicians.
Since these trials have not been done, the reader should proceed with the knowledge that what follows is still in the theoretical stage. That said, thousands of anecdotal inputs suggest this theory may indeed be viable. As well, the theory and the science seem to be correct and intuitively to make sense. Here’s the theory.
The earth’s surface is enveloped with negatively charged electrons. This is a scientific fact and well known. Among other things, this is what causes lightning, as positively charged molecules in storm clouds interact with the negative electrons on the surface. You may recall from high school science class that negative and positive charges are attracted and neutralize each other when they meet. Lightning rods on your house are “grounded” and thus direct the lightning strike to the ground instead of frying your electrical and electronic items, or worse. In fact, your electrical outlets (plugs) are now installed “three-pronged” for the same reason—that third prong connects that outlet to the ground.
Well, the human body, which is roughly 70 percent water, is an electrical system of sorts as well. Water enhances conductivity of electricity, and those unfortunate few who get struck by lightning serve as a conductor for the energy to reach the ground. In this human electrical system, your brain constantly sends out electrical signals to each of your cells, instructing them to perform tasks. As you would imagine, it is desirable to have a “neutral” body for this system to work properly. And here’s where the health implications come in. You have undoubtedly heard of “free radicals.” These nasty critters are the cause of many of our current health problems, even though they are a natural by-product of our cells’ interaction with its fuel (glucose) and oxygen. The key here is that free radical molecules are positively charged and need a negative charge to become neutralized (and thereby rendered harmless) in your body. If not neutralized, they seek a negative charge from other cells, thus leading to those cells being compromised and in turn leading to inflammation—the major cause of all the degenerative diseases (cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, etc.).
Again, so …?
Our ancestors of the past hundred thousand years or so were hunter-gatherers who were constantly moving barefooted over the earth. Similarly, they slept and sat directly on the earth. In short, they were in constant contact with the ground. Of course, we are much more “civilized” now. This civilization has caused us to raise our beds off the ground and, indeed, build structures (houses and apartments/condominiums) that are well off the ground. As important, we are all “tenderfeet” now because shoes and footwear protect our feet from the rough surface of the planet. Almost all the footwear available today has soles made of materials such as rubber, plastic, and other nonconductive substances used to insulate wire and cable. In short, we have effectively disconnected from the earth and therefore from the flow of negatively charged electrons on the surface. The theory strongly suggests that we reestablish this connection to assist our bodies in neutralizing the positively charged free radical molecules that threaten our health.
The good news is that this “reconnection” is fairly easy and inexpensive to establish. Being in contact with the earth allows a natural flow of the surface electrons into the body’s electric system. So, the simplest way to reconnect is to take off your shoes and walk or sit with your feet in direct contact with the earth. Incidentally, you will, if you do this daily, be surprised at how quickly the soles of your feet will “toughen up,” making this activity more comfortable. Since water enhances conductivity, a morning walk while the dew is still on the ground is an excellent start to the day. Because the minerals in salt water enhance conductivity even more, the best grounding walk is ankle deep along our shorelines—a “trifecta,” if you will, of exercise (walking), Vitamin D (from sunlight), and the ideal reconnection with the healing energies from the planet’s surface.
Even if you build a barefoot walk or two into your daily routine, the majority of your day will still be spent, thanks to our modern lifestyle, disconnected. Clearly, there is no downside to grounding—our ancestors did it 24/7. Indeed, if the theory is correct, more is better. So, as you might expect, the proponents of this practice have developed ways to stay connected for more hours of the day.
Let me pause here and indicate that a much more thorough discussion of earthing is possible by connecting with a couple of websites, www.earthing.com, www.earthinginstitute.net, or by reading the book Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? by Clinton Ober, Stephen Sinatra, M.D., and Martin Zucker. On the websites, you will also find products to increase conductivity throughout the day and night. I will mention a few I have purchased, but I want to make it clear that I have no association with these organizations other than as a consumer.
- Footwear: The authors envision a future where all footwear will be conductive; currently, though, the only conductive footwear available is thongs/flip-flops with a conductive plug in the middle of the sole.
- Pads/Sheets: Sheets or pads with conductive materials woven into the cotton or silk fabric are attached to a wire with a male end that plugs into the third port (ground) of a three-pronged outlet. The user becomes grounded while sleeping or sitting, thus dramatically increasing the amount of grounded time.
- Patches: Connected the same way as the sheets or pads, these small patches adhere to the skin and are thought to direct a steady stream of healing negative electrons to such problem areas as a sore lower back, an arthritic joint, a twisted ankle, etc.
- Grounding plugs: Though less convenient than the plugs in the house, a rod is simply shoved into the earth and a wire fed into the house and connected to the products mentioned above. This would be used for houses that are ungrounded; the wire can come through a window, door sill, or cable port into the house. They also can be used outside for patches, camping, etc.
There are other products, but my experience is limited to this list.
The claims for earthing, admittedly still anecdotal, are impressive. The authors believe that “earthing restores and maintains the human body’s natural electric state, which in turn promotes optimal health and functionality in daily life.” They posit that the earth’s primordial natural energy may provide the ultimate anti-inflammatory and anti-aging medicine. School is still out, as mentioned earlier, on these claims, but literally thousands of reports from people who have become “grounded” speak to improvement in their various maladies. These improvements range from a lessening of distress (pain, discomfort, lack of range of motion, illness, etc.) to complete cures! Among the conditions positively impacted (and this is the short list) are the following:
- Chronic pain
- Healing of wounds
- Blood pressure
- Hormonal imbalances
- Jet lag
- Effects from EMFs (electromagnetic fields—TVs, cell phones, computers, high-tension wires, etc.)
The authors are in no way discounting other factors in illnesses—that is, earthing is not being proposed as a magic bullet to cure everything. They recognize the other major insults to the body—poor nutrition, genetics, pollution, obesity, lack of exercise, etc. Rather, they maintain that disconnectedness from the earth should be added to the list, especially if you consider:
—the anti-inflammatory potential of earthing,
—the medico-scientific consensus that inflammation is the root cause of most ailments ranging up to the lethal diseases,
—and the fact that earthing is so easy to implement.
Well, you can make up your own mind on this admittedly new and somewhat “out there” theory. I have tried the products and barefoot life and can report that the improvements were not immediate, but they were definitely noticeable. Most everyone who “grounds” mentions improved sleep. You probably surmised from my last article, “To Sleep … Perchance to Dream” (Fall 2011), that I wrestle with occasional sleeplessness. After a few nights of sleeping grounded, I can report some very restful nights—I have just started, so I don’t know that this will continue, but I am very encouraged. Also, I have a severe (diagnosed) case of arthritis in my right shoulder. Again, the difference was not immediately obvious, but after several sessions with the patches, I can report a significant lessening of discomfort—certainly not a complete cessation of pain (this condition has been around for years, after all), but definitely much more range of motion with less discomfort.
I think this is worth exploring. May the ground be with you!
— V —
The Health Nut
Clark Peters has spent much of his time since his retirement in 1997 researching health and longevity. His purpose in writing these columns is to share his findings with readers in plain English and assist them in making accurate and informed lifestyle choices. The columns are based on the premise that we all want to live a long, vigorous life and are striving to make healthy choices.
While Mr. Peters believes these recommendations will result in better health and longevity for almost everyone, the reader is advised to consult with his or her physician before making any major lifestyle changes. You may e-mail Mr. Peters at: firstname.lastname@example.org.