Earthing is the practice of connecting with bare feet to the electrical energy emanating from the surface of the earth by standing, walking or lying on the ground; or through the use of conductive floor pads and bed sheet that are linked by a wire to an outside ground rod or plugged into a wall outlet with a grounding system. The term "Earthing" was coined by its discoverer Cinton Ober, an entrepreneur in the cable and telecommunications industries who gave up his affluent lifestyle to search for a meaningful purpose in his life. One day in 1998 while sitting in a park, Clinton observed that all the people passing by were wearing shoes with thick rubber or plastic soles. He wondered if there was on impact on people's health from being insulated from the electrical surface charge on the ground. From his background in the cable industry Clinton knew that electronic equipment needed to be grounded to operate without interference. He wondered if the same could be true for human beings.
Clinton measured the electrical charges created on his body at various places in his apartment with a voltmeter, an instrument that measures the electrical potential differences between the earth and any electrical object. He was surprised to discover that the highest level of electromagnetic field (EMF) voltage was in his bedroom. He conducted an experiment on himself sleeping on a bed that he grounded with a grid of metallic duct tape that was linked with a wire to a rod placed in the ground outside. Clinton slept soundly for the first time in years and his chronic back pain went away. He then started grounding other people who experienced similar positive results. Clinton became convinced that connecting directly to the surface of the earth has tremendous healing power and he embarked on a mission to validate this discovery and to share it with others.
The benefits of "Earthing" have been substantiated by several scientific studies and are getting the attention of open minded physicians particularly since the publication of the book "Earthing: The most important health discovery ever?" in 2010. The science of Earthing is based on the principle that all living creatures are electrical by nature and that the human body is a dynamic conductor of electrical impulses. The energy residing on the surface of the earth is primarily electrical in the form of negatively charged free electrons. Free radicals, the main source of inflammation, tissue destruction and disease are positively charged. The practice of Earthing effectively neutralizes the positively charged free radicals. Earthing also protects the body's delicate bioelectrical circuitry against static electricity and interference in the form of Electromagnetic Fields (EMGs). Our disconnection from the earth's natural surface energy due to living in elevated structures and wearing insulated shoes results in an "electron deficient" state that leads to inflammatory and autoimmune disease, poor sleep, dysfunction and accelerated aging. Exposure to the ground provides an electrical "nutrient" as important as oxygen, light and water and is the best natural antioxidant and inflammatory agent.
The sole of the foot has more nerve endings than any other part of the human body so walking bare foot or simply sitting with one's feet planted on the ground is the best way to gather the free electrons and natural energy from the earth. Since this is not always possible given people's lifestyle and cold weather Clinton developed "bare foot substitutes" in the form of floor and desk pads, bed sheets, sheet like sleeping bags for travel and athletes, pads for pets, and electrode patches and body bands that can be attached near an injury or wound or and area of acute pain or inflammation. These products connect with a wire to a ground system in a house (the single round hole in an electrical outlet) or to a wire that goes outside and is attached to a rod placed in the ground. The products are sold at the website: www.earthing.com .
The benefits from Earthing as summarized in the book "Earthing" are as follows:
Defuses the cause of inflammation, and improves or eliminates the symptoms of many inflammation-related disorders.
Reduces or eliminates chronic pain.
Improves sleep in most cases.
Lowers stress and promotes calmness in the body by cooling down the nervous system and stress hormones.
Normalizes the body's biological rhythms.
Thins blood and improves blood pressure and flow.
Relieves muscle tension and headaches.
Lessens hormonal and menstrual symptoms.
Dramatically speeds healing and helps prevent bedsores.
Reduces or eliminates jet lag.
Protects the body against potentially health-disturbing environmental electromagnetic fields (EMFs).
Accelerates recovery from intense athletic activity.
"Earthing" is full of convincing testimonials from individuals who have benefited from using Earthing products for relief from a vast number of health disorders including insomnia, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, fibromyalgia, electro-sensitivity, premenstrual syndrome, headaches, asthma, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, autism and recovery from sports injuries.
After reading the book I was very enthusiastic about trying Earthing myself. I began by spending an hour each day walking around barefoot in my yard which I found calming and therapeutic for the soles of my feet which tend to be sore. I also spent a couple nights sleeping outside in a tent and got a few hours of deep sleep doing this before winter weather set in. I then ordered a floor pad and bed sheet from earthing.com. I suffer from very disturbed sleep and I was particularly eager to see if sleeping with the products would helpful for this. The products caused a buzzing or tingling in my feet, which is a symptom I have when I rest after an active or stressful day. According to the Earthing book the tingling sensation is related to the initial re-energizing, re-synchronizing and normalizing effects that the transfer of energy generates and usually diminishes after a few sessions of Earthing. For me this sensation became more intense with each day that I used the products. During the first week I felt O.K. using the products although they did not improve my sleep. After a week and a half I had a relapse in my fibromyalgia muscle condition which I attributed to "overdoing" it physically however I was not able to recover from this and my muscle tone as measured by my EMG biofeedback unit remained high as I continued using the Earthing products. The sleep I was getting was not as restorative as it usually is and I became increasingly more exhausted. Then I began to forget small things and developed brain fog a symptom I have NEVER had before. I talked to the people at Earthing.com who encouraged me to stick with the products but after a complete meltdown emotionally I discontinued using them. My brain fog went away within a day but it was a good two weeks before my nervous system recovered from this experience and I felt back "on track".
While I was conducting my personal experiment with Earthing I heard from a number of my "fibro friends" who were also trying the products. Three of them had bad responses that resulted in an aggravation of chronic symptoms while another three had good responses most notably with improved sleep. I sent the sheets to a friend who suffers from severe fibromyalgia who was unable to sleep in her bed. After the first night of sleeping with the Earthing sheet she called me to enthusiastically report that she slept through the night and she continues to report good sleep with the product.
In conclusion Earthing may have positive benefits for some persons with Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Syndromes particularly in the area of sleep however caution needs to be exercised when using the Earthing products because they may actually aggravate symptoms in others with these conditions. I recommend starting with the floor pad first and going slowly to monitor your response. The Earthing Institute claims that these products are entirely safe, that you cannot overuse them and that the effects are identical to standing barefoot on the ground. I disagree. I suspect that the metal in the Earthing products amplifies the electrical energy coming from the ground and although this may not be problematic for most individuals, for individuals like myself who have become hyper-sensitive due to the trauma of living with long term physical stress, the products are contraindicative.
As I have stated before each person with Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia has a unique presentation of these syndromes and requires a unique combination of strategies to heal. One can only find out through experimentation which therapies will be beneficial. Earthing may be helpful for many chronically ill persons but it remains to be seen whether a loss of connection from the surface energy of the earth is a key stressor for developing chronic fatigue and fibromaylgia. I am interested to hear how others respond to Earthing products over the coming months. Meanwhile I look forward to spring when I can resume walking bare foot on the ground!