You may or may not have heard of the practice called grounding, or earthing, which has become popular in the holistic health world recently. I had previously heard of grounding, but was unsure what it was. It definitely sounded a little strange at first until I met a couple of people who have used some of the electronic grounding products that are now available, and experienced positive results. Of course my curiosity and my experimental nature urged me to look deeper and see what this grounding thing was all about.
My investigations began with watching a couple of videos by David Wolfe, who is considered one of the world’s top authorities on natural health, beauty, nutrition, herbalism, chocolate, and organic superfoods. I must admit that after watching the videos by Wolfe on grounding the concepts definitely started to make sense to me, but I’m always cautious with these supposedly groundbreaking natural remedies. Sometimes it is hard to filter out the junk from the truly good products. I had to look into Wolfe’s background as he can sometimes come off as a spiritual hippie huckster, but I have always been impressed with his videos and the scope of his knowledge. I discovered that Mr. Wolfe’s accomplishments are impressive, and include a master’s degree in nutrition, and a background in science and mechanical engineering.
So what is grounding? In the shortest explanation, being grounded means being electrically connected to the earth.
During the early days of the telegraph when they were first putting telegraph wires into the earth it was discovered that the earth is completely covered by electrons that are negatively charged, and that these negative electrons can prevent oxidation in the body.
According to Mr. Wolfe, most of us are not aware that the earth is mobilized with free anti-oxidant electrons. Those electrons pour into our body at the speed of light the minute we touch the earth barefoot (this fact does not seem to be disputed in the scientific world). Since the atmosphere tends to have a net positive charge and we are almost always connected to the atmosphere via our skin, this contact could be robbing us of negative electrons and causing oxidation and inflammation. We can counteract this oxidation by being grounded, thus allowing us to live longer and reduce inflammation in our bodies.
According to the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, biomedical research has led to the hypothesis that inflammation is the culprit behind almost every modern chronic illness (See my article “Inflammation: Is It Killing You?”). A natural method to quell this inflammation involves connecting the human body to the earth (grounding/earthing). When done during sleep, grounding normalizes the daily cortisol rhythm, improves sleep, and reduces pain and inflammation. Direct electrical connection with the earth enables electrical rhythms and electrons to flow from the earth to the body.
In addition, the effectiveness of connecting the body to the earth in enhancing performance, speeding injury repair, and facilitating recovery was documented by Dr. Jeffrey Spencer, a world renowned wellness doctor, during the most recent three Tour de France victories of the US Cycle Team lead by Lance Armstrong, and the 2007 victory by Alberto Contador and the US Team. Connecting the cyclists to the earth during sleep and also during the acute phases of injury seemed to enhance overall performance, speed injury repair, and facilitate recovery.
Now this does make a lot of sense to me, but one of the biggest hurdles to being grounded is the fact that we are almost always wearing shoes. An interesting side note: I have read several articles over the years stating that by wearing shoes we cause our bodies to move in an unnatural manner causing numerous muscle and bone injuries. Even though I was highly motivated to get this experiment underway, swimming in the ocean or walking around barefoot all day was not a practical solution for me. Most of us are stuck behind a computer all day with shoes and flooring between us and the possibilities of being grounded. To get around this unfortunate reality, Mr. Wolfe promotes grounding technology products by Earthing.com, which includes a grounding computer foot mat, mouse pad, and bed sheet. There are some other products out there, such as grounding shoes, but since Earthing.com has a patent on the technology, and actually was the first to introduce the concept of grounding, I figured they would be the most trusted company. You simply plug the device into the grounded slot of a three-pronged electrical outlet, and your device is now grounded. If your outlet is not grounded you may have to purchase a grounding rod. Some of the reviews indicated the products seem to work a little better using this grounding rod, but it is not necessary if your home outlets are already grounded.
The ultimate selling point for me was when I watched a video of Mr. Wolfe showing how to protect yourself from electromagnetic fields (EMFs), sometimes called electromagnetic radiation, given off by common household devices such as laptops, alarm clocks, etc. Electromagnetic fields are present everywhere in our environment. Those that emanate from the earth, sun, and ionosphere are all natural sources of EMFs. In addition, researchers are finding being constantly exposed to EMFs or electromagnetic pollution can cause fat retention, fatigue, insomnia, depression, hormone disruption and more, according to Sherill Sellman, ND. They disrupt vital cell to cell communication that underlies all of the body’s functions, such as maintaining energy and natural slimming mechanisms like detoxifying, balancing blood sugar and regulating appetite.
Using a voltage meter Wolfe demonstrated how much EMF he is being exposed to and then touched the grounding mat to show the EMFs are almost completely dissipated.
The fact is I was mere days away from major back surgery when I started my serious research into grounding, and I don’t think my timing could have been better. While recovering from my surgery I knew I would certainly experience some serious inflammation and pain. If we are going to test the grounding concept out, I thought, let’s take it to the fullest extent possible. So I ordered the grounding floor mat from Amazon.com for $59.99; for the money it seemed to be the most versatile of all the products. I received my grounding computer mat in two days, which I was really impressed with considering I had not paid for expedited shipping. The box, materials, instructions, and grounding mat were very well done and the quality of materials was also impressive. Luckily I received my grounding mat a couple of days before my surgery so I was able to test it out a little bit. The first thing I noticed was I felt a slight tingle in my feet (nothing uncomfortable) when using the mat. Since I use my computer a great deal I used it when I was sitting at my desk 2-3 hours a day. I noticed I did not seem to be as fatigued and my eyes didn’t burn when at my computer and using the mat.
In addition to using the grounding mat, I had been spending about 10-15 minutes walking around my front yard barefoot upon waking to see if I could notice a difference. The first thing I noticed was feeling immediately awake after being grounded for a couple of minutes. I am nothing close to being a morning person, so this was a far cry from how I usually feel when I first wake up and just walk around the house without being grounded.
Being able to experience the grounding mat for only a couple of days prior to surgery was not an optimal amount of time to observe my reactions, but I at least had an idea that it did seem to produce some positive results. I was not allowed to take my grounding mat to the hospital so I would have to wait until I was back at home to start using it again post surgery.
My surgery went very well, but my neurosurgeon indicated my case was one of his most difficult; oh, boy, not what I wanted to hear! According to him my body had locked down on my injured crushed disc and he had to use an extreme amount of force to be able to remove the disc and put in the hardware (see my post on Back Surgery for more details). With this information I had a strong feeling my recovery might show the effects of the trauma of surgery and might be a little more difficult than I had first expected.
From the moment I regained consciousness after surgery I had a great deal of pain in both hips and most of the joints in my left leg. While in the hospital the pain was endurable since I was on some pretty powerful painkillers. Once I returned home, I started to reduce the intake of the painkillers. Almost immediately the pain in my left leg became unbearable at times, but being hard headed I refused to continue to take the pain medication. What I was doing instead was using the grounding mat 4-5 hours a day. I put it at the foot of my couch and would rest both bare feet on it as much as I could in order to be grounded. This did seem to help, and I also would stand barefoot in my yard when I was feeling up to it. I noticed my pain level was getting better and better every day, but I was also now going to an acupuncturist and receiving massage therapy, too. Before I started receiving acupuncture and massage therapy I was getting better using the grounding mat, but I wanted to attempt to speed up the healing process as much as I could.
Even after I started feeling better I continued to use the grounding mat, and I have been so impressed that I ordered the grounded bed pad, as I have been a lifetime insomniac. According to the book that came with the grounding mat, not only is a reduction in inflammation one of the benefits of being grounded, in addition studies have shown people sleep more deeply and feel more refreshed upon waking when being grounded while sleeping.
The grounding pad again arrived in two days with no special shipping instructions. It came in the same box as the grounding mat. The grounding pad was quite a bit more in price: $169.00 plus $12.00 shipping, coming to a grand total of $181.00. Even though it cost significantly more than the grounding mat, it came with several more items:
1 Earthing Connection Barefoot King Bed Pad (1/2 sheet)
1 15 Foot Cord for Earthing Sleep Systems & Universal Mat
1 Earthing Connection Product Tester
1 20 Foot Coil Cord for Body Band Kits and Patch Kits
1 Splitter Cord
1 Earthing Outlet Checker
1 Earthing Connection Ground Rod
1 Earthing Connection Ground Rod Cord
1 Earthing Book
1 IB Instruction Brochure
Installing the bed pad is a simple affair: you wrap it around your fitted sheet at the foot of your bed and that is it. It is really not a pad, but a sheet that has silver strands in it for grounding conductivity. Just as with the mat you plug one end of the grounding cord into the sheet and then plug the other end into the grounding slot in your wall outlet. I like the fact that it came with the grounding rod as I can now be grounded while sleeping in my tent or back of my truck while camping. I’m an adventurous guy, but sleeping on the bare ground with a body part exposed in order to be grounded is a little too extreme even for me.
While using the bed pad I have indeed experienced very deep sleep, without having to get up as often to urinate during the night, and have enjoyed continued reduction in pain and inflammation in my back and legs. I will continue to update this article as to the continued benefits of using my grounding products.
For those interested in purchasing grounding products visit www.earthing.com
About the author
Mr. Collins (MS) worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for nearly a decade. In addition, he is a specialist in fitness and nutrition, a certified fitness trainer, member of the International Sports Science Association, member of the American Society for Nutrition, member of the IDEA Health and Fitness Association, member of the Weston A. Price Foundation and member of the Price-Pottinger Nutrition Foundation. Collins completed 13 years of service in the United States Military and is a proud veteran. For full bio click here.
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Wolfe, David. “Barefoot Technology Exposed.” Longevitynowprogram. 30 June 2010. Web. 30 APRIL 2011.