biophilia: grounding - connecting to the the Earth
After being diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis in 2019 I didn't want to just jump straight to a pharmaceutical approach to treatment. I have since been researching ways to help myself whether it be through lifestyle, diet, exercise or holistic treatments. I am lucky that this was diagnosed very early for me, so while the disease is active in my body it hasn't affected my organs yet. I‘ve made many changes to my life to try and look after myself better in order to avoid taking prescription drugs to manage a disease at this early stage.
You may have heard the term grounding or earthing, but what exactly is it and why is it so potentially important to our modern lives. I had heard the term but never really looked into what it actually meant past having an obvious connection to the Earth. Then my husband shared a documentary with me which really gave me pause for thought, here was something that could possibly be of benefit to my condition.
NOTE: To be clear, this post is about my experience of grounding. I'm sharing the resources and research I found compelling and which that led me to try grounding products and the results I felt personally. I am not a medical professional or had any medical training. The information here is for general purposes only and no content is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.
The idea, the simplest possible idea, that connecting our bodies to the Earth could benefit our health and wellbeing really intrigued me, especially the notion that something so simple could help alleviate inflammation in my body and ease painful arthritic symptoms. On one hand the idea immediately made sense – I love the feeling of being barefoot on the grass or at the beach in summer, but on the other hand it seemed a little hard to believe that something so simple could in fact be so effective – it can’t really be that easy can it?
What is grounding?
Grounding or "earthing" refers to connecting our bodies to the Earth. Quite simply being barefoot with your skin to the ground connects you electrically to the Earth.
How does grounding work?
When we touch the Earth with our bare skin – standing barefoot on the grass or on the beach, sitting on the ground and making contact with ground through our bare hands – the earth absorbs electrical charges through our skin.
The Earth is a huge reservoir of free electrons. While earthed, we absorb these electrons which help neutralise the free radicals in our body which cause damage to our cells.
The Earth has the ability to absorb electric charges, which is of course why many household appliances are “earthed”. As our bodies hold electric charge, by making contact with the Earth this charge is neutralised.
The impact of our modern lives
Mankind no longer walks barefoot or sleeps on the ground, technology has moved at such a rapid rate in the last 70 years and we have become so physically disconnected from the Earth we live on. The invention of synthesized rubber in the 1960s means many people have rubber or plastic souls on their shoes and live most of their lives completely insulated. Often the only time many of us make this connection to the Earth is when we take a holiday and enjoy a walk on the beach barefoot, or kick our shoes off on the lawn in the garden – we all know how good that feels, right?
Every day we are bombarded by unseen electrical charges and electromagnetic radiation from computers, mobiles phones, wi-fi, blue tooth, cordless phones, power lines, household appliances, even the hidden electrical cables in the walls of your home or work space. An example of how technology affects our bodies that really shocked me was seeing how much voltage enters your body while using a laptop, seen in this video and how grounding yourself can negate the electrical charge.
Where did the grounding movement start?
Clint Ober was a pioneering executive in cable TV industry in the 1960s. He built his company to be the number one provider of cable installation services, specialising in grounded cables which provided safe and stable signals. In the 1980s he worked in the computer industry distributing live digital news via cable to PCs where an awareness of proper grounded systems was increasing.
In 1994 Clint became very sick, Doctor couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him but his liver was failing and what followed was extensive treatments with antibiotics and surgery. After taking a year to recover he took a road trip to Sedona, Arizona. It was here he made a connection between the rubber soles of our shoes and our disconnect, as electromagnetic beings, from the Earth. He pondered if his disconnection was affecting our bodies and tried to find the answer.
Clint set about trying to find research on this hypothesis, after finding nothing at the University of Arizona and being laughed off campus at UCLA he set about undertaking his own study. He took 60 people and grounded them to see what would happen. The results of which found inflammation in the body reduced, pain reduced and everyone slept better. This study has since been the catalyst for further scientific study with some astounding results.
How does the body benefit from being grounded?
Scientific studies into the effects of grounding on the body are growing. From the 30+ studies already done results have indicated better sleep, less pain, reduced inflammation, reduced blood pressure, more stable heart rates, reduced stress and increased recovery times for injury. There are some astonishing results for how grounding technology was used to benefit the cyclists at the Tour De France, seen here in this video
Some of the most fascinating work on the effect of grounding on the body has been conducted by Dr Stephen Sinatra, a highly respected cardiologist who believes “the cheapest, easiest way of creating optimal health is to be barefoot on the ground”
Dr Sinatra talks here about the benefits of grounding discovered through his research
During his studies, Dr Sinatra took blood samples from test subjects, subjects were then grounded for 40 minutes and further blood samples were taken to measure any effects from grounding. The image below show blood samples before (on the left) and after (on the right). The pictures clearly show a dramatic thinning and decoupling of the blood cells. As Dr Sinatra explains in the above video, how he believes “sludgy blood” (as he calls it), is the most common cause of stroke, cancer, heart attack, tumours, diabetes. He describes “sludgy blood” as being the consistency of ketchup and what grounding does is make blood more viscous like the consistency of red wine.
Earthing yourself barefoot outside is something we can all do easily and it doesn’t cost anything. This is an easier option during the summer months but what about those occasions when you need to work from your computer or during the depths of winter? My arthritis certainly doesn't stop when the weather changes, it usually gets worse when the damp autumn arrives so I wanted a way to ground myself all year round and especially while sleeping or at working at my desk.
There are a wide range of grounding products available now so that you can be grounded when it’s not possible to be outdoors barefoot, which include:
Earthing sheets – a bed sheet for full body grounding while sleeping.
Earthing pillow case
Earthing recovery bag – originally developed for the Tour de France popular with athletes and travellers
A conductive mat for earthing while sitting, standing, working at a desk (mouse mat) or watching TV
A portable option to grounding while indoors with a band which can be worn round the ankle or wrist
Used for applying grounding to specifics areas of the body – as used by Tour De France cyclists to aid overnight recovery between races.
Grounding shoe straps
Developed for use by high performance athletes looking to enhance their performance and recovery by training and competing grounded. Straps which will convert almost all shoes or sandals into Grounding Footwear. You will then be grounded when on any conductive surface, such as grass, earth, sand or concrete.
Testing the products
I wanted to find a way to ground myself indoors in the space where I spend most of my time - in bed and at my desk. For the last six weeks I have been sleeping on an earthed bed sheet and using a grounding mat on my desk as a mouse mat.
The grounding mat has a connecting wire which you plug straight into an electrical socket, its not live but connects to the earth in your socket. The grounding mat can be used for standing on but I prefer to use mine as a mouse mat. It's made from a soft, fairly flexible foam backed fabric which has a conductive, carbon infused surface. It's vinyl/PVC/Latex free.
The fitted bed sheet is made from 100% organic cotton with conductive silver fibers interwoven through the fabric. Our bed is super king size which means our sheet has 2/3 of a mile of silver running through it. The sheet connects exactly the same way as the grounding mat.
To be perfectly transparent, my husband spent quite a while researching products and companies and discovered Groundology, whom he believed offered the best quality products to purchase. I then approached Groundology to discuss buying their products for testing and including them in my journal post. They very kindly gave me a PR discount, but I still paid for these products.
You can see more details on the products I purchased at Groundology (Disclosure: this is an affiliate link which means I receive a small commission if you were to buy products)
Some people have experienced immediate effects like instantly sleeping better from the first night of using a sheet or feeling immediate pain relief. For others it takes time to feel any effects and some have reported feeling nothing at all yet when they visit a hotel or stay away from home they just don’t sleep as well.
My husband hasn’t felt any different, I have however noticed his snoring isn't as loud ( that has to be a win right?). For me I would say I am sleeping better overall, even with a 7 month old puppy to contend with. I’ve noticed I’m not waking up as often during the night as before - I'm peri-menopausal so my sleep patterns have become disturbed and erratic in the last few years. I was waking up 3-4 times a night, since using the sheet I have woken up once in the night on maybe 3-4 occasions.
Perhaps most importantly for me, I’ve noticed a drop in the inflammation in my hands. I've noticed reduced joint swelling and much less numbness in my fingers on waking. Instead of experiencing these symptoms 80% of the time on waking then throughout the day, I would now say this has now been reduced to 20%.
Regardless of these noticeable effects for me personally, I find the results of the scientific studies I've read and seen very compelling, and am convinced of the powerful possibilities of the unseen benefits of what grounding does inside the body.
Can anyone ground themselves?
As grounding has been shown to help thin the blood anyone taking blood thinning medication is advised to speak to their Doctor first. If you suffer with electro-sensitivity or Lyme Disease you should also seek medical advice before you start. Check out the "How to get started" section over at The Earthing Institute and consult your Doctor.
Too good to be true? Skeptical?
It' easy to believe this is just too simple to be true. So try it, see for yourself. You don't have to rush out and buy products, conduct your own experiments and get barefoot outside. Try spending half an hour a day for a week barefoot in your garden, or in the the park. Note how you feel ( if you suffer with any pain note start and finish pain levels) and see if you feel any different after a week. I feel different but my husband doesn't, everyone will experience this differently.
During my research for this post I found the following to be fascinating and if you are interested in learning more about being "earthed" and the grounding movement I would highly recommend taking a close look at the below: