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

Heather Dessinger

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Health Benefits of Grounding (Earthing)

One Part Woo & Two Parts Hooey

So, I may have left something out when I told you my health struggles resolved through a type of experimental “acupuncture” that used lasers instead of needles. 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. Quack – as 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!


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 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).

In this instance, “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 (Quick note: Babies who experience skin-to-skin contact after birth have lower levels of stress hormones. If you’re interested in giving it a try, here’s a guide that may be helpful. Now back to our subject!)

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, 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 doorknob (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 system, 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!), and 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.

Earthing: Why Getting "Grounded" Is Not Just For Teens Anymore
Image source: Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?

The spontaneous resolution of red, orange and yellow inflammation “hot spots” is evident.

Also, here’s a study conducted by Maurice Ghaly, M.D. and Dale Teplitz, M.A.

cortisol profiles

Researchers measured cortisol levels to determine a baseline for study subjects, then gave them special earthing pads to use for eight weeks. They found that earthing reduced overall levels of cortisol 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.
  • Another study suggests that earthing may also support immune function. (source)

And That, Friends . . .

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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 our family has been outdoors sans shoes as often as possible (thank you Texas!) and sleeping grounded at night. My husband is reporting a greater sense of well-being when he wakes up despite challenges at work. I 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 moccasins or leather-soled shoes are conduits if your feet are nice and toasty.
  • 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 on some earthing sheets. You can find them under the “Home” section of my personal shopping list.
woman walking barefoot through a field.

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world.