Grounding, or Earthing, is connecting bare feet to the Earth's surface, as on the beach, and offers many benefits, including heart health support

How Earthing Benefits the Heart

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

In What is “Grounding” or “Earthing”?, we introduced the basics of “Earthing,” or “grounding”: the process of connecting with the earth’s primordial, healing energy to help reduce inflammation and ultimately improve health by promoting electron balance in the body. For those of you who want the nitty gritty on how Earthing benefits the heart, we created this article: a more in-depth explanation of the potential cardiovascular benefits of grounding, looking specifically at how Earthing profoundly affects the autonomic nervous system (ANS), heart rate variability (HRV) and blood viscosity/zeta potential.

What is Earthing or Grounding?

Feeling Groovy: Earthing and Health

The hippie wisdom in getting back in touch with our earthly roots just may have had something to do with grounding’s health benefits. Earthing can help protect our bodies against chronic inflammation, which is, in part, caused by lack of electrons with which to neutralize positively-charged free radicals. As with antioxidant deficiency, electron deficiency due to insufficient contact with the earth’s electromagnetic surface, or “disconnect syndrome,” can result in excess oxidative damage.

When we attune to the earth’s electric potential, we soak up negatively-charged electrons that neutralize free radicals in our bodies. Many of Earthing’s reported benefits, such as chronic pain relief and faster wound recovery, may simply result from reduction of free radical activity and inflammation, which frees up the immune system to perform other reparations. Other potential antioxidant benefits such as lowered blood pressure and better circulation may also result from the blood thinning effect of grounding. While reduced inflammation may also explain improved sleep and lessened menstrual symptoms, these reported Earthing benefits may also be due to the favorable effect grounding has on the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which can lead to greater overall hormonal balance.

The Autonomic Nervous System

As a system which rapidly responds to emotional and environmental stimuli, the ANS controls a wide range of bodily functions. Cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, hormonal, urinary, and other body systems are regulated by the ANS’s sympathetic and parasympathetic branches. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) branch prepares the body to deal with stressors, while the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) branch relaxes the body.

When we are chronically stressed, we may experience symptoms like headaches, insomnia, muscular tension, back or neck pain, fatigue, gastrointestinal distress, and even cardiac problems. These symptoms generally indicate excess activity of the SNS branch, (release of stress hormones) and depression of the PNS branch. Continual SNS activity can lead to chronic elevation of cortisol levels, which leaves us in a perpetual “fight or flight” state. Excess cortisol can also promote inflammation in the body and negatively impact insulin levels.

Factors Contributing to SNS Activation

  • Environmental and/or medical conditions: air pollution, congestive heart failure, depression, anxiety, hypertension, insulin resistance, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, sleep apnea.
  • Psychosocial and behavioral conditions: chronic stress, anger, hostility, rage, abuse of stimulants, sleep deprivation, smoking, social isolation, loneliness, sedentary lifestyle, sugar-laden diet.
  • Pharmaceutical drugs: beta-agonist bronchodilators, peripheral alpha blockers, short-acting calcium channel blockers.

Chronic elevation of cortisol disrupts our circadian rhythms and affects our ability to sleep. It has also been linked to inflammatory pain and depression, and increases our risk of chronic conditions like hypertension and arrhythmias, and even sudden death. By encouraging parasympathetic branch activity, grounding helps people relax and reduce stress. Grounding’s balancing effect on the ANS, which may also be achieved through various mind-body practices, also leads to normalization of cortisol levels and improved heart rate variability.

In a study (Ghaly) of 12 individuals with sleep disorders, pain and stress, sleeping on a grounding mattress pad for eight weeks restored the subjects’ day-night cortisol secretion to normal. The majority also reported better sleep as well as less fatigue, pain and emotional stress.

In another controlled study (Chevalier 2006) of 58 healthy people, researchers discovered that grounding increased PNS activity and reduces stress levels and tensions. Using a biofeedback system to measure brain activity (using electroencephalography, or EEG), muscle tension (using electromyography, or EMG) and blood volume pulse activity, researchers found that even one half-hour of grounding could catalyze favorable effects on the ANS.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV)

In addition to using cortisol as a yardstick for chronic stress, cardiologists also examine our heart rate variability (HRV) to detect ANS imbalance and its impact on our heart function. HRV is a measure of the beat-to-beat alterations of heart rate. People whose heart rates do not vary much despite changes in external stimuli are said to have low HRV. They are less able to “go with the flow” when faced with stress and are more prone to stress-related disorders, especially cardiovascular events. Low HRV indicates that the ANS is imbalanced due to excess SNS activity. With its balancing effect on the ANS, grounding is a natural means of increasing HRV and promoting heart health.

Blood Viscosity (Zeta Potential)

One of the most profound effects researchers have observed in people who ground is thinner blood, or reduced blood viscosity. Thin blood circulates faster to deliver oxygen and nutrients to cells all over the body, as well as remove toxins from them. Thick, sticky blood, on the other hand, tends to clot, which places people at greater risk of cardiovascular events. Blood may thicken due to advancing age, smoking, and conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes/metabolic syndrome, or hyperlipidemia. Cholesterol also can play a role in blood viscosity: elevated LDL levels contribute to viscous blood, while higher HDL levels are associated with thinner blood.

On a cellular level, blood becomes thicker when red blood cells clump together, or aggregate. Cells stick together when they lack enough negative surface charge with which to repel each other.

Zeta potential describes the relative surface charge of red blood cells. Increased zeta potential indicates thinner blood and greater negative charge of red blood cells. As electrons are negatively charged, absorbing them by Earthing may increase the negative surface charge of our red blood cells, and thus decrease blood viscosity and increase zeta potential.

In a recent pilot study on zeta potential (Chevalier 2013), I and other researchers sampled blood from 10 healthy subjects before and after 2 hours of grounding with an Earthing device. They then examined the relative movement of red blood cells using a video camera that had been mounted on a dark-field microscope, and found that Earthing lowers blood viscosity and improves blood flow.

The blood cells clearly demonstrated increased zeta potential and decreased blood viscosity. Such significant changes in blood after only 2 hours of grounding indicates that walking barefoot on the earth’s surface for at least 2 hours a day (alternately, using an Earthing device) may protect against cardiovascular events like heart attacks or strokes. It follows, that sleeping at night while grounded provides the greatest opportunity for blood thinning effects.

Physicians often prescribe drugs like Coumadin (warfarin) or recommend aspirin to help thin blood, however lifestyle changes are also effective (alone or with medication). Moderately and regularly exercising and making dietary adjustments involving lower salt, sugar and trans-fat consumption can reduce blood viscosity, as can eating more fish (omega-3s) and nattokinase. Quitting smoking, donating blood, and supplementing with garlic, fish oil, Vitamin E, and / or ginko biloba can also help keep blood thin. Earthing is perhaps the easiest and most simple way to reduce blood viscosity. However, people taking blood thinners like Coumadin should consult with their doctors before Earthing; combining these strategies can cause excess blood thinning.

Earthing as the Ultimate Anti-Aging Strategy?

Besides keeping chronic inflammation at bay, Earthing may also keep us healthy by enhancing ATP production / recycling in our bodies, the same principle underlying metabolic cardiology. ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, is our bodies’ primary energy source. To recycle ATP, our bodies take electrons from fatty acids. By absorbing negative free electrons from the earth’s surface, our bodies may more easily recycle ATP. Although scientific research is necessary to validate this, it’s possible that, by facilitating ATP production, Earthing improves cardiovascular and immune system function and ultimately slow down the process of aging.

Improved heart rate variability, autonomic nervous system balance and greater zeta potential all reflect the power of Earthing to keep us “feeling groovy.” Barefoot hippies knew something about the healing powers of peaceful, loving (relaxed) vibes, even if clinical results had not yet proved it.

High-Vibration Is the New Organic

Learn More:

You might also be interested in reading Earthing: the most important health discovery ever? by Clint Ober, Martin Zucker and I (Basic Health, 2010).

For Earthing products visit

1. The process of “Earthing” has been previously differentiated from the process of “grounding” because the latter serves a safety mechanism to prevent dangerous voltages in electrical distribution systems. For the purpose of this discussion, however, “grounding” and “Earthing” are used interchangeably.

Additional References and Resources:

© 2014, 2016, 2020 Stephen Sinatra, MD. All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply


  1. Nancy Connery

    on January 19, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Dr Sinatra,

    Can earthing lower Cholesterol? I started grounding about 5 months ago and my cholesterol dropped from 263 to 181, what was really most noteworthy was the LDL which dropped fom 161 to 108, my Endo was amazed. I’m a type 1 diabetic for 30 years. She has been trying to get me to take statins forever and i refused. I’m also under her care for Hasimoto’s i’m 56 and have also had this for 30 years, I got it right after i became Type 1. I was under a lot of stress at work just before Christmas Day and came down with a Sinus Infection, and also was just not feeling myself, i kept thinking my Thyroid since you state in your documentation it can be affected, was more axious and having some panic, they increased meds?? your thoughts? Thx. Nan

  2. Dave

    on July 20, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    This appears to be very beneficial for me. I now sleep with a grounding sheet. I have had high BP for several years 155/95 average. Since I began getting plenty of sunshine with no sunscreen and grounding my BP this morning was 91/67– averages around 125/70.

  3. Eric Rowland

    on October 16, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    I have been a devotee of earthing for several years, now, and absolutely swear by it. I used to have to go to the bathroom about four, sometimes five times a night ( I am in my 82nd year), but with earthing I have reduced my visits to one, occasionally two visits a night. I can thus get a really good nights sleep. The benefits accompanying this are quite phenomenal. I have the agility of a fifty-year-old. Amazing.

  4. Jean Maung

    on October 22, 2015 at 3:04 am

    I have constant tachycardia with chest pain and orthostatic hypotension of 40 points with chest pain, passing out. Can grounding help this ? BP often extremely high with tachycardia

  5. Kay Nelson

    on January 1, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    I just turned 80, am healthy, and have lots of energy and take no prescription drugs. I was just diagnosed with Paroxysmal AFib….mild mitral regurgitation/moderate tricuspid…took Xarelto for a month…too expensive and side effects.. starting on 5 mg Warfarin yesterday…will have PT test next week. Can I use my universal earthing mat alone and drop the Warfarin? or a combination of mat and low or full dose aspirin? How often should I use the mat? Will the mat alone be enough to keep my blood at the right thickness?Thanks for any help you can give me.

  6. Thomas Broderick

    on October 3, 2016 at 10:31 am

    can you use grounding with a pacemaker?

  7. HeartMD Editor

    on October 4, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    Yes, grounding is no different than walking barefoot outside in the grass or on the beach, which anyone with a pacemaker is fine to do.

  8. Howard Kalnitsky

    on March 19, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    I have afib and hcm…I am almosy 61 years old and recently ended up in the ER of our local hospital because my heart would not go back in to sinus. The funny thinh is recenlty I have been having more afib events and the severity has ramped up. For the past week I have religiously been using my grounding mat and asmazingly the cardiac rvrnts have disappeared and I no longer feel thumping in my chest. I should have never stopped grounding! THis works.

  9. HeartMD Editor

    on March 20, 2017 at 9:55 am

    Hi Howard,

    So glad to hear that grounding has helped you.

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us!

  10. Elaine Hope

    on January 12, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    A friend of mine works as a hydro linesman and has problem with rapid heart rate. Will grounding help and for what period of time each day

    Thank you, ELAINE

  11. Jackie stephens

    on April 20, 2018 at 8:13 am

    Hi where does one purchase a grounding mat. I have never heArd of till now and would like to try it out

  12. James Davidson

    on March 19, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    How do you do grounding if you live in a climate like Connecticut where it is too cold to go outdoors for much of the year? Can you do grounding indoors? or is there some alternative to going outdoors?

  13. james

    on March 15, 2020 at 11:09 am

    I have started earthing. Should I discontinue taking a low dose aspirin daily? My doctor did not prescribe it. I just take it because I had read years ago that it was beneficial to our health. I am a 69 year old male.


  14. HeartMD Editor

    on March 24, 2020 at 11:06 pm

    That is a good question, James. Earthing does reduce what we call rouleaux formation in the red blood cells: that is when the RBC’s stack up like poker chips, and can cause a clot. So, if you are earthing regularly, you probably do not need that low-dose aspirin.
    Here is a medical review article we published about that:
    And here is one of many videos I have done about earthing where you can see shots of the RBC’s:
    Best wishes,
    Dr. Sinatra

  15. Russ Lambert

    on June 1, 2021 at 3:28 pm

    I have A-fib and take Xarelto. I understand that Xarelto inhibits factor Xa, an enzyme that is necessary to form clots.
    So Xarelto doesn’t actually thin the blood but stops the action of certain proteins used to make the clots. So it could more
    accurately be called a anti-coagulant.
    Earthing is actually the real blood thinner here. The surface of red blood cells carry a negative charge that maintains spacing of the cells in the bloodstream. The stronger the charge the greater the potential for the cells to repel each other and create better
    viscosity (thinner blood). With earthing the electrons absorbed by our bodies into the blood stream are much stronger and
    cause the RBC’s to repel each other at a greater degree, and this spacing causes the blood flow to increase.
    So my questionis: Why would taking Xarelto contradict Earthing and be a problem? It seems like a medicine that stops clots
    combined with a process to speed up blood flow and reduce inflamation is a double asset.

  16. HeartMD Editor

    on June 9, 2021 at 1:08 pm

    Very good observation, but the problem is that the blood could ultimately become too thin, leading to possible bleeding, is still there. That’s why we advise to not use grounding with various blood thinners unless in care of a physician that understands the scenario of grounding and zeta potential.

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