By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
Since grounding (as we know it today) is so new to medical science, and doctors have only recently started tapping into grounding’s potential health benefits, people all over the Internet have questions about grounding (a.k.a. “Earthing”). We hope to help answer some of them on this page.
Do you have a question about grounding? Send an email to email@example.com and we’ll do our best to post a response on this page.
Q: So what is Earthing?
Earthing, otherwise known as grounding, is the process of reconnecting to the Earth’s subtle, natural, electrical energy. This is easily done whenever you walk barefoot in the grass, sand, dirt, or on concrete. When touching the Earth, its energy flows directly into your body bringing you back to your most natural electrical state. This is the electrical state that humans experienced throughout evolution when we lived in direct contact with the Earth. As civilization evolved, we started to wear shoes. Leather soled shoes allow a small amount of energy to pass through the sole but rubber will not let any energy transfer from the Earth into your body so for most of us today, we are literally disconnected whenever we walk on the Earth. Earthing is all about reconnecting!
Q: Is Earthing based on science?
Absolutely! Earthing is based on physics, physiology, and biology! Our bodies are electric. Energy fills us and surrounds us. The Earth’s subtle energy is different than man-made electricity that flows into outlets. Man-made energy produces electro-magnetic fields (EMF’s) that are unnatural to our bodies. The Earth, on the other hand, pulses with a gentle flowing energy that harmonizes all of the life on Earth including you! Earthing brings you back into synch with this energy and back into electrical balance. Learn more: Earthing research and studies.
Q: What are Earthing devices?
Earthing devices are simple, conductive items that you can use in the comfort of your home to connect to the Earth’s energy. They are “barefoot substitutes.” These products consist of patches, bands, mats, sheets or mats for the bed, a throw, and a plush pad for animals. All products connect to the Earth’s energy via the ground port of home/office electrical outlets or through the use of a ground rod system. Once connected all you have to do is have direct skin contact with the products so that you can absorb the Earth’s energy. More information about grounding devices may be found at Grounded.com.
Q: What are the health benefits of Earthing?
A dozen research studies and hundreds of anecdotal stories have reported health benefits such as reductions in inflammation and pain, blood thinning, improved circulation, improvements in blood pressure, shifting of the nervous system from stress mode (sympathetic) to calming mode (parasympathetic), and improvements in anxiety and sleep quality.
Learn how Earthing has the potential to help promote health and healing in the body! Simple, effective, and best of all natural, Earthing is truly an amazing discovery. Click here to see the Earthing book.
Q: How long do I need to be grounded to get benefits?
Grounding to the Earth changes your physiology immediately. The more you ground, the more you can benefit because you are at your most natural electrical state when connected to the Earth. Your body is electrically balanced and flooded with free electrons that help to counteract the non-stop accumulation of free radicals that are created in the body from normal metabolism and life’s stressors. Absorbing electrons from the Earth is giving your body a big dose of “vitamin G.” The Earth is the biggest antioxidant there is, so “the more the better.”
Q: Do Earthing products use electricity?
No, while Earthing / grounding products plug into the ground ports of electrical outlets, they do not utilize any electricity. They conduct the Earth’s natural energy which flows through the ground wire of grounded outlets. More information about grounding devices may be found at Grounded.com.
Q: What if you’re in a city [and don’t have access to a lawn or other ground to put your bare feet on]? Can you get the same results from concrete?
Yes, as long as the concrete is not painted or otherwise sealed. Concrete is a conductive substance made of water and minerals. It sits on the Earth and retains moisture. So free electrons will pass through just as they will if you are sitting or standing on grass or open ground. Asphalt, on the other hand, is made from petrochemicals, and is not conductive. Neither are wood, vinyl, plastic, or rubber surfaces, which insulate rather than conduct.
Q: If I take off my shoes, but leave my socks on, will that interfere with the earthing process? Also, if I wear rubber flip-flops or beach sandals, does that prevent me from grounding? I know grounding completely barefoot is ideal, but sometimes the places available to me do not look sanitary.
Cotton socks and nylons are okay (especially if your feet sweat, which will enhance conductivity), but grounding barefoot is best. Rubber and plastic are non conductive and insulate, so regular flip flops will prevent you from grounding. Shoes/sandals made solely from leather or hide will still conduct the Earth’s natural electromagnetic energy, though.
Q: Can I receive grounding energy through ceramic tiles?
It depends on what the tiles sit on. If they are on a concrete slab or on the ground, the energy could come through. If the tiles are atop plywood or some other kind of wood, plastic, or vinyl understructure, they will not likely be conductive. The type of tile also factors into the mix: ceramic tile with a glazed finish on the surface will, like glass, probably prevent the Earth’s energy from coming through.
Q: I have a concrete floor in my garage, but I remember seeing insulation and maybe a plastic vapor barrier put down in the foundation before the concrete was poured…would that concrete floor still provide earthing benefits? What if even part of the concrete went all the way into the Earth?
If there is insulation, and perhaps a plastic barrier before the concrete was poured, the concrete will very likely not be conductive. If however, some of the concrete slab does come in contact with the Earth, then the whole slab will very likely be conductive.
Q: How long should a person ground outside barefoot to notice relief from rheumatoid arthritis and how long for anxiety?
The easy answer is, “as long as it takes.” Grounding benefits are particular to the individual, that is, the amount of time it takes to experience relief of anxiety or inflammation-related pain symptoms differs from person to person. Some people report feeling better after just 20 minutes of grounding, and research has shown physiological changes and significant improvements in the body’s electrical activity after 30 to 40 minutes.
For people with chronic conditions, it may take longer to experience relief of symptoms such as arthritic inflammatory pain; relief may be significant, overnight, gradual, total or partial. Generally speaking, benefits of grounding are dose-related – that is, the more time spent regularly grounding, the better one’s chances of symptom relief.
Grounding may catalyze relief of anxiety more quickly than rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pain relief. Grounding helps create nervous system balance, and lessens stress, by inducing parasympathetic nervous system activity (relaxation response).
People with RA have reported experiencing moderate to significant pain relief and improved mobility after sleeping grounded for a few weeks (using grounding bed pads or sheets).
Q: I made a simplified grounding device from copper screening soldered and crimp connected to 14 guage copper wire and the other end of the wire ground connected to a copper cold water pipe in my apartment which showed in electrical testing to be a good ground. I am just beginning to try it out. I was nervous about using the old electrical system in my place to ground anything (3-wire late 1950s or early 60’s wiring only partly updated). Any ideas or recommendations?
You can ground to a cold water pipe, to a ground rod (planted directly into the ground), or to the ground port (third hole) in a grounded electrical outlet, if, of course, it is grounded. You can use copper wire and wrap it around your ankle or wrist, or do what you are suggesting. But you may not find it comfortable, and we are not sure about what happens, toxicity-wise, with long exposure to oxidized copper.
As a general policy, in the interest of safety, HMDI does not recommend the use of homemade grounding devices. If you’re unsure as to whether your house is sufficiently grounded, you might have a professional grounding technician / electrician check your electrical ground system. More information about grounding devices may be found at Grounded.com.
Read “The Global Phenomenon of Earthing,” as published in the Winter 2012 issue of Going Organic Magazine.
Q: I was using a grounding mat and a grounding rod with a cord running outside, but started feeling very buzzed and often got flu-like symptoms afterwards. I am EMF sensitive – can you tell me why I feel this way when I ground?
Occasionally some “electro-sensitive” individuals report feeling strange energy (even a “buzz”) when they start grounding. The energy they feel when grounded is simply the natural, subtle, electric field that is eternally omnipresent on the surface of the Earth. If you walk barefoot on the ground your body receives that same energy. Although humans have evolved in direct physical contact with this energy throughout time, most people in our modern society are insulated from the Earth’s energy. We no longer walk barefoot on the ground. So reconnecting with the Earth’s energy can feel strange for some people, particularly if they are ultra sensitive. We generally describe this kind of reaction in non-electro-sensitive people as detoxification.
In most cases, this feeling is temporary, and goes away as the body becomes accustomed to the Earth’s natural energy. If the feeling is too uncomfortable, stop grounding. Resume, if you wish, in a day or two by spending 15 minutes or so barefoot outside or in contact with the Earthing mat inside your home. Then very slowly increase your exposure. In this way, you may be able to work your way gradually to using the Earthing mat longer. Just go slowly and at your own pace. Some electro-sensitive people have found that they receive positive benefits just from minimum exposure to Earthing. HMDI generally recommends that electro-sensitive people use a grounding rod (which is planted directly into the ground), as you are doing, rather than the grounding port in a 3-prong electrical outlet.
Q: This question is about grounding sheets. I had an electrician come to my home and ground my bedroom, so that the tester that comes with the bed sheet now tests grounded. My bedroom is not on the first floor, though; it is over a basement. Should I, instead, connect my sheets to a grounding rod that extends from my bedroom window, rather than use the grounded wall outlet in my bedroom.
A: It’s great to hear you are trying to sleep grounded! If the tester showed that your bedroom outlet is grounded, then you should be fine. Since the grounding rod is planted directly into the Earth, it is the closest means of accessing the Earth’s natural energy next to standing barefoot on the Earth’s surface. However, unless you are electro-sensitive or live in an ungrounded home, we recommend using a grounding device with a rod or outlet interchangeably. More information about grounding devices may be found at Grounded.com.
Q: Will grounding help me recover from adrenal exhaustion? I have low cortisol…
A: Adrenal exhaustion can result from being chronically stressed, whether from work, financial problems, family issues, physical disease, insomnia, nutritional deficiencies, and other sources of psycho-emotional stress (i.e. excessive worry, fear, or anger). Our bodies are designed to react to acute stressors with a surge in adrenaline (epinephrine) and cortisol, which assist the body in the “flight or fight” sympathetic nervous system response. When acute stressors become chronic stressors and cortisol levels stay elevated, this puts pressure on the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol. Over time the adrenal glands get “burned out” and are not as effective in producing cortisol.
Grounding can certainly help one recover from adrenal exhaustion. By bringing the body into a more parasympathetic state, grounding can ease the stress on the adrenal glands. Sleeping grounded has been also shown to help normalize cortisol levels. Full recovery from adrenal exhaustion, though, will probably require integration of additional strategies such as stress reduction, nutraceutical therapies, developing a regular, manageable routine, and lots of sleep.
Q: If I am standing on the ground barefoot or in leather-soled shoes and I touch another person with both of my hands…will neutrons pass into their body? What if they are wearing rubber shoes?
A: If you are standing on the Earth barefoot or in leather-soled shoes (without any other substance in the sole to disrupt conduction, such as rubber) and touch another person, negatively-charged electrons will pass from the Earth through your body and into the other person. If you are electrically grounded (touching the Earth) and you hold hands with another person, they will become grounded as well. Since the body is conductive, as is skin, having skin to skin contact with another person allows you to pass the Earth’s energy to him or her, regardless of whether he or she has rubber shoes on.
Additional Earthing / Grounding Resources:
- Earthing: the most important health discovery ever?
- From the Ground Up (the world’s first children’s book about Earthing)
- Earthing Institute – learn more about Earthing / grounding through articles, videos, scientific research and commentary, and more.
- Grounded.com – Find Earthing products and related information
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