Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?

This article is posted here for archival purposes. It has been posted here with the author’s permission.

Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?
by: Stephen Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C.

Throughout practically all of history, we humans have walked barefoot and slept on the ground, largely oblivious to the fact that the gentle surface energies of the Earth harmonize and stabilize the body’s fundamental biological rhythms and keep inflammation at bay.

In our contemporary Western world, the widespread use of insulative rubber or plastic soled shoes has disconnected us from these nurturing energies and, of course, we no longer sleep on the ground as we did in times past.

New research, which I am proud to be involved in, indicates that this physical disconnect from the Earth creates abnormalities in the physiology and contributes to the chronic inflammation, pain, fatigue, stress, and poor sleep that are so rampant in our modern society.

Along with the research has emerged an amazingly simple remedy for many health problems, including the chronic inflammation regarded as the cause of most common modern diseases, including cardiovascular disease.  The remedy is something right beneath our feet – the Earth itself!

The Greatest Health Discovery in My Career
During my nearly forty years as a practicing cardiologist, I have encountered and used many wonderful natural treatments and seen first-hand astounding lifesaving technological advances. The greatest health discovery of my career, however, is something totally different and more natural than anything I could ever have imagined.

This discovery is called Earthing and it means reconnecting the human body to the Earth’s natural and subtle electric frequencies that few people even know exist. The surface of the planet, science tells us, brims with health-sustaining energy, but until recently the extraordinary benefits that it offers were basically unknown.

Connecting the human body to this natural resource is utterly simple – just go barefoot outdoors. If you have ever walked along the beach near the surf, or on a grassy field wet with morning dew, you may have felt the energy in the form of gentle tingling or warmth in your feet and legs.  You can also connect to this energy by sleeping, working, sitting, or resting on specially designed and inexpensive conductive sheets, bands, or mats that transfer the energy via a wire into your home and office.

These unique devices often relieve common health and pain problems. Recovery from surgery, injury, and extreme athletic performance is accelerated. People report sleeping better with more energy during the day.  They feel better.  For more than ten years, thousands of people around the world – men, women, children, and athletes – have incorporated Earthing into their daily routines. The results have been documented and they are extraordinary.

This surprising yet totally intuitive subject is the focus of a new book that I have had the privilege to co-author.  It is called Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? (Basic Health Publications, 2010).  In the book, my co-authors and I present research and observations collected during more than 12 years that strongly suggest that the biggest anti-inflammatory on the planet is – get this! – the very planet itself. Basically, we live on top of a global treatment table!

A Missing Link to Health?
The research also suggests that direct physical contact with the Earth reconnects you to the natural electric signal from the Earth governing all living organisms dwelling upon it. The signal restores your body’s natural internal bioelectrical stability and rhythms, which in turn promote normal functioning of body systems, including the cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, and immune systems.

It shifts the nervous system from stress-dominated functioning to one of calmness.  By reconnecting, you enable your body to return to its normal evolutionary electrical state, better able to self-regulate and self-heal.

The Earth’s surface energy takes the form of a virtually unlimited reservoir of free electrons, subatomic particles. When “uploaded” into your body as a result of direct physical contact with the ground, these electrons appear to quell the rampage of destructive free radicals at the basis of chronic pain and inflammation.

Our hypothesis is that this effect takes place as negatively-charged electrons – like reinforcements swarming into battle – suffuse the body, basically overwhelming and neutralizing positively-charged free radicals. Earthing, we say, remedies a commonplace electron deficiency and thus reduces or eliminates inflammation.

I see Earthing as a profoundly simple, practical, effective, and cost-cutting way to combat common illnesses and pain problems, and, from a preventive standpoint, keep people healthy. To me it represents a missing link in the health equation.

In my own field of cardiology, Earthing has great promise for improving arrhythmias, blood pressure, circulation, and the vital pumping activity of the heart. I recently participated in a pilot study on the electrodynamics of blood cells that indicates Earthing significantly improves viscosity (blood thickness) and flow. Another study I was involved in showed how Earthing contributes to a de-stressing and balancing effect on the nervous system.

It’s fascinating to think of the Earth as a medically-significant and natural blood thinner, tranquilizer, and anti-inflammatory. I fully expect many more benefits to emerge with ongoing research.

A Most Unconventional Discovery
Throughout history, civilizations have honored connectedness with the Earth and there is some evidence that healers even recommended walking barefoot for certain distances to help assuage different maladies. However, the precise nature and extraordinary healing power of the planet’s surface charge was discovered only very recently – and from the most unexpected quarter.

The credit for the discovery goes to Clint Ober, a pioneer in the U.S. cable television industry. Following a near fatal disease in 1993, he gave up his business interests – at the time he headed the country’s largest cable installation and marketing company – and embarked on a personal journey looking for a higher purpose in life.

During his travels, he became aware that almost everybody, him included, wore synthetic soled shoes and was thus insulated from the electrical surface charge of the Earth. He wondered if such footwear, which had increasingly replaced leather after the 1960s, could have an effect on health.

Clint’s thoughts went back to his years in television and cable. Before cable, you’ll no doubt remember, the TV screen commonly had lots of “snow” and disturbing lines from electromagnetic interference.  Cable systems, however, were based on grounding and shielding practices that prevented extraneous signals and fields from interfering with the transmission carried through the cable. The shield is electrically connected to the Earth, that is, grounded, so that the Earth can either deliver or absorb electrons and prevent damage from electrical charges.

Clint had a personal interest in health because of constant back pain. He took painkillers in order to fall sleep and to function throughout the day. Clint knew that the body was conductive, that is, it conducts electricity. So he performed a simple experiment on himself. He rigged up a crude conductive grid with metallic duct tape to fit on his bed.

He clipped a wire to the grid, ran the wire out his bedroom window, and fastened it to a ground rod he planted in the Earth outside. He then lay down on the grid and, lo and behold, he fell asleep. The next thing he knew it was morning. He slept soundly for the first time in years, and without taking a pill.

He repeated the experiment for a week with the same results every night. Moreover, he also noticed his pain had decreased significantly. He was impressed to the point that he told friends about his experiment. Some of them, with pain and sleep problems, asked if he would rig up their bed the same way.  Clint did, and with similar results: better sleep and less pain.

A Most Unconventional Scientific Adventure

The positive feedback convinced Clint that he had found something with potential significance. He checked medical research databases but came up empty.  He contacted sleep researchers but nobody knew anything and nobody was interested in his findings.  Undeterred, he decided to try his hand at research himself. He had no scientific training whatsoever, but he had an inquiring mind. Armed with a few tips from students on how to conduct a scientific study, he set off, a non-scientist, on a scientific adventure.

Clint’s initial studies clearly validated his personal observations of the Earth’s ability to improve sleep and reduce pain. For his first study he enrolled sixty volunteers by personally putting up posters in beauty salons. The results were the same as before:  falling asleep faster and sleeping deeper and better through the night. The volunteers reported experiencing a reduction or even elimination of muscle stiffness or chronic back and joint pain.

A second study was conducted by a skeptical Southern California doctor who actually set out to disprove Clint’s findings. What the doctor found instead, to his amazement, was that not only did sleeping grounded improve sleep and pain, but it did so often within the first few days. In addition to the subjective feedback from participants, objective measurements showed that sleeping grounded normalized cortisol, the stress hormone. This meant there was less anxiety and depression – less stress, in other words. The findings were published later in a 2004 issue of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. A half-dozen or so additional studies have been published since and more will be published later in 2010.

The Inflammation Connection
In 2001, I met Clint Ober for the first time at an energy medicine conference in San Diego. I was immediately intrigued by his concept and felt that a door to a new healing frontier had been pushed open. Clint told me he was “just” a cable TV guy who had made a discovery he felt could help relieve suffering. I was very impressed by his integrity, intentions, and knowledge.

After meeting Clint I was curious as to whether there was an inflammation connection to his discovery. I was particularly interested because cardiologists, who had been programmed for many years to regard cholesterol as the boogeyman of cardiovascular disease, were now learning that the real cause could be chronic inflammation.

Clint didn’t know if Earthing could reduce inflammation. But he said he would find out. And he did, pretty much through his own research, and later with the help of a brilliant biophysicist, Jim Oschman, Ph.D., the author of Energy Medicine:The Scientific Basis.

Electrical engineers know that the surface of the Earth is pulsating with negatively charged free electrons. Doctors and medical researchers are not familiar with this, but they know that the body is electrical in nature, and that free radicals are positively charged fragments in the body at the core of inflammation, tissue destruction, and disease.

Clint theorized that if Earthing could reduce pain, as he had witnessed many times, it must come from reducing or neutralizing the positively charged free radicals causing the pain during the inflammatory process. The free electrons must be putting out the fire. The research that Clint did, with the help of Dr. Oschman, established an intriguing hypothesis for Earthing: in direct contact with the Earth – barefoot or through one of Clint’s continually evolving sleeping devices – the free electrons flow into the conductive circuitry of the body and snuff out inflammation.

Inflammation causes pain. People with pain who are grounded experience less pain. To me, this was a landmark idea, a major breakthrough. This was literally electromedicine from the ground up, a secret from Nature right under my feet. Clint later worked with an expert in thermography who documented, with dramatic imaging, the reductions in pain that patients were having. Thermography is a noninvasive, computerized technique that analyzes skin surface temperatures as an indicator of possible disease or injury.

The widely-studied procedure is commonly used to help diagnose injuries, headaches and pain syndromes, neck and back problems, as well as breast cancer, diabetes, and nervous system and metabolic disorders.

The first image below is a thermographic example of how Earthing reduces inflammation. The second is a photographic documentation of dramatic improvement of a non-healing sore on the foot.

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( Above ) Inflammation as seen through thermography. Thermal imaging cameras record tiny changes in the temperature of the skin to create a color-coded image map. Because tissue damage causes increased heat, abnormally hot areas indicate inflammation. The images here were taken only thirty minutes apart – before (left) and after grounding (right). They illustrate a rapid resolution of inflammation and help explain the impact of Earthing on chronic pain, stiffness, and a variety of symptoms.

( Above ) These two photographs show the effects of grounded sleep on a 47-year-old male with diabetic neuropathy. After three nights, he reported significant relief of pain and improved sleep. After 7 nights, as the image on the right shows, there was substantial reduction in redness and inflammation, indicating better circulation. The patient also reported improvement in energy levels and an overall sense of “increased well-being.”

My Personal Experience
After meeting Clint Ober, I obtained one of the grounding sleep systems he had developed and started sleeping grounded. The difference was profound. My wife and I were both able to fall asleep faster. I still use that same pad to this day.

My exposure to Clint helped me understand things I hadn’t really understood before. For years, I suffered with flare-ups of psoriasis, a common inflammatory condition of the skin. It would appear on my lower legs and elbows.

I had always noticed that whenever I would go bonefishing in Florida the psoriasis would virtually disappear for weeks afterward. I attributed that to being out in the sun, the vitamin D, the minerals in the salt water, and time off from the daily stresses of a busy cardiology practice.

I now realized that there was another reason for the improvement of the psoriasis. I was grounded, barefoot in salt water that is highly conductive. As I was fishing, I was simultaneously giving myself a treatment. Ever since I started sleeping grounded, the psoriasis has rarely appeared, and then very minimally.

I had another revelation related to certain patients coming back to their homes in Connecticut, where I practiced, after snowbirding in Florida over the winter months. These patients were taking the blood thinner Coumadin and after their return I had to reduce the level of medication. Their blood coagulability had changed.

I had always thought the change was simply a result of going from warm weather to cold weather. I was wrong. After I learned about Earthing, I realized that the reason for the change was because these patients were going barefoot for many hours during the day and swimming in the ocean or in concrete pools. They were grounding themselves!

Clint and I stayed in contact over the years as he continued to pursue scientific validation for his discovery. In 2008 he asked me to become involved in his research projects. The research was producing powerful results, he told me, and he wanted to have a cardiologist participate. I was happy to get on board because I felt there was great potential for Earthing as a simple and natural tool against heart disease.  The two studies I have subsequently participated in opened my eyes even further as to how Earthing can be of great help, both therapeutically and preventively.

Calming the Nervous System Helps the Heart
If you reduce stress in your body you do your heart a big favor. Chronic stress triggers excessive stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. It also disturbs the balance between the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system, the two branches of the autonomic nervous system (ANS).

Too much sympathetic “arousal”- from stress – overwhelms the calming influence of the parasympathetic nervous system. The result, among other things, is a heightened risk of hypertension, arrhythmias, and even sudden death. Clinically, we can determine sympathetic overdrive by measuring heart rate variability (HRV), the beat-to-beat alterations in heart rate.  HRV represents an indicator of nervous system balance on heart function and simultaneously a yardstick of both acute and chronic stress.

Previous experiments had shown that grounded individuals experience a reduction in stress and a normalizing, balancing effect on ANS function. In 2008, I participated in an experiment to measure the effect of Earthing on HRV. In this new study, data from twenty-eight healthy men and women (average age of forty-eight) showed that Earthing improved HRV.

Each participant was measured for forty minutes grounded (via a common electrode patch placed on the bottom of the foot and connected via a wire to a ground rod outside) as well as ungrounded. The results produced additional evidence indicating Earthing’s potential for balancing the nervous system and supporting heart health.  The study has been accepted for publication in a medical journal.

Arrhythmias are frequently set off by worry, fear, emotional stress, and turmoil, situations that generate heightened sympathetic activity. One of the future studies I look forward to is measuring the effects of Earthing on arrhythmias.  I have heard a number of anecdotes involving people whose irregular heart rhythms have improved when they slept grounded, but this needs to be investigated carefully.

Thinner Blood with Better Flow
In the fall of 2008, I invited a group of colleagues to my home to participate in an unusual experiment.  The experiment involved taking a drop of blood before and after forty minutes of grounding from the twelve of us present – doctors, medical researchers, nurses, an attorney, two artists, a personal trainer, and Clint Ober.

We were grounded while sitting in a chair with our bare feet resting on conductive floor pads that Clint had connected with a wire to outside ground rods. Right after the session, our unstained blood samples were examined under a darkfield microscope, a device used by many doctors particularly in the field of alternative medicine.

The microscope diverts light through the optical system so that details appear light against a dark background. This technique allows viewing of “live time” cellular dynamics and conditions of blood not normally analyzed through routine tests.

The after-grounding pictures showed that our blood had dramatically changed in just over a half-hour of being grounded. Specifically, there were considerably fewer blood cell formations associated with clumping and clotting. The blood appeared to be considerably thinner.  The pictures below tell the story.

The reproductions above represent darkfield microscope images of blood taken from three individuals in attendance at Dr. Sinatra’s house just before and after forty minutes of grounding.  The before image is on the left side, the after on the right.  The pictures clearly show a dramatic thinning out of blood cells.

All of us present in my home, with the exception of one person, had various degrees of sludgy blood before Earthing. The sole exception, the one with the best blood of anyone present, before or after grounding, was Clint Ober – someone who has been consistently Earthing himself everyday for years!

To all of us the results clearly suggested that individuals with inflammatory thick blood (typical in heart disease and diabetes) may reap huge benefits from Earthing on a regular basis. From a cardiology standpoint, if you can thin the typical thick blood of heart patients and people with diabetes in the direction of the consistency of wine you remove a big risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

Cardiologists use the term viscosity to describe blood thickness. Blood viscosity, an overlooked element in blood tests, has become an emerging marker for identifying the risk of arterial disease. The thicker your blood, the slower it flows through your circulatory system to bring oxygen and vital nutrients to the cells of your body, and the greater the risk of forming clots.

The experiment at home inspired a controlled study in 2009 to investigate whether Earthing can indeed influence red blood cell clumping and blood flow. To do this, we measured something called zeta potential, an unfamiliar term for most people, even doctors, that relates to the electrodynamics of blood and specifically the degree of negative charge on the surface of a red blood cell.

We selected ten individuals for the study. They sat comfortably in a reclining chair and were grounded for two hours. Grounded electrode patches were placed on their feet and hands just as had been done in previous studies. Blood samples were taken before and after two hours of continual Earthing.

Analysis of the blood showed a significant improvement of the average zeta potential from a rather depressed level to a very healthy level.  Blood low in zeta potential is more apt to be sludgy and thick, flow less freely, and have a greater risk of clumping and clotting. By comparison, a higher zeta potential translates to a higher negative charge of red blood cells. That means they repel each other more readily and flow smoother.

Earthing, our initial study indicated, apparently alters and normalizes blood voltage rapidly, improving the zeta potential and viscosity. We documented our findings and submitted it to a cardiovascular journal. Due scientific diligence must be done in the form of additional and careful study, so I can’t say much more at this point other than that the results are extremely promising.

After the study, I came across some fascinating research in a 2008 article published in the international journal Biochimica et Biophysica Acta that reported, for the first time, on the zeta potential of red blood cells in diabetics. Researchers from the University of Calcutta described a “remarkable” and progressive deterioration in the zeta potential of red blood cells among diabetics and, at the worst, among diabetics with cardiovascular disease.

Their research revealed a parallel between poorer zeta potential and hypercoagulability. “Blood becomes sludge so that it becomes increasingly difficult for the heart to pump, and the system becomes less efficient to perform the usual functions affecting macro and microcirculation,” they said. If Earthing indeed affects blood as we have seen, that means connecting with the Earth offers a great potential for not just heart patients and diabetics, but for people with all kinds of health problems. And even healthy people such as athletes.

The most dramatic test of Earthing’s effectiveness was demonstrated by victorious American-sponsored cycling teams at the Tour de France. In the 2003 to 2005 races, and again in 2007, team cyclists were grounded after every day of competition. They reported better sleep, significantly less illness, practically no tendonitis, dramatic recovery from the day’s racing, and faster healing of injuries.

Earthing has now been found to be so beneficial that many top athletes – including swimmers, NFL football players, triathletes, and motorcycle racers – routinely ground themselves.

Earthing affects the metabolism of the entire body at the cellular level. Our hypothesis, which becomes more obvious with every study, indicates that grounded individuals have a different, hardier, and healthier physiology than ungrounded individuals. As more research rolls out, we may find that we need to rewrite physiology books!

For all of the fascinating details, I encourage you to read my book Earthing:The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? that I wrote with Clint Ober and health writer Martin Zucker.  It’s my opinion that whoever reads this book will never look at the ground beneath their feet the same way.

Stephen Sinatra, MD, FACC, FACN, CNS, is a board-certified cardiologist and certified bioenergetic analyst with more than 35 years of experience in helping patients prevent and reverse heart disease. His specialty is integrative cardiology that combines conventional medical treatments with complementary nutritional and psychological therapies.
Now retired, Dr. Sinatra lectures widely on the metabolic approach to cardiovascular disease and electromedicine. His latest book is Earthing:The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? In it, he introduces the fascinating discovery of major health benefits resulting from direct physical contact with the Earth’s natural, subtle electric energies.

Visit Stephen Sinatra’s website here

Article first published July 2010 – re-published here by permission

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