Grounding, also called earthing, is a scientifically-supported health practice that has been largely ignored by mainstream medicine despite a body of evidence for its effectiveness. Grounding is simply placing your bare feet on the ground to avail your body of the electron-enriched earth.
Why does grounding have positive health effects? Because undesirable free radicals in your body are positively charged while the electrons received from the earth through the soles of your feet are negatively charged. As a result, free radicals are neutralized by grounding, and studies have shown this can often happen quickly.1
In published medical research, grounding has proved effective against chronic inflammation (likely by thinning the blood), pain, stress and sleep difficulties. It has also shown effectiveness in improving the important balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Heart and respiratory benefits are also being explored as are grounding’s ability to help people lose weight.
Now, a new documentary “Down to Earth — The Earthing Movie,” in which I am fortunate enough to appear, explains the science behind grounding and how the practice of grounding has dramatically improved the lives of patients.
A chemical disaster leads to new interest in grounding
Rebecca and Josh Tickell are acclaimed film makers known for their 2012 documentary film, “The Big Fix,” which explores the effects of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill on human health. The film also investigates BP’s aggressive use of the controversial oil dispersant Corexit, which kept the world from knowing the extent of the spill.2
Rebecca Tickell herself suffered from exposure to Corexit, she says in “Down to Earth,” which she narrates. She experienced adverse effects, including a cough and pronounced skin rash. Doctors warned her the exposure might mean she would have trouble conceiving or bearing children, but the Tickells accepted the risk and tried to have children. Rebecca suffered a miscarriage.
When Rebecca conceived again, doctors said the baby might be born with birth defects but, luckily, was fine. However, for two years the Tickells’ daughter Athena struggled with chronic illnesses and was constantly in and out of hospitals.
The Tickells explored all possible treatments, both traditional and alternative. Nothing worked until they were given a copy of the book, “Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?” The premise of the book, says Rebecca, is that “by planting your feet on the ground your body will begin to heal itself.”
More effects of deepwater oil spill on humans
The Tickells were not the only humans to suffer from the chemicals used in the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Jamie Griffin, who fed hundreds of cleanup workers in the Gulf Mexico, had extreme reactions to chemicals like the dispersant Corexit, Grist reported:3
“Within days, the 32-year-old single mother was coughing up blood and suffering constant headaches. She lost her voice. ‘My throat felt like I’d swallowed razor blades,’ she says. Then things got much worse.
Like hundreds, possibly thousands, of workers on the cleanup, Griffin soon fell ill with a cluster of excruciating, bizarre, grotesque ailments. By July [two months after the spill], unstoppable muscle spasms were twisting her hands into immovable claws.
In August, she began losing her short-term memory. After cooking professionally for 10 years, she couldn’t remember the recipe for vegetable soup; one morning, she got in the car to go to work, only to discover she hadn’t put on pants.
The right side, but only the right side, of her body ‘started acting crazy. It felt like the nerves were coming out of my skin. It was so painful. My right leg swelled — my ankle would get as wide as my calf — and my skin got incredibly itchy.’
‘These are the same symptoms experienced by soldiers who returned from the Persian Gulf War with Gulf War syndrome,’ says Michael Robichaux, a Louisiana physician and former state senator, who treated Griffin and 113 other patients with similar complaints.”
Animal and ecological effects from oil spill
As the Tickells point out in the “Big Fix,” the use of Corexit hid the overt signs of spilling oil and made the public and news media think the spill was minor. Yet, in 2015, Live Science reported:4
“Up to 10 million gallons (38 million liters) of crude oil from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill has settled at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, where it is threatening wildlife and marine ecosystems, according to a new study.
The finding helps solve the mystery of where the ‘missing’ oil from the spill landed. Its location had eluded both the U.S. government and BP cleanup crews after the April 2010 disaster that caused about 200 million gallons (757 million liters) of crude oil to leak into the Gulf.”
Moreover, the dispersants produced shrimp with no eyes or eye sockets, eyeless crabs, crabs with soft instead of hard shells, shells with no spikes and clawless crabs. “They look like they’ve been burned off by chemicals,” fishermen told news media.5 Tragically, the spill also killed an estimated 800,000 birds and 65,000 turtles, yet few remember the spill today or hold BP responsible.6
Grounding’s only skeptics are those who haven’t tried it
Many have been, and continue to be, skeptical about grounding. Even Clint Ober, considered the founder of the earthing theory, admits in “Down to Earth” that he questioned the theory for 20 years because “it just didn’t make sense” and “sounds absurd.”
The discovery of synthetic shoe soles in 1960, which began the sneaker revolution that is now the running shoe revolution, “accidently disconnected us from the earth,” says Ober, but at that point no one knew the consequences of “losing our ground.” Our love affair with shoes, and especially synthetic soled shoes, has caused the proliferation of inflammation related health disorders we see today, he says.
Ober says he was so intrigued by this theory, he sold all his worldly goods and pursued a back-to-the-earth lifestyle. He found an anesthesiologist in San Diego who agreed to help him with a clinical trial, mostly to “humor” him since the anesthesiologist was sure grounding would prove ineffective.
The anesthesiologist and Ober grounded 60 patients, and there were dramatic results. Inflammation, pain, premenstrual syndrome and temporomandibular joint dysfunction all but disappeared. “Everyone slept better too,” says Ober. The hypothesis was gaining ground, pun intended.
The human body is electrical
Part of our skepticism about grounding might come from the fact that people do not think of their bodies as electrical. Yet, it is electricity that allows your nervous system to send signals to your brain, transmitting from cell to cell in almost instant communication. Electricity also controls the rhythm of your heart, the movement of blood around your body and your circadian rhythms.
People realize that electrical activity is what makes defibrillators work and restore heart rhythm, but the body can also harness the electrical charge of the Earth as “Down to Earth” demonstrates. In a dramatic example, Ober stands barefoot on the ground holding an electrical meter that shows his body is conducting energy.
Next to him, wearing tennis shoes, is a man who is not conducting energy, according to the same meter. Yet, when Ober, who is grounded, touches the man in tennis shoes, he receives the energy from Ober and the meter lights up.
There is another likely benefit to grounding. It seems to reduce the unwanted voltage induced on your body from electricity in your environment, such as that from power stations, Wi-Fi networks and the electromagnetic fields that have become ubiquitous in developed countries.
A medical doctor discovers grounding
Dr. Laura Koniver, a general practitioner, discovered grounding by accident, she says in the documentary. Her recently born baby had become very colicky — always crying — but when she brought the baby to pediatricians they were unable to help.
Koniver found when she was carrying the baby while she was outside and barefoot, the baby calmed down and relaxed. Yet, when she put shoes back on, the colicky and crying behavior almost immediately came back. It seemed to be a demonstration of one human conveying the electron energy to another, as Ober showed with the man wearing tennis shoes.
Moreover, says Koniver, the calming effect of grounding could not be explained by the placebo effect because the baby could not possibly have known whether or not Koniver was wearing shoes.
More benefits from grounding
There are other compelling stories in “Down to Earth”: A teacher who says her autistic pupil could not sit for a few seconds but when “grounded” was able to sit for seven minutes; a man’s 92-year-old mother whose peripheral artery disease improved so much she was actually playing tennis again.
But there is also strong scientific support for grounding, such as this 2011 study published in the Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine, which states:7
“Earthing of an electrically insulated human organism during night rest causes lowering of serum concentrations of iron, ionized calcium, inorganic phosphorus, and reduction of renal excretion of calcium and phosphorus.
Earthing during night rest decreases free tri-iodothyronine and increases free thyroxine and thyroid-stimulating hormone. The continuous earthing of the human body decreases blood glucose in patients with diabetes.
Earthing decreases sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, total protein, and albumin concentrations while the levels of transferrin, ferritin, and globulins α1, α2, β, and γ increase. These results are statistically significant …
Earthing the human body during relaxation and during physical activity is responsible for the increasing glucose utilization by the cells in NIDDM. Lack of contact with the Earth may cause opposite effects and may be the reason for several disorders (diabetes, obesity, and hypertension).
Our experiments have shown that contact of the human body with moistened surface of the Earth via a copper conductor can influence calcium–phosphate homeostasis. The effect of earthing of the human body in a recumbent position on calcium–phosphate homeostasis is opposite to that which occurs in states of weightlessness.”
Happy ending for the tickells
As their daughter Athena began to ground more and more, the Tickells noticed “a dramatic shift in her health,” and the little girl did not go to the hospital for a year for the chronic breathing problems that had plagued her.
Meanwhile, a progressive doctor suggested Rebecca try grounding herself, and “everything changed,” she says. She began to sleep through the night, her energy levels shifted and she reclaimed her libido. After six months of grounding, Rebecca lost an astounding 50 pounds.
The weight loss is not a surprise, said Ober when he visited the Tickells. The first effect of grounding is quieting the sympathetic nervous system, which allows the adrenals to recover from adrenal fatigue. When pain, stress, irritability and depression are ushered out of the body through grounding, the correct hormones can surface, says Ober, and energy and metabolism rise.
The Tickells have come a long way since their exposure to the oil dispersant Corexit during the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon. Luckily for them and those who view “Down to Earth,” the experience helped them to discover grounding.
About the Director
I believe in bringing quality to my readers, which is why I wanted to share some information about the filmmakers, Josh and Rebecca Tickell, from “Down to Earth.” Here is a little more about the Tickells and what went in to making this film. Thank you to Josh and Rebecca for sharing with us.
Our daughter struggled with croup for the first few years of her life. Her throat would become inflamed to the point she could not breathe. All of this led to many emergency room and hospital visits, not to mention two frazzled parents.
When we met Earthing pioneer Clint Ober, things began to change. He introduced us to the concept of Earthing and showed us how to stop inflammation by connecting our bodies to the Earth. After that we never went back to the ER with our daughter for croup again. Once we learned the science behind Earthing we realized how important this subject is. We were compelled to share the story in a way that could reach millions of people and transform their lives for the better.
What was your favorite part of making the film?
A big surprise to us was that after I (Rebecca) began Earthing, my hormones balanced, lifelong depression was lifted and I lost 80 pounds! It was incredible to be studying a subject that was directly impacting me in such a major way.
Where do the proceeds to your film go?
The proceeds go toward spreading awareness of Earthing.