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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.


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.


.......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.


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.


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.


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.

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