The Impact of Earthing on Optimum Health
“I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to put my senses in order’ – John Burroughs, American naturalist
A connection to nature
During my childhood in Minnesota, almost every hour I wasn’t in school, I spent outdoors—climbing trees, playing with my dog Gypsy, helping my mother grow vegetables, swimming in the lake on my grandfather’s farm, digging in the dirt around our house for treasured stones, or in winter, sliding down snow hills on my sled.
Our family moved to the California coast when I was nine. We lived a block from the beach, where I ended up spending a lot of time. Because of the moderate weather, I could go barefoot much of the year. What a blessing it was to grow up in two places where nature was so accessible. I have attempted to raise my children with this same love and appreciation of the outdoors.
My connection with nature extended to an early interest in natural modes of healing. In my twenties, I took metaphysical classes wherein I learned about affirmation, prayer and visualisation. Later, I became interested in acupuncture and herbal medicine, eating whole foods, using essential oils for healing, meditating and even writing for healing.
In my forties, because my kids were playing beach volleyball, I also decided to give it a try. Since that time, I have played regularly. My intuition all along for why I love it so much has been that connecting to the sand, the ocean and the sea birds – occasionally even dolphins and whales – energises me. Laura Koniver, author and renowned expert on natural healing and grounding, believes “beaches are among the best places to get the most benefit [from grounding] because the moisture from the ground acts as a conductor.”1 I have now entered my sixties and, though we still play for several hours and multiple days per week, it doesn’t tire me. When I return home, I want to spend even more time outside, typically working in the garden.
Some years ago, I became a Reiki practitioner and, more recently, I have started teaching Reiki classes. My sense has been that playing a sport where I get grounded multiple times each week was an essential part of my path to practising Reiki. Indeed, grounding has been a topic covered in the Reiki classes I have taken – grounding with crystals and stones, sage, salt baths, meditations and, of course, with Reiki.
A friend told me about The Earthing Movie and The Grounded 23 both documentaries about grounding accessible through YouTube. The principle of healing taking place through walking barefoot on the Earth made sense to me. “Simply stated, grounding means tapping into the Earth’s always accessible, powerful natural energy to rebalance our bodies and reclaim our health.” Although Earthing is a rather new movement started in the 1990s, the terms grounding and Earthing seemed to be used interchangeably to mean therapeutic activities that “ground” or electrically reconnect us to the earth.
After watching the documentaries, I wanted to learn more, so I ordered the books Earthing and Barefoot Wisdom: Better Health Through Grounding. In these books, I read about research studies that irrevocably prove the health benefits of grounding. For the most part, I won’t be repeating those studies here, but they were fascinating to read. “Of the 21 studies posted online by the Earthing Institute (www.Earthinginstitute.net/research), 18 have been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the ones most read by scientists worldwide. Many of the studies were placebo-controlled and double-blinded.”5 The books, research and documentaries about grounding convinced me to remember to connect physically to the ground even on days I’m not on the beach.
Changes in our society
The idea of nature being a healer is not new. Looking back in history many civilisations knew the benefits of walking barefoot, especially indigenous cultures. “The soil was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing,” is the last part of a quote attributed to Luther Standing Bear, Sioux tribal leader.6 Unfortunately, in the last hundred-plus years of modernisation, we’ve seen a mass disconnection from nature worldwide. In the mid-twentieth century, shoe fabrication began to change. New technology allowed for adding rubber, plastics and industrial adhesives to shoe designs. This, plus the newer urban landscapes of asphalt, high rises and homes with non-conductive flooring, played a significant role in our disconnect from nature.7
Nowadays, we are mostly insulated from contact with the Earth – we no longer sleep on the ground (unless we go camping) and we almost never walk barefoot. Our modes of transportation isolate us, as does our clothing, which is often made from synthetic materials. Add to this the ever-increasing exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) – from cell phones, computers, microwave ovens, wi-fi routers and some medical testing like x-rays – and the negative effect on our bodies is understandable.8
How Earthing works
This is why grounding works: “The Earth is a natural source of electrons and subtle electrical fields, energy that all living things use to live.” “Electrons are essential for…the proper functioning of the immune, circulatory and nervous systems…”9 The Earth’s electrons are absorbed when we touch the ground with any part of our bodies and those electrons then neutralise harmful free radicals accumulated through modern living. Grounding is especially effective when we go barefoot because of approximately 7 000 nerve endings in each of our feet. According to traditional Chinese medicine, there is a major acupuncture point known as Kidney 1 (K1) in the sole of each foot. This point is an entryway for the absorption of the Earth’s energy which then connects to many of the most important organs and parts of the body.10
Earthing is one of the most natural and safest things you can do to have better health, a missing variant in the healthcare equation. One of the authors of Barefoot Wisdom, Ann Marie Chiasson, doctor of integrative and energy medicine, shares that grounding helped her heal from 30 years of chronic pain. Her primary reason for writing the book was to get the word out about this amazing modality for healing. Our hearts, brains, muscles, nervous and immune systems are electrical subsystems that can be charged by Earth’s “six sextillion metric ton battery. . . continually being replenished by solar radiation, lightning and heat from its deep-down molten core.”11
Benefits of Earthing
Decreasing inflammation struck me as one of the most beneficial reasons to connect with the Earth. “Reduction of inflammation, an insidious culprit causing many conditions and now further associated with numerous chronic diseases, is a major documented benefit.”12Autoimmune diseases – becoming increasingly common – including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes, as well as major killers like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, are all linked to chronic inflammation. As of 2018, inflammation was believed to be the underlying cause of more than 80 chronic illnesses and the United States was spending more than $2.3 trillion (approximately 75 per cent) of its healthcare budget on chronic disease.
As I continued reading, I underlined other health benefits seen in grounding studies. They include the following: Decreased pain, soreness and stiffness; reduced emotional stress and fatigue; quicker recovery from jet lag, trauma and injuries; decreased problems with PMS, hot flashes and menopause; improvements in dry skin and eyes; and decreased neuropathy. Other studies found that participants slept better, woke fewer times during the night to urinate (especially men) and had an easier time going back to sleep if they woke up. Also noted were an accelerated immune response; better circulation; an ease of breathing problems; improved blood viscosity leading to a normalising of blood pressure; fewer allergies; improvements in digestion and gastrointestinal problems; and a decreased need for some prescription medicines. After years of grounding, a 90-year-old reports he feels he is getting stronger and healthier instead of the contrary – a reversal of the accepted aging process.13
Stephen Sinatra, an integrative cardiologist, met Clint Ober, founder of the Earthing movement, at an electromedicine conference in San Diego in 2001. The Earthing idea also made sense to Sinatra and, after trying it on himself and his family with terrific results, he started suggesting grounding, along with traditional treatments, to his cardiology patients. He writes that the concept of Earthing “…was literally electromedicine from the ground up. A secret of the ages right under my feet. For me, the original anti-inflammatory and ultimate antioxidant had been found.”14
Similarities between Energy Healing and Earthing
The more I read about Earthing, the more I kept writing “like Reiki” in the books’ margins. Earthing reduces electrical imbalances in the body. Reiki also helps to balance the energy flow as it clears energy blockages in a person’s body. Reconnecting with the Earth enables “. . .your body to return to its normal electrical state, better able to self-regulate and self-heal.”15 Reiki also helps you to achieve a balanced state which allows your body to do its own healing. In 2003, electrophysiologists Chevalier and Mori at the California Institute of Human Science investigated the impact of Earthing on nervous system function. The results, published in 2006, included observations of a “. . .shift in nervous system balance from a stress-stimulated sympathetic mode to a calmer parasympathetic mode.”16This is exactly how Reiki was explained to me by my very first Reiki teacher.
Another similarity reported by some study participants was feeling a tingling sensation in their bodies while grounding. “The tingling is related to the initial reenergising, resynchronising and normalising effects that this transfer of energy generates.”17 Most Reiki practitioners feel this same tingling flow down their arms and out of their hands when they are giving a Reiki session, and many who receive Reiki also feel and love that sensation.
I encountered more similarities between Earthing and Reiki. In this space, I prefer to concentrate on the benefits of Earthing, although here are two more that are noteworthy. “When we connect to the Earth, the amount of electrons we absorb and utilise is governed by the amount the body needs to balance its bio-electrical state.”18 Each of my Master teachers taught me the same thing about Reiki – that the flow is accepted and regulated by the body receiving the energy; the body will always determine what it needs. Psychotherapist Jed Diamond, Ph.D., an author of books on men’s health, regards Earthing as “probably the simplest energy-healing tool anyone can use.”19 And just like animals are drawn to Reiki, they seem to also be intuitively drawn to lying on the bare ground, as well as grounding mats and pads.
Trying Earthing out
Our family purchased a grounding test meter last month. For fun, we have been testing the areas in and around our house. Like we thought, wood flooring and carpet are not grounding, but natural stone floor is if you walk on it with bare feet or conductive shoes. We were surprised our patio registered as grounding, but later I read that concrete is merely reconstituted sand and water and conductivity is enhanced by the moisture in the ground. We were grounded while holding on to a tree, but the road leading to our house didn’t register as grounding because asphalt is made from petrochemicals.
It’s easy to incorporate Earthing into your day – just walk or sit with your feet on the grass, sand, or dirt. Twenty to thirty minutes per day can do wonders. “One of the best things about grounding is that it is accessible almost anywhere, any place and at any time,” a remedy there for the taking and a free one at that.20 On her work break, a friend of mine eats her lunch outside, where she takes her shoes off to soak her toes in the grass. My son, a strength coach, when possible works out barefoot on the grass. Another option for grounding is to wear conductive or leather-soled shoes.
Water is also grounding, whether you swim in a lake or put your feet into the ocean or a river; even taking a shower or bath is grounding. I didn’t know this before my recent research, but my intuition told me it might be so. During early pandemic times I didn’t want to leave my warm showers. They were so calming.
Sitting on a rock, leaning up against a tree, having a picnic, or doing yoga outside are additional grounding activities. If connecting directly with the Earth is not feasible for you because of weather or other restrictions, products have been developed to help people ground. There are Earthing mats to sit or stand on (especially useful in the workplace) and bed pads for sleeping grounded, among other options. These products plug into the grounded port on a regular outlet, but should be tested before using, because some houses built before 1970 do not have grounded outlets. Recently, we ordered floor and chair mats, plus a bed pad to try.21One point that stood out for me while reading the scientific studies and 70-plus pages of testimonials was that many people reported improvements in bothersome or debilitating symptoms within a few days of sleeping grounded.
A rediscovered healing modality for this time?
Doctors – naturopathic, integrative and traditional – have started to incorporate Earthing into their practices. Dr. David Gersten of Encinitas, California, writes, “Maybe three out of nearly 100 patients have said they didn’t notice any difference [after trying grounding for a short time].”22 Howard Straus, grandson and son of alternative health pioneers Max and Charlotte Gerson, grew up with the notion of nature as physician. After using the power of Earthing for relief from a hereditary form of anemia, he believes more than ever that nature is “. . .an all-knowing resource that puts the power of self-healing at everyone’s hands – and feet.”23
Earthing founder Clint Ober writes, “I strongly believe that Earthing is not just to remedy health issues already present but also to assist our bodies in staying healthy.”24 We live in a culture that tells us we can eat and do whatever we want and that there will be a pill to handle the consequences. We believe medications will make us feel better, but that often isn’t true. One way modern medicine has failed us is that it puts more emphasis on acute illness than on illness prevention. The stories I most enjoyed were cases wherein traditional medicine was not able to help the patient to a sufficient degree, or a person didn’t tolerate prescription medications well and, by Earthing, they were able to start feeling and moving much better.
I believe it’s up to each of us to think outside the box and research all modalities for our own healing. When you reconnect to the Earth and continue to do so daily, all kinds of wonderful things can happen. Dr. Stephen Sinatra believes, “Earthing is too good, too natural and too profound to be ignored.”25 What can you lose? You may have a lot to gain. You might find yourself becoming an ‘Earthing Ambassador’ like it seems I am becoming. “Anyone who goes from pain to less pain or no pain, from fatigue to energy, from lack of mobility to more mobility, wants all their loved ones and friends to feel the same way.”26 The Earth will always do its magic.
The morning after I finished writing this piece, I had an opportunity to try Earthing. Spending days at the keyboard had caused symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand, with considerable pain when I attempted to wash my hair, zip a zipper, unscrew bottle tops, or carry anything. Why not try what I wrote about? So, I set my hand in the dirt above our patio wall while I drank my coffee for forty minutes or so, and again the next day. At the end of the second day, my pain had decreased by about 60 per cent.
I can’t say for sure whether my relief was from Earthing; Reiki, which I was giving myself consistently; or just the natural healing of time. Most likely, it was the three combined. But I definitely felt the tingling vibration in my hand on the dirt, and I believe the Earth helped me to heal. By the third day, the pain was 90 per cent gone and, the next morning, I was back playing volleyball!
Carolyn Chilton Casas is a Reiki Master Teacher and student of metaphysics. Her favorite themes to write about are awareness, healing, and the life journey. Carolyn’s stories and poems have appeared in Energy, Reiki News Magazine, The Art of Healing, The Edge, Touch and in other publications. You can read more of Carolyn’s work on Instagram @mindfulpoet_or in her first collection of poems titled Our Shared Breath.
1Sharon Whitely and Ann Marie Chiasson. Barefoot Wisdom: Better Health Through Grounding. Atglen, PA: Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit, 2018.
2 The Earthing Movie, Directed by Josh and Rebecca Tickell, 2019. Big Picture Ranch, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44ddtR0XDVU.
3 The Grounded, Directed by Steve Kroschel, 2013. One Paw Productions, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRW0XO2xWn4
4Sharon Whitely and Ann Marie Chiasson. Barefoot Wisdom: Better Health Through Grounding. Atglen, PA: Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit, 2018.
6 The Grounded, Directed by Steve Kroschel, 2013. One Paw Productions, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRW0XO2xWn4
7The Earthing Movie, Directed by Josh and Rebecca Tickell, 2019. Big Picture Ranch, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44ddtR0XDVU.
9 Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., Martin Zucker. Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever! Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, 2014.
11 Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., Martin Zucker. Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever! Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, 2014.
12 Sharon Whitely and Ann Marie Chiasson. Barefoot Wisdom: Better Health Through Grounding. Atglen, PA: Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit, 2018.
13 Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., Martin Zucker. Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever! Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, 2014.
19 Sharon Whitely and Ann Marie Chiasson. Barefoot Wisdom: Better Health Through Grounding. Atglen, PA: Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit, 2018.
21 2018 Abilities Expo host Leah Cevoli interviewing Martin Zucker
22 Sharon Whitely and Ann Marie Chiasson. Barefoot Wisdom: Better Health Through Grounding. Atglen, PA: Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit, 2018.
24 Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., Martin Zucker. Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever! Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, 2014.
26 Sharon Whitely and Ann Marie Chiasson. Barefoot Wisdom: Better Health Through Grounding. Atglen, PA: Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit, 2018.