The Importance of Earthing

What is it about being in nature that seems to make you feel better? We all need air, water, nutrients and sunlight but accumulating evidence shows that we also need earthing. That is, to ‘plug in’ to the earth, for example by being barefoot. Perhaps you have an experience of this from walking barefoot on the beach, or in your garden.

If you think about it, all electrical devices are ‘earthed’ which allows an exchange of electrical charge (electrons) with the earth. Every day the earth receives something like 50,000 lightning strikes and, consequently, has a supply of ‘free’ electrons that change the electrical charge of your body if you make contact for long enough.

Our ancestors will have been ‘grounded’ naturally all day long because we would have either walked barefoot or worn leather shoes, which allowed the conductive exchange of anti-inflammatory, anti-aging electrons with the earth and connection to earths rhythms. Today we wear insulated shoes with rubber or plastic soles, disconnecting us from the earth. The earth is a rich source of ‘negative’ ions, called electrons, while we, especially in disease states, have more positive ions. The body has many oxidative processes even with a normal healthy metabolism and thus an accumulation of positive ions. In any inflammatory process, generally accompanied by pain, antioxidants seek to restore the balance by providing free electrons to neutralise the multitude of oxidising free radicals. Earthing provides these free electrons directly.

Could it be that connection with the earth, the exchange of ions that effectively ‘ground’ you, and a synchronisation with the earth’s electric potential and frequency has a direct effect on health?

Physiological Changes from Earthing
Consider these experiments, published last year in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine1.  Each experiment involved ‘grounding’ people usually overnight, literally as you would do an electric device – by means of a copper plate connected to the earth. (You can now get sheets containing a network of conductive threads that plug into the electrical socket or outside rod, thus earthing you. (For socket earthing you need an earthed mains socket which is true for most of Europe and can be easily tested.) Some trial subjects were ‘earthed’, others were not, without them knowing which group they were in. So these were ‘double blind’ trials that set out to measure if earthing produces any biological changes.

Twelve, who had diabetes, were either ‘earthed’ or acted as the controls. Blood sugar levels were measured at the start, after 24 hours and 72 hours. There was no change in the control group but the glucose levels of the earthed participants dropped from 10.6mmol/l down to 8.8 after 24 hours and 7.4 after 72 hours. (A healthy blood sugar is below 6). No change was seen in the control group.

Another twelve had their thyroid hormone levels measured with or without grounding. The earthed participants had an increase in the active thyroxine (T4) levels and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) compared to the controls. These shifts are consistent with better thyroid function, although these volunteers didn’t have hypothyroidism.

The experimenters also found that ‘earthing’ changes the balance of electrolytes, that is charged mineral particles, in the blood.

Another experiment has found that red blood cells don’t clump together because earthing changes the electrical potential of cells, which helps to keep them apart and ‘free flowing’, which is associated with better circulation, lowered blood pressure and less risk of blood clots2.

Earthing Improves Sleep and Reduces Pain
The effect of earthing on sleep has been studied3. Of 61 people those ‘earthed’ reported less time taken to fall asleep, better quality of sleep, feeling more rested, less muscle stiffness, back or joint pain or pain overall. For example, 74% of those ‘earthed’ reported less back or joint pain compared to none in the control group.

A study of twelve people over six weeks measured levels of the stress hormone cortisol and also melatonin, which is not only vital for sleep but a powerful antioxidant4.  As you can see in the graph below earthing normalised cortisol levels, which should be low in the night and increase as you awake, and also raised melatonin levels.

Case histories and extensive thermography studies have demonstrated rapid reduction in inflammation and pain when patients are ‘earthed’ overnight. For example, consider the thermographs taken below of a 49-year old woman with chronic neck and upper back pain, restless legs during the night, who would wake up stiff and sore. The arrows in the thermographs indicate areas of poor circulation. In the top right image, the fingers appear to be missing because their temperature has become the same as the room.

After four nights of ‘earthing’ she reported a 65% reduction in pain, a 75% reduction in restless legs during sleep and an 80% reduction in waking stiff and sore. As the thermographs show her circulation has dramatically improved.

The effects of earthing are systemic and can be reflected in both internal and external changes. This is illustrated from positive changes in a psoriasis sufferer after 2 months use of the earthing mat.

User feedback on Earthing
I was sufficiently impressed by the clinical studies, and user reports that I decided to try it out on some of my clients who suffer from pain, by having them sleep on an ‘earthed’ sheet or with their feet on a pad during the day. Here’s what they say:

“I’ve been suffering from unexplained joint pain for months. Since sleeping with my feet on the earthing sheet the pain has dramatically reduced. I started to notice an effect within a week. I am also sleeping better. When I was away for the weekend, without my earthing sheet, the pain returned. I’m convinced it has made a real difference. I am very happy getting ‘earthed’ every night. Thank you!” Louise S, London

“I have been suffering from pain in my hips. I tested the ‘earthing’ pad and used it every day for a week and definitely found some relief. It has made me aware that earthing is an important part of the health equation.” F. S.

I also found these reports on Amazon (UK), in connection with a book on ‘Earthing’ by Clinton Ober, Stephen Sinatra and Martin Zucker.

“I’d read the book on earthing before buying the sheet. Within weeks of starting to use it, I found that my blood pressure (normally slightly higher than ideal) was going down, and I can now sustain a perfect blood pressure with just a minimum of medication. Another effect I noticed quite soon was that I’m now less troubled by rheumatic pains in my hands and finger joints than before. The sheet is not really cheap, but I think worth the investment, especially since it’s so easy and safe to use!” Frank.

“I don’t have any illnesses, nor am I in any great pain. I endure restless sleep, plagued by palpitations that simply don’t occur during the day, pointing the finger at anxiety/stress. Has this changed, in a word, yes. Even just using the sheet in the evening, my sleep has become more constant and if I wake I am usually asleep again quite quickly. If this continues I will be more than happy. I have had problems with shoulder and elbow pain, these too, have lessened.”

“Since I bought the Earthing Mat I have used it at night before bed and each morning and also during the day when necessary. I also bought the earth rod and cable to use when it’s too wet to walk barefoot on the grass. As I suffered terribly with leg cramps during the night, I have been cramp free ever since.” G B

Earthing and Electromagnetic Fields
There is a lot of misinformation about this. RF fields from mobile and DECT phones and WiFi penetrate the body and are believed to disrupt cell to cell communication, disrupting information flows. There are magnetic fields (from transformers, fans, motors) which totally penetrate the body and cause internal currents, with the potential to disrupt biological processes. Earthing does not protect against these. It does however work against the damage caused, supporting the repair processes. There are electric fields (from house wiring, extension leads) that do not penetrate the body but induce a charge on the skin. This does cause a very small internal current, but 100 hundred times less than magnetic fields. The effect can be measured with a simple body voltage test (not relevant to magnetic or RF fields). It is interesting but of highly debatable importance and is mainly used to validate that the earthing system is working well.

Essentially earthing does not protect against EMF but is valuable in repair from EMF damage.

In summary, it appears that earthing can help you to:

  • Improve sleep quality and thus vitality
  • Rebalance metabolic and hormonal processes
  • Address acute and chronic inflammatory issues
  • Inflammation reductions are accompanied by decease in pain.

How to Earth Yourself
There are a few basics you need to know. Certain materials allow the flow of charged particles. These are called conductive materials. Some do it really well, such as silver, while others are half as good and are called semi-conductive. Concrete is conductive, while wood is not. Asphalt is not conductive, being made of petrochemicals. Any vinyl, plastic or rubber surface is not. Painted or carpeted concrete is unlikely to retain any conductivity.

Water is conductive, and even more so if it’s salt water, since the mineral particles allow for the rapid flow of ions. Sea water is therefore several hundred times more conductive than tap water and is connected to the earth. The Earth is also highly conductive, in addition to storing electrons and nature’s supportive rhythms.

Thus walking barefoot on the grass, or swimming in the ocean are two excellent ways to get yourself grounded. If this is not practicable then you can earth yourself indoors, using the mat during the day and the earthing sheet at night. I have one and wouldn’t be without it. It’s actually a half-sheet that goes across the bottom half of my bed (fully fitted sheets are also available). It looks like an ordinary sheet but has a fine mesh of conductive threads in it, and plugs into a regular wall socket (that you leave turned off) or to a small rod in the ground outside. It earths you all night long.

Another very popular method is by using what’s called an Earthing Mat. This is a mat that you can place under you feet, perhaps while you are working at your computer (here you can also use it as a mouse mat). You can use any bare skin parts of your body including hands and feet. You can use it when reading or watching TV. It is small and portable. The ideal is a combination of the two: mat for daytime and sheet at night. There are bands and patches for local issues as a complement to sheets and mats.

Tuning in to Earthing
When you go on holiday it can take time to adjust! If you have not “earthed” recently then this may be a forgotten experience for the body and could need a few days to adjust. There are guidelines for phasing in and for highly compromised health (e.g. CFS) in the instructions. Since earthing is bringing a natural process indoors are there are no essential contraindications. If you are taking blood thinners, insulin or thyroxin then you need to monitor to make any downward adjustments that may be indicated.


1. K. Sopkal and P.Sokal, Earthinhg the Human Body Influences Physiologic Processes, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2011, Vol.17, (4), p1-8

2. Gaetan Chevalier, PhD, Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, FACC, FACN, James L. Oschman, PhD, and Richard M. Delany, MD; Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine; Volume 0, Number 0, 2012, pp. 1–9

3. Clinton Ober ‘Grounding the human body to neutralized bio-electrical stress from static electricity and EMFs.’ ESD Journal, January, 2000

4. M. Ghaly, D.Teplitz ‘The biologic effects of grounding the human body during sleep as measured by cortisol levels and subjective reporting of sleep, pain and stress.’ 2004, vol.10(5):p.767-776