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What are the most basic, fundamental recommendations you can think of in terms of how to improve your health and prevent disease?
Eat well. Exercise. Get more sleep.
Sound familiar? That's what I learned in school and that's what I teach to my patients and clients on a daily basis. Some might argue other steps like exposure to sunshine and fresh air, stress reduction, quality social interaction, living a purposeful life and even hydrotherapy are equally necessary and fundamental, and I really wouldn't argue against any of them. What I would, however, argue for is the inclusion of an additional step; one that, until recently, has been fairly unrecognized, certainly by the conventional medical system, but also by most alternative health practitioners. What is it?
Touch the Earth.
Wait a second, you say. Unless I've had this whole gravity thing wrong all along, I thought we were touching the earth. Well, we are, but not like we should be. It just so happens that humans are actually meant to touch the earth with our bare skin, and that doing so may be as fundamentally healthy for us as any other health promoting habits you've learned about along the way.
The most common term used these days to describe this simple, yet powerful healing technique is Earthing. Another term is grounding. If you have yet to explore this technique, you are all missing out. In fact, these days, from what I have seen in my own practice, I would now rate it as on par with all other basics requirements for optimal health we know so well.
Traditional healthcare systems like Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have promoted the health benefits of skin-to-skin contact with the earth for hundreds, if not thousands of years. If that's not reason enough to consider this therapy, there is also now a growing body of research not only proving what those wise physicians knew all along, but showing exactly what happens when we perform this simple act.
What is known for certain is when you touch the earth with your skin or through material that does not insulate you from its energy field you immediately begin absorbing a significant amount of electrons from its surface into your body. The key questions are whether or not this matters to you and what exactly happens to you when you do it. My experiences, having recommended this treatment to patients now for years, have been nothing short of astounding in some cases. I like research and reproducible "proof" as much as the next doc, but for me, the responses I see in my own patients trump all. Nonetheless, for other obvious reasons, research and the proof it can provide are important. Here are some highlights from what we know so far:
1. Touching the earth is calming, reduces many negative effects of stress and can help you sleep
Have you ever arrived at your favorite park or beach, taken your shoes off and felt a seemingly instantaneous sense of calm overtake you? You've probably never even thought twice about it. Being at the beach or in a park is just nice, so of course you feel calmer right? Nope, it appears there may be something more to it than that.
Recent research into the effects of grounding is showing that it leads to an increase in parasympathetic nervous system activity, and reduces sympathetic activity. The fact that most of us walk around in a state of nearly perpetual sympathetic overdrive, anything that encourages parasympathetic activity is beneficial. Beyond that, additional research into other parameters of stress has shown that grounding also directly normalizes both cortisol secretion, a hallmark of stress activity in the body, and melatonin secretion, which is of course crucial for a good night's sleep and possibly much, much more.
2. Touching the earth is anti-inflammatory
Chronic inflammation is now understood to be a primary, causative factor in seven of the top ten leading causes of mortality in the United States. It is beyond the scope of this article to review the details of chronic inflammation, how and why it happens, but it is important to realize that chronic inflammation is not a good thing, and Earthing may be a simple way to reduce it, whatever the cause may be.
As we know, an inflammatory response in your body begins with the production of free radicals (electrically charged particles) in an injured area, which help prevent infection and stimulate the healing process. However, when an inflammatory response becomes chronic, the excessive free radical activity begins to damage healthy tissue in the surrounding area. Depending on the tissue in question, this process could result in cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis or one of many other types of chronic disease.
Earthing, which saturates the healthy tissue in your body with negative electrons, literally works to create a barrier through which these free radicals cannot pass, in turn protecting you from the outlying damage they would otherwise cause.
3. Touching the earth helps keep your blood flowing
For blood to flow efficiently through your veins, arteries and capillaries, the cells need to move freely amongst each other, and not get stuck together. To aid in this process the surface of your red blood cells all have a negative charge to them, known as a zeta potential, literally causing them to repel each other. The greater the negative charge is around your blood cells, the greater the zeta potential, and the better your blood cells will bounce off of each other and continue flowing along. The electrons you absorb from the earth's surface are negatively charged as well, and contribute to a greater zeta potential. The end result then is that touching the earth helps to naturally encourage blood flow. This discovery has far-reaching implications for the field of cardiology, and some of the most cutting edge, brightest minds in it have begun to take notice. Dr. Stephen Sinatra of Heartmdinstitute.com is one of the more well-known and respected physicians in the field of integrative cardiology. He is also a huge proponent of earthing and encourages it to as a preventative health measure for all cardiology patients.
There are many more reasons why reconnecting with the earth is good for you, some of which I'm sure have yet to even be discovered. Perhaps the most obvious explanation though, is that it is simply natural.
With our technologically advanced world changing at such an astoundingly fast pace, it is easy to forget where we have come from and what our bodies are adapted to. What it all boils down to is that chronically ill people have literally become that way specifically because of how unnatural their lives are and how far away from nature they have moved both literally and figuratively. Time and again we all see proof that the reintroduction of simple, natural necessities like whole food, movement, and sleep into their lives, helps our patients get better. Adding Earthing to your list of preventive health practices will undoubtedly serve to further enhance your vitality and add an entirely unique angle of support for your long term health.
So tell your patients to start putting their bare feet on the ground and reconnecting, and recommend utilizing some of the additional equipment now available to help them do so when touching the earth is impossible or impractical. They will thank you for it.
1. Ghaly, Maurice, Teplitz, Dale; The Biologic Effects of Grounding the Human Body During Sleep as Measured by Cortisol Levels and Subjective Reporting of Sleep, Pain, and Stress, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine Volume 10, Number 5, 2004, pp. 767-776
2. Brown R et al;.Less inflammation, faster recovery from exercise-induced delayed onset muscle soreness. J Alt Comp Med. March 2010.
3. Applewhite R. Electrons move from the Earth to the body when the body is grounded and grounding powerfully reduces EMFs on the body. Euro Biol Bioelectromag. 2005;1:23-40.
4.Chevalier, Gaetan; Changes in pulse rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygenation, perfusion index, skin conductance, and their variability induced during and after grounding human subjects for 40 minutes. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Jan;16(1):81-7. PMID: 20064020