Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Earthing....I had images of someone someone buried halfway up to their waist in the earth. That was a bit off. "Earthers" do believe it's important to maintain a connection to the earth but they don't bury themselves - walking on the earth will do just fine.
I had no idea if or how this all fit together but they suggested that electricity is important and Earthing is actually about electricity. I decided to suspend disbelief for awhile.
Earthing appears to have begun around 1998 when a cable TV pioneer named Clint Ober had something of an epiphany. He knew that the electrical lines entering a house were grounded to prevent interference from outside electrical sources. If you didn't ground your TV, to the negative polarity in the earth, for instance, it wouldn't work right - there was just too much electrical interference otherwise. Connecting electrical systems to the earth stabilizes them.
Clint Oder on Earthing
But our bodies are electrical systems as well. The human race has been closely connected to the earth for hundreds of thousands of years. Was it missing it's ground?
Ober connected a sheet of electrically conductive cloth to a wire leading out his window which connected to a metal rod buried in the earth. They measured the electomagnetic frequencies his body was emitting. They had changed. Then he fell into his first deep sleep in years. From the Townshend Report on Earthing:
"The voltage of his body was near zero, the same as the voltage, or potential in electrical terms, as the surface of the Earth. The next thing Ober knew, it was morning. He had fallen asleep and slept soundly for the first time in years – and without a pill. This was a big deal for him. He suffered with constant back pain and disturbed sleep. He took painkillers to sleep at night and again in the morning to get through the day. "
The Living Matrix?
Several hypotheses have been developed to explain positive reports emanating from some Earthers. Dr. Laura Koniver stated that the free radicals produced during exercise or inflammation are positively charged while the surface of the earth is negatively charged. Connecting your body to the Earth enables these negative electrons to spread over and into your body, where they have antioxidant effects.
[fleft] [/fleft]One group of authors associated with EarthFix - an Earthing company - have produced a more or less comprehensive view of how they believe earthing affects the body. They propose that the earth's electrons flow into a "collagenous, liquid–crystalline semiconductor network" in our body they call the living matrix. They believe that this fibrous connective tissue network has electrical properties protects our cells, tissues and organs from oxidative stress.
For those believing that semiconductors are only made of silicone they pointed to Isreali researchers who made organic semiconductors (as opposed to the sillicone semiconductors used today) using proteins from human blood, milk and mucus.
Calling this connective tissue network a vast "redox system", they believe it is able to absorb electrons from the earth and then donate them to wherever they are needed in the body; i.e. wherever oxidative stress levels are high. (They are high both in ME/CFS and FM). They propose that we've mostly cut ourselves from the healing electrons that the earth provides.
Ticking off the many serious inflammatory conditions found (heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, etc. ) they propose that "grounding" could help relieve inflammation in many.
Hype or Hope?
Dr. Robert Lahita, a New Jersey-based rheumatologist and microbiologist, probably reflects a majority of MD's when he says that Earthing is simply another wacky idea that draws people with unresolved health problems to it like bees on honey. “I don’t even hesitate to say that’s really crazy.”
]Yet, as with many alternative therapies dramatic reports of Earthing's effects can be found. The Earthing Institute has several fibromyalgia Earthing stories.
“My daughter had come over for lunch, and afterward we sat on the sofa. I put on a wrist band. After 45 minutes, my daughter asked me if I felt any different. I replied I didn’t think so. Then I fell asleep, a deep sleep. When I woke up, I was full of energy. I cooked pikelets (pancakes) for tea, then cleared up and wouldn’t let anyone help me. I did the lot. I went to bed and slept all night. Later I got an Earthing throw and a sheet. I soon realized that when I use them, I have little or no pain.
“I am having a wonderful response to grounding. I have had sleep difficulties for many years and can now say I sleep 100% better. I have been trying to repair my body for years with other natural health means, herbs, supplements, etc. and maybe after all this time, they have finally helped, however, it wasn’t until I had grounded for two months that I noticed SIGNIFICANT differences in sleep as well as energy during the day. It’s my understanding that Fibromyalgia is a very difficult syndrome to improve so this is an enormous difference.”
Earthing has quite a few adherents and about a dozen small studies have been done. According to a recent review paper earthing helped normalize cortisol levels during sleep, and reduced immune activation and creatine kinase levels after exercise. (Creatine kinase is a marker of muscle damage.) Other studies have found reduced stress and increased oxygenation.The studies are all small though and can't be counted on to deliver the last word on Earthing. (The AHRQ probably would have dismissed them all...)
Pricey in the Short Term (Cheap in the Long Term?)
The earthing products can be plugged into a wall socket or attached to a grounding rod in the earth. (The grounding rod approach is reportedly better.)
Earthing sheets are not inexpensive. At about $150 a sheet they're pretty pricey. It's quite a bit of money to throw at something that might not work. On other hand if it works all that remains is the cost of electricity.
Earthing, like other alternative therapies with little research behind them, is prone to hype. If earthing does work it probably does so in fairly subtle ways; i.e. it's much more a help than a cure. Some people do swear by it though.
What do you think? Hype or hope? Have you tried Earthing? Let us know.