One of my cardinal principles of health is called grounding (also known as Earthing). It’s an amazingly simple concept that involves nothing more than reconnecting the human body with the energy naturally present in the ground we walk on.
I’ve been involved in a lot of the early research on this, and I believe it could be the most important heart-health breakthrough I’ve come across in my 40-plus years as a doctor.
What Is Grounding?
In a nutshell, here’s how grounding works. The Earth’s surface contains a limitless number of free electrons that are continually replenished through solar radiation and lightning strikes; your body naturally absorbs these particles when you make physical contact with the ground.
In the body, these electrons have an anti-inflammatory effect because they reduce the free-radical activity that causes inflammation and chronic pain. (If you remember your high school science, electrons are negatively charged. Inflammation-causing free radicals are positively charged, which means the additional free electrons neutralize the free radicals.) The energy of the free electrons gained through grounding also helps keep your body’s innate electrical circuitry properly balanced. All of these effects of grounding are extremely beneficial to heart health.
Without a regular connection to the Earth, people can develop what I call an electron deficiency. In turn, this can lead to imbalances in the body and potentially to significant health problems. For example, chronic inflammation—which is increasingly being identified as the cause of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders—may be a result of a lack of connectedness.
Fortunately, the connection can be easily restored by regularly practicing grounding—either by going barefoot outside or sitting or lying on special conductive devices (such as pads for the floor or bed) that are plugged into grounded standard three-pronged electrical outlets.
The Health Benefits of Grounding
The two dozen or so completed studies on grounding have proven beyond any doubt that becoming grounded has significant positive effects on our physiology and heart health. Grounding’s many physical benefits—particularly those that lead to a healthy heart—include:
- A decrease in inflammation and an improvement or elimination of the symptoms associated with many inflammation-related disorders, including heart disease.
- Lowered stress and increased calmness in the body by moderating heart rate variability, nervous system activity, and stress hormone secretion.
- Improved efficiency of the cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, and nervous systems.
- A reduction in chronic pain.
But perhaps one of the most powerful benefits of grounding is how it helps reduce blood pressure. As many of you know, high blood pressure is caused by something called “hyperviscosity,” which means your blood is thick and sticky and moves slowly through your circulatory system. In other words, your blood is thick like ketchup, and that feeds the inflammation process that damages arteries, boosts blood pressure, and increases the risk of blood clots.
Instead of being like ketchup, you want your blood to flow like red wine, smoothly and easily. That’s where grounding comes in. By altering the electrical “charge” of your blood, Earthing helps to improve its flow and viscosity, reducing blood pressure. It also lowers blood pressure naturally by discharging stress, which is another factor that can drive up blood pressure.
How to Get Grounded
Getting started with grounding is easy. If conditions allow, literally go barefoot outside. Just 40 minutes a day can make a difference. Grass, sand, dirt, and concrete are all conductive surfaces from which your body can draw the Earth’s electrons. Wood and vinyl are not conductive.
If going barefoot outside isn’t realistic, a warm basement with a concrete floor will also work. Sit there and read or just relax with your bare feet resting on the ground.
To find out more about grounding products to use as you sleep, sit or work, read Earthing, a book I co-authored with Clint Ober who discovered the health benefits of grounding, as well as my writing colleague Marty Zucker.
Does Grounding Affect Your Medications?
There have not yet been any studies designed to look at Earthing’s effect on specific medications. But the research done to date does show that Earthing reduces inflammation in the blood. And because inflamed blood is thick—and therefore a strong risk factor for clotting and cardiovascular events—this blood-thinning effect is of great Earthing benefit to people with cardiovascular concerns.
Given Earthing’s ability to notably reduce blood viscosity (that is, make blood thinner), it’s best to proceed with caution if you’re taking any medication related to blood viscosity—but especially Coumadin (warfarin). This potent blood thinner is widely prescribed to patients with cardiovascular conditions that raise their risk for blood clots. If you are taking any medication—but especially warfarin—you should first inform your doctor that you would like to try Earthing. Then, working together, carefully monitor your INR every week until the INR stabilizes. Your doctor can adjust your Coumadin dose accordingly.
People on Coumadin (warfarin) should also proceed cautiously in regard to sleeping grounded. I suggest incorporating Earthing slowly, starting with simply walking barefoot in the backyard, the beach, or the park. Or, try using an Earthing device inside your home for an hour or two while relaxing or reading a book. Sleeping grounded should be considered only after you‘ve gradually increased your Earthing activities and have closely monitored its effects on your blood thickness.
You can learn more about the benefits of grounding in a new documentary Down to Earth.
Watch How Grounding Works