I love digging in the dirt and feeling my connection to the Earth. I find walking barefoot in the grass to be a great stress reducer. As a young girl, I used to run around barefoot with my siblings during the warm summer days, and recall how free and wonderful it felt. My father, a rural doctor, would always yell at us about the danger of cutting our feet or stepping on a nail. We would just laugh it off and continue romping barefoot.
In my integrative psychiatric practice, I often recommend ‘Earthing’ to patients as part of an integrative approach to healing. In my mind, it is in alignment with the ancient medical doctrine of “Primum non nocere” – which means “First, do no harm”.
Earthing refers to the practice of making contact with the surface of the Earth either directly, with the skin contacting the surface of the Earth- or by having the skin make indirect contact with the Earth through the use of conductive materials. The Earth constantly sheds an endless supply of electrons (negatively charged particles) from its surface. You can’t see the Earth’s energy but some people can feel it as a warm, tingling, and pleasant sensation when they out walking barefoot along the water’s edge at the beach or on a stretch of dew-moistened grass.
Throughout history humans walked barefoot and slept directly on the ground or separated from the ground by only a mat. But modern lifestyle, including the widespread use of insulative rubber- or plastic-soled shoes, has disconnected us from the Earth’s healing energy; and, of course, most people no longer sleep directly on the ground. In fact, many people people sleep on beds in 2nd-story- level (or higher in high rise apartment buildings in major cities) removed great distances from the Earth’s surface. Fascinating new research has raised the possibility that this disconnect may actually contribute to chronic pain, fatigue, inflammatory conditions and poor sleep that plague so many people.
It actually makes sense that we would feel better in connection with the Earth if you think about it. We are energetic, spiritual beings expressing through these human bodies. Where do we get the organic matter that makes up our body? From the Earth! Our bodies have an natural affinity for the Earth – and the Earth has an affinity for us. Areas of inflammation in our body tend to have overwhelming areas of positive charge associated with them; when we connect with the Earth, negative charges from the Earth flow through our bodies to the areas of positive charge and neutralize them.
How can the Earth’s electrons ‘flow’ though our bodies? Water is an excellent conductor of electricity and electrons. Water is of major importance to all living things; in some organisms, up to 90% of their body weight comes from water. Up to 60% of the human body is water, the brain is composed of 70% water, and the lungs are nearly 90% water. Lean muscle tissue contains about 75% water by weight, as is the brain; body fat contains 10% water and bone has 22% water. About 83% of our blood is water, which helps digest our food, transport waste, and control body temperature. Each day humans must replace 2.4 litres of water, some through drinking and the rest taken by the body from the foods eaten.
Earthing is safe and natural, for people of all ages, young and old, but it is not medicine or a substitute for medical treatment. If you have a medical condition, see your physician or healthcare provider.
Some of my patients are open to the concept of Earthing. Others aren’t. Some will say, “I don’t have enough time to stand or walk outside barefoot” or “I don’t want to pay for an Earthing mat or sheet.” Those who do follow my recommendation to ‘Earth’ tend to have good responses. I’ve had dozens of patients, with a wide variety of emotional, mental, and physical problems, and often combinations of problems, whom start Earthing and they often tell me afterward they feel much better.
I also have had many chronic pain patients referred to me from pain management doctors; many of these people have not responded well to or who are resistant to taking medication. With Earthing, they often have decreased inflammatory problems overall. I’ve seen a lot of people with gluten intolerance and irritable bowel symptoms that have significantly improved with connecting to the Earth. While they may not be completely cured, their GI and stomach issues are better. Their pain is better and so is their anxiety. Some patients, I have found, stop Earthing after their anxiety gets better; and I have to remind them what helped them get better.
One of the first things that patients tell me after they start Earthing is that they are sleeping much better at night. This is a big deal for many of my patients. I recall two recent patients who came in to see me a day apart. Both had been on vacation with their families and found that they didn’t need to take their usual sleeping pills or over-the-counter melatonin when away from home, but then slept poorly again once they returned to their home. I asked both of them where they had been. Both had been at the beach; and walking barefoot, sitting on the beach sand, and in the ocean water. They said they slept so well, and their mood and pain was so much better when at the beach. This, of course, happens often on seaside vacations, but people rarely connect it to being barefoot.
I recommend Earthing to anyone with an auto-immune condition. Two patients with systemic lupus erythematosis are feeling much better after they began Earthing. Their primary doctors attribute their improvement to “a calm period” in their disease process. Another patient developed a rare form of lupus – anticardiolipin antibody – that can cause a narrowing and irregularity of the blood vessels, blood clots and a potential for stroke or heart attack. Previously, she had experienced symptoms of fibromyalgia and an assortment of problems that doctors had a hard time figuring out. She’s been labeled in the past with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and bipolar disorder. This obviously is not a woman in good shape. Although she gets fatigued, she’s doing much better now after Earthing and her doctors can’t believe she’s as active as she is. She has five horses and in the early evening after it cools off, she will go out and feed her horses barefoot, and then sit or lay for a few hours on the Earth. Weather permitting, of couse. She’s been doing this for a year or two and says she feels much better, calmer, more peaceful, and quiet in regards to her anxious mind chatter. This practice of hers I strongly believe has prevented her condition from progressing.
I see many patients with chronic fatigue, people who have exhausted their adrenal hormones. Most of these people have a history of intense stress. With Earthing, they are much less fatigued and calmer. As their sleep cycle improves, the adrenal issues start improving, and they start to pick back up in their energy level and feel better.
One of my friends is a computer systems programmer for a major bank. He works with multiple computer screens around him for up to 10 hours a day 6 or 7 days per week and is always under pressure answering SOS calls and fixing this or that glitch in the nationwide system. He’s so busy that he hardly has any time to relax. The pace is wearing him down and aging him at an alarming rate. One day I brought him a present – an Earthing mat. I told him to place it under his bare feet at his desk since that’s where he spends the biggest chunk of his time. He called me the next day. This is how the conversation went:
“I just wanted to tell you that I love my ‘fizzy feet,” he said.
“Yeah, I can feel the fizzies in my feet and coming up my legs,” he explained. “I really feel good for the first time in a long time. And I slept so well.”
My friend is sticking with it, and enjoying his ‘fizzies’ and feeling good.
As far as my own Earthing experience is concerned, I immediately slept more soundly and deeply on the Earthing sheet that I started using in 2011. I have also experienced much less pain in my left knee that had been intermittently nagging at me for a dozen years after I chipped a divot of bone out of my femur in a freak accident. Now I only get rare slight twinges when the weather gets real cold suddenly or there are abrupt changes in atmospheric pressure.
I sent my mother an Earthing sheet for her fibromyalgia-like and chronic pain symptoms; and she was able to work in the garden for the first time in three years. She now sleeps through the night, which she wasn’t doing before, and can walk down stairs normally instead of one step at a time.
My 3 teenagers each sleep with an Earthing sheet because they are very active. My eldest is a musician and had previously reported chronic neck and should muscle tension from holding a trombone or large cymbals at attention out in front of her during either marching band or indoor drumline competitions. My 2 sons are athletes – playing high school football and lacrosse. All 3 report they rest better, have less muscle inflammation, and more rapid recovery from injuries since Earthing.
In my Integrative Psychiatric practice, I have noted that Earthing can at times help psychiatric patients in the following ways:
For those with Anxiety (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, etc.), reconnecting with the Earth can assist with an improved sense of safety and, by improving sleep architecture, can assist with normalizing serotonin levels in the brain as it decreases cortisol (an anxiety-inducing hormone). When cortisol levels are high, we have a tendency to go into ‘fight-or-flight’ / panic responses to stressful situations and become more easily angered or irritable. As cortisol levels decrease and stabilize, we become more centered, peaceful and calm – in short, we get more easily into our heart and have more compassion for our self as well as for others.
For those with Depression, Earthing can assist with stabilizing serotonin levels as noted above. Serotonin assists with decreasing crying spells, near-tearfulness, and ruminating negative thoughts. When depressive symptoms decrease, energy levels improve and tolerance to stressful situations, pain or discomfort improves.
Experience Earthing Now – Try an experiment!
Hydrate- drink 1-2 glasses of water (remember, water is a better conductor of electricity/energy than wood). Go barefoot outside for a half-hour and see what a difference it makes on your pain or stress level. Sit, stand, lay down or walk on grass, sand, dirt, or concrete (as long as it is directly against the Earth and not over underground subways or sewers). These are all conductive surfaces through which your body can draw the Earth’s energy. Wood, asphalt, and vinyl won’t work. They are not conductive surfaces. Experience for yourself the healing energy of the Earth at work.
Love the Earth- because it is trying to Love you…. all you need to do is reconnect!
Tracy Latz, M.D., M.S. – along with Marion Ross, Ph.D., we are “The Shift Doctors” Giving You the Keys to Shift Your Life
****For more information on Earthing and Earthing Studies, visit the website www.earthinginstitute.net or read the “Earthing Book” by Clint Ober, Stephen Sinatra M.D and veteran health writer Martin Zucker
****For more information on Earthing Products to help you reconnect to the Earth at work or while you sleep, visit the website www.earthing.com
**The Shift Doctors (Tracy Latz, M.D. & Marion Ross, Ph.D.) are available for keynote talks, classes, events or for seminars (1/2 day or up to 2 day) on personal transformation, team-building, motivation, anger management, intuitive development, or collaboration for private groups, conferences, corporations or corporate events. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or find out more about them at www.shiftyourlife.com .