There's a growing buzz in the health world these days about a phenomenon called Earthing. Maybe you have heard about it. It has to do with the natural energy present on the surface of the Earth which fascinating new research is finding to have significant health benefits.
When MeLinda of Merlin's Hope asked me to get in touch with Martin Zucker for an interview for the site (because of his book Veterinarians' Guide to Natural Remedies for Cats), I wasn't expecting to be introduced to Earthing, but I am glad I was.
Marty said he would prefer for me to take a look at Earthing. So we were sent an Earthing packet to investigate:
The Earthing pad works quite well for indoor pets that have no access to the Earth's ground energy outside. They will often plop right on it and get energized. From the feedback the Earthing team has received, animals are drawn to the energy. You may see some results particularly for older infirm animals. However, cats being cats will sometimes ignore it.
Overall though folks say that their pets love the mat and after laying on it regularly, the pets seem to show more energy and vitality, less lameness, etc.
What is appropriate for pets and available is a pure carbonized rubber conductive mat that people generally use as a floor mat.
This is one of the smaller mats that they offer. It is plugged into an outlet but only the grounding part of the outlet – or the 3rd hole of an outlet.
The Earthing pad comes with a tester and the tester lets you know if your outlet is:
- Open Ground
- Open Neutral
- Open Hot
- Hot/Ground Reverse
- Hot/Neutral Reverse
- Or Grounded which is the correct one you want.
The Earthing packet also comes with detailed instructions on what to do with everything and how it works. It tells you that you want to unpack the box and make sure everything is there. You can put the mat on a bed and there are also other components that might come with it depending on what you ordered from their site.
We got the Earthing pad, the outlet tester and also the Earthing book.
I love how pliable the mat is - it makes it easy for travel and easy to put on top of things because it molds to the surface it is put on.
The only problem with Charlie and Trigg reviewing this product is that they are young and vibrant and go outside every day, so they aren't going to be as attracted to the Earthing pad. However, I did take the pad over to my parents' house to see if Tucker, their 12-year old German Shepherd with degenerative disc disease would be interested in it. But, guess who was interested instead:
Yep, Murphy loved it and rolled on it and then laid there for awhile - I assume until he was balanced and then went about his business.
One of the most difficult things about this review was getting footage of a cat actually on the mat when I also had my video camera handy! After several months, I finally accomplished just that!
To give this review the information and answers it deserves, last week I interviewed veteran health writer Martin Zucker, co-author of Earthing:The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? Martin has written more than a dozen books in his long career, including the popular Veterinarians' Guide to Natural Remedies for Cats. He says this is the most important book he has ever written because it brings attention to a totally overlooked natural resource that belongs in everyone's lifestyle for better health.
Here's the interview:
Jenny: What is Earthing and how does it work?
Marty Zucker: Sure. Earthing is probably the most natural thing you can do. Think in terms of being barefoot outside or sleeping on animal skin. People have been doing that throughout history and they've largely been oblivious to the fact that being in direct, barefoot contact with the earth endows the body with certain energy that emanates from the surface of the earth. It's not well known, but its well established scientifically that the surface of the Earth is alive with free electrons and those electrons are placed on the earth by lightning strikes that are going on all the time and by solar radiation. So, the radiates this energy. It's a natural, subtle, gentle, nurturing energy that's there on the surface of the Earth and when we are bare skinned, that is barefooted, on the Earth, our bodies are bioelectrical in nature. Our bodies are conductors, so we pick up and receive that energy and that energy normalizes. It manages the cadence of the biorhythms. It is quieter at night, and it is livelier during the day.
And so this undulating energy, this diurnal pattern, regulates our internal bioelectrical circuit, so to speak, and all our cells operate on electrical frequencies. They have a certain range of electrical frequencies. In modern times, we've put on rubber and plastic soled shoes and we no longer sleep on the earth and this has disconnected us from the earth. Our hypothesis is that this disconnect from the energy of the earth has primed us for dysfunction, for dys-regulation, for inflammation. And we know that when these electrons come into the body, just like if you were eating tons of blueberries and taking a lot of vitamin C and coenzyme Q10. These are all antioxidants and they come into the body and they help reduce inflammation.
Now, when you are barefoot on the earth, you are absorbing trillions of electrons into your body and these electronics are antioxidants, they are anti inflammatory. They come into the body and what they do is they snuff out and neutralize the free radicals that are causing chronic inflammation. As you know, chronic inflammation is regarded as the primary cause of multiple diseases like cardiovascular disease to auto immune to cancer to diabetes, all these conditions have inflammation as their basis and this inflammation is probably the liveliest, most active aspect of modern bioresearch these days.
Researchers are looking into how inflammation and how inflammatory messengers in the body link to and create diseases. So, it is widely accepted now that inflammation is the cause of the many, many of the chronic diseases of our time. The Earthing hypothesis is that when you are connected to the Earth, that is, when you are barefoot outside or you're sleeping, working, relaxing indoors on Earthing Systems, such as, conductive sheets, conductive mats, conductive bands, or conductive patches, you are absorbing from the Earth. Just as you would be by being out barefooted or sleeping on the earth and there has been throughout history, cultures that have honored the connectedness to the Earth. They revered the Earth, but now what modern science, particularly in the last 12 or 13 years, has discovered is that there are pronounced effects on your health by being in contact with the Earth. That is by sleeping on the conductive sheets. By working on your computer perhaps barefooted and you have your feet on the mat. The results are astounding and the feedback is astounding. We call this Earthing or grounding yourself.
Grounding is similar to the effect of grounding electrical systems. Throughout the world, all electrical systems are grounded; that is, they are connected to a wire that goes to a ground rod in the earth, picking up the Earth's energy. That energy stabilizes the electrical systems and, similarly, it stabilizes the same energy, stabilizes your body's electrical system. As I said before, you'll operate electrically. All the systems in your body, your brain, your muscles, your immune system, your heart, all of those operate electrically. So, when you bring of the Earth's energy to your body, you are stabilizing those systems. Your nervous system goes immediately from a stressed, sympathetic mode to a call mean, Parasympathetic mode; immediately. This has an effect on your heart. It has an effect on your stress. People immediately feel calmer. They sleep better. Their Cortisol levels, that's their stress hormone, becomes more normal. As you know, people who are stressed have irregular cortisol levels and when cortisol is elevated, people don't sleep well, they have the insomnia, they have a lot of-lots of health issues. One of the studies that has been done with Earthing indicates that cortisol is normalized when you sleep grounded. That is, when you sleep on one of these grounding sheets that is connected to the Earth and these sheets have little silver threads in them, silver fibers and when your skin comes in contact with those fibers, the energy from the Earth is conducted into your body and you get all these wonderful effects inside your body.
The sheet is connected to the Earth via a wire, a chord that goes into the ground port. That's the third hole in your electrical outlet. It goes into the third hole that is connected to a wire that goes to that ground rod outside and that's called a ground wire. That grounding is what stabilizes your electrical system in your house, your office and stabilizes when you come in contact with that sheet or conductive net. It stabilizes your body. So, this discovery of Earthing indoors, which is the equivalent of being barefoot outdoors, has been going on for about 14 years. It was discovered by a man who founded and created the largest cable television marketing and installation company in the United States and he discovered this effect on the body back in '98. He's been inspiring research on it ever since and we have the research on the website Earthinginstitute.net.
In 2010, I wrote a book on Earthing with this gentleman, Clinton Ober, along with Stephen Sinatrawho is a holistic cardiologist. Dr. Sinatra believes that Earthing is the most important health breakthrough in his 35 years of practicing medicine. It's that significant for the health. The research has shown that Earthing reduces inflammation. It reduces chronic pain because, as you well know, pain is based on inflammation. So, if your body is inflamed, if you have on inflammation from say, tendinitis or carpal tunnel, that is going to cause pain. People who have inflammation in their joints, have joint pain. So, inflammation causes pain. Earthing, that is grounding yourself with the Earth's energy, reduces inflammation and, as a result, it reduces pain.
People sleep better. They don't have pain. They are feeling calmer. They sleep better.
About 30% of Americans have a chronic insomnia problem and about 10% of those have problems functioning during the day. So, we know ito a large degree that Earthing improves sleep and so for people that have to take sleeping pills, it offers an actual alternative. If people sleep better, have less pain then they have more energy. They feel better. They feel more vibrant.
Jenny: You had mentioned that Dr. Sinatra has seen great improvement... that it's the best thing that he has discovered in his 35 years of his career, is that because he has seen this success within his own patients?
Marty: Dr. Sinatra has seen success with patients and success outside of patients and what's happened is that he is now retired from active practice and he's been practicing himself, he's been sleeping grounded ever since 2001. In fact, he is the one that inspired Clint Ober to look at inflammation and to see if grounding yourself could affect inflammation because inflammation is regarded as the cause of cardiovascular disease. The arteries become inflamed and, they form plaque and then you have problems getting blood supply to your heart or to your brain. If the plaque breaks off, you can have a stroke or a heart attack. We find in the research, and these are small studies, but they are significant in their findings and one of them is that Earthing improves blood flow. It improves circulation and we've seen situations where diabetics with poor blood to flow to the extremities and have wounds that don't heal, have a substantial relief from those. They do heal once they start grounding regularly. So, Dr. Sinatra did a small pilot study, which is going to be replicated at a major university this year, showing that when you are connected to the Earth, all of these trillions of electrons come into your body per second and nobody has seen an electron, but what we hypothesize happening is that an electron comes into the body, they increase the negative charge of red blood cells. The electrical charge on red blood cells, is called the Zeta Potential. The more negative the charge, the better these red blood cells are able to repel each other. So, as you can imagine-- if I could draw a picture for you--if the red blood cells are clumping together--if they have a weak electrical charge, they clump together, and it's harder for that blood to flow through the very small openings of the capillaries to reach all the distant tissue in your body. Dr. Sinatra says is that people who have heart conditions, who have diabetes, have this thick, inflamed blood that is hard--it doesn't flow well, sorta like ketchup. He wants to see the blood flow like red wine. So, this study that he did with an electrophysiologist shows that when you ground yourself, that the blood moves faster, there is less clumping, less clustering of red blood cells and the blood flows better. You have improved circulation, significantly better. And this is a big deal medically. It is a big deal for many reasons. If you can get blood to the tissues, all of the tissues are going to function better. You can get more nutrients to the tissues. You can get more oxygen to the tissues. So, this is something that is really significant. We are really excited about that impact of Earthing on the body that is to improve circulation and blood flow.
In the Earthing book in Dr. Sinatra's chapter, you can see the difference between people before grounding and 40 minutes after, and that's pretty visual.
People feel their extremities warming up and the significance of this and the potential for this is really immense. We're waiting for this larger study which will probably be related this year and when that happens it will generate a lot of excitement and the whole medical world.
Jenny: How have you seen Earthing help animals? Are they suffering from the same diseases and cardiac conditions that you already mentioned?
Marty: Cats seem to have less of the problems that dogs have. When I was writing animal books, I would always hear from veterinarians that they would see more health problems with dogs than cats. Indoor animals are drawn to the mat because they're picking up something programmed in some way to understand that. There is something primordial in their DNA and they'll pick up on that immediately. I've had people tell me that when they have dogs or indoor dogs or indoor cats, that the animals will often gravitate to the mat or the sheet. In the animal chapter we have in the book, and you are welcome to extract anything from that that you like, there was on informal study done about dogs and how they appeared to have less pain and were more mobile and had more energy when they were grounded. So, I really can't say much more about the animals than what is in that chapter, but that's the feedback that I've gotten since the book--from other people that their animals are doing better.
I heard this from a few other people as well that animals will gravitate to it, to the sheet or to the mat. Some people have bought the mat and put it on the floor for their animals. Animals will often go right to it, will sleep on it, will just go there and rest and apparently they are getting the energy from the Earth and its resonating with something in their DNA that is natural for them.
Jenny: I agree that animals are way more connected and if they don't have access to that outside then that I can see how they would be attracted to it. Do you have any idea of the size of the population that is using Earthing?
Marty: Thousands for sure. Many thousands. I couldn't really give you a number, but it's really starting to become now a global movement and, you know, women really get it. Now, women really get this and they seem to be more in tune with this than men. Men are always trying to figure out how things work, women are more intuitive so this resonates. Women get it and there are so many issues that women have ranging from PMS and hot flashes and autoimmune conditions. They often have benefits, significant benefits, significant relief from being grounded and they'll start telling their mother, sister, aunt, grandmothers, daughters and getting these things for their families. It's just, women really relate to this, really resonate with this. It's kind of like it's Mother Earth--it IS Mother Earth! There is something feminine, spiritually feminine about this. It's just beautiful to see the way women get this.
Jenny: Does holistic medicine accept the science or does science accept the negative vs. positive ions theory? And what's taking so long for adaptation and acceptance?
Marty: Earthing is something very old. It is just the modern name for something that we've been doing since time immemorial. I mean, we were walking barefoot on the ground and we've been sleeping on animal skins that are conductive. We've been doing this forever. This is one of the most natural things that anybody can do.
The science is new, though, and it takes a long time for modern science for modern medicine to accept anything. Modern medicine basically is surgery and pharmaceuticals. They are often hostile to alternative medicine. So, this is something about as natural as you can get. We, the Earthing project, are developing research as we can and putting it out there, and it will take time for that to be accepted by the medical establishment. There are many natural doctors and chiropractors and alternative health practitioners that are into this already. They have recommended it for their patients because they've seen results and there are some MDs also, but getting this out into the mainstream medical establishment will take a long time simply because the science that they require to have something like this accepted, the level of science is not there yet. This is something that is still new.
We've done about a dozen studies so far and you can find those studies up at Earthinginstitute.net.
The most recent study that came out is a review of Earthing and it really summarizes everything pretty well in a scientific format, published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health. You can find it on the Earthinginstitute.net research page. It was just published in December. To be sure of this find in big medical studies, big clinical trials, the kind of big things with hundreds of people, we don't have that. Those are hugely expensive.
Hopefully one day there will be enough interest that there will be those kinds of studies and when that happens I would think the result will be spectacular.
Jenny: Yeah. While you've been talking, I've been thinking "Wow, wouldn't it be fun to just put Earthing mats in the entire floor of the hospital to see if there was crazy improvements in the patients overnight or something like that?” I guess those concentrated studies are probably better.
Marty: Here is the funny thing about that - they ground the beds and all the Medical Equipment. They are all grounded.
Jenny: Oh! Wow. Gosh, that is so ironic.
Marty: Isn't that something?
Jenny: Wow, I hadn’t thought of it that way, but that's crazy!
Marty: Patients are not grounded, but the hospital building is and all the equipment is grounded. They're all plugged into those outlets that have three holes, right?
Marty: It stabilizes the electrical system. It runs on electricity. It stabilizes all of that, but the patient isn't. Hopefully, one day they will be.
There are certain considerations as far as people on medication are concerned because, from my experience we know that people who are on blood thinners like Coumadin need to monitor their blood levels very carefully when they ground themselves. Why? Because as I explained to you before, Earthing thins the blood. It improves blood flow. So, you can have somebody who's taking Coumadin and they start to ground themselves, but they really need to check with their doctor and monitor their blood thickness. The combination of Earthing and Coumadin can thin blood too much. So many people working with their doctors have been able to cut down on their level of Coumadin. We know also that thyroid function appears to be improved by Earthing and that's so people who are taking thyroid medication for under active thyroids.
So, those people who are on medications need to work closely with their doctor because Earthing has physiological defects in the body that can impact dosages of medication.
These are all things that we are aware of, that people have reported back to us. They need to be studied and formally. We know that Earthing improves blood pressure. For people with high blood pressure, they are sometimes able to reduce their medication. There is a blood pressure study that is being done this year.
We've written these things on, Earthinginstitute.net. I write up these birthing reports from time to time. We have medical cautions and advisory in there and we talk about some of the amazing things that people report. You know, Earthing is not a medical treatment and people who are under the care of their doctors have to let them know that they're doing this. They have to work with their doctor and they have to advise their doctor. We say this all the time because there are effects on the physiology and they are profound.
So, Jenny, all of these things are going on in the human body apply to cats and dogs. I've heard people say, "My animals are more lively. They are more energetic. They seem to be in less pain." Pet owners can look at their animals, and they can get a feeling that there is less pain.
Jenny: Right. So, I assume that you sleep on an Earthing mat?
Marty: Yes, I'm pretty much grounded 20 hours a day. I've been that way for about four years now.
Yeah, my wife and I have an Earthing sheet. I also have a mat on the floor near my computer and I put my bare feet on that, so I work on the computer grounded. My wife is an ex dancer and she has a lot of muscular skeletal issues, and she uses the Earthing patches. The patches are like the EKG, you know like the ones that doctors use for testing electrical impulses from the heart. Those connect, just like the feet on the mat you have, you can snap that chord onto a patch and put it where you pain is whether it's your knee or your back. So, she puts a couple of these patches on and she grounds herself every day in the afternoon and she gets relief from her pain and she doesn't have to take any pain killers.
So, it's not curing her arthritis, but it's giving her pain relief.
Jenny: That's awesome. So, if I wanted to try out Earthing, would you recommend the premiums starter kit that is on Earthing.com?
Marty: Yeah, I really would. Yeah, that is a good, economical way. It's around $200 bucks, I think or $199. It has a mat and a 1/2 sheet. So, you would simply put it above the bottom sheet on your bed and makes sure that some part of your body, bare skin, comes into contact with it. It doesn't matter if it's your bare feet or your lower legs or your thigh or your butt or whatever, however you sleep. You just need some bare skin contact and you have the mat already. You can use it in socks, thin socks are okay. You'll get that energy coming through thin socks because your foot sweats and the moisture creates a channel of conductivity.
Jenny: Are there any new products that are coming out in 2012 that that Earthing.com is going to introduce? I know that you've mentioned a couple of studies that are going to come out.
Marty: Yeah, the big thing is going to be the Earthing bed and it is a very pure quality memory foam--it's a conductive cover, a memory...you slip it into a cover---it's like a envelope, you zip it up and then it has a connector on it. You take your Earthing chord and you snap it onto that cover just as you would your mat and then on top of that cover you have a conductor sheet and the conductivity is through the silver fibers. It is a fitted sheet and then you tuck that fitted sheet into the contour of your bed, whatever size it is. You then sleep on that fitted sheet so the Earth energy is coming up through the chord and into making contact with the cover of the mattress and then sheets picks it up so the sheet is fully conductive and then all you have to do is just make contact with that bottom sheet. Every two weeks or however often you wash your sheets, you just throw the sheet into the washing machine and you don't have to disconnect anything. You don't have to disconnect any wires or anything because the cover for the mattress just stays there and so however often you wash your bottom sheet, you just throw it into the washing machine. No bleach, no fabric softener, no lotions, creams or oils on your body before bedtime, they'll be making bare-skinned contact with your sheet and they can destroy the conductivity. The bed is the new big product for the year. We feel that this will revolutionize the whole sleep industry. It's really the future of sleep now and you have not only the comfort memory, but you have the added benefit of being grounded. The combination is just amazing. I sleep on one of these and it's just amazing.
Jenny: Is there any way to overdo it?
Marty: Well, let me ask you that question. Can you overdo it by being outside barefoot? Outside for a week at a time and you stepped on the ground, is there something that you would over do?
Marty: The same thing.
Jenny: But you can under do it?
Marty: Well, we think that everyone in society that is not grounded is going around electron deficient and we think that electron deficiency is what facilitates chronic inflammation because if you are grounded, you are going to have enough electrons...electrons have a negative charge and the free radicals that are causing the inflammation has a positive charge and they are looking for electrons. So, they are stealing electrons from healthy tissue. So, if you have plenty of electrons in your reservoir of your body because your body conducts these---your body is conductive in the collagen, which is the structural protein of the body. So, the electrons are conducted by the collagen and your blood and so you have this big reservoir of electrons in your body, so your free radicals theoretically can't run amok and cause chronic inflammation. So, who is getting the inflammation? Our hypothesis is they are people who are disconnected from the Earth because they don't have enough electrons. Negatively charged electrons in their body offset the positively charged free radicals that are causing chronic inflammation. That is as simple as I can say. It's a hypothesis, but this is what seems to be happening and we talk about it in the book.