‘Grounding’ and Our Search for Good Science

We’ve recently been getting a lot of questions from our readers about the practice of “grounding” or “earthing”…

Most folks probably aren’t familiar with those terms, but their popularity is growing.

Today, we’ll explain what grounding is, why people are doing it, and if you should too.

Here’s what we found out…

Clinton Ober is credited for coining the term earthing in 1995 (although I remember using and hearing this term frequently in the 80’s). According to Ober, earthing (or grounding) in the Earth’s natural electrical charge creates the ability to discharge and prevent chronic inflammation in the human body naturally when we frequently come in direct skin-to-ground contact with it.

But Ober says our modern lives have rendered us “Earth-starved” because we rarely ever walk barefoot or sleep directly on the ground, as we used to in pre-modern times.

It turns out the practice of grounding has been around much longer than Clinton Ober. It’s actually a well-known tool used in various forms of energy healing, like meditation and yoga. It is intended to increase energy flow and release points in the body where energy is blocked.

Grounding in this sense doesn’t require physical contact with the Earth. Extending your personal energy field into the Earth can happen through visualizations and feelings – like imagining your energy as a beam of light that extends from the bottoms of your feet deep into the Earth like the roots of a tree, and feeling your legs and feet standing firm on the floor and supporting you.

But as Ober – and others – began to research this grounding phenomena, their findings and sweeping claims became questionable…

As I mentioned before, the research on earthing suggests that the Earth’s surface transmits anti-inflammatory electrons to the human body, which then target areas of inflammation and heal the body.

If you are a longtime reader of mine, you know that chronic inflammation is the main driver behind a litany of health problems. Things like:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Ulcerative colitis

But I’m here to tell you to…

Cue the snake oil salesman and tap the B.S. button.

When we took a close look at studies touting the benefits of grounding, we found some red flags:

  1. There’s just a handful of researchers who are actually testing the idea of earthing. This means that more often than not, they end up citing their own work. As you can imagine, this introduces a lot of bias… a big no-no when you’re testing a hypothesis.
  2. With this particular bias (called confirmation bias), the researchers aren’t invested in testing other hypotheses. They’re trying to prove their own… this is not good science. In good science, we try to find the truth. We don’t try to prove ourselves right.
  3. In the studies themselves, the researchers typically test only a few people at a time. We want to have large groups of people tested because that gives us a better statistical proof of benefit.
  4. In the studies we saw, the researchers only tested people using various earthing devices (electric mats, skin patches, wrist bands, bed sheets, etc.)… They did not test participants after having their bodies touch and thus connect with the Earth itself, leading us to question whether they’re just trying to sell us on these devices.
  5. Also, a lot of the “science” in these studies doesn’t add up… For instance, there is a claim that our cells need an infusion of electrons from the Earth to balance harmful positive charges, and while that might sound good, it simply doesn’t make sense. There’s also not a lot of reliance on using standardized measures during testing, which would allow us to compare and quantify results more effectively.
  6. And then there’s that spicy little thing called the Placebo Effect – which is another topic my research assistant is once again studying. With the heavy reliance on self-reporting in these studies (and lack of standardized measures), the researchers do not do a good job controlling for the Placebo Effect – which happens when you expect something will happen, so it does for no other reason than the fact that you believed it would.

It’s likely that a lot of this research is designed to sell you on the idea that buying a special conductive mat for your bed, or conductive patches for your skin, or special bracelets is all you need to cure what ails you…

There might be benefits to grounding, but for now, the science doesn’t prove any.

If you want to get rid of your chronic inflammation, here’s what you should be doing…

  1. Eat nutritious foods and avoid junk food like the plague. Some foods that reduce inflammation are:
  2. Exercise every day. Spend 20 to 30 minutes each day walking, doing yoga, or riding your bike. Anything to get your heart rate up a little bit and keep your blood pumping.
  3. Destress your life. One of my favorite ways to do this is through meditation, where I focus on taking slow deep breaths and shifting my attention toward positive thoughts.

    (Read more about tips 1 through 3 in my article The Real Danger Our Hearts Face.)

  4. Tone your vagus nerve. You can read more about this in one of my two-part articles from last week: Your Body’s Essential Superhighway That You’ve Never Heard Of and Six Secrets for a Better Sex Life.

And if you do try grounding, let me know what you think! Drop us a line anytime at [email protected].

What We’re Reading

Here’s to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
July 20, 2021