Earthing and Grounding – Restoring Your Natural Balance

Barefoot-on-Grass

“The greatest polluting element in the earth’s environment is the proliferation of electromagnetic fields.  I consider that to be a far greater threat on a global scale than warming, or the increase of chemical elements in the environment.”
– Dr. Robert O. Becker, MD

 

Modern humans do some really unnatural things that would perplex our ancestors. For example, how natural is it to electrically insulate our bodies from the ground while exposing ourselves to man-made electromagnetic emissions that produce non-natural electrical flows in our bodies? We need to ask ourselves, how can this possibly be good for our health, when electromagnetic radiation has been proven to affect the function of living cells, a fact that is not disputed by scientists?

Keeping our bodies in a natural state is the best way to maintain our health and wellbeing. We never cease to hear about ‘the latest research’ proclaiming that a particular healthy physical activity or natural food is good for you and the amazing health benefits they give. Of course, giving your body the food it’s designed to consume and using it the way it’s intended to be is going to yield positive results, in much the same way that not doing so will produce negative outcomes!  There is an ever-increasing amount of scientific evidence that humans are healthiest and happiest when connected to Nature, and this should be common sense, since humans have evolved and are adapted to be amongst Nature and interacting with it, that’s our natural place in the world!

We have no trouble with this idea when it comes to growing plants, or keeping pets. Whether it’s growing orchids, or keeping tropical fish or reptiles, we try to recreate their sometimes rather exotic natural habitats as well as we can, to ensure their health and wellbeing. Well guess what? Humans are also living organisms that live on planet Earth and aren’t above the laws of biology!

To explore the complex subject of man-made electromagnetic radiation and its effects on human health, we’ll need to delve into the sciences to understand how all living things maintain a natural balance, how they respond to changes in their environments, what happens when they’re exposed to environmental stressors (especially ones that aren’t naturally occurring), and how we can bring things back into balance to maintain health and wellbeing.

 

Nature and Homeostasis

640px-Boubinsky_potok_in_nature_reserve_Certova_stran_in_2011_(3)
(Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

When discussing living things and their habitats, we need to understand that the environments which living things occupy are relatively stable, they need to be, this is a requirement for life on this planet. To this effect, the planet Earth functions as a self-regulating system to maintain a state of homeostasis. [1] What is homeostasis? To quote the Scientific American article on the topic,  “Homeostasis, from the Greek words for "same" and "steady," refers to any process that living things use to actively maintain fairly stable conditions necessary for survival. The term was coined in 1930 by the physician Walter Cannon. His book, The Wisdom of the Body, describes how the human body maintains steady levels of temperature and other vital conditions such as the water, salt, sugar, protein, fat, calcium and oxygen contents of the blood. Similar processes dynamically maintain steady-state conditions in the Earth’s environment.” [2]

The capacity for homeostasis, to actively maintain a steady stable state, is reflected in the planet Earth as a whole, in the ecosystems that comprise it, in the living organisms that inhabit those ecosystems, and in the bodies of the living organisms themselves. Even within stable systems, gradual changes do occur, and all living thing do have the inherent capacity to adapt and evolve to the changes in their environment, but there’s a catch!

When physical, chemical or biological changes occur which impact a living organism’s habitat, these changes create an environmental stress, which produces a response in the organism in question. Living organisms, as well as whole ecosystems, do have a limited capacity to tolerate various environmental stressors such as natural disasters, fires, climatic changes, temperature fluctuations, pollution, ionizing radiation, disease, competition for resources from other living things and so on. The resistance to environmental stressors has definite limits, thresholds of tolerance which when exceeded cause ecological disruption.

What happens if a drastic change occurs to a living organism’s habitat, an introduction of an unknown factor that the organism hasn’t evolved to deal with, effectively ‘throwing a spanner in the works’? Whenever natural habitats or ecosystems are disrupted, living organisms experience a negative response to the source of the environmental stress and may be affected detrimentally.

As humans, we’re no different, when we expose ourselves to unnatural conditions, our bodies experience stress, a neurological and hormonal response that drives us to make changes to restore the balance – homeostasis. When the factors causing stress remain persistent and are not dealt with, this has an impact on our health, wellbeing, mood, energy levels and our ability to recover from illness. Humans are exactly like all other living things, period, that’s what the science says.

 

Unnatural Environments and Their Effects on the Human Body

640px-SEPTA_Lansdale-Substation-transformers-close
(Image source: Sturmovik at English Wikipedia)

If we correctly think of ourselves as living organisms that have evolved to function optimally in a specific natural environment, we soon realise that if we subject ourselves to things that our bodies aren’t designed to deal with, just like any other living thing, we’ll cause ourselves serious troubles. Our bodies, like everything else in Nature, haven’t evolved to deal with the plethora of toxic man-made chemicals that now pollute our waterways, air and food. It’s scientific common sense that if you throw some unknown random thing into a complex system not designed to handle it, anything can happen and you’ll most likely cause harm. You wouldn’t put dirty dishwater into your car’s fuel tank, would you? So why would it be less critical to throw in random new man-made unnatural things into an immensely more complicated system such as the human body?

Let us take a step back for a moment and cast a sceptical glance at out our ‘modern western society’. It’s hard to overlook the junk science and misleading propaganda we’re being fed by profit-driven corporate interests and those with blind faith in technology, it’s so overwhelmingly absurd but somehow fails to be questioned. We’re constantly told that this or that new man-made anomaly to Nature is ‘safe’, without evidence to show that safety. So much for evidence-based facts…

In fact, we receive misleading assurances based on the most unsound logic, telling us that because there’s no evidence currently available that some new thing is unsafe, we can therefore assume it is safe and that it can be released to the market for public use! No we can’t assume that at all! In philosophy of logic, absence of proof is not proof of absence, this ludicrous thinking contravenes the very laws of western logic and reason! We’ve seen this line of deception play out with smoking, asbestos, thalidomide, DDT and the trend continues.

While we’ve mentioned chemical environmental stressors, another ubiquitous environmental stressor that totally surrounds us is electromagnetic radiation. In cities, our invisible empty spaces are saturated with man-made electromagnetic fields and radio frequency emissions. If these were visible, they would be the electromagnetic equivalent of the thick smog which blanketed the early industrial cities,  hence why the term ‘electro-smog’ used to describe this phenomenon. It’s really just electromagnetic  pollution, but that concept doesn’t go down to well in a technologically-obsessed society. Placing the human body within man-made electromagnetic fields is obviously not natural, and definitely not something the human body evolved to deal with. The naturally-occurring electromagnetic radiation we’ve evolved to handle is sunlight, and we deal with it through varying degrees of skin pigmentation, but we don’t have electrical or magnetic shielding similar to what we install in sensitive electronic devices to prevent interference which disrupts their functionality.

This clearly raises the question, what effect does man-made electromagnetic radiation have on the human body?

 

The Body Electric

nervous-system-full-body-central-nervous-system 

Having a keen interest in Nature and wellbeing, along with a background in the biomedical sciences and formal training in electronics, it was inevitable that I would eventually be drawn to look into how our bodies react to artificial (non-naturally occurring) electromagnetic energies. What I’m also trained to do as a qualified technical trainer is to analyse complicated information, then present it in an understandable way to help people learn, and that’s precisely what we’ll do here!

To be able to make sense of some technical subjects, we first need to understand some basic concepts, and what we’ll do next is go through a few in a step-by-step fashion. Our aim isn’t a deep technical understanding, just a general overview and an appreciation of what we’re discussing – consider it useful background knowledge which puts the subject matter into context. Okay, so lets dive in with some basic physics!

The laws of physics, namely Faraday’s law of induction, a basic law of electromagnetism, tells us that:

  1. Every electric current (flow of electricity) produces a magnetic field that surrounds it. Direct current (DC) electricity which comes out of batteries flows only in one direction as shown in the diagram.
    mag_field_current_450x370
  2. Your home mains wiring uses alternating currents, which don’t just flow in one direction like a battery, the electricity actually changes direction many times a second, and this produces a fluctuating magnetic field, because the electricity itself fluctuates.  This explains why, in the US, when main power is described as 120 V AC, 60 Hz, it means that an alternating current flows through the mains wiring which changes direction 60 times a second. In Australia, mains power is 240 V AC, 50 Hz.
    The Nature of Electromagnetic Radiation
    The Nature of Electromagnetic Radiation. All forms of electromagnetic radiation consist of perpendicular oscillating electric and magnetic fields.
  3. These fluctuating magnetic fields cause electrical  currents to flow in conductors (objects that conduct electricity) placed within them.
    faraday_induction
    How electromagnetic induction works: Alternating current in coil 1 induces a voltage in coil 2 (or in your body if its nearby!)

 

So what does this have to do with human bodies you may ask? Consider that the human body is a huge vessel of salt water, made up of 50 to 75 per cent water that has roughly the same amount of salt as seawater. Still don’t get it. Okay, salt water is conductive, it conducts electricity very well actually, as do human bodies, which is also why we can get electrocuted!

So what happens when a conductor (your body) is near fluctuating magnetic fields created by alternating currents (such as in home mains wiring and mains powered electric or electronic devices)? As Faraday’s law predicts, electricity will flow in your body! Now, it’s not natural for that artificially created electricity to be there, as your body itself is electric.

heart-rate-on-a-screen-EKG-machine
The heart rate on a screen EKG machine, measuring the electrical activity generated by the heart as it contracts

To quote the World Health Organisation (WHO) EMF Project article “What are electromagnetic fields? Summary of health effects” [3]:

Tiny electrical currents exist in the human body due to the chemical reactions that occur as part of the normal bodily functions, even in the absence of external electric fields. For example, nerves relay signals by transmitting electric impulses. Most biochemical reactions from digestion to brain activities go along with the rearrangement of charged particles. Even the heart is electrically active – an activity that your doctor can trace with the help of an electrocardiogram.

Low-frequency electric fields influence the human body just as they influence any other material made up of charged particles. When electric fields act on conductive materials, they influence the distribution of electric charges at their surface. They cause current to flow through the body to the ground.

Low-frequency magnetic fields induce circulating currents within the human body. The strength of these currents depends on the intensity of the outside magnetic field. If sufficiently large, these currents could cause stimulation of nerves and muscles or affect other biological processes.”

Despite these facts, “…WHO concluded that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields. However, some gaps in knowledge about biological effects exist and need further research.” [Note – emphasis is mine here]

Since humans have historically run around barefoot or worn leather-soled shoes (which are conductive), any electrical current in the body has always has always been able to flow back into the earth, bringing the human body to the same voltage potential as the ground. This all changed when we began to wear shoes with electrically insulating rubber and plastic soles, and we no longer slept in direct contact with the Earth.

If man-made artificially created electromagnetic fields do interact with the delicate electrical flows in the human body body. what changes or effects do they have?

 

Biological vs. Health Effects, this is the only controversy…

The effects of electromagnetic fields on living organisms is a subject said to be filled with controversy, confusion and misunderstanding. Let me make this clear, there is no controversy that electromagnetic fields unnaturally change the functioning of the cells of living organisms. No scientist disputes or disagrees with this fact. The amount of research-based evidence is huge and growing.

What is in dispute is whether the biological changes produced by electromagnetic fields of the levels commonly encountered cause enough disruption to living organisms (including people), to adversely affect their health and wellbeing. The problem here is that all living things can take a degree of damage before it has a greater overall measurable effect on the functioning of the organism.

There is no dispute that exposure to very high level electromagnetic fields is clearly harmful to human health, which is why there are international and national limits for occupational and residential electromagnetic fields (EMF) exposure.

 

warning emf radiation
If all electromagnetic fields at all levels were safe, warning signs like this simply wouldn’t exist!

To quote The World Health Organisation (WHO) on international limits, “The exposure limits for EMF fields developed by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) – a non-governmental organization formally recognised by WHO, were developed following reviews of all the peer-reviewed scientific literature, including thermal and non-thermal effects. The standards are based on evaluations of biological effects that have been established to have health consequences. The main conclusion from the WHO reviews is that EMF exposures below the limits recommended in the ICNIRP international guidelines do not appear to have any known consequence on health.” [4]

According to WHO Global Health Observatory data over 80% of participating countries surveyed have legislation on exposure to electromagnetic fields. [5]

Australia has their own national limits for EMF exposure, such as the “Radiation Protection Standard for Maximum Exposure Levels to Radiofrequency Fields – 3 kHz to 300 GHz (2002)” which can be downloaded here.

The Department of Health & Human Services, State Government of Victoria, Australia on their website article “Electromagnetic fields (EMF) and health issues ” state that – “Whether or not EMF can harm human health is a controversial issue, Scientific evidence does not demonstrate a causal link between typical exposures to EMF and adverse health effects, The Victorian Department of Human Services recommends that heavy exposure to EMF be avoided, if possible.”

The conservative position governments are taking is that the health effects of EMF are a controversial topic and the scientific evidence doesn’t link typical exposures to EMF and adverse health effects. The operative words here are ‘typical exposures’ and ‘adverse health effects’.   Remember though, just because we don’t have conclusive evidence that something is harmful does not mean it is safe! This is a common logical fallacy exploited by unethical corporations who knowingly release harmful products into the public sphere without conclusive safety testing. Conversely, there is no scientific evidence proving that typical exposure levels are safe, so keep that in mind.

So what does current scientific research tell us about the effects of EMF?

 

Research on Biological and Health Effects of EMF

Here is a list of current EMF research from mainstream scientific sources with summaries, references are provided at the end of this article in the References section. These give us a good indication of what scientists are discovering when they examine the effects of EMFs on living organisms. Read through them and draw your own conclusions about the picture they paint.

Electromagnetic Fields Affect Human Cells
Date: October 16, 2000
Source: Michigan State University
Summary: Electromagnetic fields, similar to those found in overhead power lines, can have a biological effect on human cells, an effect that could contribute to the complex cellular process that leads to cancer, research at Michigan State University shows. [6]

Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields Damage Mice Ovarian Follicles, Study Shows
Date: November 6, 2000
Source: European Society For Human Reproduction And Embryology
Summary: Mice ovarian follicles exposed to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) fail to develop properly in many cases, according to Italian scientists involved in researching the effects of ELF-EMF on living organisms. They found that exposure of mouse pre-antral follicles to ELF-EMF significantly reduced the development of their crucial central cavity (the antrum). [7]

Study reports short latencies for cancer in young workers with high occupational exposures to electro-magnetic fields
Date: August 14, 2011
Source: Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Summary: A new study has found that that there can be very short latency periods between the time of exposure and development of cancer in workers in tasks with intense or prolonged exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Previous studies have described excess risks for cancer from such high occupational exposures. However, none have addressed the issue of short latency periods from high exposure. [8]

Exposure to magnetic fields in pregnancy increases asthma risk, study suggests
Date: August 2, 2011
Source: Kaiser Permanente
Summary: Women with high exposure to magnetic fields during pregnancy may have a higher risk of asthma in their children, according to a new study. [9]

Radiation From Mobile Phones Changes Protein Expression In Living People, Study Suggests
Date: February 25, 2008
Source: Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Finland
Summary: A new study on effects of mobile phone radiation on human skin strengthens the results of the human cell line analyses: living tissue responds to mobile phone radiation. Earlier studies have shown that mobile phone radiation alters protein expression and activity in human endothelial cell line. This new study is unique, because for the first time it has examined whether a local exposure of human skin to RF-EMF will cause changes in protein expression in living people. [10]

Electromagnetic fields can disturb learning, study suggests, but only at very high levels
Date: July 1, 2011
Source: Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum
Summary: The effects of high-frequency electromagnetic fields emitted by mobile phones on humans have been hotly debated for years. In a new study, neuroscientists from Germany have shed light on this question. For the first time, they provide evidence that extremely high-powered electromagnetic fields can influence learning processes on the synaptic level within the brain, independent from other factors such as stress. However, such high levels are not encountered during typical use of mobile phones, the researchers note. [11]

Exposure To Low-level Magnetic Fields Causes DNA Damage In Rat Brain Cells, Researchers Find
Date: February 19, 2004
Source: University Of Washington
Summary: Prolonged exposure to low-level magnetic fields, similar to those emitted by such common household devices as blow dryers, electric blankets and razors, can damage brain cell DNA, according to researchers in the University of Washington’s Department of Bioengineering. [12]

Cell phones negatively affect male fertility, new study suggests
Date: June 9, 2014
Source: University of Exeter
Summary: Men who keep a cell phone in their pant pocket could be inadvertently damaging their chances of becoming a father, according to a new study. Previous research has suggested that radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) emitted by the devices can have a detrimental effect on male fertility. Most of the global adult population own mobile phones, and around 14% of couples in high and middle income countries have difficulty conceiving. [13]

‘Glow-in-the-dark’ bacteria is affected by the electric (not magnetic) field of microwaves emitted by mobile/Wi-Fi
Date: October 18, 2016
Source: Swansea University
Summary: Technology advancement has revolutionized the way in which we live with radio frequency and microwave-based technologies constantly emerging and evolving to meet our modern, urbanized environment. The question soon poses itself as to what implications these transmissions are having on our health.[14]

Energy from cellphone towers amplify pain in amputees
Date: February 3, 2016
Source: University of Texas at Dallas
Summary: Researchers explain anecdotal and conflicting reports as to why some report pain around electromagnetic fields from cell phones. Researchers said that the next step is to develop devices that block neuropathic pain from radiofrequency electromagnetic energy. [15]

Effect of 6 mT SMF (Static Magnetic Field) on phagocytosis depends on macrophage differentiation degree
Date: December 3, 2010
Source: Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine
Summary: Scientists offer evidence that the exposure to 6 mT SMF field affects removal of dying cells. They found that monocyte/macrophages differentiation degree is very important in driving cell response in presence of SMF during phagocytosis. This results can be used to design therapeutical exposure of patients to medical machinery producing moderate intensity SMF in order to avoid an inflammation or a chronic condition. [16]

Is There An Unexpected Price For Late Night High Tech Excitement?
Date: June 18, 2003
Source: American Physiological Society
Summary: Recently released research claims that playing lots of video games improves some types of visual functioning. Before rushing to your computer or buying more games, consider another new research finding. Newly published results suggests that performing an exciting video display terminal task fitted with a bright display suppresses the nocturnal changes in melatonin concentration and other elements of our biological clocks. [17]

 

The last entry in this list has been included to highlight a point, that a very wide range of frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum have very profound biological effects on us, including visible light, and what happens when we artificially change what we’re naturally adapted for. Sunlight tends towards the red end of the visible light spectrum in the morning, changes to have more blue light at midday, and reverts back the red end of the spectrum in the evening. Our brains synchronise with the change of colour of daylight to set our biological clocks. Old incandescent light bulbs produces a warmer light which contained more of the red spectrum, triggering the natural wind-down and increase in melatonin levels. The move to cool white fluorescent and LED lights which contain more of the blue spectrum, and the use of computers and mobile devices which have a similar high level of blue light, suppresses the pineal gland’s production of melatonin, disrupting sleep patters.

Once again, more proof of the principle that I espoused earlier – introducing conditions, be they chemical, physical or biological that the body is not evolved to handle will create adverse health conditions. Lets be objective here, why wouldn’t they?

 

Is EMF Exposure Safe – What the Science Really Shows

Clearly, being exposed to electromagnetic fields will change the way the human body functions, and there is no dispute that high level EMFs are harmful, the arguments debating biological effects vs. health effects are relying on the unproven assumption that the body’s resistance to environmental stressors can overcome any adverse effect caused by EMF levels which are below the national and international safety limits (which incidentally do get revised and rewritten and can vary between different countries, even though people are biologically the same worldwide).

This concept of safety is exactly like that applied to  pesticide-contaminated food which is considered ‘safe’ by authorities when below the specified set limits, which strangely vary from country to country, despite the fact that people in the United States do not have a higher tolerance to poisons than Europeans, but that’s what the standards curiously reflect. With pesticide contamination of food, people have the choice to place blind faith in people who may not be right and gullibly believe their reassurances, or they can make up their own minds up and choose to eat organic food. Here, we can choose what EMF exposure we subject our bodies to and take charge of our own health and wellbeing, as we’ve naturally evolved a to do as individuals!

You’ve read the facts, now draw your own conclusion as to whether the litany of biological effects can translate to adverse effects on your health.

 

My Own Conclusions

Personally I’m of the opinion that EMFs are harmful to health, based objectively on the principle that living things are adapted to deal only with naturally occurring environmental stressors, because they’ve obviously evolved resistance in response to them.

I’ll explain my reasoning further. I can’t envisage any logical reason why humans would have evolved a resistance to unnatural electromagnetic radiation that has never previously existed. Neither can I entertain the idea that by some random probability, ridiculous odds, or apparent miracle, and for no apparent reason, that humans somehow evolved to be resistant to man-made EMFs in the last 200,000 years. In my opinion such and assumption would be seriously pushing the boundaries of credibility and objective reason.  Especially when we consider that humans actually can’t even cope with something as simple and seemingly innocuous as blue wavelength light in the evening because it conflicts with their adaptation to the sun’s more red evening light and measurably messes up their melatonin production.

 

Restoring the Natural Balance – How to Get Grounded!

beach-walk

All problems have solutions, and the first step in problem solving is acknowledging that we actually do gave a problem, which is hopefully what the discussion has achieved thus far.

There’s nothing unusual about grounding or earthing ourselves, it’s just an act of restoring what’s normal and natural, it’s what we’ve always done as a species, as has all other life on the planet! No life has ever existed living electrically insulated in alternating magnetic fields, need I say more. Moving back in harmony with what Nature intended is always a step in the right direction!

If the problem is that we’re electrically insulating our bodies from the ground by wearing synthetic-soled shoes and exposing ourselves to man-made electromagnetic emissions, then the simple solution is to do less of either!

 

Grounding Outdoors

One of the easiest ways to get grounded is to walk barefoot outdoors on natural surfaces, such as grass, dirt or the sand on the beach. Sitting down on these surfaces also has the same effect, as does working in the garden with your hands in the soil. Go out and walk along the beach during the sunset, or spend a relaxing afternoon in the garden, it’s good for you, and you’ll enjoy it too!

Manmade surfaces which are porous such as concrete or brick also work as grounding surfaces as long as they’re not painted or sealed. Certain man-made surfaces are not conductive, and are not suitable for grounding, such as asphalt and tarmac.

It’s often mot practical to run around barefoot, luckily we can be grounded with footwear on! Wearing leather-soled footwear offers some capacity for grounding, nowhere near as good as going barefoot. You can actually buy grounding footwear, I’ve reviewed Earth Runners Minimalist Outdoor Sandals and Shoe Sync Earthing Shoes DIY Kit by Earth Runners previously.

 

Grounding Indoors

Indoors, it’s more difficult to ground ourselves, and to compound the problem, this is where man-made electromagnetic fields are most common. Trying to ground yourself by going barefoot indoors at home doesn’t work in most cases because many common flooring materials are very poor conductors of electricity,  in fact, many are effective insulators. Carpet, polished timber, vinyl flooring, sealed or glazed tiles, marble and sealed concrete do not work as grounding surfaces.

To overcome this problem, we’ve seen the development of specially made earthing products such as conductive mats to rest hands or feet on when using the computer, grounding underlay pads which sit under bedding material to provide earthing while sleeping, and earthing yoga mats for exercising on when indoors.

Even indoors, and while flying, there are ways to help you stay grounded. As noted in the film, touching the faucet with one hand while shaving with the other helps you ground. And when flying, you can take off your shoes and place your feet (bare or with socks) on the steel struts of the chair in front of you, as this too will help you stay grounded. There are also grounding pads you can use to sleep or sit on, which can be particularly beneficial if you live in a high-rise building.

I read that making contact with a water tap/faucet while shaving will ground you [18], so I tested it with my multimeter, and guess what, taps/faucets are electrically grounded, as is the kitchen sink, and all gas pipes in the house.

 

Health Benefits of Grounding?

According to Dr Mercola in his article “Might Electron Deficiency Be an Underlying Factor in Most Chronic Disease?”  published May 05, 2013, being in contact with the earth may be critical to human health and may prevent many diseases .

Electron deficiency syndrome is a ground-breaking discovery that could be an underlying factor in all chronic disease. Industrialization and the introduction of plastics and other synthetic materials have disconnected us from the earth, which has interrupted the natural flow of electrons between the earth and you. Electron deficiency has been shown to increase inflammation in your body which is a major risk factor for disease. Bringing yourself back into contact with the earth via a process called “Earthing” can help reverse this deficiency, decreasing inflammation and reducing your risk for all of the diseases that are inflammation-based, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, and many others.” [19]

While I can’t personally verify that grounding reduces inflammation, as I’m not able to test this, the abovementioned article cites many sources and references which people can follow up if they’re interested. Incidentally, if you’re looking for primary sources, Dr Mercola’s articles on grounding often refer to the pioneering research work published in the book  “Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever!”  by Clinton Ober, Dr Stephen T Sinatra M.D. &  Martin Zucker.

 

In Conclusion…

Grounding essentially recreates the natural electrical state of the body, and that can only be a beneficial! It’s just like all those other natural things that common sense would tell us are healthy, that researchers keep ‘discovering’ which promote good health, such as ‘superfoods’, eating fresh natural food with no artificial additives, spending time outdoors to receive exposure to a healthy amount of sunlight, getting a good night’s sleep and engaging in regular moderate exercise! Who would have thought that living more naturally could be good for you!

 

 

References:

  1. Dyke JG, Weaver IS (2013) The Emergence of Environmental Homeostasis in Complex Ecosystems. PLoS Comput Biol 9(5): e1003050. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003050
  2. Scientific American, What is homeostasis? by Emeritus Professor Kelvin Rodolfo, University of Illinois, Chicago Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
  3. World Health Organisation (WHO) EMF Project “What are electromagnetic fields? Summary of health effects
  4. World Health Organisation (WHO) EMF Project “Standards and Guidelines
  5. World Health Organisation (WHO) EMF Project “Global Health Observatory (GHO) data, Legislation – Existence of standards
  6. Michigan State University. "Electromagnetic Fields Affect Human Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 October 2000. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/10/001016073704.htm.
  7. European Society For Human Reproduction And Embryology. "Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields Damage Mice Ovarian Follicles, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 November 2000. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001106060002.htm.
  8. Yael Stein, Or Levy-Nativ, Elihu D. Richter. A sentinel case series of cancer patients with occupational exposures to electromagnetic non-ionizing radiation and other agents. European Journal of Oncology, 2011; 16 (1): 21-54
  9. De-Kun Li, Hong Chen, Roxana Odouli. Maternal Exposure to Magnetic Fields During Pregnancy in Relation to the Risk of Asthma in Offspring. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 2011; DOI: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.135
  10. Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Finland. "Radiation From Mobile Phones Changes Protein Expression In Living People, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2008. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080224100008.htm.
  11. Nora Prochnow, Tina Gebing, Kerstin Ladage, Dorothee Krause-Finkeldey, Abdessamad El Ouardi, Andreas Bitz, Joachim Streckert, Volkert Hansen, Rolf Dermietzel. Electromagnetic Field Effect or Simply Stress? Effects of UMTS Exposure on Hippocampal Longterm Plasticity in the Context of Procedure Related Hormone Release. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (5): e19437 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019437
  12. University Of Washington. "Exposure To Low-level Magnetic Fields Causes DNA Damage In Rat Brain Cells, Researchers Find." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 February 2004. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040219075606.htm.
  13. University of Exeter. "Cell phones negatively affect male fertility, new study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 June 2014. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140609205658.htm.
  14. Catrin F. Williams, Gilles M. Geroni, Antoine Pirog, David Lloyd, Jonathan Lees, Adrian Porch. The separated electric and magnetic field responses of luminescent bacteria exposed to pulsed microwave irradiation. Applied Physics Letters, 2016; 109 (9): 093701 DOI: 10.1063/1.4961970
  15. Bryan Black, Rafael Granja-Vazquez, Benjamin R. Johnston, Erick Jones, Mario Romero-Ortega. Anthropogenic Radio-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields Elicit Neuropathic Pain in an Amputation Model. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (1): e0144268 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0144268
  16. Luciana Dini and Elisa Panzarini. The influence of a 6 mT static magnetic field on apoptotic cell phagocytosis depends on monocyte/macrophage differentiation. Exp. Biol. Med., 235(12): 1432%u20141441 DOI: 10.1258/ebm.2010.010122
  17. American Physiological Society. "Is There An Unexpected Price For Late Night High Tech Excitement?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 June 2003. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/06/030618080533.htm.
  18. Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Grounding Is a Key Mechanism by Which Your Body Maintains Health”, published August 02, 2014, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/08/02/grounding-earthing.aspx
  19. Dr. Joseph Mercola,“Might Electron Deficiency Be an Underlying Factor in Most Chronic Disease?”  published May 05, 2013, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/05/05/chronic-disease-are-we-missing-something.aspx
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4 Responses to Earthing and Grounding – Restoring Your Natural Balance

  1. THANK you for this (incredibly thorough) article. Very, very useful.

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  2. Ben N. says:

    Hi Angelo, I do enjoy your site, but I have difficulty with the concept of ‘grounding’ I think you’re a little irresponsible with what you say in public in the name of science. You’re perfectly right to suggest that low-level health effects are routinely ignored or deemed acceptable for public consumption. Again you are correct that ‘absence of proof is not proof of absence’ but at the same time the ‘burden of proof’ applies to your recommendation of grounding products.

    The efficacy of grounding as a solution to EMF exposure wasn’t established by what you’ve presented here. Given the variety of different exposures to EMF, how would a specially designed mat or walking barefoot help us with regard to the EMF from powerlines, for example? How would a grounding mat counteract the effects of mobile phones? Sometimes your use of articles here overstated the connection. Evidence of harm from these low-level exposures to EMF is still highly controversial and needs much more research since the evidence of harm may be correlative and not a cause (cf. ‘Non Causa Pro Causa’).

    In addition, ‘Dr Joseph Mercola’ is not a peer-reviewed source for the efficacy of grounding and this is compounded by the fact that he’s your only source for grounding. I’m willing to accept the idea of grounding but what you’ve presented in favour of it is pseudo-scientific at best. I also take issue with the fact that ‘grounding products’ are being pushed for sale in what was meant to an educational article. Having cross-purposes like this is not a good sign of honest science and educative intent. It reads like a product endorsement.

    To sum up, I agree with you that humanity has introduced imbalances into natural processes without recognising the consequences but we can’t, as responsible ecological thinkers, paint all technology as ‘unnatural’ and the bogeyman of modern living, that’s just not a conclusion that is supported by the evidence. EMF is a natural phenomenon and different to the production of DMT or pesticides. Just as humans have been wearing some kind of footwear for close to 50,000 years now, a technological innovation, that’s just a long line of technological phenomena that have been part of our natural evolutionary history. And no-one thinks the hermit crab’s reliance on the sea shell is ‘unnatural’ even though the species would not survive without the presence the product of another being. What we are looking at here is excess and lack in certain processes that sustain the life of an organism and technology is a part of those processes.

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    • Angelo (admin) says:

      Hi Ben, thank for your comments. I’ll answer each of your points in the order that you’ve raised them. I hope you can appreciate that this is a technically complex topic, and that this is an accessible article and not a physics class, I’m aiming to keep things accessible but you’re getting caught up on technical minutiae here. Since we’re an educational website, here we go.

      In this article, I explained how EMFs induce current flows in the body as per Faraday’s Law in physics, cited a long list of research that shows that the electricity induced by exposure to magnetic fields has a biological effect, altering cellular function, and how this is not controversial in the scientific community but an accepted fact. You mention that I do not show how grounding can work as a solution to EMF-induced electrical flow in the body. I actually do demonstrate this in the grounding product reviews and document the actual test procedure for measuring body voltage so readers can reproduce the test themselves! In the tests, I document (with photos of the test equipment readings) how grounding reduces EMF induced body voltage by almost 95%.

      When we’re talking about Faradays Law of Electromagnetism and the magnetic fields from power lines, household appliances and electronic equipment we are talking about extremely low frequency fields (ELF) in the frequency range of 30-300 Hz. Nowhere in this article did I touch on the topic the microwave frequency spectrum range of 300 MHz-300 GHz which mobile phones fall into, nor did I suggest grounding to counteract the effect of microwave energy transmitted from a mobile phone!

      As a technical point, low frequency magnetic fields are hard to shield, you can redirect them so they have less influence on what your shielding by using materials that have a high magnetic permeability such as mu-metal and other such magnetic shielding materials made of special composition alloys. Magnetic shielding can’t eliminate or destroy magnetic fields because nothing can, it just provides an easier path for the magnetic field to flow along and complete its path. Microwaves, which includes mobile phone signals, are of a very high frequency and can simply be blocked by a sheet of metal or metal mesh screening. Two very different things here!

      You state that “Evidence of harm from these low-level exposures to EMF is still highly controversial “, well I DID state that clearly in the article. To quote the World Health Organisation on EMF guidelines and standards “An important point to make is that a guideline limit is not a precise delineation between safety and hazard. There is no one level above which exposures become hazardous to health; instead, the potential risk to human health gradually increases with higher exposure levels. Guidelines indicate that, below a given threshold, electromagnetic field exposure is safe according to scientific knowledge.” This is pretty clear, and the operative words are “safe according to scientific knowledge“, meaning that we consider something safe with what we currently understand, which may be revised as new data presents itself. Scientific knowledge is not objective, unchangeable hard fact, it’s an ever-changing opinion about what fact is. Historically, how many things were assumed safe, only to find that these technological wonders were anathema to all living things and later banned? Technological history is littered with them, and as a toxicologist I can tell you that every year many toxic agricultural and horticultural chemicals are banned, and at some point, according to scientific knowledge they were considered safe. This is nothing new. Here’s a word of wisdom- science is not omniscient…

      How carefully did you read my article? In respect to Dr Mercola, here is a direct quote of the above article “While I can’t personally verify that grounding reduces inflammation, as I’m not able to test this, the abovementioned article cites many sources and references which people can follow up if they’re interested. Incidentally, if you’re looking for primary sources, Dr Mercola’s articles on grounding often refer to the pioneering research work published in the book “Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever!” by Clinton Ober, Dr Stephen T Sinatra M.D. & Martin Zucker.” I’m not going to rephrase that, you are clearly mistaken in suggesting that Mercola is my only source for grounding and that I suggested he is a peer-reviewed source for the efficacy of grounding! I mentioned three others whom he refers to, and I don’t know which part of my statement “While I can’t personally verify that grounding reduces inflammation, as I’m not able to test this” that you missed in the context of Dr Mercola. I list two of Dr Mercola’s articles in the references because I mentioned them, which is standard practise so people can follow them up, not because they’re my primary sources!

      My source for grounding? It appears that you misunderstood the whole section on the science of homeostasis – where I explained that being in electrical contact with the ground is the default state of living things. Grounding is not something that you do, it’s something that always was, a natural state that we’ve recently undone with ‘progress’ along with what we’ve done to clean air and water, healthy food and the rest!

      If someone were to suggest that things should function out of their natural equilibrium state, then the onus of proof is on them. It’s like you’re asking for peer reviewed sources that humans should walk on two legs if by some strange stroke of fate someone came up with the irrational fashion of walking backwards on one leg and a lot of people stated doing that.

      You’re failing to distinguish the difference between the way Mercola’s expresses grounding as beneficial to health, which implies something additional to increase health, versus what I’m stating, which is that being ungrounded is detrimental because it’s an unnatural state which compounds the effects of EMFs, which are scientifically proven to have biological effects on the body.

      How much biological effects can a living organism tolerate before things are no longer safe was a topic I discussed when talking about limited thresholds of tolerance to ecological stress. In case you missed it, my line of argument is based on deductive reasoning from scientific first principles of homeostatic systems. How is this “pseudo-scientific at best” as you claim? Anyone can toss round labels? Evidence-based? I think not.

      You may take issue with the fact that I very briefly mention in passing that grounding products exist for indoor use in my much longer discussion of outdoor solutions, and that’s your prerogative, I can’t control how you feel or react. In Permaculture, we are solutions-oriented, and in the discussion, I covered the range of solutions available. I only mention they exist, I don’t tell anyone to buy them in this article. The separate product reviews are all about testing something that works well and sharing my recommendations. If you don’t wish to buy them, then make them yourself, I describe how they work in the product reviews, surely you don’t demand that I produce the DIY articles for those too amongst the dozens free DIY articles on this site?

      I’m glad we can agree that humanity has introduced imbalances into natural processes without recognising the consequences. I’m not painting all technology as ‘unnatural’ and the bogeyman of modern living, as you suggest. Permaculture is all about technology, as it’s an applied science. There is appropriate technology, sustainable technology and plain bad technology. Science doesn’t place blind faith in technology, healthy scepticism is essential. We must always be aware of the problems we create with the misuse of technology. This article is about that exactly, awareness of the problems created by technology, and the solutions.

      To correct you, the EMFs we’re surrounded by are definitely not a natural phenomenon, they’re man-made! The only natural electromagnetic fields are the planet Earth’s static magnetic field, static electric fields which create lightning and the tiny amounts of cosmic rays that make it through our atmosphere from outer space. The planet Earth was once a relatively quiet place in respect to EMFs, now its clogged up with man-made refuse much like our beaches are with discarded plastic. The alternating and modulated (as opposed to static) EMFs of power lines, microwaves, etc are not natural in any way, which is what makes them so dangerous.

      In reference to shoes, you may have missed the whole paragraph where I explained “Since humans have historically run around barefoot or worn leather-soled shoes (which are conductive), any electrical current in the body has always has always been able to flow back into the earth, bringing the human body to the same voltage potential as the ground. This all changed when we began to wear shoes with electrically insulating rubber and plastic soles, and we no longer slept in direct contact with the Earth.”

      My father, a generation ago, wore leather-soled shoes, synthetic soles are only decades old, and rubber soled shoes didn’t exist 50,000 years ago, and don’t forget that technological innovation can be really bad, the ancient Romans were very innovative, they had plumbing, but used lead pipes (Latin for lead is plumbum), that’s where the term ‘plumber’ came from, and they gave themselves lead poisoning. It pays to question things rather than accept them unthinkingly, and human technology gets no special treatment or dispensation here.

      Hope this answers your questions!

      Liked by 2 people

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