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Not earthing

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We’ve lost direct contact with the earth and its negative charge.

It was a story that captured the headlines a few years back: people living in high-rise apartments were less likely to survive a heart attack or stroke. The reason seemed self-evident—the emergency crew took longer to get to the patient.

And that’s the problem with seemingly self-evident truths: they stop you from looking further. The basic facts are correct: the higher up you live, the more your survival chances drop. Those living on the sixteenth floor and above had an almost zero chance of living, researchers from St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto had noted, while those in the apartments from the first to the third floors were twice as likely to survive.1

Those moments getting to the penthouse suites were crucial, the researchers said. The chances of survival dropped by 7 percent for every minute of delay. But how long does it take for a modern elevator to reach the higher floors? A minute? If so, your chances have fallen by 7 percent—is it really 100 percent, as the researchers surmised?

There’s another possibility, and it’s to do with electricity, or more exactly, the positive charges—known as free radicals—that our immune system releases to fight pathogens and infections. Once their work is done, they are supposed to be mopped up by antioxidants, or free electrons.

But we’re electron-starved. As a result, we start suffering chronic inflammation from the free radicals that haven’t been mopped up—and that’s because the mopping-up crew is short of staff.

Without being neutralized, free radicals can make blood thicker—it becomes more like ketchup and less like red wine—and this can cause heart problems, and eventually a heart attack or stroke. Inflammation is also a cause of diabetes, arthritis and some cancers.

Why are we electron-starved? The most natural source of electrons is our own planet and its surfaces such as sand, grass, soil and rock. Most of us don’t have any direct contact with the earth; we either walk on paving or asphalt and we wear shoes with synthetic soles that block the earth’s negative charge. Leather-soled shoes still allow us to connect to the earth, as long as we walk on the ground and not the pavement.

Direct contact with the earth—such as by walking barefoot in the grass—gives our body electrical stability and readjusts us back to a neutral state.

It was an idea that came to cable TV engineer Clinton Ober when he started to think about the way grids, power stations and electrical equipment are earthed to the ground. It occurred to him that people had lost their natural earthing or grounding, and that’s why more than 90 percent of visits to the doctor are for chronic inflammatory diseases.

His remedy was the simplest possible: just take off your shoes and socks and walk on the grass or sand for up to 40 minutes a day. His Earthing theory caught the attention of cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, who started testing it on heart patients.

They reported just how well they immediately started to feel, and their sense of wellbeing was supported by tests that showed their inflammation levels dropping and their blood thinning. Sinatra noticed the patients were getting a “buzz” of wellbeing within a few seconds of placing their bare feet on the earth.

More recently, five doctors documented their patients’ experiences of Earthing. It “stabilizes the physiology, reduces inflammation, pain and stress, improves sleep, blood flow and lymphatic/venous return to the heart, and produces greater well-being,” they reported.2

It’s a simple thing that has been lost to us in our more sophisticated lifestyles. As the doctors point out, we don’t sleep on the ground or walk barefoot, and we use synthetic materials for our shoes. “We live and work, and spend most of our time, disconnected, often far above the ground in high rises.”

This brings us back to the extraordinary fact that people living in high-rise apartments are less likely to survive a heart attack. It may not have been because the emergency crews couldn’t get to them in time; it could be that their attacks were more severe, and all because they were living too far away from the earth and its health-giving charges.



CMAJ, 2016; 188: 413–9


Explore, 2019; 000: 1–9

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