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Body earthing implies grounding - giving a human (or animal) body electrical connection to the earth. The purpose is to obtain health benefits by providing electrons the body needs, and by letting the earth stabilize and modulate the electrical potential of the body.
The standard and most efficient earthing method is to use a conducting and grounded bedsheet in the bed. A similar grounding provision can be used on places mostly used for sitting down, but grounding is more difficult to achieve when moving around in an urban environment.
Research at the Max Planck institute in the sixties and seventies showed that it was important for human performance and health to receive electrical potentials and signals from the earth. The frequencies near 10 Hz were found to be important, and this corresponds to the Schumann resonance frequency of the earth.
The modern practice of earthing began in the late 1990s when Clinton Ober, a retired cable TV executive, started to think about the human body in terms of electrical grounding. He found it notable that humans during the last century had been using synthetic shoe soles which isolated the body electrically from the earth, and he knew that ungrounded electronic instruments performed badly.
When he experienced that sleeping with his body grounded improved his sleep and health, he started recommending this practice to other people, calling it earthing. They usually told him that their health problems had been markedly improved after they had tried this, so he tried contacting physicians and scientists, recommending them to test this simple procedure. But they generally refused to have anything to do with this, so he had to do the experimental testing himself. This showed that the great majority of his earthed-sleeping subjects experienced improved sleep and health. (Reduced body pain or muscle stiffness)
Dr. Maurice Ghaly, a retired anesthesiologist, did a pilot study involving measuring the cortisol levels (a stress indicator) in his subject, and found that grounding normalized the levels. Ober did a similar experiment, measuring the cortisol level (in saliva) every 4 hours, and got similar results.
Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a cardiologist interested in the energetic heart processes and hence in electromedicine. He became interested in body earthing when he met Ober on an electromedicine conference and learned about the research findings of this amateur. Sinatra then conducted experiments on body earthing.
A notable application example is the use of earthing for the US cyclists in several Tour de France competitions. This usage was prescribed and monitored by the sports medicine specialist Jeff Spencer, who noted that the number of damages was then strongly reduced.
A grounded body will not experience the voltages caused by static electricity, and it will be far less influenced by environmental electric fields. These effects are well known for electronic instrumentation in general, so they were body earthing consequences expected by Ober.
The physiological benefit pertains to the value of antioxidants for reducing oxidative stress. Antioxidants protect against such oxidation damages by providing electrons, and grounding enables the earth to provide electrons which give the same benefits. Chronic inflammation, which can manifest as many different pathological conditions, is caused by electron deficiency, a condition which can be avoided through grounding.
Reductions in overall stress levels and tension, and shift in autonomic nervous system balance
Reduction of heart rate variability
Earthing can be regarded as a new medical idea, but it is an old practice. The use of isolating shoe soles (of rubber and plastic) started around the middle of the 20th century. Leather soles, used for some thousand years, give a partial earthing – at least when moistened by sweat.
Sleeping in beds with fully isolating synthetic mattresses is also a modern practice, while getting a partial isolation through using wooden beds, perhaps combined with multi-floor buildings, has a tradition extending a few thousand years back.
Earthing has consequently been the natural lifestyle throughout almost all the time humans have existed, and even modern activities like swimming and walking barefoot in the grass will give thorough earthing. This means the modern earthing idea doesn't lead to new or unnatural practices.
Patients using blood-thinning medications are, however, advised to get medical help before starting sleeping earthed (with conducting and grounded bedsheets). This is because earthing has a blood-thinning effect.
^ Ghaly, Maurice; Teplitz, Dale (2004). "The Biologic Effects of Grounding the Human Body During Sleep as Measured by Cortisol Levels and Subjective Reporting of Sleep, Pain, and Stress". The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 10 (5): 767–76. doi:10.1089/acm.2004.10.767. PMID 15650465.
^ Ober, A. Clinton (January 2000). "Grounding the Human Body to Neutralize Bioelectrical Stress from Static Electricity and EMFs". ESD Journal.[unreliable medical source?]
^ Oschman, James L. (2007). "Can Electrons Act as Antioxidants? A Review and Commentary". The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 13 (9): 955–67. doi:10.1089/acm.2007.7048. PMID 18047442.
^ Chevalier, Gaétan; Sinatra, Stephen T.; Oschman, James L.; Delany, Richard M. (2012). "Earthing (Grounding) the Human Body Reduces Blood Viscosity—a Major Factor in Cardiovascular Disease". The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: 1–9. doi:10.1089/acm.2011.0820. PMID 22757749.
^ a b Chevalier, Gaétan; Sinatra, Stephen T.; Oschman, James L.; Sokal, Karol; Sokal, Pawel (2012). "Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface Electrons". Journal of Environmental and Public Health 2012: 1–8. doi:10.1155/2012/291541. PMC 3265077. PMID 22291721.
^ Chevalier, Gaétan; Sinatra, Stephen T. (June/July 2011). "Emotional Stress, Heart Rate Variability, Grounding, and Improved Autonomic Tone: Clinical Applications". Integrative Medicine 10 (3): 16–21.