Manataka American Indian Council

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HEALTH WATCH

 

 

 

Mother Earth and Stress Relief: 

A New Meaning to Being “Grounded”

by Martin Zucker, Earthing Institute

 

The instant you place your bare feet on the ground outside you establish an electrical contact with the Earth. The Earth beneath your feet, you see, is the equivalent of a six sextillion metric ton battery and little old you are a bioelectrical being.  You may not know it, but like other living animals and plants, your body receives and conducts the natural, subtle frequencies that pulse throughout the surface of our dynamic planet. 

 

What does that mean to you?  More than you ever imagined, as you may have read in the previous articles about Earthing posted in the February and March issues of Smoke Signal News.  Among other implications, the Earth is a stress-buster, and just how much is the subject of this article. 

 

Here’s the background:

Earthing is both a timeless practice and a modern discovery. It simply means living in contact with the Earth’s natural surface charge − being grounded − which naturally discharges and prevents chronic inflammation in the body. This effect has massive health implications because of the strong link between chronic inflammation and virtually all chronic disease, including the diseases of aging, and the aging process itself.

 

Through virtually all of history, humans maintained constant physical contact with the Earth.  Depending on where they lived, they went barefoot or used footwear made from animal hides that conducted the Earth’s energy.  They slept on the ground or on bedding made from hides.  They honored connectedness with the Earth. 

 

Fast forward to the so-called modern age and you realize that much of the human population has abandoned many aspects of Nature, including the Earth’s natural and nurturing “electrical nutrition.”  We wear insulated shoes with non-conductive soles made of plastic and rubber compounds. We sleep on elevated beds.

 

We are disconnected!

Earthing is about reconnecting to the Earth on a sustained basis.  That means being barefoot or using conductive footwear outdoors (moccasins without synthetic insoles are an example), or sleeping, relaxing, and working indoors in contact with conductive sheets, mats, and bands that transfer the Earth’s energy to the body. With such regular contact, the following benefits have been documented:

● Reduction of inflammation.

● Reduction or elimination of chronic pain.

● Dynamic blood flow improvement to better supply the cells and tissues of the body with vital oxygen and nutrition.

● Reduction of stress.

● Increased energy.

● Improved sleep.

● Accelerated healing from injuries and surgery without the hot burning inflammatory pain.

 

The Stress Epidemic

Throughout history, stress and danger have been part of life. Today, we have surveys telling us that stress is a widespread issue that accounts for an estimated 75 to 90 percent of visits to primary care physicians.

 

Most people, however, don’t realize the degree of damage that stress inflicts on their personal health. “I’m just a little stressed,” they’ll say, as if chronic stress equates to a bit of caffeinated edginess.  Such thinking, if one thinks about it at all, seriously underestimates the hydra-headed brute power of stress.  Stress strains and drains the body, and too much of it inevitably brings big trouble in many forms.

 

Keep in mind that today’s common stresses usually don’t involve acute, life-threatening situations, but rather a whole array of nerve-gnawing, emotional issues stemming from relationships, loss, and finances.  It’s chronic stress, in short, the kind that stretches out over time, leading to high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, sudden death, depression, insomnia, headaches, memory loss, weight gain, abdominal fat, erectile dysfunction, lack of libido, etc.  It undermines the body’s defenses, and thus increases the risk, frequency, and severity of colds, allergic reactions, and autoimmune disorders.  This stress can kill your heart, shrink your brain, destroy your resistance to illness, and shorten your life.

 

Stress impacts your adrenal glands directly. They are the organs that produce hormonal responders to acute stress (adrenaline and the “fight-or-flight” reaction) and chronic stress (cortisol). In this process, cortisol becomes elevated and depleted, interfering with sleep and blood glucose control, fueling anxiety and depression, and depleting the immune system.

 

New research shows that chronic psychological stress and abnormal levels of cortisol impair the body’s ability to control inflammation, a breakdown that adds to understanding the role of stress in multiple disorders.

 

Earthing and Stress

The Earth’s electrical energy, emerging research indicates, has a beneficial effect on cortisol and other hormones; it calms the nervous system and reduces inflammation, and thus offers an effective and natural remedy for counteracting stress and adrenal exhaustion.  

 

In 2004, one of the first Earthing studies showed that grounding the body during sleep resynchronizes cortisol secretion in alignment with a natural, normal rhythm.  The results, reported in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, gave objective evidence as to why people commonly report sleeping better when they are grounded. Abnormal cortisol levels are associated with insomnia, a stress-related disorder that affects some 70 million Americans. 

 

Subsequent research has demonstrated that grounding significantly and rapidly influences electrical activity of the brain and muscles. In the brain, there is an overall decrease in activity at all frequencies, with a crisp change showing on the left side − the part associated with thinking. Earthing thus appears to calm down the busy mind. As far as muscles are concerned, Earthing re-establishes a normal level of tension (reducing tension where there is too much, and increasing it where there is too little).

 

The body operates electrically, including your brain and muscles, and this study provides some examples as to how the Earth helps stabilize your internal electrical systems, just as the Earth (ground) stabilizes electrical systems everywhere.

 

Earthing appears also to have a rapid calming influence within the autonomic nervous system (ANS) that regulates functions like heart and respiration rates, digestion, perspiration, urination, and even sexual arousal. The effect begins pretty much instantly when you connect with the Earth. The ANS shifts from a typically overactive sympathetic mode, associated with stress, into a parasympathetic, calming mode.  A study conducted by cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, M.D., showed this effect by measuring heart rate variability (HRV), the imperceptible variations in the heart’s beat-to-beat interval that serve as an accurate reflector of stress.

 

“Anything that can improve ANS and HRV function is of great benefit for overall health,” says Dr. Sinatra. “Exercise, tai chi, yoga, and meditation are examples of activities that improve ANS and HRV. You become more relaxed and you sleep better. This effect is precisely what many people report after they start Earthing.”

 

Dr. Sinatra says this about stress: “As a cardiologist, I have repeatedly treated the human wreckage that stress − acute or chronic − can exact. In trying to rebuild and restore the wreckage, I have applied the best tools that both conventional and alternative medicine have to offer. Reconnecting the body to the Earth offers perhaps the most natural tool available anywhere. I’ve seen this simple remedy do some amazing things.”

 

Dr. Sinatra shared these examples:

● After 10 weeks of sleeping grounded, a 73-year-old woman reported that her blood pressure went down by 10 points and she sleeps much better.

● A couple started sleeping grounded. Her snoring stopped and he slept better. Her blood pressure went down from 150/90 to 120/80 after one night!

● One woman was experiencing benign but distressing PVCs (premature ventricular contraction), a form of arrhythmia characterized by racing of the heart or extra or skipped beats). She said that sleeping grounded eliminated them. Not only that, her husband’s atrial fibrillation episodes also stopped. He had been taking Coumadin for his condition and, in conjunction with his doctor, was able to reduce the dosage. (Coumadin is a popular blood thinner medication. Earthing also has a blood thinning effect. Anyone on blood thinning medication who wants to start Earthing must consult with his/her physician and keep close track of their INR, a widely-used measurement of the blood’s clotting tendency).

 

Two Polish doctors – cardiologist Karol Sokal and his neurosurgeon son Pawel – have been conducting Earthing research for more than twenty years.  They believe that earthing the human body influences human physiological processes and may be “the primary factor regulating endocrine and nervous systems.”

 

The Earthing Impact − From a Psychiatrist’s Perspective

Tracy Latz, M.D., a psychiatrist in Mooresville, North Carolina, near Charlotte, uses Earthing in her practice as part of an integrated approach to healing. 

 

“Patients who follow my recommendation to ground themselves, and there have been dozens of them, tend to have good responses,” she says.  “They are individuals with a wide variety of emotional, mental, and physical problems, and often combinations of problems. They often tell me afterward they feel much better.

 

“One of the first things they say after they start Earthing is that they sleep so much better at night.  This is a big deal for many of my patients. 

 

“For those with anxiety (post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, etc.), reconnecting with the Earth can assist with an improved sense of safety. By improving sleep, Earthing can help normalize serotonin levels in the brain as it decreases cortisol (an anxiety-inducing hormone). When cortisol levels are high, there is a tendency to go into fight-or-flight/panic responses to stressful situations and become more easily angered or irritable. As cortisol levels decrease and stabilize, we become more centered, peaceful and calm. In short, we get more easily into our heart and have more compassion for our self as well as for others. Some patients, I have found, stop Earthing after their anxiety gets better, and I have to remind them about what helped them get better.

 

“For those with depression, Earthing can assist also by stabilizing serotonin levels. Serotonin assists with decreasing crying spells, near-tearfulness, and obsessive/repetitive negative thoughts. When depressive symptoms decrease, energy levels improve and tolerance to stressful situations, pain, or discomfort improves.

 

“I see many patients with chronic fatigue, people who have exhausted their adrenal hormones.  Most of these people have a history of intense stress. With Earthing, they are much less fatigued and calmer. As their sleep cycle improves, the adrenal issues start improving, and they start to pick back up in their energy level and feel better.”

 

All such observations, along with research findings, make an intriguing case for the proposition that the modern disconnect with the Earth may be an overlooked source of vulnerability, deficiency, and stress, as well as an overlooked cause for the rampant chronic illnesses afflicting mankind. We humans seem to be alone among living creatures that have detached themselves from the planet. We urgently need to reconnect.

 

About the Author:

Health writer Martin Zucker has written or co-authored fifteen books, including the Earthing book, Move Yourself (Wiley), Reverse Heart Disease Now (Wiley), and Natural Hormone Balance for Women (Atria/Pocket Books).  He is a former Associated Press newsman in Europe and the Middle East. 

 

For additional information, refer to the Earthing book and the Earthing Institute website.  Earthing influences the physiology in many significant ways.  If you take prescription medication, please refer to this article on Earthing and medication. If you are under the care of a physician, consult with your doctor before starting Earthing.

 

 


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