3

votes

A question about 'Earthing' and soil micro-organisms (in two parts):

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 26, 2010 at 10:19 AM

FIRST QUESTION:

I have recently come across this book: "Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever" on Amazon, here is an excerpt from the Amazon page:

Throughout most of evolution humans walked barefoot and slept on the ground, largely oblivious that the surface of the Earth contains limitless healing energy. Science has discovered this energy as free-flowing electrons constantly replenished by solar radiation and lightning. Few people know it, but the ground provides a subtle electric signal that maintains health and governs the intricate mechanisms that make our bodies work-just like plugging a lamp into a power socket makes it light up. Modern lifestyle, including the widespread use of insulative rubber or plastic-soled shoes, has disconnected us from this energy and, of course, we no longer sleep on the ground as we did in times past.

Earthing introduces the planet's powerful, amazing, and overlooked natural healing energy and how people anywhere can readily connect to it. This eye-opening book describes how the physical disconnect with the Earth creates abnormal physiology and contributes to inflammation, pain, fatigue, stress, and poor sleep. By reconnecting to the Earth, symptoms are rapidly relieved and even eliminated and recovery from surgery, injury, and athletic overexertion is accelerated.

The book gets rave reviews and there seems to be a lot of paraphernalia connected with the theory such as earthing mats to sleep on, place under your computer etc. (as so often springs up around these theories) I was wondering if anyone has any thoughts about this practice, has ever done it or has a feeling it is just one more thing in the long list of 'miracle cures' that are so often bandied around nowadays?

SECOND QUESTION: In connection to Earthing, (but I do not think it is mentioned in this book) and something I would be very interested in following up on is something I read somewhere about very small organisms which lives in the soil and are able to migrate into our bodies through the soles of our feet when we stand barefoot on the ground and is (apparently) very beneficial to our health. I cannot remember where I initially read about this though.

Has anybody read anything similar and if so, could they provide any more details?

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on January 22, 2013
at 09:30 PM

Sorry for spelling. Using a handheld device.

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on January 22, 2013
at 09:29 PM

Microeganisms don't automatically kill you. Many are beneficial and necessary. And hookworms, which you get through your feet, may be very helpful to immune system health. Google "hookworms beneficial" and see the latest research on the topic.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on November 29, 2010
at 08:30 PM

You don't get sick because they don't get dirt in your bloodstream. If your skin is doing its job, you won't really interact with them at all; they'll just sit on your skin. Here's an experiment to test your hypothesis: cut your foot deeply and rub dirt on the cut. Do not clean the wound for two weeks. If you feel healthier, then you an observation confirming your hypothesis. If you get gangrene, you will understand my point.

127116e41acceee9f2f000076f8b788d

(477)

on November 28, 2010
at 04:37 AM

"Soil microorganisms migrating into your body from your feet would result in some sort of infection and an untimely death" I don't know about that. 98% of microorganisms are beneficial or neutral to humans. I roll around in soil daily, and I don't get sick. Kids eat soil all the time, too. I am sure my body is covered in microorganisms that came from the soil, and yes, they might be beneficial. It would be wrong to assume they are harmful.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on November 28, 2010
at 01:21 AM

That may not be the healthiest way to reduce free radicals in one's tissues ;)

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on November 27, 2010
at 03:02 PM

If you attach a copper wire from your bed to the ground in your garden... what happens in case of a lightning strike? It would certainly give you a free flow of electrons :)

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on November 27, 2010
at 02:55 PM

Unfortunately the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine is rather like a "Creationist Journal of Geology" or a "Fruitarian Journal of Nutrition".

D88a6268af92c72494358d5ddd94f630

(70)

on November 27, 2010
at 01:16 PM

the 'check out this post' link should work. Let me know if not...

D88a6268af92c72494358d5ddd94f630

(70)

on November 27, 2010
at 12:30 PM

I've found some papers that discuss the 'earthing' hypothesis in much more detail. http://www.earthinginstitute.net/index.php/research I have also found 1 peer reviewed study related to 'earthing' and cortisol levels. This was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, Vol 10, No 5, 2004. The study is by Ghaly and Teplitz (you will need to google this and have a read.) Remember, hypothesis is the key word here!

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11488)

on November 27, 2010
at 02:59 AM

Nicole, I agree that the question does seem to refer to hookworms. Hookworm infestation was common in the southern US before the widespread adoption of indoor plumbing. Hookworms are not always benign, as they can cause anemia and malnutrition ( http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/hookworm/ ). When young children are anemic, it can lower their IQ ( http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/202333-overview ). Treating autoimmune problems intentionally with hookworms may be ok for adults, but I definitely would not recommend it for children.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on November 26, 2010
at 08:56 PM

pfw, you convinced me! thanks

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on November 26, 2010
at 05:11 PM

People probably get benefits from being outside but they may well have nothing to do with anything in this theory.

25ed4acfb632d928507f8673bcb0923a

(650)

on November 26, 2010
at 03:57 PM

Placebo effect.

33b6c516904a967ef8ecb30f1dbd8cf2

(7073)

on November 26, 2010
at 03:49 PM

But is this more than just pseudoscience? Many people are reporting benefits other than 'feeling good' ???????

33b6c516904a967ef8ecb30f1dbd8cf2

(7073)

on November 26, 2010
at 03:45 PM

something's up with your second link Olly, can you fix it?

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on November 26, 2010
at 02:13 PM

It's just made up, total woo. There is no need for any crazy pseudoscience to explain why walking barefooted on grass feels good :)

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on November 26, 2010
at 02:04 PM

It's just made up, total woo. Don't need any crazy quseudoscience to explain why walking barefooted on grass feels good :)

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 26, 2010
at 01:46 PM

It does sound a little woo-woo, but that doesn't mean it ain't so. I love going barefoot in the grass or better yet lying in the grass. I don't know why, but it makes me feel good. My n=1 experience is more important to me than scientific correctness.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on November 26, 2010
at 01:35 PM

I had a similar question about earthing, because I've never heard it before and know nothing about physics, but it got deleted from Paleohacks...

  • 33b6c516904a967ef8ecb30f1dbd8cf2

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7 Answers

5
4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on November 26, 2010
at 06:04 PM

Earthing is not even pseudo-scientific. It's akin to crystal healing and Mayan doom calendars. Ie, it's bullshit.

The free radical theory mentioned makes no electrical sense. When you walk around barefoot, you discharge any static built up on your skin. That's it. You don't build up a charge inside your body - if that were the case, we'd all shock ourselves to death every time we wandered around a carpet with socks then touched a doorknob. The shock paddles in the ER have high voltages because your body tissues act as a resistor (ie, they prevent the flow of electrons). Since the potential difference between a barefoot human and the ground is zero, and given the resistance of human tissue, there can be no current flow and thus no transfer of electrons.

Basically, earthing is a bunch of nonsense unless you are worried about static shocks, in which case it is highly effective. If you're worried about cancer or fatigue, you might as well convince yourself that sugar pills are magical and start gobbling them.

Soil microorganisms migrating into your body from your feet would result in some sort of infection and an untimely death. There is no physiological mechanism for transporting beneficial soil organisms from the soles of your feet to the rest of you except via the lymph or blood systems; infecting either would almost certainly be a significant health risk.

Now, parasitic infection might have positive effects in the case of autoimmune disorders. See Helminthic_Therapy for details. I am not convinced myself; it seems to me that the benefit is gained simply by overwhelming your immune system rather than actually healing it. I'd rather not have the autoimmune disorder than have an autoimmune disorder and have my body ignore it for the duration of a parasitic infection. But the science is still being done, so I keep an eye on it.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on November 28, 2010
at 01:21 AM

That may not be the healthiest way to reduce free radicals in one's tissues ;)

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on November 27, 2010
at 03:02 PM

If you attach a copper wire from your bed to the ground in your garden... what happens in case of a lightning strike? It would certainly give you a free flow of electrons :)

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on November 26, 2010
at 08:56 PM

pfw, you convinced me! thanks

127116e41acceee9f2f000076f8b788d

(477)

on November 28, 2010
at 04:37 AM

"Soil microorganisms migrating into your body from your feet would result in some sort of infection and an untimely death" I don't know about that. 98% of microorganisms are beneficial or neutral to humans. I roll around in soil daily, and I don't get sick. Kids eat soil all the time, too. I am sure my body is covered in microorganisms that came from the soil, and yes, they might be beneficial. It would be wrong to assume they are harmful.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on November 29, 2010
at 08:30 PM

You don't get sick because they don't get dirt in your bloodstream. If your skin is doing its job, you won't really interact with them at all; they'll just sit on your skin. Here's an experiment to test your hypothesis: cut your foot deeply and rub dirt on the cut. Do not clean the wound for two weeks. If you feel healthier, then you an observation confirming your hypothesis. If you get gangrene, you will understand my point.

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on January 22, 2013
at 09:30 PM

Sorry for spelling. Using a handheld device.

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on January 22, 2013
at 09:29 PM

Microeganisms don't automatically kill you. Many are beneficial and necessary. And hookworms, which you get through your feet, may be very helpful to immune system health. Google "hookworms beneficial" and see the latest research on the topic.

3
B2157bdf4a217ac943c41125d1a67845

(258)

on November 26, 2010
at 01:19 PM

It might be fun to do, but there's no science behind it...

If anyone has ANY type of scientific study supporting this idea, please let me know. I suspect that someone just made it up.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on November 26, 2010
at 02:13 PM

It's just made up, total woo. There is no need for any crazy pseudoscience to explain why walking barefooted on grass feels good :)

25ed4acfb632d928507f8673bcb0923a

(650)

on November 26, 2010
at 03:57 PM

Placebo effect.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on November 27, 2010
at 02:55 PM

Unfortunately the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine is rather like a "Creationist Journal of Geology" or a "Fruitarian Journal of Nutrition".

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on November 26, 2010
at 05:11 PM

People probably get benefits from being outside but they may well have nothing to do with anything in this theory.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 26, 2010
at 01:46 PM

It does sound a little woo-woo, but that doesn't mean it ain't so. I love going barefoot in the grass or better yet lying in the grass. I don't know why, but it makes me feel good. My n=1 experience is more important to me than scientific correctness.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on November 26, 2010
at 02:04 PM

It's just made up, total woo. Don't need any crazy quseudoscience to explain why walking barefooted on grass feels good :)

D88a6268af92c72494358d5ddd94f630

(70)

on November 27, 2010
at 12:30 PM

I've found some papers that discuss the 'earthing' hypothesis in much more detail. http://www.earthinginstitute.net/index.php/research I have also found 1 peer reviewed study related to 'earthing' and cortisol levels. This was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, Vol 10, No 5, 2004. The study is by Ghaly and Teplitz (you will need to google this and have a read.) Remember, hypothesis is the key word here!

33b6c516904a967ef8ecb30f1dbd8cf2

(7073)

on November 26, 2010
at 03:49 PM

But is this more than just pseudoscience? Many people are reporting benefits other than 'feeling good' ???????

2
D88a6268af92c72494358d5ddd94f630

on November 26, 2010
at 11:31 AM

I've been doing quite a lot of research into 'earthing' recently, for a future blog post. The science seems to stack up and is convincing, although I can't find enough valid studies to confirm it, yet.

Essentially, 'free radicals' accumulate in our body due to the stresses of life (chemical, emotional, physical, poor food etc.)

"A free radical is any atom or molecule that has a single, unpaired electron in an outer shell." (1)

This is highly unstable and seeks to stabilise itself by stealing an electron from another molecule, in this case, one of your cells. This causes oxidative damage to the cell and creates another free radical. This then seeks to stabilise itself too and so a chain of free radical damage occurs. The main area affected by this free radical damage is the DNA found in the mitochondria (energy centre) of the cell.

According to the free radical / antioxidant theory, antioxidants help neutralise the free radical damage by 'donating' on of their electrons and stabilising the free radical and stopping it from stealing an electron from one of your cells. Hello paleo diet, good bye processed junk.

The earth's surface also has a limitless supply of mobile, free electrons (a positive charge). Walking barefoot on the earth, apparently, allows your body to become charged with some of these free electrons. In a nutshell, the theory goes that these free electrons neutralise the unstable free radicals in your body and stop the free radical damage and aging.

I have no experience with the 'earthing technology' mats etc., but suspect that nothing is as good as the real thing and combatting the hectic, digital age with plenty of 'unplugged' downtime in nature. Even if walking barefoot on the earth doesn't actually allow you to absorb the mobile, free electrons, as stated, there are many other benefits, especially if you are in 'green' and natural spaces (check out this post).

You may also want to read up on the Schumann Resonances (google this term).

Not sure about question 2. My initial response is that the immune system wouldn't like this very much and you would get some kind of defensive reaction. There are obviously billions of microscopic entities out there though so...

[1] Wikipedia, http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/free-radical-theory

33b6c516904a967ef8ecb30f1dbd8cf2

(7073)

on November 26, 2010
at 03:45 PM

something's up with your second link Olly, can you fix it?

D88a6268af92c72494358d5ddd94f630

(70)

on November 27, 2010
at 01:16 PM

the 'check out this post' link should work. Let me know if not...

1
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on November 26, 2010
at 05:15 PM

What I see is some weird theory with no evidence, and then they have a bunch of stuff to sell you! SOUnds suspicious to me. Like i said in the comment, there may well be benefits to being outside in the fresh air, including getting more vitamin D, but that does not mean those benefits have anything to do with this theory. Also keep in mind, in some areas, there are parasitic organisms in the soil that will make their way into your body and cause very serious damage. Some may feel some of these organisms can reduce inflammation in certain circumstances via giving your immune system something better to do (ie fight the invading parasites), but I personally would MUCH rather reduce inflammation via eating and living healthy instead of by collecting parasites in my body.

1
6eb2812b40855ba64508cbf2dc48f1b6

(2119)

on November 26, 2010
at 11:24 AM

Re: organisms

You might be talking about hookworms. The infestation seems to cure allergies and asthma. I don't know about any science on it, but that doesn't mean it's not out there.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11488)

on November 27, 2010
at 02:59 AM

Nicole, I agree that the question does seem to refer to hookworms. Hookworm infestation was common in the southern US before the widespread adoption of indoor plumbing. Hookworms are not always benign, as they can cause anemia and malnutrition ( http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/hookworm/ ). When young children are anemic, it can lower their IQ ( http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/202333-overview ). Treating autoimmune problems intentionally with hookworms may be ok for adults, but I definitely would not recommend it for children.

0
5d824fad213d4dd1161f610ba2e672de

on January 22, 2013
at 09:21 PM

I came across this article today http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077. This made me look for the subject. I'm still wondering... I remember that most people thought I was crazy when I started the paleo thing, they're starting to believe me. I'm skeptical, but you know, in a paleo way to see things, it makes sense to be grounded to the earth a lot more than to the floor. Now, I only wish it wasn't that cold outside, so I could get that little barefoot walk I'm craving for! They sell stuff, but the main idea is to touch the ground, which is free!

0
De4af1d6a1c0861a32f0cde58166289c

on April 18, 2012
at 05:52 PM

I've actually read the book, and bought the mat to try it. I have but slept on it 1 night. Will see during that time if bogus or no bogus when it comes to personal tests. It's a "money-back-after-1-month.." kinda deal. So there's no waste in trying ;)

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