“Earthing,” also known as “Grounding,” is a pseudoscientific belief that claims electrons continually flow back and forth between the earth and our bodies and cure or alleviate almost every disease or affliction known to man. It’s pretty much a lot of bunk.
According to Earthing proponents, you can ground yourself by walking outside barefoot or by being connected to the earth via grounding devices that transfer electrons from the earth to your body.
Supposedly, electrons drawn into the body from the earth neutralize damaging free radicals and by extension reduce disease-related chronic or acute inflammation.
‘Earthing’ / ‘earthing’ / ‘Grounding’ / ‘grounding’ terms are sometimes confusing
The standard and traditional definition of “grounding” or “grounded” has always referred to an electrical conductor placed directly into the ground or earth to protect consumers from electrical shocks should a failure of internal insulation occur in a household appliance or to provide a path to discharge any static charge that could damage certain sensitive electrical equipment.
In the U.K. and some other parts of the world, the terms “earthing” or “earthed” are generally used to mean the same thing as “grounding” or “grounded.”
There are several other common meanings for “grounded.” It can refer to a person who is mentally and emotionally stable. It can also refer to being prohibited or prevented from flying, such as a pilot or aircraft. The word can also refer to someone being confined to stay inside, typically by a parent, as a punishment.
In the last ten years or so, the common terms “earthing” or “grounding” (not capitalized) have been exploited for the purposes of advancing the pseudoscientific hypothesis known as “Earthing” or “Grounding,” and the words are usually capitalized for that purpose.
Earthing promoters’ main goal is to sell their Grounding products
While Earthing promoters ostensibly advocate going barefoot on the earth in order to achieve all these wonderful results, their main goal is to sell their Earthing/Grounding products. They know that for all practical purposes most people are not going to just ditch their shoes and begin living barefoot. And they make that clear in this statement from the Earthing Institute:
Walking outside may be risky or unpleasant because of glass, parasites, excrement, etc. If your daily routine, the weather, or surface conditions don’t accommodate outdoor grounding, you can conveniently ground yourself indoors for many hours while sitting and sleeping. Indoor Earthing products are available at…
Earthing proponents use phony claims that often create a placebo effect in believers
The Earthing/Grounding hypothesis has never been proven scientifically (using real unbiased scientific methods), nor can it be. It’s based mainly on a lot of speculation and wishful thinking.
The whole premise of Earthing is based on a misunderstanding or ignorance of physics as well as chemistry and biology. It is almost certainly people seeing what they want to see, and mistaking anecdotes for data. If it truly were based on actual unbiased scientific tests and studies, then there would be universal acceptance of it, and there isn’t.
Apparently, a lot of people read the Earthing claims and believe them (these are also people who generally will believe anything they read, especially on the internet). Then they take off their shoes for the first time and go walking barefoot on the bare earth. Yes, it feels great to them! Earthing must be working, because they’ve been told it does, and they believe it.
Not only that, the more they do it, the better they feel. All their aches and pains go away and they sleep better. It’s a classic placebo effect. They don’t realize just going barefoot makes them feel good, no matter where – it doesn’t need to be on the earth. Electrons going back and forth are having nothing to do with it.
It all started when a former cable TV salesman came up with an idea
In 1995, Clinton Ober, a cable TV salesman and later marketing executive, had a near-death health crisis. Following that, he retired and embarked on a four-year personal journey looking for “a higher purpose in life.”
At one point during his travels, he suddenly had a epiphany in which he felt “the earth itself was trying to tell me something.”
That “something” he later realized was that humans have a bio-electrical connection to the earth, but that connection in and of itself was not necessarily a good thing. It could cause people all manner of problems unless they were in a constant state of being grounded to the earth (kind of like appliances). He postulated that without the healing power of grounding, the human body would continue to suffer various ailments, including inflammation and other maladies.
He spent the next several years researching and talking to anyone who would listen in an effort to try to prove or find plausible explanations that would back up his hypothesis.
Ober convinced a few others to join in for fame and fortune with a new book
Then in 2010, feeling he had enough information to convince people he was right, Ober, along with a couple of fellow believers, Stephen Sinatra, MD; and Martin Zucker, published a book entitled, Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? It also included a foreword by James Oschman, PhD.
The book wasn’t exactly a best seller, listed by Amazon as number 528,230 in all books sold, and number 858 in the category “Books, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Alternative Medicine, Energy Healing”. But Ober sold enough to stir some interest in those who are into the various alternative medicine claims.
One group that also had some particular interest was the barefooting community – people who go barefoot as much as they can or even all the time as a lifestyle. The reason it appealed to many of them was that the book advocated going barefoot as the simplest way to be grounded.
In 2014, Ober and his crew published a second edition, adding 66 more pages, and changing the question mark on the subtitle to an exclamation mark, as Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever!
The same ‘usual suspects’ are behind every study that claims Earthing is real
If you do any research about Earthing on the internet, you’ll see the same four names associated with the book – Ober, Sinatra, Zucker, and Oschman – consistently popping up, along with three others who have also jumped on the Earthing bandwagon, Gaétan Chevalier, PhD and Polish father and son Karol Sokal, MD, PhD and Pawel Sokal, MD, PhD.
These are practically the only people with any credentials to speak of that have ever backed this Earthing hypothesis, and their names are consistently associated with almost everything ever written or videos produced promoting Earthing.
They claim to have “real scientific studies” to bolster their beliefs, but these are unconvincing to anyone with a modicum of scientific or medical education or expertise. They involved small numbers of subjects and usually failed to use any standard scientific controls. Almost all were funded by people with a vested interest in selling Grounding products.
The studies were not published in any mainstream publications, but in open access “pay to publish” journals. The promoters frequently cite one particular article that summarizes the various “studies” (almost all by the same people) published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, entitled “Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons.”
That article and its referenced resources are typical of the kind of worthless studies designed to generate false positives, similar to the “in house” studies that companies sometimes use so that they can claim their products are “clinically proven.” The individual studies cited are little more than documenting placebo effects, subjective findings, and bias confirmation. Plus the conflict of interest among the authors is glaringly obvious.
It’s all the work of a few closely associated promoters who are basically operating a well-financed scam.
The manner in which these Earthing ‘studies’ are published on the internet gives the false impression of being credible
Since “open access” journals are free for the public to access and read, the publishers make their profits by charging fees to publish a study report. They ostensibly have standards for publication, but it has been found that many of these journals will publish practically anything with little to no real peer review or adherence to accepted scientific methods in the study.
This problem has been the subject of many complaints of late, for example, as described in the articles, “The Rise of Junk Science” and “Junk Science Has Become a Profitable Industry. Who Will Stop It?,” and a number of others easily found on the internet.
The problem is further amplified by these flawed or questionable studies showing up on the internet under PubMed Central (PMC), which is a free digital database that archives open access articles that have been published in various biomedical and life sciences journals.
The PMC database is maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and is managed by NLM’s National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).
Those agencies’ names (NCBI/NLM/NIH) always appear at the top of the reports (and are part of the URL), thereby giving the false impression that these reports or studies are somehow endorsed or given credence by agencies of the U.S. Government. This is not the case at all. The agencies merely help provide access to the information for the public.
The ‘healing’ claims of Earthing are absurd, with no basis in fact
The Earthing Institute and several other supporting websites make the following claims (combined here from several sites) for the benefits of Earthing/Grounding:
- Eliminates or substantially reduces inflammation
- Eliminates or substantially reduces pain
- Gives a grounding point to the body’s bioelectrical circuits making them work optimally
- Helps prevent bed sores
- Helps support adrenal health
- Improves glucose (blood sugar) regulation
- Improves immune system response to trauma and injuries
- Improves kidney function
- Improves menstrual and female hormone symptoms
- Improves mood
- Improves nervous system function in preemies
- Improves regulation of blood flow in the torso, extremities and face
- Improves sleep
- Increases energy
- Increases metabolic rate
- Increases production of melatonin
- Influences thyroid gland function
- Lowers stress and promoting calmness by reducing stress hormones.
- Neutralizes free radicals, which are highly reactive molecules that damage cells
- Normalizes biological rhythms including circadian rhythm
- Normalizes blood pressure and blood flow
- Normalizes muscle tension
- Normalizes secretion of the hormone cortisol
- Prevents calcium and bone density loss
- Protects the body from effects of EMFs
- Reduces aging effects
- Reduces blood viscosity
- Reduces jet lag
- Reduces muscle damage, accelerates recovery from delayed onset muscle soreness – DOMS
- Reduces osteoporosis
- Reduces pain
- Reduces PMS symptoms and hot flashes
- Reduces snoring
- Reduces some risk factors of cardiovascular disease
- Reduces stress
- Regulates cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone
- Relieves muscle tension and headache
- Shields against low frequency electromagnetic fields (Faraday cage effect)
- Shifts the body from the stressed fight-or-flight mode to the restorative rest-and-digest mode
- Shortens recovery time from injury or athletic activity
- Speeds wound healing
It’s all about free radicals and the ‘harm’ they do
One typical Earthing promotion claim reads,
Pain, disease, and other disturbances are often caused by chronic inflammation. Such inflammation is, in turn, caused by positively charged molecules called free radicals. When you make direct contact with the Earth, either by being barefoot outside or using an Earthing product indoors, electrons from the Earth enter your body and reduce the free radicals and inflammation.
There is not one shred of evidence that backs up that statement.
Free radicals are the natural byproducts of chemical processes in the body, such as metabolism. The problem with them, according to Rice University, is once they are formed, a chain reaction can occur. The first free radical pulls an electron from a molecule, which destabilizes the molecule and turns it into a free radical. That molecule then takes an electron from another molecule, destabilizing it and tuning it into a free radical. This domino effect can eventually disrupt and damage the whole cell.
Antioxidants are what keeps free radicals in check. Antioxidants are molecules in cells that prevent free radicals from taking electrons and causing damage. Antioxidants are able to give an electron to a free radical without becoming destabilized themselves, thus stopping the free radical chain reaction.
If you were to believe what the Earthing/Grounding proponents are telling you, going barefoot may indeed be doing more damage to your bodies than making us healthier. If all these electrons going back and forth as we touch the earth with our bare feet are somehow neutralizing all the free radicals within our body, then our immune system may be suffering as a result of that.
Steven Novella, MD, academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine wrote:
…reducing free radicals is not a panacea. Free radicals are part of normal physiology and are used not only as part of the necessary function of the immune system but in many regulatory systems. Suppressing free radicals may therefore cause more harm than good.
Of course that’s not really happening (Earthing/Grounding electrons neutralizing free radicals), so we don’t need to worry about that.
Electrons do not flow out of the earth and into people
Earthing proponents claim that when you are grounded (bare feet touching the earth, or using one of their grounding products they’re happy to sell you), electrons flow up out of the earth and into your body making you feel wonderful and curing diseases. At the same time, “bad” electrons are flowing out of the body and down into the earth. They do not explain how electrons can flow both out and into the earth at the same time.
It is generally agreed among physicists that the surface of the earth usually has a slight negative charge – often so small it’s almost unmeasurable. That charge varies somewhat depending on weather and atmospheric conditions, but for all practical purposes, the earth’s surface is almost electrically neutral. Otherwise, how could grounding a home’s wiring system or appliances possibly work?
Viktor T. Toth, physicist, published author, and software developer, wrote on Quora:
The planet Earth is electrically neutral, more or less. There is always a slight imbalance, but it is self-correcting, as the Earth is continuously exposed to the solar wind, which contains both positively and negatively charged particles. So if the Earth, say, had a small net positive charge, it would repel many of those positively charged particles and attract the negatively charged ones, which would neutralize the Earth’s charge. Same thing if the Earth had a small negative charge. So apart from such minor fluctuations, the Earth is electrically neutral.
Therefore when people do make a direct contact with the earth with their bare feet, that can have a grounding effect (small “g”). If anyone did have excess electrons in their body, due to static electricity, they would flow into the earth, certainly not in the other direction. The human body would have to be positively charged (an extremely unlikely scenario) for electrons to actually flow up from the earth and into the body.
Negative electrons as a rule would never flow from the earth to enter anything or, in particular, any human being. I’m not aware of any way a human being could normally ever be positively charged, a condition necessary to attract negative electrons into the body.
Human beings sometimes become negatively charged due to a temporary build up of static electricity, but that will quickly discharge into the relatively more positively charged earth, usually causing no harm at all (other than a potential spark and annoying shock).
Going barefoot keeps people healthier than wearing shoes for a variety of reasons, but none having anything to do with some hypothetical electron flow back and forth.
Dr. Mercola knows a good opportunity for a scam when he sees it
Once the Earthing nonsense started becoming more popular with book sales and aggressive internet promotion, another player decided to jump in and take advantage to make a few bucks, Dr. Joseph Mercola. If Mercola is involved in it, it’s most likely a scam.
Mercola’s medical claims have been criticized by business, regulatory, medical, and scientific communities. A 2006 BusinessWeek editorial stated his marketing practices relied on “slick promotion, clever use of information, and scare tactics.” In 2005, 2006, and 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Mercola and his company that they were making illegal claims of their products’ ability to detect, prevent, and treat disease. The medical watchdog site Quackwatch has criticized Mercola for making “unsubstantiated claims [that] clash with those of leading medical and public health organizations and many unsubstantiated recommendations for dietary supplements.
From Mercola’s website:
It is known that the Earth maintains a negative electrical potential on its surface. When you are in direct contact with the ground (walking, sitting, or laying down on the earth’s surface) the earth’s electrons are conducted to your body, bringing it to the same electrical potential as the earth. Living in direct contact with the earth grounds your body, inducing favorable physiological and electrophysiological changes that promote optimum health.
The only part of that paragraph that has even a modicum of truth is the first sentence, and even that is misleading in its wording. As explained earlier, the surface of the earth does generally have a very small, almost unmeasurable, negative charge depending on weather conditions, but for all practical purposes, the earth’s surface is electrically neutral.
But then Mercola’s next two sentences make no sense at all. Even if, as he says, the earth does have a negative charge, regardless of its magnitude, how could these electrons be “conducted to your body”? Electrons flow FROM negatively charged matter TO positively charged matter. Human beings would have to be very strongly positively charged for the earth’s electrons to flow in the reverse direction of their normal flow, and that is likely to never happen.
Lightning provides a good example of the natural charge of the earth
According to National Geographic, cloud-to-ground lightning bolts are a common phenomenon, with about 100 of them striking somewhere on Earth’s surface every second.
Clouds can become negatively charged and at some point under the right conditions will discharge their electrons, either from cloud-to-cloud or from cloud-to-ground in the form of lightning.
This is essentially the same process as humans releasing static electricity in the form of a spark if they touch something that is less negatively charged than their skin is at that moment.
Thunderclouds form when droplets of water in the cold, upper parts of the atmosphere freeze solid and fall. At the same time, updrafts carry water vapor up. The friction of falling and rising water droplets in clouds bumping into each other cause electrical charges to build up.
The lighter, positively charged particles form at the top of the cloud, and heavier, negatively charged particles sink to the bottom. Thus, the thundercloud is negatively charged on the bottom and positively charged on top.
As the thundercloud moves over the surface of the earth, an equal electric charge, but of opposite polarity, is induced on the earth’s surface underneath the cloud. This induced positive surface charge is a temporary change to the usual neutral or slightly negative charge on the earth’s surface, and will dissipate as the thundercloud passes on.
Once a strong enough negative charge builds up at the bottom of the cloud, the negative electrons will jump to the positively charged earth all at once in the form of a lightning strike.
But a strike isn’t quite as simple as that. High resolution photos and videos of lightning strikes actually show it going in the opposite direction, that is from earth to the clouds.
So, how can that be, and which way does lightning actually flow?
Both ways actually. Cloud-to-ground lightning does come from the sky down, but the part you see comes from the ground up. Confusing? Not really. A typical cloud-to-ground flash lowers a path of negative electricity (that we cannot see) towards the now positively charged ground and objects on the ground in a series of spurts.
Since opposites attract, an upward streamer (a positively charged ionic channel) is sent up from the ground or object about to be struck. When these two paths meet, a return stroke zaps back up to the sky.
It is the return stroke that produces the visible flash. But it all happens so fast – roughly in about one-millionth of a second – that the human eye doesn’t see the actual formation of the stroke.
So what does this have to do with Earthing? Nothing directly, but hopefully helps put the natural electrical charge of the earth into realistic perspective. Lightning activity is just about the only time electrons ever naturally flow upward out of the earth. That will never happen under normal circumstances to a person when he or she is walking around barefoot. That is, unless that person is actually being struck by lightning at the time.
A hundred or so years ago, snake oil served the same purpose as Earthing
In late nineteenth and early twentieth century America, snake oil was commonly promoted and sold as a cure-all for almost everything, not unlike the claims of Earthing proponents today.
Snake oil was usually produced by boiling rattlesnakes and skimming off the oil that rose to the surface. Unfortunately, rattlesnake oil did not contain the abundance of omega-3 acids of the original Chinese snake oil it was trying to emulate. And hucksters often found it cheaper and easier to substitute other oils for real snake oil. So basically it was almost worthless as a cure for anything. Yet it was highly touted as a cure for almost any ailment.
Many people believed it and bought the product. And not surprisingly perhaps, some people swore that it worked as advertised. It demonstrated the classic placebo effect that if someone truly believes a product or therapy will help them, it often does, at least in their own mind.
This is not unlike the claims of Earthing enthusiasts who say “it works for me.”
Similarly, the proponents of the Earthing belief or hypothesis have convinced a lot of people that it’s all true. The belief in it and promotion of it have become almost like a religion, which is being proselytized all over the internet. People who believe in it say going barefoot while touching the earth makes them feel so much better.
Of course going barefoot makes anyone feel better, directly on the earth or anywhere else, but that has nothing to do with electrons flowing back and forth, their influence on free radicals, or any of the other medical or biological terms Earthing promoters throw around in their propaganda.
No, human beings don’t need to be grounded to the earth like household appliances to function normally and healthfully.
Does it really matter if people believe this nonsense if it inspires them to go barefoot?
Some would say that even if Earthing/Grounding is only an unscientific hypothesis, if it encourages people to become healthier by going barefoot, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Yes, that justification is often heard from people. Let them just be happy and enjoy their ignorance, as what harm can it do? Which, I guess from some perspectives, has merit.
But there are at least a couple of ways that a belief in Earthing can be problematic to the concept of barefooting as a healthy and natural lifestyle.
If making direct contact with the earth (to benefit from this miraculous “healing” electron flow) is the reason to go barefoot, then there’s no need or other incentive or reason to go barefoot on any other surface. Going barefoot for purposes of Earthing becomes only a special occasion when a walk outside in the grass or dirt is possible.
Following that logic, if an Earthing believer is in a place where direct earth contact is not possible, such as in a home, a vehicle, a store, some other public accommodation, or paved walkway, where this so-called electron flow does not exist, then for them barefooting would have no benefit – so they might as well wear shoes.
This exact thinking among Earthing proponents and promoters is clearly illustrated in this recent post I saw on a barefooting Facebook group from an Earthing believer:
Walking on concrete and asphalt can block the benefits of going barefoot because they prevent the beneficial magnetic energy and the ionic energy of the earth’s surface from getting to your feet. That being said, if you walk barefoot on the ground and then have some leather soled sandles [sic] for the paved part of your walk, you avoid plastic and fake rubber soled shoes.
The other issue is that espousing the phony “science” of Earthing or freely allowing it to be promoted in a barefooting site, group, or internet article tends to make barefooters look even more out of the loop of reality and common sense than just the more ordinary reasons the public sees barefooters as strange.
My goal is and always has been to help the public see barefooters as just normal people, no different from the average person, other than their free will choice to not wear shoes.
That choice should be looked at as no different from a choice to not wear a hat or similar article of clothing. Public promotion of Earthing/Grounding as the reason we go barefoot just makes us look kind of seriously uninformed, gullible, and weird.
Since going barefoot – anywhere, not just on the earth – is one of the most natural, normal, and comfortable thing for human beings to do, it obviously is going to make people feel good to do it. And in the long run, is going to make their feet as well as their whole body much healthier and pain-free than had they continued to wear shoes. If they want to attribute that to some kind of Earthing effect, they are certainly free to do that. To me it feels great to walk barefoot anywhere – whether on bare ground or some place like inside a store.
The real problem is that, as I mentioned, the vast majority of not only scientists, but just people in general (if they’ve even heard of it), look at this Earthing thing as some kind of silly new-age fringe nonsense. To promote it on a barefooting site or in articles about barefooting sends the message that we’re all a bunch of kooks. That is not the message we need to be sending to the world, mostly of whom already think we may be a little crazy.
There are many good articles and resources that debunk Earthing
Earthing promoters spend hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) of dollars on promoting their ideas and products online, including many slick and well-funded videos that are designed to be very convincing, especially to the uninformed or gullible.
It’s often hard to compete against that kind of economic power for people with limited or no funds available in efforts to get the truth out to the public. But many are trying to do just that.
A web search for “earthing debunked” or similar wording will bring up dozens of resources, sites, and articles that help expose this pseudoscience for what it really is. Here is a list of just a few good ones that I found. Most go into a lot more detail than I have been able to in this article.
Bad Science Debunked, “Your Worst Day Ever: David Wolfe’s Earthing and Zapping Debunked, Part 1”
Beyond Growth, “Earthing: The Silliest Scam Ever?”
Chronically Ridiculous, “Sunday Skeptism: Grounding/ Earthing”
Hatter Network, “Skeptical Science Sunday: Earthing“
InsideHook, “What Is the ‘Earthing’ Wellness Trend? And Is It Total Nonsense?”
Its a foot, Captain, “‘Grounding’ or ‘Earthing’ is still bollocks”
McGill Office for Science and Society, “Murky Mercola”
Physics Central: Physics Buzz Blog, “Well Grounded Snake Oil”
Physics World, “Staying grounded: are shoes the most dangerous human invention?“
Resilience, “The Earthing Movie (Documentary Film Review)“
Respectful Insolence, “Your Friday Dose of Woo: ‘Grounded’ in woo”
Running Research Junkie, “Grounding: Going barefoot to prevent cardiovascular disease!”
Science Badger, “Barefoot Earth Grounding”
ScienceBlogs, “‘Earthing’ Is a Bunch of Crap”
ScienceBlogs, “Grounded in unreality”
Silly Beliefs, “Earthing: The barefoot way to amazing health?”
Skeptic, “Barefoot in Sedona: Bogus Claims About Grounding Your Feet to Earth Promote Medical Pseudoscience”
Skeptoid, “All About Grounding”
Skeptophilia, “Barefoot in the park”
Slowtwitch, “Got money to burn? Earthing wants you”
Stuart Bint Author, “Going Barefoot – the Facts and the Myths”
The Skeptic’s Dictionary, “earthing (grounding)”
The Soap Box, “Debunking Earthing”
Tim Prosser – Scratch Space, “Phony Health Scam Makes Me Fear for the U.S. Educational System”
This was truly excellent. I thank you for the lightning facts and that was quite fascinating!
Thank you! I’m glad you liked it.
Is grounding today’s snake oil? Maybe. Most scientists will tell you that there are still many mysteries in our physical world yet to be convincingly explained and this may well be one of them. Personally, I am not yet convinced that grounding has any scientific basis.
I do know that after barefooting I feel better emotionally and that can’t be a bad thing. Perhaps that’s all the science I need as science is really just belief isn’t it?
“Grounding” is indeed today’s snake oil. It claims alleviation of a myriad of medical conditions (as did snake oil), and many people strongly believe that (as they did with snake oil). Any relief from medical conditions attributed to “Grounding” or “Earthing” would be due to the classic placebo effect. If you truly believe some medicine or some remedy is going to make you feel better, most likely it is going to make you feel better, at least in your own mind. The only advantage of the actual grounding that a barefoot person can experience is reducing or eliminating annoying shocks… Read more »
Yes, one of the many mysteries of the physical world that are still to be explained are, HOW ARE THERE STILL SO MANY GULLIBLE PEOPLE AROUND THAT HAVEN’T BECOME EXTINCT YET!!?
That’s the real question. I think it’s because some want it to be true; especially those looking for natural cures.
Exactly, Wayne. People read about “Earthing/Grounding” and really want it to be true. It sounds like a miracle, and people want it to be true so badly that it becomes true – in their own minds. It’s the placebo effect of these really persuasive articles and memes promoted by the Earthing Institute.
But real science doesn’t buy it and never will. The claims not only go against the laws of physics, they are physiologically and medically impossible in the human body.
Thank you!! I enjoy walking barefoot too, but I am sick of people using ‘earthing’ to justify it. I do it because I like it, nothing more. It is GREAT to hear a fellow barefooter share the same view.
Exactly!! Every time I go to a shop I get told that “earthing” is really good for you. And this is from people who wear shoes!!!
I have to tell them it’s all BS
This is the best “take down ” of the earthing nonsense I ever read. And the many links you provided to substantiate your research should be enough to shutdown this nonsense for good. Should be. But won’t be as long as there is money to be made from the gullible. P.T. Barnum proven correct once again. As for me I do note healthy results from my barefoot lifestyle. My back and knees no longer cause pain. That has zero to do with electrical grounding with the earth. It is the result of proper gait no longer thrown off balance by… Read more »
Thanks for your comment, Jason. You are right. It’s big money that’s been popularizing the “earthing” scam. Some people will believe anything they read, especially if it’s packaged in a way to appeal to the gullible. People need to think for themselves, do their own research, and not fall for every quack medical or health scam that comes along.
You can measure how effective grounding is with a multimeter which measures emf on your body! Ground your body and the emfs being absorbed into it immediately goes to almost zero! You would be amazed how much toxic emfs you’re exposed to day and night. I measure it , grounding eliminates it. The cost to you is zero, just take off your shoes. The grounding products are cheap, and last for years. I do not sell or in anyway financially benefit from grounding products.
Gary, what you are obviously doing is looking at completely natural phenomena occurring throughout the earth and ascribing some sort of supernatural and ominous harmful effects of it on the lives of human beings. It would be like saying that sunshine is harmful. EMFs (Electric & Magnetic Fields) are a natural part of the earth as well as its atmosphere. We are always in the earth’s magnetic field, which is generated at the earth’s core. While these fields can often be measured, a range of experimental studies over the years have failed to provide clear supporting evidence for the claim… Read more »
Since the most common way to measure inflammation is to conduct a blood test for C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), which is a marker of inflammation and doctors also measure homocysteine levels to evaluate chronic inflammation. Additionally physicians test for HbA1C — a measurement of blood sugar — to assess damage to red blood cells, why would the grounding researchers use infrared scans? There is only one answer: to scam the naive and make money.
Good points, Jeff. Yes, the “earthing” promoters really have this scam figured out “down to a science.” But not literally based on any real science. Just enough mumbo-jumbo scientific references to convince the uninformed that “earthing/grounding” as a healing process actually exists. If people would just take the time to do some independent research on their own without the influence of the many biased sites and articles out there, they’d soon learn that what the “earthing/grounding” promoters are claiming is impossible. Electrons simply do not travel back and forth as they claim; and they certainly do not “cure” the myriad… Read more »
In addition, aside from the tests for inflammation that doctors perform, there is a much simpler way to debunk the earthing claims. I have a sensitive digital voltmeter for my hobby in electronics which can measure current down to hundredths of a microamp which to say is an infinitesimal amount. If I place the probes between my body and the ground, absolutely no current flows. The readout is always zero. No electrons are exchanged what so ever. Case closed as they say.
I too have heard of earthing and found the whole topic very interesting. So immediately after reading several accounts of the positive benefits and watching two documentaries, I wanted to research articles and website debunking it. Hence I found this article. Much of what you say makes a lot of sense, and I have always been a sceptic of quick fixes and “snake oil” cures, but the one thing I cannot get past, and hope you can explain, is that when it comes to earthing or grounding, there are many articles written by legitimate organizations espousing the benefits of it.… Read more »
Thanks for your comment, Syndi. I have edited your comment to remove the direct links you included, as I don’t want to use this blog as a way to further publicize the misleading and false information included in those sites. But I kept a copy of your original message for reference. And I did look at each link – many I was already familiar with – and will try to briefly respond to each one. As to the “studies done by the NIH,” let me clarify that none of the studies you listed, nor any other study published under the… Read more »
Thank you for your response and it is a lot to consider. I did not re-read your explanation about ‘the manner in which earthing studies…” but I did speak to a friend of mine who works for the NIH (he’s some kind of scientist, not sure what) before my original post, and he said while the NIH routinely only reports findings from studies done by others, they don’t typically publish something that doesn’t have some basis in scientific fact, in other words, they don’t publish myths based only on someone’s say-so. I too struggle with why is something this easy… Read more »
Hi Syndi, again thanks so much for your well thought out comments. As to your friend’s statement that the NIH would not publish something that doesn’t have some basis in scientific fact, that may be true based on their goal or policy, but it would appear they certainly allow study authors a great deal of latitude to express findings that may only appear to be based on scientific fact. I don’t know how many study articles are submitted on a weekly or even daily basis, but I would think hundreds. Does the NIH even have the resources to closely monitor… Read more »
Good article. I’m an electrical engineer, and I work at a workbench most of the day every day. If I’m working on static sensitive devices, I have to wear a static strap, which grounds me to the Earth. Sometimes it will become disconnected (the plug gets pulled out), and I never know it. I have to check every so often to make sure it’s still connected. I never notice any difference in how I feel whether the strap is connected or not. I love going barefoot, but I haven’t noticed any improvement in pain, inflammation, etc. since I started over… Read more »
This is extremely excellent. Thanks for the excellent debunk of the grounding myth/pseudoscience.
Good article! Except for the fact that it failed to describe how grounding or earthing actually works. Have you ever heard of the Schumann resonances and the earth’s magnetic field? Our body evolved under these low-intensity pulsating electromagnetic signals and they are required for optimal health. It’s the reason why astronauts feel like crap when they go into orbit (space shuttles are now equipped with devices that mimic the main Schumann resonance). While the geomagnetic field is only partially attenuated when someone is inside a building, the Schumann resonances have an electrical component that is blocked by shoes or non-conducive… Read more »
The article didn’t explain how “grounding or earthing actually works,” because it doesn’t.
The article in fact did explain how “Earthing/Grounding” does not work, because that claim is not based on real science or the basic laws of physics.
Your reference to “Schumann resonances” has nothing to do with the phony claims of the “Earthing/Grounding” promoters. That is a good example of false equivalence, a logical fallacy often used to bolster some argument or belief, but which is totally unrelated to that argument or belief.
As someone who loves going barefoot, I’m glad somebody is speaking up against this stuff! I’m an electrical technician and i can honestly say the idea of grounding is total nonsense and a scam! But pseudoscience is very hard to suede people against. I’ve had a friend who “invented” a perpetual energy generator that was outputting higher voltage than it was taking in. Neverminding that it needed a battery to operate, i used a multimeter to show that while he was getting a higher voltage output, he was also outputting very small amounts of current for a significant net loss… Read more »
Hi! Been barefooting for two years. The grounding theories was the main reason for me to start. I have actually gotten a lot of The benefits the “grounders” claim it will give you, however at the same time gotten very sceptical of their theories the more i digged into them. I have a very diffrent theory now to why barefooting is healthy in a lot of areas besides the obvious musco-skeletal. I belive its about the sensory stimulation of our soles. There is plenty of evidense that if you rarley or never chew solid food you inrease the risk of… Read more »
Thanks for your comment, Carl. Yes, going barefoot definitely benefits human health, as you point out. But that has nothing to do with the phony electron flow back and forth “Earthing” nonsense, as you discovered – after first believing their propaganda. You made several excellent points.