Brace yourselves, team. We’re heading into the kind of territory that brings folk out of the woodwork to throw the usual cries of “but where’s the vacuum-sealed, octo-blind, inreverse placebo, set-in-concrete scientifical study that proves what you say beyond a doubt?!”.  Yes, today we’re going to discuss earthing mats. Which sound like something that a dude in fisherman pants and a child called Forest Pxyiee would try to sell you, right?

Photo by Toby Burrows
Photo by Toby Burrows

Admittedly I did first hear about the idea while I was living in Byron Bay. And it was a dude in fisherman pants who waxed lyrical about the it will toting a chai. A few months back, however, building biologist Nicole Bijlsma brought the idea and the mats up again when she did a toxin audit on my home. She claims the mats will reduce body voltage created by the electric fields around you, and are particularly good for those who have electric hypersensitivity (EHS). You can see the video chats we did in my home here and here where we discuss the various sources of electromagnetic fields in the house and the solutions you can put in place to minimise them.

In a (cracked?) nut the idea behind earthing, however, is this:

The earth has a negative grounding charge. We humans build up positive electrons (free radicals) from EMFs, Wi-Fi etc.

Connecting directly with the earth equalizes things.

To earth is simply to walk barefoot on dirt or beach or grass. The effect is much like grounding electrical outlets to prevent build up of positive electrical charge. Health benefits, calmness, good sleep ensue.

How to earth:

* Walk barefoot. While we used to connect via our bare feet, know we have a layer of rubber between us and the earth, which insulates and prevents the grounding transfer. Get your shoes off and walk in a park on the grass or dirt, or along a beach.

* Walk on the beach. Wondered why you come back from a beach stroll so anchored and calm? Sand and salt water are particularly conductive and earth us even more effectively.

* Use an earthing mat under your bed. This is what Nicole got me onto. An earthing mat, or sheet, is like a short undersheet that you place on top of your bottom sheet (it needs skin contact to work), with a cord that connects to a socket in the wall. The electrons from the earth will flow up (regardless of whether your home is on the ground floor or the 12th floor) through the ground wires and onto the mat, and earth you. While you sleep.

* Use an earthing mat under your computer. This is a small rubber mat connected to a wall socket. It works to the same principles above: Electrons will flow up/through your building and onto the mat. Ergo, keeping you grounded while you work.

What on earth does it do?

The claim is that grounding or earthing has a bunch of health benefits, including reducing inflammation (thus helping with auto-immune conditions), reducing chronic pain, helping with jet lag, balancing out hormonal issues and most importantly to me, improving sleep by normalizing your biological circadian rhythms. I kinda get it. On beach holidays I always sleep better. When I feel grounded and unfrazzled, I sleep better.

Where’s the proof?

Yes, yes, I can hear the troll-y skeptics rumbling in the ranks. It appears there are a bunch of preliminary studies that have been done on the subject, which are outlined here. They’re far from gold standard and the results are not conclusive. But, as I ask often, are they ever? And can you imagine earthing mat research getting a stack of funding?

I also saw this on Wellness Mama‘s blog a while back. Thermographic imaging has been used to show how earthing can affect inflammation. The image was taken of a woman who complained of stiffness and chronic pain. The first picture was taken before earthing, and the second, after just 30 minutes of earthing. I can’t vouch for it’s pristine scientific credentials. But I find it intriguing.

earthing How to Get Healthy While You Sleep

Does grounding work?

As always with this kind of thing, I prefer to test things out for myself. The claims pertaining to inflammation and sleep were too enticing for me not to give the mats a crack.  Obviously it’s a study of one. You draw your own conclusions.

The computer mat: I place it under my feet while I work (with bare feet). It’s hard to say if it’s had a direct effect, but I can say that overall my inflammation has been better the past few months. Coincidence? Hard to say when your health is a clusterfuck of symptoms. I try not to get too attached to devices like this, too attached to a miraculous outcome. I think I’m going to pass it on to friends to see if they can notice a discernible effect (and meantime I’ll notice if there’s a negative effect from not having it under my feet).

The bed mat: I’ve had the sheet on my bed for two months now. As I’ve written before, I’ve been having terrible sleep issues lately, due to a range of factors. Feeling frazzled with pent up “positive electric energy” ain’t my only issue. However, since using the mat I have been waking with less pain in my legs from the inflammation. I tested things by removing the mat for two weeks: the achy pain returned. Also, I’ve had less cramps and restless legs during the night.

Sitting in dirt:  I try to meditate outside most mornings (at the end of my walk back from the pool, or after one of my bushruns or at the end of a frenetic day) and sit on a rock or sand or a lawn in a nearby park. I’ve always intuitively done this – it makes for a more focused meditation. Since being exposed to this thinking, though, I’ve been aware of getting my shoes off more often. And getting to the beach at least twice a week. I can tell you that doing so categorically works for me. Try the mats. Or get to a beach.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can buy both mats in Australia, as well as the definitive book on topic, Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?, via Earthing Oz. The computer mats start from $59.95.

I’ve written this post to get feedback and thoughts from anyone who’s tried something similar…care to share your results or any other reading on the topic?

 

Have your say, leave a comment.

  • Cassie

    Sarah, what is wrong with questioning and demanding evidence for some far fetched theory? Isn’t that a much more sensible approach than blindly believing anything you are told? No one is requesting a “vacuum-sealed, octo-blind, inreverse placebo, set-in-concrete scientifical study” (mostly because they are just a list of things you have made up). Making people feel silly for questioning things they
    are told is pretty immature, it just seems like you don’t want to be disagreed with. If you don’t want people to demand evidence, then please, stop spouting such un-scientific rubbish, in this article and in others.

  • Tibs

    I am not sure about what the mats are made of and how well they function for the purpose of grounding.

    Though according to an article on the mercola.com website about the topic of grounding it mentions 80 minutes is the minimum requirement for the changes in electron flow to commence within the body.

    On another occasion I remember watching a documentary about how animals cool their entire bodies by the fact the blood vessels in their paws of their feet touch are within a close proximity to a cooler surface. The observations were then repeated with athletes. They were able to cool an entire body of an athlete after an activity that generated heat, by placing one hand within an isolated cold environment. This was shown in thermal imaging similar to the image in this article. They compared the effect to that of placing a cold towel on the forehead of someone experiencing an elevated body temperature during a sickness, yet the towel placement on the forehead was enough to lower total body temperature.

    Hence, suddenly standing barefoot on a colder surface like the earth will cause a lowering of body temperature. The question is will doing this for 80 minutes everyday for a set number of months lower hyper-inflammation of body tissues due to illness or disease and will the benefits remain, and not necessarily a temporary adjustment of body temperature. Or is this treatment similar to what they do in parts of Europe where they jump into an ice lake to treat a disease?

    Grounding is an interesting method for a health treatment though the image of thermal does not contribute as evidence very well. I will look for further supportive evidence and experiences from people as opportunities show themselves.

  • Terry

    Warren Grossman has been Earth healing since the late 1980’s in Cleveland, after healing himself by lying outside on the ground daily for a couple months. He does not use a mat, Today he still does Earth based (and trees as they are grounded too) healing and teaches others to do the same. His method is explained in his book To Be Healed By The Earth. Check him out at warrengrossman.com I have been healed by him a couple times and taken a class with him. I don’t know about plugging a mat into a socket, but I do know that connecting to the earth by walking barefoot or connecting with trees is very healthy activity.

    • Narelle Warren

      Plugging the mat into the socket is to earth the connection

  • Ohnwentsya

    We evolved with the Earth’s magnetic field and frequency of resonance (Schumann). Electromagnetic fields overlap one another and our own inherent electromagnetic field. If you read about field interaction you see it can be complex but I’d guess the simple idea is we evolved for all of history with the fields in nature only and in the last century or so we’ve become immersed in hundreds of new and different fields to which we are not necessarily adapted.
    It’s like birds sing in the morning and we evolved hearing birdsong but that doesn’t mean sitting next to a jet engine roaring loudly is healthy.

  • Chantelle Renee

    Are you still using your mat/sheet? Where do you buy yours from?

  • Shirley Blackstock Megason

    Rose, pin a metal safety pin to the inside seam of your pants, skirt, dress. It will take away the static shock. You can just leave it attached when washing or drying your clothes.