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?
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.
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?