Those of us who are electrically or electromagnetically sensitive know about ‘earthing’ as a means of drawing excess electric and electromagnetic energy back to the earth where it is harmlessly discharged – rather than have it whizzing around our bodies and damaging us! It is normally achieved by connecting shielding fabric, bed sheets, mats or paint, via copper wire, to pipes or an electrical circuit which discharge to earth.
However, I was interested a few weeks ago, to get an email from a one-time subscriber to the now defunct Foods Matter magazine, telling me how her own health had been greatly improved by using an earthing sheet on her bed and an earthing mat under her computer – much better sleep patterns and a general ‘calming down’ effect. She had heard that earthing could also be useful for ES and, as she knew I was a sufferer, very kindly thought she would tell me about it.
While the earthing theory for electrosensitives is both valid and helpful, there is another aspect to earthing of much wider significance. The earth is (to quote the Groundology brochure) ‘a massive reservoir of negatively charged free electrons’. By coming directly in contact with the earth (through walking barefoot on the earth or connecting ourselves via ‘earthing equipment’ to the earth) our bodies can absorb these negatively charged electrons that are then able to neutralise the reactive oxygen species (free radicals) which are so heavily involved in the body’s immune and inflammatory response – at the heart of so many chronic, degenerative modern conditions.
The theory is not new – in the late 19th century, a back-to-nature movement in Germany claimed many health benefits from being barefoot outdoors, even in cold weather. But the displacement of leather soles in our shoes by rubber and plastic, and the advent of insulating mattresses and insulated houses, have meant that we now rarely come into direct connection with the earth .
This disconnect and its implications are investigated in some depths in an article just published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health which quotes a number of studies looking at the positive effects of earthing on sleep patterns, chronic pain, fibromyagia and muscle soreness, stress, heart rate variability, glucose regulation and osteoporosis. There was also a discussion paper covering much of the same research in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine last year.
If you read the papers and decide that it might be worth a try, grounding yourself could not be simpler. Walking barefoot on the earth as often as possible is, obviously, the cheapest and easiest option but, if you live in an urban environment – or the ambient temperature is 10 degrees below – then a grounding sleep sheet or a mat might be a better bet – although do see below before you get too excited. In either case it is better for your skin to be in direct contact with the grounding mat or sheet, but the electrons will normally make it through thin fabric such as a sheet.
A bed sheet is obviously a good idea as you remain in constant contact with it for, depending on your sleeping habits, between 6 and 9 hours so get a really serious electron hit. I have used an earthing sheet for several years – and have a small one with which I travel so as to minimise the electromagnetic radiation to which I am subject in other poeples’ electrosmoggy houses! You could also have a foot mat on which you rest your feet while at your computer or anywhere else that you remain for a while – but this does require you to be barefoot to get the full benefit.
Grounding sheet material (cotton intwerwoven with stainless steel) can be had from EMFields – not cheap, I fear, but it washes and will last for ever – along with earthing leads that you just need to attach to your sheet. Mouse mats, foot mats and earthing leads can be had from www.groundology.com (a mouse mat complete with earthing leads will only cost you a very modest £30) along with grounding patches, grounding wrist bands and, if you do not have a properly earthed outlet, a grounding rod kit.
Groundology can also offer you around a dozen scientific research papers on earthing/grounding and a book, Earthing, by Clint Ober – strongly recommended by the lady who contacted me in the first place.
However….. And this is a big ‘however’. While walking barefoot on the earth presents few problems (apart from cold feet in winter) the efficiency of the various ‘grounding’ or ‘earthing’ devices depends entirely on how good their connection with the earth actually is. As anyone who is involved in electronics (audio electronics, for example) will tell you, earthing is somewhat of a black art and creating a genuine, reliable ‘earthed’ connection can be very difficult. The only really fail-safe way to do it (as they do in Russia, for example) is to make your ‘earthing connection’ via an ‘earthing stake’ – a large metal stake driven at least a metre into the ground to which your devices to be earthed are connected. Although electrical circuits in buildings are nearly always ‘earthed’, the ‘earthing’, while sufficient to prevent electrical accidents, rarely remains pure and uncontaminated so, for electrosensitives, far from delivering the promised benefits, it might do quite the opposite!
I say this from personal experience as, inspired by the articles quoted above, I thought I would invest in an ‘earthing’ mouse mat – a great bargain at under £30, I thought. When it arrived, last Thursday afternoon, I set it up and plugged it into one of the plug strips which sits at the back of my desk. However, this plug strip is one of two, four-socket strips (all sockets full of cables which, although all very low current, have a number of connections) which in turn are plugged into the ring main. Although two of the sockets are taken up by dirty electricity filters, the potential for electrical contamination within the room, whatever about the whole house, is significant.
I used my computer and new mouse mat on Thursday evening and on Friday, and again, briefly, on Saturday morning. I then got side tracked by discovering a great pile of carpet-munching moths under my desk. So, much against my principles, I cleared the area out and sprayed it with noxious anti-moth spray. I then left the window wide open to dispel noxious fumes and did not come back for a few hours. When I came to my computer some hours later, after about half an hour I felt the tell tale signs of having been electromagnetically ‘rayed’ – in my case an ache in the chest – something that I have not felt for many months, thank goodness!
At first I thought it must be the moth spray (electromagnetic sensitivity often goes hand in hand with chemical sensitivity although I have never displayed any symptoms of the latter) so continued to leave the window wide open. Off and on over the weekend, I came back to the computer but each time I found that, after about 15 minutes, the pain in my chest came back – but gradually subsided once I left the computer. By this morning (Monday) the room had had 48 hours with a full gale blowing through it, so I felt that any remaining fumes must have been dispersed. I therefore closed the window and sat down to work – and once again, within minutes, my ache had come back.
And then, suddenly, I thought of the mouse mat – in constant touch with my hand and plugged into the electrical circuit although, in theory, only connecting me to the earth… I unplugged the mat and brought back my old one. It took a couple of hours for the ache to subside but, since around 2pm (it is now 7.30pm) I have been back at my computer with no sign of a resurgent ache…
Who knows whether the connection between my mouse mat and the ground failed at the junction with the plug strips, in the cabling connecting them all together, at the junction with the ring main or at some other point in the house’s electrics, all of which are well over 30 years old. But what was obviously happening was that instead of the mouse mat connecting directly with the earth and transporting negative electrons my way, it was merely plugging into the buzzing electrical world under the back of my desk and transporting it back to me.
Electromagnetic sensitivity is cumulative and, since I have been very well for a long time now (over a year), my resistance is relatively high. So it took all of Thursday evening and Friday for my close connection with my electrical circuits to actually start to affect me, but once it did the ‘lead time’ got ever shorter. Had I not sussed out the problem, within a few days, I would no doubt have been feeling thoroughly unwell and unable to watch the television, go into my local CFL-lit shops etc, etc.
So, I am not saying for a moment that earthing, or indeed an earthing mouse mat, can not be hugely beneficial – I am sure that it can. But I am saying that, if you are to use an earthing device, you need to be very sure that your connection with earth is pure and true…. My next experiment will be to connect my mouse mat to the radiator pipes via a tightly done up Jubilee clip and see how well that connects to the earth outside. Watch this space!