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The Global Phenomenon of “Earthing”

For decades, new-age gurus have referred in a vaguely hopeful way to “the healing power of the Earth.” Now a former electronics expert claims to have found scientific proof that the Earth can indeed heal us in a very basic and literal way. He has taken a remarkable journey that began with a bad tooth and just might end in a radical new way for the World to think, live, and deal with chronic pain disease. This is the story of Clint Ober and Earthing.

In its inaugural issue, Going Organic announced a mission of partnering with the readers and the community in attempts at harmonizing our world through the presentation of information aimed at helping readers create a safer, sustainable, and organic environment that supports sufficiency and health. As such, it is our pleasure to introduce you to a like-minded, local resident at the forefront of a health-transforming, global movement: Clinton Ober, the founder of “Earthing.”

From the red sands of Sedona to the skyscrapers of Japan, professionals and laymen from around the world are singing the praises of this pioneer in self-healing, and word is quickly spreading about a new way of thinking, living, and healing. We at Going Organic invite you to join the chorus.

The details of Earthing are outlined in a paradigm-shattering book written by Mr. Ober along with the cardiologists Stephen T. Sinatra and veteran health writer Martin Zucker. The book outlines Ober’s personal mission of discovery and provides validation of what may prove to be one of the most important health revelations in recent times: that major health benefits can be easily acquired by regular contact with the natural electric energy that is present on the surface of the Earth.

Earlier this year, Earthing was selected as a 2011 Nautilus Book Award winner, a prize given out for writing that promotes spiritual growth, conscious living, and positive social change. The book has been widely praised by leading experts in the fields of health and self-improvement.

  • “Earthing is a revolutionary health breakthrough that will change your life.”-Martin Gallagher, M.D., D.C.
  • “This book is a manual for one of Nature’s great healing aspects.”-John Gray, Ph.D.
  • “Earthing may be as fundamental as sunlight, air, water, and nutrients.”-Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D.
  • “Earthing ranks right up there with the discovery of penicillin.”-Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., C.N.S.
  • “Earthing is the return to the healing power of Nature… here’s a simple but powerful way to restore your health on all levels.”-Hyla Cass, M.D.

So what is this wonderful process that everyone is talking about? After reading the book and feeling an instant connection with its premise, I made an appointment with the man behind the phenomenon to find out first-hand. I was just as fascinated by the man as I remain with his work.

A Well Grounded Childhood and Career

From the time Ober was a young boy in Montana, he was enthralled with nature. He describes his early years exploring an area rich in Native American history and legend. As a child, he had an intuitive sense to “kick off my shoes” and run around on the bare earth, often sleeping outside as those who inhabited the land hundreds of years before had done. Forced to drop out of school to work the family farm after his father’s death, he started observing how animals that ran free seemed healthier than those that were caged or kept indoors as pets, but it wasn’t until many years later that he discovered why.

During the 1970’s Ober started what eventually became a successful, nationwide cable television company. He helped conceptualize the use of modems and personal computers, which soon led to working with those who created CNN, HBO, and other cable networks. He had achieved what many consider the American Dream: his own business, a luxurious home in Denver, and a lifestyle including anything that money could buy. However, in 1993 his world fell apart.

A Brush With Death

In 1993 at the age of 49, Ober’s body began to shut down after a serious tooth abscess left him with a gravely damaged liver. Luckily, an experimental surgical procedure saved his life. But his brush with death left him a new man one who realized he was a slave to his possessions and a job that no longer fulfilled him. Transformed, he became a man in search of a purpose. After giving away most of his possessions, he drove around the country in an RV for over four years, ultimately ending up in Sedona, Arizona, the birthplace of Earthing.

The “Ah-Ha” Moment

One day in 1998, Ober was sitting outside watching a group of tourists in Sedona. As he describes it, a “light bulb” went off as he watched those around him in various forms of footwear.

Suddenly, it occurred to him that almost everyone was wearing shoes with some sort of rubber or plastic soles. Based on his knowledge of electricity and insulation, he realized that all those people were actually insulated from direct contact with the earth. He thought back to his cable industry experience and remembered that all electrical appliances and cable systems had to be grounded to the earth to stop interference from outside electromagnetic fields. The path of his life changed with a single thought: “Could wearing insulated rubber or plastic soled shoes adversely affect our health?”

From that moment on, Ober became obsessed with finding the answer. Using a simple voltmeter, he measured the electromagnetic field (EMF) around his body near various appliances before and after “grounding” himself, by connecting his body to a metal wire leading to a grounding rod outside, planted in the Earth. Before he knew it, he had fallen asleep while “grounded.” He awoke refreshed and realized it was the first time in years he had slept through the night without having to take his usual medication for chronic back pain. Fascinated he conducted similar experiments with friends who had chronic pain and sleep problems. The results were consistent: better sleep, less pain, and a heightened sense of well-being. Thus began the Earthing Movement.

Good News Travels Fast

Word spread rapidly about the amazing effects of simply being reconnected to the Earth. As many people sought help from Ober, he sought ways to help as many people as possible. Working with specialty companies, he developed cotton sheets with conductive silver strands woven into them. He also developed grounded mats, patches, and bands with which to connect people to the Earth. He began grounding people who had chronic people, severe inflammation, immune disorders, insomnia, and even conditions as disabling as multiple sclerosis (MS). Within a short period of time-sometimes as fast as overnight-many people reported significant symptom relief. Word spread rapidly about the amazing effects of simply being reconnected to the Earth.

Over time, he repeated positive results convinced Ober that contact with the Earth restores a natural electrical state in the body. As he puts it, “your body slowly becomes infused with the Earth’s omnipresent and ever-present healing energy.” This is what Earthing is all about-a simple, safe and natural shift in the body that reduces pain, inflammation, and stress. It has the potential to help people with disabling conditions regain a better level of health. In short, people become connected with the planet’s abundant yet overlooked healing properties.

Overcoming Skeptics

Initially, researchers wanted nothing to do with such an idea. In fact, as he first tried to solicit doctors and scientists to investigate his discovery, Ober was laughed at and ridiculed. One doctor told him that even if the idea was valid, he wasn’t about to tell his patients to take off their shoes and get well “for free.” But word continued to spread, and as it did, some members of the health community started to listen and conduct their own experiments using Ober’s techniques. What they found may be, as the book suggests, “the most important health discovery ever.”

One pilot study conducted by Dr. Maurice Ghaly, a retired anesthesiologist, measured the secretion of cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone,” in people before and after grounding. The study found that Earthing during sleep “resynchronizes cortisol secretion in alignment with its natural, normal rhythm.” People in the study reported better sleep and less pain, consistent with Ober’s findings.

In 2001, Ober’s work attracted the attention of Dr. Steve Sinatra, an integrative cardiologist who believes in combining conventional and alternative treatment for his cardiac patients. Because the heart is “one of the primary electrical entities in the body,” he felt that if grounding reduced inflammation it might represent a “new weapon against heart disease.” He asked Ober to find out if Earthing could decrease inflammation. With the help of other professionals, such as biophysicist James Oschman and William Amalu, D.C., the president of the International Academy of Clinical Thermography, Ober found the answers he was seeking: Yes, Earthing appeared to significantly reduce inflammation, the cause of many of today’s most serious medical problems.

The Positive Effects of Negative Ions

As his book documents, Ober and his associates found out that the Earth acts as a giant anti-inflammatory agent. The electric energy on the surface of the planet takes the form of a free and limitless supply of sub-atomic particles called electrons. These electrons are negatively charged. These electrons are negatively charged. So when you have direct contact with the Earth, they are absorbed into the body and negate any positively charged areas of inflammation. Thus, electron deficiency resulting from a lack of grounding is eliminated and healing unfolds because “the inflammation, sickness, and pain in your body are but a manifestation-in large part small-of an electron deficiency.”

Although inflammation is actually caused via the body’s attempt at healing itself through the release of white blood cells to an injury site, sometimes the inflammatory response continues even when the initial illness or injury has passed. Ober and co-authors believe that “normal inflammation veers out of control because of lost contact with the Earth… [This] generates an autoimmune response manifesting as chronic inflammation. The immune system [runs] amok, attacking its owner-you.” Reconnection with the Earth, they contend, eliminates inflammation and a healing process unfolds.

Nature’s Anti-inflammatory Agent

The conditions related to chronic inflammation can be extreme. MS, arthritis, fibromyalgia, intestinal disorders, headaches, kidney failure, chronic pain, diabetes, cancer, allergies, and cardiovascular disease. One of the great concepts of Earthing is that it offers a simple and natural way to impact inflammation and aid the body in combating the pain and dysfunction it causes. The healing potential is amazing yet simple. You can connect to the Earth as easily as walking barefoot on the ground outside, swimming in the ocean, sleeping on one of Ober’s grounded sheets, or working on your computer as your bare feet rest on one of his grounded floor mats.

As far-out as Earthing may sound initially, it actually makes sense if you just think about it. The human body is a conductive device. The Earth has been found to contain an endless supply of electrons-think of a giant mass of negative charged electrons. When the body is in disharmony or inflamed, which may manifest as pain, illness, disease, or simply stress or depression, it is in a positively charged state. If you put your body (positively charged) against the ground (negatively charged), the smaller of the two—you—will pull electrons from the larger object—the Earth. Then the “electrical potential” of the two will equalize or harmonize, which is what Earthing accomplishes.

As Ober and his co-writers put it, “Electrons are the smallest possible negative charges of electricity. It is well established that negative charges (electrons) are attracted to positive charges (free radicals). Connecting the body to the Earth automatically enables the conductive tissues of the body’s living matrix to become charged with the Earth’s free electrons.” What is the result? A reduction in symptoms related to inflammatory conditions, or more simply put, healing!

Reconnecting with the Power of the Earth

When reading Earthing, one finds astonishing before and after pictures of wounds healing faster than normal after grounding therapy. There is confirmation via thermal imagery of decreased inflammation after Earthing is applied, which is shown in before and after pictures of participants. In addition, pictures provided by Dr. Sinatra demonstrate that after grounding for only forty minutes, red blood cells that had been clumped together in a pattern indicative of cardiovascular disease thinned out into healthier patterns.

This powerful effect is already documented in one pilot study, with another larger study ongoing. If Earthing is found to contribute to blood thinning, the implications for cardiovascular patients are tremendous.

The book and its website also contain countless testimonials from people around the globe whose use of Earthing has allowed them to leave behind years of chronic pain and return to normal activities. As I read the personal accounts, I was literally moved to tears. I was astounded at the enormous impact that such a simple act has had on so many lives.

When I interviewed the man, I was amazed by his experience, his perseverance in the face of disbelief, and his humility. While talking to Ober, it becomes clear he is on a mission to spread the word about the healing effects of Earthing. He is also quite outspoken about his beliefs on healthcare.

The Message Behind the Man

Ober maintains that Americans, in particular, were misled into a false sense of health security. We were promised that in the years ahead there would be a pill for all our ills and medical insurance for everyone. Clearly, that has not happened. Meanwhile, we have become increasingly disconnected from nature by our modern lifestyle. Not only do we eat unhealthy and unnatural food, but our environment has become equally unhealthy.

The conductive leather-soled shoes of our ancestors have been replaced with insulated plastic. Our homes and offices surround us with electronic devices, wireless connections, microwaves, and cell towers, which assail us with multiple forms of interference that act like electricity running wildly through our ungrounded bodies.

From the latter half of the 20th century on, everything in our homes, schools, and offices has decreased our ability to directly connect with the healing power of the Earth while bombarding us with multiple sources of contamination. Native Americans, such as those in Mr. Ober’s home state of Montana, knew the value of the Earth. They walked on it barefoot or with moccasins; they slept on it; they honored it; they healed from their interaction with it.

Final Thoughts

Ober pleads for us to become proac- tive about our own health, to start think- ing of “health assurance” versus “health insurance,” and to begin reconnecting with the Earth before it’s too late. He be- lieves in a healthy diet and being active, but he also believes that if we are not grounded, we are failing to take advan- tage of a remarkable source of healing that is available to all of us, all the time. And for those who don’t have the time to go outside and walk barefoot on the grass or swim in the ocean, he has a line of reasonably priced products that allow us to ground from almost anywhere. His desire for the future is simply to share the healing results that Earthing has to offer and to motivate others to become as healthy as he is—something he accomplished through the regular practice of grounding.

Thanks to Clinton Ober, I have now been Earthing for two weeks. I sleep on a grounded pad; I type with my feet on a grounded mat; and I walk wearing grounded shoes. After two days, I noticed my insomnia was better. After two weeks, my daily migraines are almost gone. On the one night I was away from home and forgot my Earth- ing sleep mat, I woke with a migraine. That was my “ah ha” moment. As a Reiki Master, I am planning my own study on the results of Reiki on grounded versus ungrounded clients. As a Clinical Hypnotherapist who often works with clients for chronic pain issues, I anticipate significantly better results as I start combining Earthing with my sessions.

Grace Xanthos, M.A., D.C.H. Grace Xanthos is a college professor and writer with M.A. Degrees in both English and Education, and she is an alternative health practitioner. With a Doctorate in Clinical Hypnotherapy, National Certification in Massage Therapy & Body Work, and a long history as a Reiki Master, her background in both academia and holistic healing provide a unique perspective on the work of Clint Ober, the founder of “Earthing.”