Sunday, July 28, 2013


Dear Madame L,

Have you ever heard of "earthing"?  I was at the dentist's office the other day, and, while waiting, picked up a book on the end table titled Earthing.  The premise of the book is that there is a lot of energy in the earth that can help our bodies as long as we make some kind of contact with it.  That means being barefoot on the ground or concrete (having something to do with conductivity), or making direct contact with a source that is grounded.  Supposedly, this energy helps people with chronic pain, depression, stress or people who just want to feel better in general.  I was only able to read 3 or 4 pages before I went in for my appointment.  My dentist found out about it from a patient, and he got the plug-in grounded sheet to put on their bed because his wife deals with chronic back pain.  She thought the idea was crazy, but she felt so much better after her first night of sleeping with it.
Do you think or know whether there is energy in the earth's surface or below that can help our bodies in this way?  Does it make sense scientifically to you?
For the moment, I've been sitting outside barefoot a little more.  I don't know if it's helping or not.  The idea of going barefoot is relaxing to me anyway, so I do it all over the house, but the wood doesn't help.  Now, I've been traipsing around barefoot more outside.
Dear Grounded,
This is the first time Madame L has ever heard of this idea, and, frankly, her first response was, and her later responses continue to be, that the idea is far-fetched and completely indefensible from any known science. On the other hand, Madame L can see how enjoying nature while walking around barefoot would make anyone feel better, physically, mentally, and emotionally. 
For those Dear Readers who want to go to the source, Madame L found the Earthing Institute's website and an interview with the guy who came up with the idea. 
Madame L also asked Jeff for his opinion. Here's what he wrote: 

     "Earthing has no physical basis to it as far as I know - the human skin is a powerful insulator for a number of reasons. However, I DO know that there are powerful effects from placebos, and this is what people apparently are reporting. Someone with little or no education writes something foo-foo like this, someone else believes it, and then says that it helped them. It probably did, but not for a reason that can be measured in any way. Because of the 1st Amendment, anyone can write nearly anything they want in a magazine in this country and get away with publishing pure nonsense...

     "NONE of this Earthing stuff has any scientific basis behind it (double-blind tests that are repeatable, etc.). When electrocutions happen, it is because as resistive as the human skin is, if there are sufficiently high voltages and no alternative lower-resistance path for a current, it can (rarely) pass through the human body. Cardiac arrest happens because the atrial sinus node is de-sync'd or even damaged... and the person dies because oxygen no longer can suffuse the body (the heart goes into ventricular fibrillation and just flutters - doesn't pump blood). A lightning strike does a lot of burn damage, also, but we are talking millions of volts and hundreds of thousands of amps here. AED's work in THIS way: they provide high-voltage, but low-current spikes that reset a scrambled and mis-firing atrial sinus node.

     "There IS something called telluric current, large sheet-like currents that passes in the subsurface Earth (generally along the water table). It generally passed south to north, unless there is a conductive body (like a massive sulfide deposit) that can focus it for part of its path. These currents are not very big locally, but over a broad area can move large amounts of current. They are induced by the fluctuating magnetic field of the Earth. This induction doesn't amount to much locally - usually - but when you see northern lights it means that the Solar Wind is battering the Earth's magnetic field and causing fluctuations in it. In basic physics, an alternating (fluctuating) magnetic field gives rise to current flow if there are free electrons hanging around. This translates to very low-frequency electromagnetic waves that I use, for instance, to look deep inside Mount St Helens.

     "Under very rare circumstances, such as coronal mass ejection events (CME's) there can be enough of a burst of charged particles from the Sun that can lead to sharply increased telluric currents. When these happen, the "ground" of one electrical network gets shifted with respect to another part of it - and this can lead to current surges in in powerlines between them - and can blow large transformers in power substations. A CME shut down the Quebec and Ontario electrical grids for this reason several years ago - right in the middle of winter. If you depend on electricity to stay warm in a very cold place, this sort of thing can be potentially life-threatening. More on this at:

So, Madame L hopes you'll continue to enjoy walking barefoot and enjoying nature. Madame L has found that it helps her, too, except on very hot days, in areas with a lot of stickers, and in places where people walk their dogs a lot.


Madame L

1 comment:

AskTheGeologist said...

Your Earthing discussion is well-grounded. Especially the part about walking dogs a lot...