The popular practice of Earthing, also known as grounding, involves connecting the body to the Earth’s surface, usually through walking barefoot on grass, sand, or dirt or using conductive materials like mats, sheets, or patches. Although Earthing has several health benefits, it’s crucial to be aware of potential side effects.
Static Electricity Shock
One potential side effect of earthing is the risk of static electricity shock. Most people have experienced this at some point in their lives, and it’s not harmful, but it does happen.
There should be no risk of real electric shock if your outlet is properly grounded. This sort of shock can happen if the ground wiring is not installed correctly or if the cord is somehow connected to live power via significant misuse of the cord.
Outlet testers are cheap and easy to find. The very safest way to use any grounding equipment is to make sure your outlet is properly grounded and to use a GFCI outlet or a GFCI extension to an outlet.
Skin Irritation or Infection
There is a theoretical risk of skin irritation or infection associated with grounding, but it is relatively rare and unlikely to occur under normal circumstances. If the grounding equipment is not clean or the user has a pre-existing condition, such as eczema or open wounds, grounding may increase the risks of skin irritation or infection.
In addition, people with immune system problems or taking immunosuppressive medications may be at a higher risk of infection.
It is important to follow proper hygiene practices and use clean equipment when grounding to minimize the risk of skin irritation or infection. If you have a pre-existing skin condition or compromised immune system, it’s best to talk to your doctor before grounding to ensure it’s good and safe for you.
Increased Risks of Bleeding and Implanted Medical Devices Malfunction
People with bleeding disorders or those taking blood-thinning medication should be cautious when earthing as it may increase the risk of bleeding. Earthing or grounding can increase the surface charge on red blood cells (RBCs), reducing blood viscosity and clumping (1).
Although there are anecdotal reports that patients taking blood-thinning drugs need to monitor their clotting time when they increase their frequency of conductive contact with the earth, it’s best to exercise caution.
Also, individuals with certain medical conditions should consult with their doctor before trying earthing. For example, people with pacemakers or other implanted medical devices should avoid earthing as it may interfere with the functioning of these devices.
While some users may experience negative symptoms such as headaches or a foggy mind with initial use, these symptoms tend to subside after consistent use. Start with short increments of less than one hour and gradually increase usage to allow the body to adjust to the increased flow of negative electrical energy.
Using a grounding mat can, in fact, be effective in improving chronic headaches, as it works to lower stress and improve sleep by balancing the body’s energy levels. By lowering cortisol levels (2) and resolving the source of the issue – stress and lack of quality sleep – grounding can help improve chronic headaches instead of merely masking the symptoms with medication.
While there is limited research on these side effects, it’s important to listen to your body and stop earthing if you experience any adverse effects.
PTSD Trigger Symptoms
While grounding techniques can be helpful for many individuals with PTSD (3), there is also a possibility that they could trigger symptoms or even a full-blown flashback or panic attack in some cases. The effectiveness of grounding techniques can vary from person to person, and what works well for one individual may not work well for another.
Individuals with PTSD need to work with a mental health professional to develop a personalized set of coping skills, including grounding techniques that work best for their unique needs and experiences. A therapist can help identify potential triggers and work with the patient to develop strategies for managing them.
While earthing may have potential health benefits, it’s important to be aware of the potential side effects and take necessary precautions to prevent them. If you have any medical conditions or concerns, consult your doctor before trying earthing.
1. Chevalier, Gaétan, et al. “Earthing (Grounding) the Human Body Reduces Blood Viscosity-a Major Factor in Cardiovascular Disease.” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (New York, N.Y.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 2013, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3576907/.
2. D;, Ghaly M;Teplitz. “The Biologic Effects of Grounding the Human Body during Sleep as Measured by Cortisol Levels and Subjective Reporting of Sleep, Pain, and Stress.” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (New York, N.Y.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15650465/#:~:text=Conclusions%3A%20Results%20indicate%20that%20grounding,were%20most%20apparent%20in%20females.
3. Symptoms of Traumatic Stress and Grounding Techniques. https://svpro.mcmaster.ca/app/uploads/2020/02/Symptoms-of-Traumatic-Stress-and-Grounding-Techniques.pdf.