Earthing for High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is a condition which often has no obvious symptoms. However, it can be a contributing factor to life-threatening cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes. For this reason, it is sometimes called ‘the silent killer.’
It is possible to maintain healthy blood pressure by making some positive changes to your lifestyle.
A 2018 study in the Alternative Therapies and Health and Medicine Journal identified earthing or grounding, the practice of bringing your body into conductive contact with the Earth, as a safe blood-pressure reducing therapy.
Read on to learn how earthing can help reduce high blood pressure and what other changes you can make for a happier, healthier heart.
What is High Blood Pressure or Hypertension?
Your heart is a muscle and, like every muscle, it can relax and contract. It does this in a rhythmic pattern and this is what we refer to as the heartbeat.
The heart beats between 60 and 100 times every minute. Each time it does this, it forces blood through its chambers and into the blood vessels. This blood circulates around the body in vessels known as arteries and veins. Arteries carry blood away from the heart and veins return it, starting the whole process again.
As blood is pumping through the vessels, it pushes against their walls. This is what we refer to as blood pressure. When you measure your blood pressure, you are checking how much force your blood is exerting on the artery walls.
There are several reasons why blood pressure can become high. It increases naturally with age as the arteries become stiffer due to fatty deposits building up on their walls. This is known as atherosclerosis.
High blood pressure can also occur in tandem with other issues such as diabetes and obesity. It is also more common in people who smoke.
Furthermore, emotional stress, anxiety, and depression can all cause temporary increases in blood pressure. These are some of the most common reasons for high blood pressure in younger people.
What Do Blood Pressure Numbers Mean?
Blood pressure readings are usually expressed as two different numbers. The first number refers to systolic blood pressure, meaning the blood pressure when the heart muscle contracts. The second number refers to diastolic pressure, the blood pressure when the heart rests between beats.
Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). This is because the first blood pressure monitors used mercury gauges.
The table below explains the numbers that indicate healthy and unhealthy blood pressure:
|Systolic Reading||Diastolic Reading||What These Numbers Mean|
|Under 90||Under 60||Hypotension (low blood pressure)|
|90–119||60–79||Normal blood pressure|
|120–129||60–79||Elevated blood pressure|
|130–139||80–89||Stage 1 hypertension|
|Over 140||Over 90||Stage 2 hypertension|
|Over 180||Over 120||Hypertensive crisis|
If your systolic blood pressure is over 180 and/or your diastolic blood pressure is over 120, this is called a hypertensive crisis. In this situation, you run the risk of organ damage and should seek medical attention immediately.
Lifestyle Changes to Manage High Blood Pressure
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to control your blood pressure by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
One of the most important things you can do is try to maintain a healthy weight. This is because obesity is a major contributing factor to hypertension. A combination of regular exercise and a balanced diet is the most effective way to do this.
The best kind of exercise is aerobic exercise, activities that get your heart pumping faster than normal. If you haven’t exercised in a while, start with more gentle options like brisk walking and build up gradually over time.
In terms of diet, eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, pulses, and low-fat dairy products. At the same time, cut down on meat, baked goods, desserts, alcohol, and caffeine.
One of the best ways to reduce your blood pressure is to reduce your salt intake. This is because salt causes your body to retain more water, increasing the volume of the blood. Ready-made meals are often high in salt, so try to cook from scratch whenever possible. Rather than adding salt, try flavouring your food with extra herbs and spices instead.
If you smoke, stop as soon as possible. You should also avoid some over-the-counter medications, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and decongestants.
Managing stress is another key factor in keeping your blood pressure down. Try to avoid stressful situations as much as possible and ask friends and family for help when you need it. You could also try practising relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga.
Can Earthing Lower High Blood Pressure?
In 2018, researchers Elkin and Winter investigated the effects of earthing on high blood pressure. They conducted a case study series, including 10 patients with hypertension. Some of the patients also had heart disease or other conditions, and some were following special diets or exercise regimes.
Blood pressure measurements were taken at the initial visit and at three follow-up appointments over a 3–4 month period. Throughout the study, the participants slept on conductive earthing bedding and used an earthing mat during the day to bring their total time in contact with the Earth to 10–12 hours daily.
All of the participants experienced reductions in blood pressure by the end of the study period. Some of these reductions were very dramatic. For example, one patient’s blood pressure reduced from 145/80 at the first visit to 115/67 by the end of the study. This represented a 20.7% decrease in Systolic level.
Another patient, a 71-yr-old male with poorly controlled hypertension, despite being on 3 different medications, also experienced a dramatic reduction. On his initial visit, his blood pressure was 150/70 and on his final visit, 3 months later, it was 116/56, which is a reduction of 22.7% in systolic levels. Elkin streamlined his medication on the initial visit.
A third patient, a 57-yr-old woman with pain management challenges and hypertension had a 14.5% decrease in systolic levels. On her initial visit her blood pressure was 145/100, and her final visit 5-months later it was 124/70. This patient was not taking blood pressure medication.
The authors Elkin and Winter suggest several reasons why earthing has a beneficial effect on blood pressure.
- Improve autonomic and parasympathetic nervous system function
- Normalise cortisol levels
- Reduce inflammation and pain
- Improve sleep
- Improve blood flow and viscosity (thickness)
They conclude that earthing could provide a “safe, simple, and effective lifestyle strategy for reducing blood pressure in patients with mild to moderate hypertension who wish to avoid pharmaceutical drugs.” They also note that further study is warranted.
Stress and Hypertension Relationship
As we have already mentioned, mental stress is associated with changes in blood pressure.
Research has also shown that stress can affect blood pressure as well as cholesterol levels, triglycerides, haematocrit, fibrinogen, and blood fluidity.
Both cholesterol and triglycerides can contribute to atherosclerosis and hardening of the arteries. Meanwhile, haematocrit levels refer to the ratio of red blood cells to total blood volume, and fibrinogen is a protein involved in blood clotting. All of these factors can contribute to high blood pressure.
Stress can cause abnormal activity in the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response. It can trigger the release of hormones like cortisol that interfere with blood pressure. It may also increase the activity of platelets that cause the blood to clot more easily. All of these things can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems.
Earthing for Stress Relief
An important way earthing could help to reduce blood pressure is by alleviating stress. It has a normalising effect on the stress hormone, cortisol. It also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is associated with rest and relaxation.
A 2011 study by Chevalier and Sinatra assessed the effects of earthing on a marker known as heart rate variability (HRV). HRV measures the variability of intervals between heartbeats. It is a way of monitoring how well the autonomic nervous system is functioning. It paints a picture of a person’s stress levels and can also predict the risk of cardiovascular events.
During the study, 28 healthy volunteers relaxed in a chair with conductive pads attached to their hands and feet. During this time, HRV measurements were taken during 40 minutes of earthing and 40 minutes without earthing. The results indicated that earthing improved HRV to an extent beyond relaxation alone.
Earthing for Better Sleep
Stress is also associated with poor sleep and this is another area where earthing could help. A 2004 study by Ghaly and Teplitz measured the cortisol levels of 12 subjects who slept in conductive contact with the Earth for eight weeks.
Under normal conditions, cortisol levels should peak early in the morning and reduce throughout the day. However, several of the subjects in the study had disrupted cortisol profiles. They were suffering from various ailments, including sleep problems, stress, and pain.
They slept on an earthing sheet, allowing them to earth themselves throughout the night. After six weeks, most of the subjects’ cortisol profiles had normalised. Furthermore, 11 of the 12 subjects stated that they fell asleep more easily, and all 12 reported waking less during the night. Finally, 9 of the 12 reported decreased stress levels with reductions in irritability, anxiety, and depression.
How to Start Earthing
If you would like to try earthing to reduce blood pressure, relieve stress, or improve sleep, it couldn’t be easier. Just step outside with bare feet and walk on a conductive surface, such as grass, sand, or unpainted concrete. You will notice an immediate sense of relaxation as your nervous system starts to rebalance itself.
To benefit from earthing on a more regular basis, why not try an indoor earthing product? These include bedding, mats, and pads to name just a few. These items allow you to enjoy earthing from the comfort of your own home and make it part of your daily self-care routine.