Natural Pain Relief & Earthing
Most people have experienced pain at some point during their life, whether it was a headache, a sports injury or stubbed toe. This kind of pain goes away by itself within a few hours or days.
Natural pain relief is a term that can be used to describe approaches that stimulate the body’s innate ability to heal itself. Approaches such as naturopathy, massage, exercise, manual therapies, herbal medicine, acupuncture can be regarded as forms of natural pain relief. So too, can earthing.
Earthing is the practice of connecting to the earth. The effects have been studied and published in peer-reviewed medical journals. See earthing research here. It has been found to reduce pain and alleviate inflammation naturally.
How Earthing Works for Pain Relief
Earthing, also known as grounding, is the act of bringing the body into conductive contact with the earth. It works by taking advantage of the earth’s subtle electrical charge. The earth’s surface is rich in what are known as free electrons. When you walk barefoot, these are transferred to the body where they act as powerful antioxidants or anti-inflammatories. The main way that earthing can reduce pain is by decreasing inflammation.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine monitored the effects of earthing after doing an excessive exercise that created inflammation, pain and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
In the study, subjects were assigned to two groups. One group slept on earthing products and also did one-hour of earthing during the day too. The other were sham-earthed. All subjects performed vigorous exercise and were tested for various blood markers indicating inflammation. The subjects also rated their pain levels subjectively.
The study found that the subjects in the earthed group had a faster recovery time than those who were not earthed following exercise. In their conclusions, the researchers state:
“Grounding appears to be the first intervention with the potential to reduce the time of recovery and improve muscle function from DOMS.”
Why Sleeping Earthed Overnight May Help
When we sleep, our body does the lion’s share of its repairing. That is one of the reasons why good quality sleep can reduce the intensity of your pain both during the night and for the coming day. Earthing overnight can both improve sleep quality and reduce pain.
An earthing sleep system consists of a mattress pad, undersheet or pillowcase which is interwoven with conductive fibres. This is earthed either via a wire and earthing rod inserted into the ground, or through the earth port of your powerpoint. This allows the earth’s free electrons to come into contact with your body and regulate your biological rhythms as you sleep.
A 2004 study on the effects of earthing during sleep found that earthing overnight normalized cortisol levels both at night and throughout the day. Cortisol is usually at its peak in the morning at around 8am and should fall as the day goes on, reaching its lowest level at midnight. Having raised cortisol levels can result in many problems including sleep disturbance, stress, inflammation and pain.
The findings of the study were very positive. After six weeks sleeping on a earthing sleep system, the majority of subjects reported improved sleep and reduced pain, especially night time pain.
Can Earthing During the Day Help Too?
The study on earthing for DOMS used earthing patches which were attached to the gastrocnemius muscles and the soles of the feet. These were worn during the day and at night and the subjects spent most of their time on an earthing sheet. This allowed pain relief to be provided directly to the affected muscles as well as the entire body.
Award-winning sports chiropractor Jeff Spencer is a great advocate of earthing and has used it to help many athletes to recover from injuries. He recommends using earthing both overnight and during the day in order to optimize its effects. He says:
“From my experience, whether you are sick or injured, the more consistently you ground yourself and the more time you spend grounded, the greater your body’s ability to heal, repair, and regenerate, and operate optimally.”
How Much Earthing do I Need for Pain Relief?
How much earthing you need for pain relief will vary from person to person. However, there are certain physiological changes that will happen to most people after even a very short period of time.
Within a few seconds of earthing the muscles begin to relax and the nervous system is calmed. After 30 minutes to two hours of daily earthing, stress, pain and inflammation are reduced and circulation is improved.
Earthing overnight has all the above benefits. It also provides deeper, more restful sleep, relief from night-time pain and less pain interfering with sleep.
How to Get Started with Earthing
You can get started with earthing simply by going outside, taking off your shoes and walking barefoot on the green grass. You can also bring the benefits of earthing home by using an earthing sleep system, mat, pad or wrap. This will allow you to experience natural pain relief as well as the many other benefits of earthing during the day or at night.
Brown D, Chevalier G, Hill M. ‘Pilot study on the effect of grounding on delayed-onset muscle soreness.’ Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine. 2010 Mar; 16(3): 256-73.
Ghaly M, Teplitz D. ‘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 2004;10 (5): 767–776.
Amalu, W. Clinical Earthing Application in 20 Case Studies, unpublished research by the president of International Academy of Clinical Thermography