Earthing Research on Stress and Mood
Emotional stress, heart rate variability, grounding, and improved autonomic tone: clinical applications
Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, 2011;10 (3). (Full text available).
Chevalier G, Sinatra S.
This study looked at the effects of earthing on the body’s heart rate variability (HVR), stress, and autonomic tone (health of the nervous system).
Heart rate variability is an indicator of acute and chronic stress relating to mental load, anxiety or emotional trauma.
Twenty-eight healthy subjects participated in the study. Earthing patches were placed upon each person’s palm and on the soles of each foot and connected to a grounding rod outside via an intermediary box with a switching mechanism.
The participants were asked to sit for two hours on a comfortable reclining chair, during which they spent 40-minutes not earthing, 40-minutes earthing, and a further 40-minutes earthing. For the duration of the two-hour session, the subjects were asked to relax and rest. Sleep was permitted, but meditation was not allowed.
The HVR parameters were calculated from electrocardiogram (ECG) recordings during the study.
The results showed an improvement in the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The study concluded that “grounding has the potential to help support HRV, reduce excessive sympathetic overdrive, balance the autonomous nervous system and attenuate the stress response.” In patients who experience anxiety, emotional stress, panic, fear or symptoms related to autonomic nervous system damage (such headaches, dizziness and heart palpitations), the researchers suggested that earthing could have a positive effect within 20 to 30 minutes.
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Changes in pulse rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygenation, perfusion index, skin conductance, and their variability induced during and after grounding human subjects for 40 minutes
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2010 Jan; 16 (1): 81-7. (Abstract only)
This double-blind study looked at the physiological effects of earthing on 28 healthy subjects, 14 and 14 women.
The researchers used several devices for recording and data processing including a Radical-7 device to record the subject’s’ pulse rate, blood oxygenation and perfusion index. This device used a signal extraction technology, which used more than seven wavelengths of light to obtain data for blood constituent. The probe was placed on the middle finger of the subjects’ hands.
A ProCom5 Infiniti encoder was used to measure skin conductance and respiratory rate in real-time. The subject’s ring and little fingers of the left hand were used to measure skin conductance. A respiration sensor was used to record respiratory rate, which consisted of a sensitive girth sensor fitted with a durable latex rubber band and self-adhering belt that can be worn in the thoracic section of the body over clothes.
Four transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) type adhesive earthing patches were used for the experiment, one for each palm and sole of the subjects. These patches were connected to earthing rod outside ground via two intermediary boxes, one of which was fitted with a switch to connect or disconnect contact with earth.
For the duration of the experiment, the participants were asked to sit on a comfortable reclining chair. Earthing patches were placed on the hands and feet. At the start of the session, the subjects remained seated for 40-minutes for sham grounding. After which, the switch was flipped on for 40-minutes of earthing session. The subjects spent another 40-minutes with the grounding system switched off, spending a total of two hours.
The findings of this experiment verified the hypotheses that skin conductance decreases shortly after earthing and increased immediately after unearthing. Skin conductance is an established measure of autonomic nervous system function. The rapid drop in skin conductance (within 0.5-4 seconds) suggests that the calming mode of the nervous system (parasympathetic) was activated almost immediately when earthing.
Changes in respiratory rate, blood oxygenation warrant further research, especially when combined with skin conductance changes.
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The Effect of Grounding the Human Body on Mood
Psychological Reports: Mental & Physical Health, 2015 116 (2): 534-42. (Abstract only).
This pilot study investigated whether earthing can help improve mood. The study involved 40 participants who were randomly selected and assigned to two groups, the earthing group and sham-earthing (control) group.
The earthing materials used for the study were conductive pillows, mats, and a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) patches. The wires from these pieces of equipment were attached to a connector on one end. A single wire was connected from the other end, which was inserted into ground port of a power outlet. The grounding equipment was outfitted with a switch that when switched on would connect to the ground.
For the double-blinded procedure, each participant filled out a Brief Mood Introspection Scale (BMIS) form before the start of the session. Each subject was then directed to sit on a comfortable reclining chair equipped with earthing pillows and mats, and a patch was attached to each of the participant’s sole and palm.
Each subject was given 10 minutes to relax on the recliner chair before the switch was flipped on either for earthing or sham-earthing session for one hour. During the session, the participants were told to relax while the light was dimmed for maximum relaxation. At the end of the earthing session, the participants filled out another BMIS form.
The results of this pilot study supported three of the four hypothesis. First, the result showed a significant increase in the pleasant-unpleasant mood scale from the grounded group, indicating a more pleasant mood after earthing. Second, there was marked increase in the positive-tired mood scale, which indicated that the subjects in the grounded group felt less tired and more positive. Third, there was a significant decrease in the negative-relaxed mood scale, which demonstrated that participants in the earthing group were less negative and more relaxed.
The conclusion of the pilot study was earthing for one hour can improve mood, suggesting that walking barefoot or using a conductive material has the potential positive effect on health. The results warranted further study on a larger scale with more psychological and physiological tests.
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Electrical Grounding Improves Vagal Tone in Preterm Infants
Neonatology 2017;112(2):187-192. doi: 10.1159/000475744. Epub 2017 Jun 10
Passi. R, Doheny. K.K, Gordin. Y, Hinssen. H, Palmer. C.
The aim of this study is to measure the strengths of electrical fields within the environment of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and determine whether earthing can reduce skin voltage and improve vagal tone in preterm infants.
Preterm infants are at an increased risk of health problems due to the immaturity of their internal organs. One particularly serious threat to preterm babies is necrotizing enterocolitis, a potentially fatal disease of the intestines.
Preterm babies must spend time in the NICU to support them through the difficult first weeks of their lives. However, the electrical equipment used within the NICU can give off background electromagnetic fields which the researchers propose may cause these infants additional stress.
Emotional stress can be measured using heart rate variability (HRV), which is indicative of vagal tone. Good vagal tone indicates increased activity in the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system which is activated during rest and relaxation. Decreased vagal tone is associated with the activation of the sympathetic nervous system under stressful conditions.
Prior to the study, environmental magnetic flux density was measured in and around the incubators in the NICU. It was found to be higher inside the closed incubators, ranging between 1.5 and 12.7mG compared with just 0.5mG outside.
A total of 26 preterm babies, aged between six and 60 days old, were included in the study. 20 were measured for both skin voltage and HRV and the remaining six for skin voltage only. Measurements were taken before, during and after earthing. Earthing was achieved using a patch electrode and wire extending to a ground outlet.
The results showed that prior to earthing, the infants skin voltage was measured at 60Hz, the exact frequency of electrical power.
During earthing, the infants’ skin voltage dropped by 95% and vagal tone improved by 67%. This indicates reduced levels of stress and increased relaxation. After earthing, the infants’ vagal tone returned to its original levels.
These results suggest that earthing could be a valuable strategy for use in neonatal units. It may help not only to relieve stress in preterm infants, but also reduce the risk of disease and improve outcomes.
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