By Dr. Becker
Today I have a very special guest talking with me via Skype. Recently, Dr. Mercola interviewed Clint Ober and wrote an excellent article based on their discussion called Might Electron Deficiency Be an Underlying Factor in Most Chronic Disease? It was Dr. Mercola’s interview and fascinating article that prompted me to contact Clint for an interview for Healthy Pets.
Our pet population suffers from many of the same degenerative diseases that people do. Although wild animals are naturally grounded, the animals that live with us in our homes don’t have the benefit of regularly making direct contact with the earth.
For those of you who have never heard of grounding, which is also called earthing, an abstract from the Journal of Environmental and Public Health provides a good description:
Emerging scientific research has revealed a surprisingly positive and overlooked environmental factor on health: direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the Earth. Modern lifestyle separates humans [and animals] from such contact. The research suggests that this disconnect may be a major contributor to physiological dysfunction and unwellness.
Reconnection with the Earth's electrons has been found to promote intriguing physiological changes and subjective reports of well-being. Earthing (or grounding) refers to the discovery of benefits—including better sleep and reduced pain—from walking barefoot outside or sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems that transfer the Earth's electrons from the ground into the body.
The earth is a natural antidote for electron deficiency and can provide animals with an infinite flow of electrons through grounding, or making direct contact with the earth. Here with me today to discuss this concept of grounding in animals is my very special guest, Clint Ober. Clint spent three decades working in the cable TV industry prior to changing the course of his career. For the last 15 years, he has investigated how the earth’s electrical energy influences health.
Is loss of direct contact with the ground wrecking our health and the health of our pets?
First, I asked Clint to explain how his involvement in the field of earthing came about. He answered that one day he was sitting on a bench and noticed a group of tourists getting off a bus. They were all wearing athletic shoes, as most people do these days. For some reason, this question popped into his mind: “I wonder if loss of contact with the earth could possibly have any effect on our physiology or on our bodies?” At the time, he didn’t know the answer.
Clint thinks the reason the question occurred to him was because he spent 30 years in the communications industry. He had a working knowledge of the ground because he had to ground everything cable TV-related to the earth to maintain the electrical stability of the system. He knew that when we are grounded, the body is conductive, but when we put shoes on, we lose that conductivity. So his question about loss of contact with the earth and its impact on health came to him almost intuitively.
That evening when he got home, Clint started playing with a voltmeter, and realized that “Wow, there really is a loss of balance between the earth and the body.” Later that night, in an effort to understand what was going on, he ran two wires out the window of his bedroom – one that he fed to a voltmeter and one that he fed to a piece of metalized duct tape laid across his bed (so he could lay or sit on it, or touch it), and then have the voltmeter connected to the other one to validate that he was actually grounded.
Clint inadvertently fell asleep with the voltmeter on his chest. In the morning he woke up with the voltmeter at his side, and he realized he’d hardly moved. He thought, “Wow, that’s the first time I’ve slept in a long time!”
Clint explains he was 49 at the time, was into strenuous physical activities like skiing, and had all the aches and pains to prove it, and had even had back surgery. In order to go to sleep at night, he took pain pills, and when he woke up in pain in the morning (which was normal), he’d take Advil and coffee to get moving.
Clint started talking to some of his friends about his experience with the voltmeter. One of those friends had severe arthritis and wanted to know if the voltmeter might help him. Clint didn’t think so, but within a few days, he realized his own chronic pain had begun to subside … and that’s the starting point for his interest in grounding and health.
Grounded study participants report better sleep, more energy, and less pain.
Clint started doing research on grounding. He was in Arizona at the time – 1998 and 1999. The Internet wasn’t the force back then that it is today, so researching a subject deeply was a challenge. Clint went to the library at the University of Arizona, but there was no information whatsoever on grounding the human body, except during surgery. The body must be grounded during surgical procedures to prevent static electricity, especially during heart surgery.
As time went on, Clint starting using his friends as guinea pigs and he even headed to California to see if he could find answers to his questions there. He was mostly met with incredulity. People would say things like, “You expect me to believe driving a nail into the ground, connecting a wire to it, and connecting it to someone’s toes is going to make him sleep better?”
After a period of time, Clint realized he couldn’t move forward without more information. So with the help of a couple of UCLA students, he designed his first grounding study. It was an anecdotal study involving 60 people. The way he solicited study participants is quite unique! He was getting his hair cut one day and he overheard a couple of ladies in the salon talking about painful conditions and lack of sleep. So he got the idea to put flyers up in several beauty salons inviting people to participate in his study, and he wound up with 60 volunteers!
Clint and his helpers devised “ground planes” (small pads) for the volunteers to lie on while they slept. By the end of the study, he found that for the most part, participants reported sleeping better, feeling better, having more energy, and experiencing general improvement in their health.
Clint’s anecdotal study results attracted the attention of Dr. Maurice Ghaly, a retired anesthesiologist in San Diego. Dr. Ghaly was curious but skeptical, and suggested he and Clint design another study. They measured the circadian cortisol levels of a group of volunteers every four hours for 24 hours before grounding. They grounded the group for six to eight weeks and then took cortisol measurements again on the same schedule.
Before the grounding, the volunteers’ cortisol levels were all over the place. At the end of the study, however, all of the 24-hour circadian profiles were synchronized. Now, these volunteers didn’t know each other and didn’t live close to one another. This result gave Clint and Dr. Ghaly a good indication that their experiment had affected the stress hormone cortisol in humans.
'When we connect the body to the earth and the result is a reduction in pain, we’re flooding the body with electrons.'
Clint’s work with Dr. Ghaly led to a meeting with Dr. Gaetan Chevalier, an expert in electrophysiology and biofeedback at the California Institute for Human Science. He and Dr. Chevalier measured the normal biofeedback parameters in another group of 60 subjects. What came out of that study was evidence that as soon as the body is grounded, it automatically shifts from a sympathetic state to a parasympathetic state.
What happens during grounding of a human or animal is that the charge is removed in the body. Most dogs go outside, so they have at least the occasional opportunity to ground themselves. Indoor-only cats, however, do not. I asked Clint to talk about what happens in the body when it lives above the surface of the earth.
He explained that the earth itself has a slight negative surface charge. The word “negative” in this context means an abundance of electrons that can move quickly and reduce charge. That’s why in the electrical world, everything is grounded to the earth. As soon as you put on shoes or enter an environment where your body is held above the earth, you lose the connection. Your body then begins to deplete itself of electrons. The difference in potential changes significantly.
During his biofeedback study with Dr. Chevalier, one of the items Clint measured was heart rate variability. He met with Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a cardiologist, and explained what he was learning about grounding and pain reduction. Dr. Sinatra suggested Clint take a look at inflammation. Back 10 years ago, nobody was looking seriously at inflammation as a larger health concern than just, for example, localized swelling after an ankle sprain.
As Clint began to research inflammation, he came to understand that when the body is injured or has cell damage, one of the first responses of the immune system is to send a neutrophil to the site of the pathogen. The neutrophil releases reactive oxygen species that are essentially free radicals, which are molecules with an electron imbalance. They release an acid that destroys the pathogen.
If there is not enough reduction potential or free electrons available to reduce the excess reactive oxygen species that are released, the free radicals will attach to, attack or steal an electron from healthy tissue. This sets up the oxidative process that we call inflammation. Whenever a healthy tissue or cell is damaged, the immune system sends neutrophils, which release more reactive oxygen species. This sets up the chain reaction.
What Clint learned once he understood the meaning of “reactive oxygen species,” which to him is an electrical term meaning electron imbalance, was that by grounding the body, we are able to gather free electrons from the earth to combat free radicals.
It’s like pouring water on a fire. Fire is oxidation. When we connect the body to the earth and the result is a reduction in pain, we’re flooding the body with electrons. These free electrons can readily absorb and reduce free radicals and prevent them from oxidizing healthy cells.
Disease is a product of inflammation. Is inflammation the result of lack of grounding?
Around that same time, Dr. Paul Ridker, a cardiologist at Boston University, wrote an article for Time Magazine1 that suggested all the diseases we know about are actually chronic inflammation over an extended period of time. Disease manifests differently in different people based on certain factors including genetics, environment and lifestyle, but the underlying cause is chronic inflammation. And Clint believes the underlying cause of inflammation is that we’re no longer naturally grounded.
Clint continued his research. One study2by Dr. Dick Brown at the University of Oregon involved delayed onset muscle soreness in athletes. The participants in Dr. Brown’s study were a group of young healthy athletes. They performed exercises for the calf muscles and created inflammation in their calves as they would during a normal workout. Dr. Brown did MRIs every day for four days and drew blood in both the morning and afternoon each day. All participants ate the same diet and lived in the same environment. Half the group was grounded; the other half was not.
Clint explained that what was learned from Dr. Brown’s study is that inflammation does not manifest in grounded bodies to the degree it does in ungrounded bodies. There are healing cascades and normal functions going on, but without the hot, burning pain.
But Clint’s search continued for the actual mechanism that caused all the positive effects he and others were seeing and hearing about. He needed to understand HOW grounding did what it did.
Then one day he got a call from Dr. Sinatra. Sinatra and about a dozen other doctors got together to investigate how grounding improves circulation (which we know it does because grounded people turn pink). They drew blood from their volunteers before they grounded them, and it was clear there were a lot of blood-related health issues among the group.
The doctors grounded everyone for 30 to 40 minutes and then did another blood draw. Prior to the grounding, most of the volunteers had some degree of rouleaux formation (“sticky” blood). After the grounding, all the blood cells had separated.
Clint and Dr. Sinatra took those results back to California to Dr. Chevalier, who is a physicist and works with the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Chevalier designed a study to measure zeta potential, which is the electrical surface charge on red blood cells. What they found was that after grounding a person for about two hours, there was a 2.7 factor increase in the surface charge on the cells.
Clint uses what he calls simple “cowboy logic” to explain the mechanism of grounding. “The earth has a negative surface charge. When you put your feet on the earth, your body becomes equalized with the earth and becomes negative. It becomes charged with free electrons.”
What Dr. Chevalier’s study confirmed is that red blood cells also equalize with the earth. They take on a negative surface charge. Like repels like. An example would be if you were to take little magnets and put the negative ends facing, they would push away from each other. They repel each other. But if you use positive and negative types of electrons, they pull toward each other.
So after 15 years and a dozen studies – all of which are peer-reviewed and published – there is proof-of-concept evidence that grounding or earthing affects physiology. When we disconnect from the earth our blood gets sticky and doesn’t function properly. Sticky blood can’t get into the capillaries. It can’t oxygenate tissue, and Clint believes that is another underlying cause of inflammation.
Grounded rats had lower alkaline phosphatase, triglycerides and glucose levels than non-grounded rats.
Another great study that Clint sent me information about involved animals. It was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study on alkaline phosphatase, triglycerides, and glucose in grounded vs. non-grounded groups of rats. All markers were lower in the grounded animals. The grounded rats in that study also had positive physiologic and metabolic changes.
Clint explained that the animal study used about 60 retired female breeder rats, half in grounded cages and the other half in ungrounded cages. Those particular rats were selected because research shows that the highest incidence of autoimmune disease occurs in women between 35 and 55, so the rats were thought to be a good correlate. The animals had the same amount of water every day, the same food, and the same environment. These were healthy rats without inflammation. The only thing different was grounded vs. non-grounded.
Scientists and researchers balked at the experiment and thought Clint was nuts, because the typical model for this type of study is to induce some kind of problem, like inflammation, and then try to fix it by experimenting with chemicals.
That study is finished; it hasn’t been formally documented or published yet. But Clint has another small study he’s working on that he hopes will help people, and especially pet owners understand the concept and benefits of grounding. There is ample evidence to indicate animals end up manifesting the same diseases as their owners, which sends a clear message that the problem is environmental.
We’ve been gradually disconnecting from the earth since the 1960s.
Clint tells an intriguing story from his 15 years of grounding research. In 1960, 90 percent of visits to a general practitioner were for acute injury, infectious disease, and childbirth. Today, 95 percent of all visits are for what are considered stress-related health disorders, meaning something is interfering with the body’s ability to maintain normal health or balance.
Back in 1960, yes, there was autism. There was lupus. There was diabetes. But the incidence of those diseases was relatively low. Today, we see a significant growth that seemed to start in the late 1950s and early 1960s. And guess what? Plastics were invented in 1959-1960. And plastics went into our shoes and into the carpets in our homes. At the same time, television was becoming popular and families were indoors more. When Clint was a child 60 or so years ago, kids spent most of their time outdoors.
Back then lots of families also had gardens and women, in particular, always had their fingers in the dirt, touching the earth. But then came the 1960s, and women left home to go to work. We began to disconnect from the earth slowly and unconsciously. In 1950, most people couldn’t get off the earth – they couldn’t get ungrounded. Folks still ran around barefoot or wore leather-soled shoes. In today’s world, we can’t get grounded without making a considerable effort to do so.
City dwellers are particularly challenged. It’s difficult to find a park where you’re safe to take your shoes off and feel the earth beneath your feet. And pets living in cities, especially in high rises, also are rarely or never grounded. I have a lot of small dogs in my practice who live downtown and are trained to use a litter box. They may get out on the balcony once in awhile, but they almost never get a chance to physically touch the earth.
I asked Clint what other options are available to pet owners in urban environments. He answered that he would first encourage you to really try to find a spot outdoors where you and your pet can sit on the ground, or at least stand on the ground. Try to spend 30 to 60 minutes touching the earth if possible. The first thing that will happen, and the most important, is your blood will normalize and your face will turn pink. Take a mental inventory of any pain in your body and score it from 1 to 10. After about 30 minutes, you should feel your energy level rising, your color should be high, your pain score should be lower, and you may feel happier.
I asked Clint how pet dogs and cats living indoors can receive the physiologic benefits of grounding. He answered that he has developed a few products that can be helpful for pets.
Animals instinctively ground themselves given the chance.
Clint says for him, earthing is a statement. It’s about how contact with the earth can have a positive effect on health and physiology. He feels we all need to back up and ask, “What have we done to ourselves?” And how are we going to fix it?
I sense intuitively that we are all connected, and we’re all connected to the earth. When we lose our connectivity, we start to develop stress – emotional, physiologic and spiritual stress. We’re meant to be connected to the earth and to one another.
Years ago, when Dr. Mercola started grounding himself, I asked him to get me a grounding pad. I sleep on a pad. I also have a pad on my chair. At night when I write from my laptop, I sit on a pad.
My kitties are indoors most of the time. They do go out on the patio, but they are by no means outdoor cats. My dogs spend many hours a day outside experiencing the earth as nature intended, but not my cats.
When we have storms like we did this past spring, my grounding pads become the most popular items in my house. As soon as my animals sense an electrical storm on the way, they start vying for a spot on my grounding pads. I’ll find them in my chair on a pad, or on my half of the bed on my pad. My husband has no pad on his side of the bed. All the animals hang out on my half of the bed. I asked Clint why that is.
He responded with a theory he developed from his days in the communications industry, working with towers. He believes pets seek to be grounded during storm activity because there’s a buildup of negative charge equal to the positive charge in the clouds. There’s a phenomenon with lightning called flashover, meaning the strike takes the path of least resistance to ground. If you’re well grounded during a lightning strike, it may hit you but will flash over. Clint thinks perhaps animals know this instinctively.
Of the people who actually die from a lightning strike, most have holes in their shoes. In order to complete its path to ground, the lightning has to burn a hole through the shoe material. You don’t want to have shoes on if you’re hit by lightning. You want to be deeply grounded and hope for the flashover effect. Animals seem to know this, as they seem to know many things people don’t.
Animals also don’t need double-blind, placebo-controlled studies to believe in the wisdom of nature. I put down a grounding pad and they go lay on it. Study concluded!
All animals naturally align themselves correctly to the earth’s magnetic fields and ground themselves out when necessary, given the option. They even touch certain parts of their body to the earth for specific physiologic benefits. It’s natural and not something we question. It’s only humans who demand scientific proof of natural, common sense principles!
Thank goodness for … and many thanks to my guest, Clint Ober.
I’m so thankful that Clint was inquisitive enough over the last 20 years to push for more and more science to back his theories of earthing. He had questions with no answers, and the perseverance to keep asking until eventually, the answers came.
I appreciate Clint sharing some of his fascinating research with us today. I also appreciate his desire to continue his journey to learn more about grounding and its influence on human health and the health of animals. It’s an exciting field because I believe it can help not only manage chronic disease and inflammation in animals, but also stress. Today’s dogs and cats, in particular, have a tremendous amount of physiologic and emotional stress, due primarily to inappropriate diets and lack of exercise. Pet owners are trying – many are doing their level best – but the fact is the lifestyles we are able to provide our dogs and cats can’t compare in many ways to living in the wild. They live safer, often longer lives with us, but they don’t get the benefit, for example, of a natural diet or being able to connect with the earth every day.
My sincere thanks to Clint Ober for taking time to discuss grounding with us here today. It’s an intriguing subject, and hopefully we’ve encouraged some folks listening in and reading to do their own research and perhaps get some ideas for how they can provide grounding opportunities for themselves and their “captive” dogs and cats.