Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Earthing vs. “Good” and “Bad” Free Radicals
One of the most interesting questions we received recently was sent in by Ross Dean of Fairfield, Iowa. Mr. Dean asked about “good free radicals” that participate in protective body functions vs. “bad” free radicals involved in chronic inflammation. “If the free electrons that enter the body through grounding neutralize free radicals, how do they discriminate between the good free radicals and the bad? he wanted to know. “Aren’t the good free radicals also desiring to bond with the free electrons that come in through grounding?”
For a precise answer, we went to our electron expert, biophysicist James Oschman, Ph.D. Here is his answer:
Free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS) are essential to life. The “good” free radicals attack bacteria or other pathogens crossing the skin barrier when you have a cut or other injury. They also break down injured cells. These actions are essential to protect the body from infection and to make space for regenerative cells that will repair an injury. The benign ROS are delivered by white blood cells directly to a site of inflammation. They are not readily neutralized by electrons from the earth because they are delivered to a precise location at a very high concentration, and their electron-grabbing activity is precisely focused on damaged cells and pathogens that may have crossed the skin.
In an ungrounded body, free radicals leaking from a site of injury will damage surrounding tissues, which can coagulate into an “inflammatory barricade.” A local pocket of inflammation is then created that can endure and leak damaging toxins into the system. This is one example of how free radicals become “dangerous.” We believe the healthy connective tissue matrix of a grounded person will have abundant electrons to neutralize those leaking free radicals and thereby prevent “collateral damage” to healthy tissues.
Other dangerous ROS are produced during normal metabolism and breathing. You can prevent them from forming if you stop eating and stop breathing—obviously not recommended. The leading theory of aging (the free radical theory) is that aging results from the cumulative damage caused by free radicals that come from oxygen in the tissues, from normal metabolism and from environmental toxins. These free radicals are thought to cause aging in three ways:
1) by damaging DNA, leading to mutations and cancer;
2) damaging mitochondria, the energy-producing structures inside cells;
3) by cross-linking proteins, which compromises the functioning of enzymes and also causes wrinkling of the skin.
We believe that all of these mechanisms of age-related free radical damage are slowed significantly by grounding, and that in the grounded body the healthy connective tissue matrix will be populated with enough electrons to neutralize free radicals wherever they form from whatever cause. There is a beneficial feedback effect: the grounded body will not form inflammatory pockets around sites of injury. Injuries will heal quickly. And the connective tissue in the body that is free of inflammatory pockets will be more conductive to electrons (inflammatory barricades are poorly conductive) and therefore will be better able to neutralize free radicals quickly wherever they form from whatever cause.
New to Earthing? Some Important Reminders
We receive questions from some people concerned about their initial Earthing experiences — during the first few days — or whose expectations of benefits didn’t manifest as quickly as they had hoped. We have talked about this in the Earthing book, and also in earlier reports on this website, but the explanation is worth repeating.
In the vast majority of cases, people begin to feel better soon after they start Earthing. They feel no discomfort at all with the Earth’s energy and adjust to it easily. Remember that sleeping grounded or sitting inside your home or office with bare feet on an Earthing mat is the same as being barefoot outside. Nevertheless, the energy can be strange or even discomforting for some people. They may even experience flu-like symptoms, pain, achiness, or cramps. In practically all of these situations, the experience is temporary, a result of the body normalizing to the natural energy from the Earth. As this process gets underway, your ability to release accumulated toxicity appears to accelerate and become more effective. When detoxification occurs, you can feel worse before you feel better. The feeling might last a few days but it will go away and you will feel renewed and energized afterward. We think that the leg cramps that some people feel may be related to toxins coming out of the tissues. So we advise people to start drinking more water so as to flush out the toxins more readily. The strategy usually works and the cramps disappear. In any case, the better hydrated the body is the more conductive it is. So drinking plenty of good quality water serves health in general and Earthing as well.
If someone can’t tolerate the initial discomfort we usually recommend they stop Earthing for a couple of days, then begin again, but with shorter sessions, like an hour or two during the day. Then gradually increase the exposure to the point where they can comfortably sleep grounded. It may take a bit of experimentation in these cases, but the rewards are usually well worth sticking with it. It is also possible that Earthing could generate a healing process in the body that causes nerve fibers to function better, resulting in unaccustomed sensations. Generally, such sensations also go away in a short period of time. Everybody benefits in some way, but each of us is different. The benefits can come quickly and dramatically, or subtly and gradually over time. Often people who are very ill or saddled with various symptoms feel the difference dramatically. One older man adamantly told us he didn’t feel any difference but then admitted that he didn’t get up at night to urinate as frequently as he did before, and often didn’t get up at all. That’s a sign of deeper sleep and probably reduction of prostate inflammation. Both are great benefits!
Someone with radiant health and who sleeps well may not feel any difference. However, connecting to the Earth helps to preserve and perpetuate good health. In this situation, regard Earthing as a simple, effortless, and natural form of anti-aging and preventive medicine, whether you feel benefits or not.
For people taking medication, we always suggest being alert to the possibility that as they feel better, the dosage level of medication may be able to be reduced. You may experience signs of overdose. If you do, please see your doctor right away. In any case, do not reduce medication without consulting with your doctor. If you are taking any form of blood thinner, whether a prescription medicine like Coumadin, or a nutritional supplement, remember that Earthing has a blood thinning effect. Monitor your blood level very carefully and talk to your doctor about what you are doing. You want to guard against excess thinning and the risk of bleeding.
A new European study published in 2011 indicates that Earthing affects thyroid function. The precise meaning of the changes is unclear, but quite a few people on medication for underactive thyroid have told us over the years they been able to reduce their dosage of medication after starting Earthing. Some reported feeling palpitations, irregular and/or forceful beating of the heart, an unpleasant symptom reflecting perhaps an arrhythmia but a common sign also of excess thyroid hormone. We believe that Earthing may improve thyroid function and thus the regular level of medication may become excessive. Thus, if you take thyroid medication and start Earthing, be alert to the possibility of medication overdose. If that happens, you may need to consult with your physician about adjusting your medication level. Many people have reported being able to do so..
Earthing Care Tips
We would also like to remind you about taking good care of your Earthing sheets. Remember NO BLEACH when you wash the sheets. Bleach will destroy the conductive silver threads in the sheet that carry the Earth’s energy. Use gentle laundry detergent, such as the eco-friendly varieties you can purchase in health food stores, or a product like Tide Free and Clear.
Please avoid using creams, lotions, and essential oils on your feet or body before bedtime if you sleep on an Earthing half-sheet, fitted sheet, or recovery bag. The oils contained in these products become absorbed into the fabric of the sheets and can destroy the conductivity of the silver. Try to use such body products at an earlier time. There is no problem with facial creams for people who sleep with pillows. Some years ago conductive Earthing pillows were developed but later discontinued because they were rendered ineffective by people applying facial creams at bedtime. The oils in the creams oxidized and ruined the conductivity of the pillows.
Posted on 12/28 at 11:36 PM