Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Lupus and Other Stories of Relief
Co-author of the Earthing book
As a journalist and health writer, my work has given me access to many brilliant doctors and researchers in the world of natural medicine. The books and articles inspired by this privileged exposure have each been labors of love because I came to regard myself as a channel—a middleman, so to speak—for genuine healing knowledge that could benefit the health of others. In 2008 I met Clint Ober and collaborated with him on a book about Earthing. As a writer, I was mesmerized by his story of discovery—the stuff of novels. Clint’s unflagging labor and single-minded dedication were clearly touching the lives of many, many people. It was remarkable to me that simply connecting to the Earth’s natural, subtle surface energies could restore ailing bodies, and in many cases dramatically so. I myself immediately experienced the elimination of an annoying restless leg syndrome when I slept grounded and I saw how Earthing helped give substantial relief for my wife’s back and knee pain. I was hooked! I knew this was something very special and at times, frankly, it made me giddy just thinking that rejuvenation, repair, and relief was right beneath my feet. This natural endowment is an eternal, omnipresent gift, a powerful healing secret, from Mother Earth to all Earthlings.
As I became increasingly involved in the Earthing book, and talked to many people whose lives were dynamically improved, my sense of marvel and awe just kept growing…and still continues to grow. As I write at the computer, I often look out the window into my backyard, and I laugh to myself: “That ground out there is a treatment table! Isn’t that wild?” That sense of awe accompanies every word I write or utter about Earthing. When I speak in public I usually end my presentation by pointing to the nearest window and telling the audience that the ground out there is loaded with magic that can make you feel better.
The sense of privilege to spread the word about Earthing has never diminished. I regard myself as an ambassador for Mother Earth’s natural healing energy at a time when our society, plagued with chronic illness, is in dire need of a great deal of healing.
When I first started working with Clint he told me the following: “It’s been the responses of people who have gotten better that have kept me going through discouraging times when nobody wanted to believe this was possible.” Nothing has changed in that respect. We, at Earthing “central,” are sustained and uplifted by feedback telling us how lives have been touched when people touch the Earth. I have now heard or read many dozens of stories. In this report I would like to share a few of them that have come my way since since the Earthing book was published in 2010. The first of them is the story of my good friend Katie McGuinness, a former general counsel for a Fortune 250 corporation. I am posting her story here, in her own words, and at length, as a message of inspiration and hope for individuals who may suffer from lupus or some other debilitating auto-immune disorder. Here’s her story:
“The American College of Rheumatology has established 11 different criteria for the diagnosis of lupus. If you have four of them, you are considered to have the disease. Some are based on physical symptoms, others on blood tests. The bottom line is that lupus is an inflammatory process. You may have inflammation in the joints, and even in all the joints. I personally have had at times both shoulders, both elbows, both wrists, and both knees involved. It is painful to the point where I took aspirin by the handful as well as other painkillers. What I learned is that you don’t get rid of the pain but you do get erosive gastritis and mess up the digestive tract.
“My informal relationship with lupus began in 1999 with kidney dysfunction. The symptoms accumulated to the point where the doctors prescribed an anti-malarial drug for me, which is a first-line medication for dealing with lupus. Why an anti-malarial drug? Because malaria is an inflammatory disease. And lupus is an inflammatory disease. This approach worked for me for about 18 months and kept the symptoms under control.
“Lupus, however, has a bunch of different triggers, and you learn what they are over time. I learned, for instance, that sun exposure could trigger a lupus flare-up. I was living in California and volunteering at a nature preserve, and getting a lot of sun. That was my catalyst for starting down a pharmaceutical road to steroids. At first I could get by with a three-week course of steroids and get my strength and the pain back towards normal. But then the flare-ups got harder and harder to control. And the dosage of the steroids got higher and higher.
“In December of 2009 I experienced another flare-up. In addition to the pain, I was now experiencing debilitating fatigue. That was the hardest part. I could sleep 10 or even 12 hours a day, but still not have any energy to do any of the things I liked to do. I couldn’t cook. I couldn’t walk the dogs. I couldn’t groom my horse. Along with this came mental fog. It’s not dementia and it’s not any psychoses. It’s like the brain doesn’t work at the normal level of RPMs. I was fighting that, and the fatigue, and the pain, and all the while seeing the steroid level ramp up and up. I had gotten up to 35 milligrams of cortisone a day. That’s a pretty high dosage. I was getting quite concerned because long-term usage of cortisone can have very damaging side effects—such as osteoporosis—and I wasn’t really getting relief from it anymore.
“The doctor at this point said he wasn’t willing to raise the cortisone level any higher. He suggested we try something else. So he handed me a prescription for an immune suppressant called CellCept, a drug they give people with lupus when the steroids don’t help anymore. The drug is aimed at reducing inflammation and autoantibody production in patients with autoimmune disorders. This, and other similar drugs, are also given to people who have organ transplants in order to prevent the immune system from rejecting the organ. The medications, however, can weaken your immune system to the point where you become more vulnerable to cancer and other very nasty things. Side effects include high blood pressure, kidney and liver problems, and susceptibility to infection. These are not drugs you take lightly. I told my doctor I wanted to consider this option carefully. I also said I was considering an extremely rigorous nutritional approach. I was desperate. I had already consulted with a nutritional expert who had recommended two months of an intense diet and nutrient supplementation program followed by a period of fasting. I needed help wherever I could find it. When I told this to my rheumatologist, he wanted to take back the prescription.
“‘You can’t do both,’ he said. I told him I wanted to keep the prescription but wouldn’t take the drug if I decided to follow the nutritional approach. I was confused and not sure what to do.
“Luckily, nature intervened in two ways and resolved my dilemma. First, because of long-term use of pain relievers, I was taking Kapidex, a stomach acid suppressant, which was interacting with the cortisone and creating constant intestinal discomfort. The thought of eating a heavily cruciferous diet of broccoli and cabbage, a main feature of the remedial diet, was out of the question.
“Around this time, my husband had a conversation with our friend Marty Zucker, who thought that Earthing could help me. He strongly urged me to get grounded. We followed his advice and immediately obtained an Earthing sheet. I was willing to try most anything at this point. So I started sleeping grounded not knowing what would happen. I had the CellCept prescription if needed, but I wasn’t willing yet to play that drastic card.
“As the days went by I noticed that I started feeling better, having more energy, and thinking more clearly. This went on for a few weeks and then it was time for my regular monthly visit to the rheumatologist. I should mention that whenever I saw him I would have my blood drawn a week before so that at the time of the office visit he would have a fresh picture of what was going on in my body.
“This time when I walked into his office, he asked me how I was feeling. I said it is really strange but I honestly feel I have more energy and I’m starting to feel like my old self again. He sat me down and said that this was the first time in the five years I had been seeing him that my bloodwork was normal. None of the hallmark factors for lupus were present, including the primary test for lupus—the antinuclear antibody test. In my case, the test had been positive for ten years.
“Now, six months after I started grounding, I have to admit that I’m almost taking my good health and abundant energy for granted. Now, I walk my dogs twice a day, practice chi gong, study photography, and participate in two weekly strength training classes to prevent osteoporosis. But every night I sleep on my grounding sheet. The prospect that I might slip back into the pain, fatigue, and fog of lupus is truly frightening. I only wish I had started grounding sooner and not ‘lost’ so much time to lupus. I will be forever grateful to Earthing for restoring my health and vitality. I don’t consider myself to be cured. But I do consider myself to be in remission. Earthing has given me a second chance at life.”
When I saw Katie recently, she looked vibrant and energetic. She was indeed living again. She had even gone through a cross-country move and was able to handle the stress and physical challenges involved. Her husband Frank perhaps put it best when he said: “Katie is doing so well she is shell-shocked with wellness!”
Relief from Vitiligo
● “As I have gotten older I have begun to experience age-related things like brain fog, difficulty in dropping excessive weight, and most unexpectedly, not sleeping well.
Better nutrition and higher intensity weight resistance exercises effectively addressed the first two problems, but I was having difficulty finding a solution to getting good, sound sleep. I tried many methods, short of taking drugs, but nothing worked. It was extremely frustrating. I never had difficulty sleeping before.
“I decided to try grounding, despite a healthy dose of skepticism. The first night grounded, I slept as though I had taken some kind of sleeping pill. I slept through the night and deeper than I had in years. I was stunned by the result. I experienced the same thing the next night and it continued in the ensuing nights.
“The week after I started sleeping grounded I visited my elderly mother who suffers from an assortment of chronic inflammatory maladies from arthritis to vitiligo, the skin disorder made famous by the singer Michael Jackson. (Note: Vitiligo is a relatively common autoimmune skin disease affecting an estimated one percent of the population. The immune system attacks and destroys melanocytes, the cells which give skin its color, causing the skin to turn white in patches. The condition is associated with inflammation and often with redness and itching. The medical system does not have effective treatments for this condition).
“I decided to carry my sheet with me to show my mother, since grounding might possibly relieve her symptoms of chronic inflammation. When I arrived at her home, I was stunned by a sight I had never encountered before. She was experiencing a full blown, painful skin flare-up on her left forearm. She had mentioned these episodes to me in the past. She develops extreme and burning-like pain along with severe itching. She also has some eczema mixed in. However, I was not prepared for what I saw. Her arm was so red and inflamed that it looked like a bloody, pulpy, piece of raw flesh. My stomach turned and my heart dropped at the sight of it. She was obviously in great pain, and the itching was severe as well. Some of the pain, she told me, could have been exacerbated by the constant scratching in an attempt to relieve the itching.
“I asked her what she normally did to calm down her body’s reaction. She said all she could do is to take her meds and wait for 10-12 hours for the symptoms to subside. I felt terrible for her.
“I instinctively pulled out my grounding sheet, connected it, and told her to just put it on her arm to see if it would at least help minimize the itching. She wrapped it around her arm and we started to talk about other things to take her mind off her discomfort. About 45 minutes into the conversation, I looked at her arm and was shocked. While still a little red, the pulpy appearance had all but vanished. And so, too, the itching was almost gone. She said she felt so much better and was relieved by this totally unexpected development. I have seen a lot of extraordinary things over the years, but I have never witnessed a dramatic, healing transformation quite like that. I continued to ground her for the rest of my weekend visit and there was no recurrence of her severe symptoms.
“I subsequently obtained an Earthing system for her and she started grounding on a consistent basis. In the two months since, she has reported much improved sleep, greatly diminished itching, and only one flare up. The flare-up happened when she lapsed in her grounding routine. She quickly got the situation under control by grounding herself the same way as the first time. She had the exact same relief.”
● (In the Earthing book, one California mother described the improvement of her young son who had been diagnosed with autism two years before. The boy did not sleep through the night and was subject to behavioral meltdown and crying in the afternoon. As the following report indicates, he continues to improve).
“Our five-year-old son is a completely different kid since he started to sleep grounded. He is in general education kindergarten this year, steadily making progress with his speech and behavioral issues, and currently doing school work at a first grade level. Most importantly, his sleep has been very consistent since being ‘grounded’ with the Earthing sheet. He sleeps 10 hours per night without waking up, and rises each morning feeling refreshed and happy. Sleep is a big issue, a snowball factor. From reading posts in my autism groups, depression and behavioral problems often occur with lack of restful sleep. Autistic kids seem to really be affected by bouts of insomnia.”
● “I am a non-professional athlete who has been running since my mother said ‘I ran out of the womb.’ I had shoulder pain from a fall on a local running trail in August 2009, left hip pain for years, a tweaked neck, and was recovering from a sprained ankle a month before (that was not my year!). After one hour of Earthing, the pain in all areas nearly vanished.
“I went through the change three years ago and could not sleep a full night without waking up multiple times from pain of past injuries and a noisy living environment. Since sleeping on my Earthing sheet, all has changed. For the first time in three years I have been sleeping a full night sleep with dreams. I feel more balanced, my friends say I look younger now, and I have a renewed zest for life!”
Caution with Coumadin and Earthing
● “I had bypass open heart surgery nineteen months ago and was not able to sleep through the night without medication. I also developed significant muscle and joint stiffness. I started sleeping grounded two months ago and within a month was able to sleep without medications or even herbs. My morning knee and even back stiffness, and sometimes pain, disappeared.
“My INR blood test moved from 1.5 to 5.5. Ideally, it needs to be between 2 and 3. My cardiologist was astounded and had to lower my dosage of Warfarin by 1.5 g. (Note: Earthing has a blood thinning effect and individuals on Warfarin, also known as Coumadin, or any other blood thinner, need to monitor their blood level very carefully with their doctors in order to prevent excess thinning and the risk of bleeding. Refer to our earlier Earthing Report on medications).
“Five days ago I took the sheet off my bed to launder it and woke up with terrible knee stiffness two mornings in a row. I had forgotten to put the sheet back on. I immediately put it back on the bed, and woke up the next morning, and the next and the next, with absolutely NO stiffness in my knees, back, or any place else.”
CPAP Machine Sidelined, Less Bowel Irritability
● “I’m not sleeping with the CPAP machine anymore (Note: CPAP stands for Continuour Positive Airway Pressure, and is a bedside medical device widely used for conditions associated with disturbed breathing, such as sleep apnea, heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.) I was diagnosed with sleep hypoxia, rather than apnea per se—shallow breathing. The Earthing sheet has improved that as well as lessening the severity of irritable bowel flare-ups.”
● “I have had the very best ‘experiment’ going this summer. I read a book called “Earthing” and I would say it has changed my life significantly. As suggested in the book, I have made a conscious effort to make more direct contact with the EARTH—either by barefooting it or sitting on the ground. I am sleeping so well it is downright scary! Last night—7 1/2 hours without even going to the bathroom! I haven’t had one of those little sleep-aids in a month now. Besides that, the inflammation in my body in the form of aches and pains in the arthritic areas has been greatly reduced. I have become a true believer in this theory.”
● “I spent my childhood barefoot, healthy and happy. So I was very interested in the concept that something so natural could be so beneficial for the human body. I have been working as a dental hygienist for most of my adult life. For the past few years, I have had a great deal of pain in my back because of the unnatural position I have to be in while working. I tried chiropractic treatments and yoga, but nothing seemed to work until I began Earthing. The first day that I spent barefoot outside in my yard for a few hours, I slept very soundly that night and did not have my usual aches and pain. I have kept going barefoot as much as possible during the summer and as long as I got my Earthing in every day, I was pain free. I am so happy to have such simple and natural solution. I’m planning to start sleeping grounded soon as well.”
● “I am 58 years old and using my Earthing sheet for a little over one month. In that time, my sleep patterns have improved dramatically. I sleep at least 8 hours without waking up, something I have not experienced in a number of years. In addition, I feel much calmer, my blood pressure has come down, and I no longer need sleep aids of any kind. I fractured my ankle several months ago, and there was still a lot of stiffness, pain, and swelling. One week after starting to sleep grounded, the ankle felt good enough so I could return to the gym. Now it seems to be 100 percent. I can ride a bike, use the elliptical, and jog without any discomfort.”
● “I have been consistently barefoot everyday for over six weeks (at least 30 minutes a day.) I find it helps ease PMS symptoms and I feel more rested after a shorter amount of sleep (average 6 hours). The most incredible bonus has been brain power, clarity of mind, specially with problem solving and productivity at work.”
Benefits for an 86-year-old
● “I have seen great results with my 86-year-old mother who has memory loss and has been on four meds for high blood pressures for many years. Her blood pressure went down to a point where we had to take her off her medication and she is now taking one new medication which is not as strong. She has a long way to go with her memory, but we do notice more mental clarity; she remembers more things, and is not constantly repeating herself. She seems more focused and has more energy.”
More Sleep, Less Snoring
● “I thought you would enjoy knowing that I slept VERY soundly last night for the first time in a very, very long time. My husband says that I did not snore, either, which seems to be another milestone. It was the second night that the grounding contraption has been on our bed. Could it possibly work that fast? I don’t know whether my husband snored last night because I slept so soundly without waking up at all.”
Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms
● “I have suffered with psoriatic arthritis (inflammatory type, like rheumatoid) for about eight years. I stopped using some of the stronger drugs because of the side effects, and have been trying to control the symptoms with NSAIDs (Naproxen). The pain and swelling in my hands, feet, and knees were severely limiting, and to the point of not being able to pick up anything with my left hand, or rising from a chair without help. I began Earthing myself at night and using Earthing patches on the most painful areas during the day. In two weeks, the benefits have been profound. The pain in my knees is almost gone, and my hands are much less swollen and painful. Yesterday I picked up a full cup of coffee with my left hand!! It’s been over a year since I was able to do that. I put Earthing patches on my 89-year-old mother, and it helps the pain in her back. Because of all this, I’m jumping for joy and I’m really jumping!!”
Hashimoto-related Fatigue & Husband’s Car Accident Pain
● “After sleeping grounded for little more than a month I can report that I have never slept more soundly. I now enjoy vivid, colorful, logical dreams. I don’t wake up stiff in the morning. I have more energy. This is a very big deal because I have Hashimoto’s Disease and that can really sap your strength! I honestly don’t have anymore issues with fatigue at all, and I used to collapse almost every afternoon! (Note: Hashimoto’s disease, an automimmune condition affecting the thyroid gland, is a common cause of hypothyroidism).
“Most incredibly, my husband, who has experienced severe chronic pain since a 1992 car accident, immediately experienced relief. He no longer contends with neck and/or back pain on a daily basis. He is in a much better mood, can concentrate better, and is happy!”
Asthma Flare-Up Abbreviated
● “My 6-year-old old son just encountered his first asthma flare-up since I read your book. I then wrapped him in a grounded sheet for a good 24 hours at the first signs. Amazing. I used his steroids once, begrudgingly, and as usual they make him feel lousy. His entire body reacts poorly to the steroids, and while his breathing may improve, we wind up with unpleasant side effects. I decided to discontinue the steroids and let the sheet take over. In most cases we settle in for a week of illness, but now he was back at school the next day! I’ve been working hard to find ways to deal with his asthma without the use of steroids. Earthing was easy and it made perfect sense to me.”
Very Happy Marathon Runner
● “I fall asleep so much faster now, get much more restful sleep, and have tons of energy during the day. Sleeping grounded also helped me reset my clock and now I go to sleep earlier, wake up earlier, and feel way more rested. I recently ran a 100k (66-mile) ultramarathon called the Chimera 100, one of the toughest 100k races. Though I suffered some stomach issues out on the course that really beat me up, I slept grounded and, once I stopped running, stayed barefoot the rest of the day. I was barely sore the next day and two days out I was fine.”
Swelling, Posture, Headaches, and Sugar
● “When I woke up in the morning after my first night using the Earthing sheet, I noticed that my ankles were not swollen as normal. They looked like they did when I was 18 years old, and I will be 70 tomorrow. My posture has been horrible, despite doing Pilates and yoga. The first day after sleeping grounded, I noticed something I was not prepared for… and had not read about in the Earthing book. About six times that day, my body told me I was slumping. My body spoke to me through pain. It hurt to slump and my body began to correct itself without my brain having to tell my body to work hard and stand erect. I’ve used the Earthing sheet for about two months and I’m amazed at how I automatically check my posture without thinking about it. I’ve had other benefits as well. I love sugar and no longer crave it. My face is not puffy. I sleep deep. Occasionally I feel an early morning headache coming on, and I wrap the sheet around my upper body and wake up without any sign of a headache. I no longer need an afternoon nap and am fully alert at 10 pm. I wake up after 8 hours ready to enjoy the day.”
Salt Reduction Method?
● “Since sleeping grounded, I’ve found prepared foods to be way over-salted. Strange, because normally I love salt and can’t get enough of the stuff.”
Fast Hip Replacement Recovery at Age 90
● Arvord Belden Ph.D., gave us his inspiring story in the Earthing book how, at age 90, sleeping grounded has enriched and energized his quality of life. He’s been Earthing for more than nine years. We spoke to Arvord in mid-2010 to see how he was doing.
“Quite well,” he said. He had just had a right hip replacement and the doctor and nurses were amazed at his quick recovery and lack of swelling. He asked the doctor if he could have his Earthing sheet in the hospital bed with him. No problem, the doctor said. Arvord was in the hospital for four days and after two weeks reported doing “super-dooper” and walking better than before.
Posted on 10/19 at 03:08 PM