Tracy Latz, M.D.
I love digging in the dirt and feeling my connection to the Earth. I find walking barefoot in the grass to be a great stress reducer. As a young girl, I used to run around barefoot with my siblings during the warm summer days, and recall how free and wonderful it felt. My father, a rural doctor, would always yell at us about the danger of cutting our feet or stepping on a nail. We would just laugh it off and continue romping barefoot.
In my psychiatric practice, I often recommend Earthing to patients as part of an integrative approach to healing. As a physician, I consider it to be a powerful tool in my multidimensional healing medicine bag. In my mind, it is in alignment with the ancient medical doctrine of “Primum non nocere” – which means “First, do no harm.”
Some of my patients are open to the concept of Earthing. Others aren’t. Some will say, “I don’t have enough time to stand or walk outside barefoot” or “I don’t want to pay for an Earthing mat or sheet.” Patients who do follow my recommendation to “Earth,” and there have been dozens of them, tend to have good responses. They are individuals with a wide variety of emotional, mental, and physical problems, and often combinations of problems. They often tell me afterward they feel much better.
One of the first things patients tell me after they start Earthing is that they sleep so much better at night. This is a big deal for many of my patients. I recall two recent patients who came in to see me a day apart. Both had been on vacation with their families and found that they didn’t need to take their usual sleeping pills or over-the-counter melatonin when away from home, but then slept poorly again once they returned to their home. I asked both of them where they had been. Both had been at the beach, where they had been walking barefoot, sitting on the sand, and dipping in the ocean water. They said they slept so well, and their mood and pain was so much better when at the beach. This, of course, happens often on seaside vacations, but people rarely connect it to being barefoot or in the water.
In my practice, I have noted that Earthing can help psychiatric patients in the following ways:
● For those with anxiety (post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, etc.), reconnecting with the Earth can assist with an improved sense of safety. By improving sleep architecture, Earthing can help normalize serotonin levels in the brain as it decreases cortisol (an anxiety-inducing hormone). When cortisol levels are high, there is a tendency to go into ‘fight-or-flight’/panic responses to stressful situations and become more easily angered or irritable. As cortisol levels decrease and stabilize, we become more centered, peaceful and calm. In short, we get more easily into our heart and have more compassion for our self as well as for others.
● For those with depression, Earthing can assist with stabilizing serotonin levels as noted above. Serotonin assists with decreasing crying spells, near-tearfulness, and obsessive/repetitive negative thoughts. When depressive symptoms decrease, energy levels improve and tolerance to stressful situations, pain, or discomfort improves.
● I have had many chronic pain patients referred to me from pain management doctors. Many have not responded well to, or are resistant to, taking medication. With Earthing, they often have decreased inflammatory problems overall. I’ve seen a lot of people with gluten intolerance and irritable bowel symptoms who have significantly improved by connecting to the Earth. While they may not be completely cured, their GI and stomach issues are better. Their pain is better and so is their anxiety. Some patients, I have found, stop Earthing after their anxiety gets better, and I have to remind them about what helped them get better.
● I recommend Earthing to anyone with an auto-immune condition. Two patients with systemic lupus erythematosis are feeling much better after they began Earthing. Their primary doctors attribute their improvement to “a calm period” in their disease process. Another patient developed a rare form of lupus – anticardiolipin antibody – that can cause a narrowing and irregularity of the blood vessels, blood clots, and the potential for stroke or heart attack. Previously, she had experienced symptoms of fibromyalgia and an assortment of problems that doctors had a hard time figuring out. She’s been labeled in the past with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and bipolar disorder. This obviously is not a woman in good shape. Although she gets fatigued, she’s doing much better now after Earthing and her doctors can’t believe she’s as active as she is. She has five horses and in the early evening after it cools off, she will go out and feed her horses barefoot, and then sit or lay for a few hours on the Earth. Weather permitting, of course. She’s been doing this for two years and says she feels much better, calmer, more peaceful, and quiet in regards to her anxious mind chatter. This practice of hers I strongly believe has prevented her condition from progressing.
● I see many patients with chronic fatigue, people who have exhausted their adrenal hormones. Most of these people have a history of intense stress. With Earthing, they are much less fatigued and calmer. As their sleep cycle improves, the adrenal issues start improving, and they start to pick back up in their energy level and feel better.
One of my friends is a computer systems programmer for a major bank. He works with multiple computer screens around him for up to 10 hours a day 6 or 7 days per week and is always under pressure answering SOS calls and fixing this or that glitch in the nationwide system. He’s so busy that he hardly has any time to relax. The pace was wearing him down and aging him at an alarming rate. One day I brought him a present – an Earthing mat. I told him to place it under his bare feet at his desk since that’s where he spends the biggest chunk of his time.
He called me the next day.
“I just wanted to tell you that I love my ‘fizzy feet,” he said.
“Yeah, I can feel the fizzies in my feet and coming up my legs,” he explained. “I really feel good for the first time in a long time. And I slept so well.”
My friend is sticking with it, and enjoying his ‘fizzies’ and feeling good.
As far as my own Earthing experience is concerned, I immediately slept more soundly and deeply on the Earthing sheet that I started using in 2011. I have also experienced much less pain in my left knee that had been intermittently nagging at me for a dozen years after I chipped a divot of bone out of my femur in a freak accident. Now I only get rare slight twinges when the weather gets real cold suddenly or there are abrupt changes in atmospheric pressure.
I sent my mother an Earthing sheet for her fibromyalgia-like and chronic pain symptoms. She was able to work in the garden for the first time in three years. She now sleeps through the night, which she wasn’t doing before, and can walk down stairs normally instead of one step at a time.
My three teenagers each sleep with an Earthing sheet because they are very active.
My eldest is a musician and had previously complained about chronic neck and should muscle tension from holding a trombone or large cymbals at attention out in front of her during marching band or indoor drumline competitions. My two sons are athletes – playing high school football and lacrosse. They say they rest better, have less muscle inflammation, and more rapid recovery from injuries since Earthing.
(Tracy Latz, M.D., M.S., is an integrative psychiatrist in private practice in Mooresville, a suburb of Charlotte, NC. She has worked in state, county, and community psychiatric and mental illness facilities in the past. She specializes in shifting lives that are stuck in relationships, circumstances, and illness. Dr. Latz has co-authored several books about how to shift out of “stuck” circumstances in life, including Entrepreneurial Alignment: How to Overcome Self-Sabotage in Business). Her website is shiftyourlife.com