A Brief (and Certainly Incomplete) History of Earthing

Information about the healing power of the Earth, as applied throughout history by different cultures, is challenging to find. Our knowledge of what they knew can best be described as scant. Some dedicated anthropological detective work would likely turn up some fascinating evidence of Earth healing.

Physical contact with the ground was an ordinary way of life in past times. People walked barefoot or used animal hides (leather) for footwear or bedding. These practices allowed transference of the Earth’s energy into the body.

What is clear is that a law of Nature is at play here: a built-in healing asset of Nature: the electric charge of the Earth.   Something timeless. It is logical to think that countless healers and sages were aware of specific benefits and therapeutic effects.

We can look at the long history of Chinese knowledge and find reference to Qi (pronounced chee), a central principle, regarded as the energy or natural force that fills the universe.  Heaven Qi is made up of the forces that heavenly bodies exert on the Earth, such as sunshine, moonlight, and the moon’s effect on the tides. Earth Qi, influenced and controlled by Heaven Qi, is made up of lines and patterns of energy, as well as the Earth’s magnetic field and the heat concealed underground. And within the Earth Qi, individuals, animals, and plants have their own Qi field. All natural things, in this concept, grow and are influenced by the natural cycles of Heaven Qi and Earth Qi.

Earth Qi is absorbed, without our thinking about it, when we walk barefoot, which may explain why it’s so relaxing to walk without shoes and why exercises geared toward strengthening the body and relaxing the mind (yoga, tai chi, and qigong, for instance) are often practiced without footwear.

“Earth power”

Skipping through time to the late 1800s, where a natural health movement emerged in Germany. A leading figure in this movement was Adolf Just, considered one of the founders of naturopathy.

Just’s healing routines included a vegetarian diet, avoidance of alcohol and smoking, and an emphasis on walking barefoot and sleeping on the ground. His activity drew considerable international attention, and inspired naturopathic movements in the United States and elsewhere.

In his book Return to Nature! he highlighted what he called “Earth power.”

He became convinced “of the great curative effect” of barefoot contact with the Earth. “The feet,” he wrote, “are in a certain sense for man what the roots are for plants. Man draws vital energy and strength out of the Earth through his feet.”

And by “sleeping on the ground, consequently, more than by anything else, the entire body is aroused from its lethargy to a new manifestation of vital energy, so that it can now effectively remove old morbid matter …and receive a sensation of new health, new life, and new unthought-of vigor and strength.”

We have recognized Just’s work in our Earthing book, just as we have recognized Mattheo Tavera, a visionary French agronomist, who described the importance of “electric nutrition” from the ground for plants, animals, and humans more than 50 years ago. You can read his brilliant vision of the energetic continuum between the Earth and living beings here.

Before Tavera. a number of French biophysicist pioneers studied the effect of grounding in the 1920s and 1930s. We are researching the details of their work.

It is clear that Native Americans respected and recognized the significance of the Earth in so many ways. This understanding can perhaps be summed up in the words of the late Ota Kte (Luther Standing Bear), a writer, educator, and tribal leader of the Lakota Sioux tradition:

“The old people came literally to love the soil. They sat on the ground with the feeling of being close to a mothering power. It was good for the skin to touch the Earth, and the old people liked to remove their moccasins and walk with their bare feet on the sacred Earth. The soil was soothing, strengthening, cleansing, and healing.”

The work of Clint Ober

In the late 1990s, a retired cable TV pioneer started to think about the human body in terms of electrical grounding.

For 25 years, Clint Ober had participated in the spectacular rise of the cable industry that offered consumers superior images over regular broadcast television. He established the leading cable installation company in the U.S.

What does cable TV have to do with health? The answer may surprise you. The crisp image delivered by the cable is the result of shielding that prevents signals from leaking out and prevents outside disturbances from leaking in. The cable consists of an inner copper conductor surrounded by a mesh shield. The shield is electrically connected to the Earth (grounded), so that the Earth can either deliver or absorb electrons and prevent the build-up of electrical charges in the system. The potential of the shield equalizes with that of the Earth’s surface, thus protecting and stabilizing the signals flowing through the conductor.

After his retirement, Mr. Ober began to consider how his experience with cable TV might apply to the human body. He realized that most people wear synthetic-soled shoes that insulate their bodies from the Earth’s connection that stabilizes not only cable TV but all electrical equipment – industrial or residential – throughout the world. This seemingly simple realization inspired a scientific adventure that has resulted in a growing awareness of the Earth’s ability to maintain health and promote healing…awareness that has major clinical importance.

Mr. Ober pioneered ways to bring the Earth’s healing energy inside, for convenient and healing use while people sit or sleep.  He has funded the bulk of research that is now widely available (you can find in posted on the research page on this website) and that provides evidence that connection with the Earth creates beneficial and substantial changes within the physiology….including reduction of inflammation …. changes that are clearly of paramount clinical importance.   Thanks to Mr. Ober, a body of research has been built and hopefully others will build on it further.  This is a great frontier that is opening, with much to learn yet, and much to benefit from.  Earthing reveals a natural and higher level of physiological functioning.  A more accurate level of what is normal.

Mr. Ober, and others before him, are pioneers who have revived a most significant law of Nature that awaits the awakening of humanity to its vast health and healing possibilities.

Ober’s original Earthing investigation

In 1998, Mr. Ober experimented on himself, and then on friends. He rigged up a crude conductive system for the bed, using metallic duct tape connected by wire to a ground rod he planted in the soil outside.  He then lay down on his “invention” was thus in contact with the Earth’s energy, simulating being barefoot outdoors.  To his surprise, he found that such contact prompted sleep and significantly reduced his own chronic pain.  He stopped taking painkillers in order to sleep. Wanting to share his “discovery,” he rigged up the beds of his friends in a similar manner.  And they, too, reported the same amazing effect.  Less pain. Better sleep.

In 2000, he organized a group experiment to test whether Earthing, as he called it, could really help people sleep better and reduce their pain. Assisted by a nurse, he identified 60 male and female volunteers with chronic sleep and pain issues. He then went to each of their homes and set up a conductive Earthing pad on their bed. He connected the pads with a wire to a ground rod placed in the Earth outside their bedroom windows that would facilitate carrying the energy from the Earth to the bed pad. However, in half of the set-ups, he inserted a spacer to block the conduction of energy. This would allow a comparison of two groups – those actually grounded, that is, receiving the Earth’s energy, and those who were “sham grounded.” The participants in the experiment did not know whether they were actually being grounded or not.


The original findings in five critical areas of health sparked research which continues to this day. As of 2020, some two dozen studies have been conducted. We continue to learn how grounding has the potential to affect, and significantly so, a wide range of modern ailments.

Time to fall asleep:


Not Grounded

Quality of sleep:


Not Grounded

Wake feeling rested:


Not Grounded

Muscle stiffness and pain:


Not Grounded

Chronic back and/or joint pain:


Not Grounded

*Reports not received from three Grounded participants.
**Reports not received from seven Ungrounded participants.

Not being a scientist, Mr. Ober published his experiment in ESD, an online journal that specializes in news and technical papers related to the subject of electrostatics.

Earthing research in Poland

Karol Sokal
Pawel Sokal

After the publication in English of the Earthing book in 2010, we were pleased to learn about the work of two Polish doctors who conducted a series of experiments and studies to determine how the Earth’s natural electric charge influences the regulation of human physiological processes.  The two are Karol Sokal, a cardiologist in private practice, and his neurosurgeon son Pawel, a staff physician at a military clinic. Their research, has been published in a variety of medical journals.

The Polish doctors have concluded that grounding not only influences human physiological processes but further suggest it may actually be a “primary factor regulating endocrine and nervous systems.”

A Brief Guide to Earthing


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