Shifting Lives with Earthing – A Psychiatrist’s Perspective

“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.

“Earthing is a powerful tool in my integrative approach to healing.  I recommend it in my medical practice as well as in my books and courses on personal transformation.  Some patients are open to the concept. 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 and students who do follow my recommendation to “Earth,” and there have been dozens of them, tend to have good responses. They report feeling much better emotionally and their sleep improves.  I would say about 65-75 percent.   These are individuals with a wide variety of emotional, mental, and physical problems, and often combinations of problems.

“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 patients who came 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.

“For patients with anxiety (post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder), Earthing can help elevate serotonin levels in the brain as it decreases cortisol (an anxiety-inducing hormone released when people are stressed). As cortisol levels decrease and stabilize, we all become more centered, peaceful and calm. Some patients will stop Earthing after their anxiety gets better and then stress may begin to creep back in. I remind them about what helped them get better and they usually begin Earthing practice again.

“For depression, Earthing can also assist with boosting serotonin levels and decreasing depressive symptoms. Then energy improves and tolerance to stressful situations, pain, or discomfort improves.

“I have had many chronic pain patients referred to me by pain management doctors. Many have not responded well to, or are resistant to, taking medication. I found that many of these patients often have less pain after they start Earthing.  This is likely due to not only a decrease in cortisol (stress hormone) levels but also a decrease in inflammatory response and more rapid rate of tissue recovery seen in Earthing studies.

“I’ve seen many people with gluten intolerance and irritable bowel symptoms significantly improved by Earthing. While they may not be completely cured, their GI and stomach issues are better. Pain, stress, and anxiety are reportedly better – and a decrease in all of these factors can powerfully improve symptoms.

“I recommend Earthing to anyone with an auto-immune conditions. Two patients with systemic lupus showed dramatic improvement in their symptoms after they started Earthing. Pain levels diminished. They felt calmer and reported a greater sense of overall well-being.  Their primary doctors attributed their improvement to “a calm period” in the disease process.

“One 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 some 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 patients with chronic fatigue, individuals who have exhausted their adrenal hormones (adrenal fatigue syndrome). Most have a history of intense stress. With Earthing, they report less fatigue and fell calmer. As their sleep-wake cycle improves, so does their energy level.

“I started sleeping grounded in 2011 and immediately slept more soundly and deeply. I have much less pain in my left knee that had been intermittently nagging me for a dozen years after I chipped a divot of bone out of my femur in a freak accident. I never had surgical repair and the orthopedic surgeon who saw me 6 weeks after my injury could not believe that I was walking without difficulty. I have a busy schedule so I sleep grounded every night in my home.  Now I only get rare slight twinges when the weather gets real cold suddenly or there are abrupt changes in atmospheric pressure.

“Some years ago, 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 continued to sleep through the night, which she wasn’t doing before, and could walk down stairs normally instead of one step at a time.

“I have taught my 3 children the value of Earthing.  My daughter is a musician and had previously complained about chronic neck and shoulder muscle tension from holding a trombone or large cymbals at attention during marching band or indoor drumline competitions.  My two sons have been in involved in sports and told me they have better rest, less muscle inflammation, and more rapid recovery from injuries since Earthing.  One son Earthed as part of his recovery from a sports-related Tib-Fib fracture of the lower leg in high school.

“I am such a fan of Earthing that I have written articles about it on my website I encourage people to use in seminars and podcasts on self-care as well as in my most recent book, ‘Bye-Bye Self-Sabotage: Drop Your Baggage, Love Your Life.’ ”

(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.

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