The short answer is: It depends.
The Benefits of Grounding or Earthing
“Earthing” or “grounding” is a hot topic these days with health-conscious people. It is often one of the first EMF protection products that people try. This is because it has become popularized by the Earthing website and the associated book, “Earthing.” The book outlines a cornucopia of health benefits including reduced inflammation, less fatigue, quicker healing, reduced jet lag and better sleep. The thought is that when we are connected to the Earth, we soak up its energy, which may promote healing.
So, what could possibly be wrong with this?
The issue is in how it works within our homes. When we are in nature (the beach, a walk in the woods, our own garden), we are grounding in a healthy way. We are soaking up the negative ions of the Earth with little influence from nearby man-made electromagnetic fields (EMF).
When we are in nature we are also more connected to the Earth’s own electromagnetic frequency. This is known as the Schumann Resonance, at exactly 7.83 hertz. Interestingly, this is the same frequency at which our brain and body are at their best. The Schumann Resonance and the negative ions are partly why it feels so good to be in nature. The film, “Resonance – Beings of Frequency,” explains this concept wonderfully.
The Potential Risks of Grounding Products
However, when we are in our homes, there are many types of EMF’s that interrupt this natural process. Wi-Fi routers, cordless phones, and wireless “smart” meters fill the air with microwave radiation. Perhaps more importantly though, there are the frequencies from your home electrical wiring. The wiring will have electric and magnetic fields. It will also conduct other frequencies from appliances, lighting and even wireless technology along the copper wiring that then radiate into your living environment. These frequencies are known as electromagnetic interference (EMI) or “dirty electricity.”
Why You Don’t Want to Ground to Your Electrical System
Connecting Your Body to EMI / Dirty Electricity:
When you plug your Earthing mat or bed sheet into the ground of an electrical socket, you are directly connecting to the ground of your home electrical wiring system. Even if this system is properly grounded, there is a high likelihood that it contains some of the different frequencies that are on your home wiring. These frequencies will then be going into your body through the grounding products whenever you lie down.
This electromagnetic interference can create havoc within the 50 trillion cells of your body – all of which communicate using tiny electric signals. This can’t be a good thing over time. Some people can actually feel these frequencies when they sleep on a grounding sheet in a home with dirty electricity. They tend to experience restless legs or an inner agitation. Earthing proponents will sometimes call this a “detox reaction.”
The following is a video example of EMI on the electrical safety ground of a home:
Body Voltage Tests May Not Be Accurate
Electric Fields Are Still Present:
Electric fields radiate from most home wiring and can diminish the quality of your sleep and cause health problems over the long term. They also are efficient carriers of the dirty electricity frequencies (the DE frequencies are within the electric field). Unless you have newer wiring that your electrician purposely shielded (such as MC Cable or EMT conduit), you will likely have electric fields in your home, although they may not be strong enough to cause problems for most people.
Electric fields can be detected with a spectrum analyzer, digital electric field meter or body voltage meter. Many people will use the body voltage meter to show that when they are touching a grounding mat/sheet, the electric fields go down significantly. This could lead them to believe that they are protected. However, this is actually incorrect. The electric field is still present. It’s just that your body is now connected to the ground (it is now part of the circuit so the differential is zero), so it only appears that the field is diminishing.
The Earthing equipment is not always reducing the electric field. In fact, by being connected to the ground, you are now part of the very pathway by which all nearby electromagnetic frequencies (including wireless frequencies) will pass through to the Earth and your home electrical system. This will actually add to the EMF pollution that your body is dealing with, rather than reducing it or protecting you.
The following video makes it clear that both the Earth and the ground of a home electrical system may contain stray voltage (electric fields) that you will be connecting your body to while you sleep:
How to Properly Measure Electric Fields from Grounding Products
The most accurate way to measure electric fields is with a digital electric field meter. The consumer level electric field meters I recommend are the Gigahertz Solutions ME3830B or ME3851A. I encourage you to properly ground these electric field meters for accurate measurements, which I show how to do in this video. The professional level Gigahertz Solutions electric field meter is the NFA 1000. While this meter is expensive at nearly $2,000, it does provide a 3-dimensional representation of the AC electric field. This is the most accurate way to measure this type of EMF.
In the following video, an EMF colleague Shane Reilly demonstrates with the NFA 1000 how a grounding mat plugged into the electrical ground is actually increasing the AC electric field exposure. This is because of inductance from the hot and neutral wires to the electrical safety ground. This is something I have seen in many homes.
Grounding May Expose Your Body to Current
When you utilize grounding products indoors the voltage on your skin typically decreases. However, voltage (electric field) is only one part of your electromagnetic environment. The other important aspect is current (magnetic field).
Every home electrical system is different. I often compare the electrical wiring in a home to a human in that each system is a unique living entity that is constantly evolving. As home wiring systems age and new equipment is added to your home and neighborhood, it is common for micro amounts of stray current to get on your home grounding system. If this has happened in your home, it is unwise to attach your body directly this current.
As I discuss in the next section, make sure that the room you are grounding in has been measured to have low levels of electromagnetic fields. If you ground in a high EMF environment, your body can act as an antenna for the fields. I also encourage you to attach any grounding products to a separate ground rod outside. This will protect your body from any microcurrent that is on your home electrical safety ground.
How to Mitigate the Dangers of Earthing
The following are ways that you can obtain the benefits of Earthing/Grounding without the risks of these products:
- Do your Earthing or grounding in nature. This is one of the best ways to insure good health. Try to spend time outside every day. 30 minutes of true Earthing will contribute immensely to your health.
- I do not recommend that you use grounding products, unless your home is already low-EMF. I realize that some people say that they feel better upon using these products (better sleep, less inflammation). However, the placebo effect can be significant and we simply don’t know the long term effects.
- You may experience strange symptoms when you initially use grounding products. These are not “detox” symptoms. They are your body’s reaction to EMI and current on your home electrical safety ground. Once you stop connecting your body to an electrical outlet at night, the symptoms should go away.
- When you want to use Earthing or grounding products, test your home for EMF’s first. You want to reduce most types of EMF pollution before you use any products that connect you more fully to the man-made frequencies within your home. I explain on this page how to measure your home.
- If you do ground yourself, be sure to connect the equipment to a clean ground outside. This is what the Earthing studies are based upon. Not the ground in an electrical socket. A clean ground is earth that does not have neutral current running through it, which is a common issue in urban and suburban areas. If the AC magnetic fields in your backyard are below 0.1 mG, there should be very little ground current in your neighborhood.
My Personal Experience with Earthing
I have tried grounding products myself and no longer utilize them. You could use them safely in an area or home with extremely low levels of EMF pollution. In these low-EMF areas you will get the benefits of Earthing without the detrimental effects of the man-made frequencies. Many longtime EMF professionals around the world do not recommend grounding and I think there is good reason for this.
I know one family in Austria that had their home measured for EMF pollution a few years ago. Their young son’s bedroom had high electric fields and other frequencies in it. Their EMF professional recommended a grounding mat for the boy to sleep on. However, as I mention above, the electric field and EMI frequencies were still there. They were now going through the boy’s body because he was part of the ground.
It may be a coincidence, but 18 months after adding this grounding mat to his bed, the young boy was diagnosed with lymphoma. After an incredibly difficult treatment protocol, he is doing much better now and is on to a full recovery. The family no longer uses the grounding mat.
Speaking with other EMF professionals and electrical engineers, I have heard similar stories of grounding creating more problems than it solves. Most experienced EMF consultants I know will not recommend the products at all. That is why I wanted to share my experience with you. I want to help you protect your family from the negative effects of EMF pollution. Even if it means having significant reservations about such a popular product or concept.
Places like this are the best for healthy grounding.
I hope this article has been helpful to you. Thank you for your interest in electromagnetic fields.
Updated June 2023.