Earthing - Dr. Duane Graveline, M.D.


By Duane Graveline, M.D., M.P.H

I have previously drawn attention to the biologic role of electrons - our awakening to the reality that not only are we constantly exposed to the passage of electrons through our bodies but that this electron flow appears to have a definite purpose.

I have written often on mitochondria and their vital role in electron capture. We now realize that these "earthing" electrons we have been hearing about are the same as those which our mitochondria need for the production of energy. These electrons are passed along from one enzymatic process in our mitochondria to another, ultimately becoming the ATP ( adenosine triphosphate ) fuel that energizes our cells.

When we are asked to let our bare feet connect with Mother Earth we are allowing our bodies to equilibrate with the never ending supply of earth's electrons. Insulated from the surface of the earth, as we increasingly tend to be with non-conductive plastic/rubber footwear and non-conductive building materials, separates us from the natural and boundless supply of electrons omnipresent on the surface of the Earth, electrons that can make a big difference for our cellular function.

We have been taught that our ROS ( reactive oxygen species ) such as superoxide dismutase and glutathione assist CoQ10 as electron donors in our mitochondria, but increasingly now scientists are viewing these "earthing" electrons as supplements to our usual anti-oxidants.

Retired cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra, who like many researchers today is convinced that arterial damage and atherosclerosis is the end result of oxidative damage to the arterial lining, envisions Earthing as a powerful and practical tool against cardiovascular disease by delivering an abundant  supply of electrons for antioxidant purposes. In the absence of sufficient antioxidants, excessive oxidative damage results to our mitochondria leading to mutations and ultimately to loss of cell function. Many researchers believe this is the primary mechanism leading to the process of aging.

Those of you who are familiar with my articles on the mechanisms of statin damage will recall that statins accelerate the aging process promoting what amounts to premature old age. The primary markers of advanced old age are memory loss, weakness and loss of muscle mass, numbness of extremities and loss of coordination - conditions also very common from statin damage. Statins cause this by their inevitable inhibition of CoQ10, one of the anti-oxidants also vital to mitochondrial structure.

From his pespective as a cardiologist, Dr. Sinatra is particularly interested in the potential role of Earthing in mitochondrial ATP formation, sympathetic nervous system activity, arrhythmias, high blood pressure and blood viscosity. Mitochondria are like tiny power plants. Some cells such as heart and other muscle cells have thousands of them in each cell. Other cells with minimal energy needs may have only a few.

Inside the mitochondria the electrons from the food we eat are passed along an assembly line of special complexes until they become ATP, the fuel that runs every cell in our bodies (and the cells of most other creatures as well). Ober, Sinatra and Zucker, authors of Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? hypothesize that the electrons from the Earth become available to assist and boost this process, but no study has proved this.  People who sleep grounded often report more energy, so this could be a byproduct of enhanced ATP production or better sleep, or both. Furthermore, in an ungrounded body, they suggest there may be an electron deficiency present.

Dr. Sinatra says it took him almost 35 years as a practicing cardiologist to realize that the heart is all about ATP. A failing heart is deficient in ATP and restoration of the heart depends upon ATP. He calls our attention to the fact that such cardiac conditions as angina, heart failure and silent ischemia can all cause an ATP deficit and electron mobilization is the basis of ATP restoration.

Most of us realize that chronic stress triggers an excess release of stress hormones, throwing off the natural balance that exists between our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Too much adrenaline and cortisol result in sustained stress arousal. For years we have used heart rate variability as a measure of stress. My first use of heart rate variability to monitor stress levels came from my days with the United States Air Force intelligence community in the early 1960's when I studied cosmonaut heart rate variability ( RR variability ) from their electrocardiograms transmitted from space. ( Note that the R wave is the large spike in an ECG ( electrocardiogram ) when the heart ventricles contract ).

I had already observed the unusually slow heart rates in cosmonauts Titov, Nikolayev and Popovich. Particularly in Titov, who was "up" for 17 orbits, the heart rate at times was as low as 32 beats per minutes. I observed then how little variation there was in his beat to beat duration. At those times Titov's heart was like a metronome with a nearly precise interval from one beat to another and I assumed Titov might have been sleeping at those times. When he was aroused and involved in a task, his heart rate returned to more normal levels ( but what was normal in zero gravity? ) and with this came increased variation in R to R intervals, reflecting rising stress levels.

The special interest of the Soviet scientists in the autonomic nervous system caused them also to monitor galvanic skin response, the association of sweating with stress, in their cosmonauts. Dr. Sinatra has observed that Earthing results in less R to R variability; another very positive effect from Earthing. Dr. Sinatra has also noticed a more stable heart rhythm from Earthing, of particular interest to those subject to attacks of intermittent atrial fibrillation. This usually innocuous but frequently terrifying condition of marked heart rate variability can cause breathlessness and cold extremities when the victim loses some one-third of the pumping action of their heart.

Dr. Sinatra has also found that blood pressure will tend more towards normal and that blood thickness appears to diminish when the body is earthed. This effect on blood coaguability has important implications for those with poor circulation and who are prone to blood clots.  These effects are being actively investigated. In summary, Earthing is important. This simple technique for balancing the electrical gradient of our bodies with that of Mother Earth shows much promise in healthcare in my opinion, and deserves further investigation.

Duane Graveline MD MPH
Former USAF Flight Surgeon
Former NASA Astronaut
Retired Family Doctor
Note: Complimentary Earthing books and products were provided to this site for evaluation purposes.

Ref: Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? by Ober, Sinatra and Zucker.

November 2010

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