A number of clinical studies on the physiologic effects of grounding the human body have indicated improvements in various cardiovascular and heart-related parameters. One of the first investigations reported normalization of the day–night cortisol rhythms in subjects who were grounded by sleeping on a conductive mattress pad connected via a wire to a rod inserted into soil.31
It is known that chronic elevation of cortisol can result in disruption of circadian rhythms and chronic activation of the sympathetic nervous system, both of which can contribute to insomnia and its many well-documented health effects, including hypertension, CVD, stroke and other disorders.32,33
Subsequent research has repeatedly confirmed the positive effects of grounding on the autonomic nervous system (ANS), including increases in parasympathetic activity18,34
and, most recently, increases in heart rate variability (HRV).35
The significance of the latter study is that HRV is an important indicator of the status of autonomic balance and stress on the cardiovascular system. A decrease in HRV indicates autonomic dysfunction and is a predictor of the severity of progression of coronary artery disease.36,37
The positive effects of grounding on HRV suggest that simple grounding techniques can be utilized as a basic strategy for supporting the cardiovascular system, especially during situations of heightened autonomic tone and/or hypertension.35
The present study demonstrated a profound increase in zeta potential and a corresponding decrease in blood viscosity.
Magnets repel each other when the same poles come sufficiently close to one another. Similarly, electric charges of the same sign repel each other when they are in proximity to one another. The surface of RBCs has negative electrical charges that maintain spacing of the cells in the bloodstream by electrostatic repulsion. The electrophoretic mobility of RBCs is a function of net negative charge (zeta potential), provided that the viscosity of the suspending medium does not change during the measurement. In a study of 50 patients with occlusive arterial disease and 50 control counterparts (N
=100), the migration time of red cells (seconds) was longer and the electrophoretic mobility (μsec/V/cm) was less in the patients with occlusive disease than in the healthy controls.5
This study on electrophoretic mobility suggested differences in RBC surface charge (zeta potential). The researchers concluded that patients with occlusive arterial disease have one or more factors in their plasma and RBCs that reduce the net negative charge (zeta potential) of the cells, thereby facilitating RBC aggregation.5
This finding supports the notion that there are definitely many factors that can reduce zeta potential, and thereby increase blood viscosity and increase RBC aggregation, both of which play a major role in the pathogenesis of arteriosclerosis.5
A meta-analysis evaluating the connection between blood viscosity and CVD demonstrates clearly that the risk of major cardiovascular events increase with higher blood-viscosity levels.38
In the Edinburgh Artery Study, a population of 4860 men 45–59 years of age was observed for 5 years. The 20% of the men with the highest blood viscosity had a 3.2 times greater risk for cardiac events, compared with the 20% of men with the lowest blood viscosity. Fifty-five percent (55%) of major cardiovascular events occurred in the highest blood-viscosity group versus only 4% in the lowest blood-viscosity group.39
The role of increased blood viscosity in the pathogenesis of occlusive arterial disease was clearly and succinctly described by Kensey.15
Endothelial dysfunction, mechanical shear forces, and alterations in blood flow mechanics at arterial bifurcations and areas of low blood flow eddies are correlated with plaque progression in the coronary vasculature. Similarly, blood viscosity is known to increase in a number of clinical situations, such as hypertension, smoking, lipid disorders, advancing age, and diabetes mellitus.
A 2008 study was the first to report on the zeta potential of red blood cells in patients with diabetes.6
Researchers from the University of Calcutta described a “remarkable alteration” in the electrodynamics of RBCs—a progressive deterioration of the zeta potential and hypercoagulability among patients with diabetes, which was even worse among those who also had CVD. The researchers also indicated that high blood sugar levels are associated with significant alterations in the electrodynamics of an RBC's outer membrane and may increase the potential for RBC clumping. It was concluded that zeta potential could and should be used as an indicator of cardiovascular disease in patients who have diabetes. 6
On the basis of a randomized placebo-controlled primary prevention trial (the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study), researchers suggested that pravastatin therapy may lower the risk for coronary heart disease and mortality partially by lowering both plasma viscosity and blood viscosity.40
Many subsequent investigations have demonstrated the pleiotropic effects of statins on blood rheology, including reductions in plasma viscosity,41
whole-blood viscosity, RBC deformities, and RBC aggregation.42
Grounding is the most desirable and suitable intervention for both reducing blood viscosity and reducing inflammation simultaneously. Medical imaging tomography has been used to document cases of rapid improvement in acute inflammation after grounding.19
A pilot study on delayed-onset muscle soreness demonstrated a remarkable reduction of inflammatory mediators, including a reduction in white blood cell count (lymphocytes, neutrophils, and eosinophils).43
Attenuating inflammation and reducing blood viscosity will help physicians address primary and secondary prevention issues. Blood viscosity can be modified through a number of recognized primary prevention strategies. Moderate exercise, dietary adjustments (low sodium and sugar intake, and no trans fats), smoking cessation, and blood donation all have a positive impact on viscosity as do specific blood viscosity–modifying supplements, such as omega 3 essential fatty acids and pharmaceutical drugs (statins).
Grounding to the soil represents yet another intervention that lowers blood viscosity by raising zeta potential, which results in a decrease in RBC aggregation. The Earth's surface is electrically conductive and is maintained at a negative potential by a global electrical circuit. This circuit has three main generators; the solar wind entering the magnetosphere; the ionospheric wind; and thunderstorms.44
An estimated 1000–2000 thunderstorms are continually active around the globe, emitting thousands of lightening strikes per minute. This creates a constant current of thousands of amperes transferring positive charge to the upper atmosphere and negative charge to the surface of the Earth.44
The Earth's surface is therefore an abundant source of free electrons. As soil's electrons are conducted to the human body, the grounded body assumes favorable physiologic and electrophysiologic changes. Attenuation of the inflammatory response and a favorable impact on blood viscosity and RBC aggregation have been the most recent findings. Previous studies have also demonstrated that grounding promotes favorable regulation of circadian rhythms, improved sleep with better night-time cortisol dynamics,30
and favorable ANS function.18,31,34
Skin conductance is altered within 2 seconds of grounding.18,34,35
When one is in simple direct contact with the ground (walking barefoot, sitting or laying down on the soil's surface), or if one is utilizing a grounding system for sleep, zeta potential increases, and RBC aggregation and blood viscosity decrease. Grounding may represent one of the simplest and yet most profound interventions to help reduce cardiovascular risk and cardiovascular events.