Imagine yourself as a child. If you were like me, you never wore shoes and you loved running barefoot through the mud. It was wonderful to feel the water splash and the mud squish between your toes. Dirt, who didn’t like dirt? I even ate dirt sometimes and now I am finding out that it was a good thing for my gut. So, it looks like we were on to something when we were children and were naturally drawn to go barefoot.
Could a simple thing like going barefoot outside help your heart? I wanted to find out if it would help me heal my heart after having three heart attacks and open-heart surgery.
It turns out that the sensation we feel when our feet contact the earth is more than just a great feeling. The therapeutic touch of Mother Earth is filled with remarkable health benefits.
A practice called earthing emerged a few years ago and doctors and scientists are beginning to discover that it has many benefits for our health. One of the most promising benefit points to the effect that the contact of earth on the skin can have on heart health. I believe I bounced back from the heart attacks I had because of my daily ritual of walking barefoot in the woods. I wondered if my recovery from open heart surgery was slower because it was winter, and I couldn’t get out and walk barefoot on the Earth.
Grounding is another name for earthing and so is barefoot hiking. This practice brings us back to a neutral, balanced state when we make direct contact with the earth. Our ancestors lived much closer to nature and were pretty much free of heart disease, and heart attacks were non-existent. Negative ions from the Earth’s surface flow into the body when you contact the earth with your bare feet or bodies. This contact causes the body to discharge positive ions, and free radicals that we pick up in our daily life. Free radicals are associated with aging and increased inflammation, a major cause of disease. Exposing your bare skin to the bare ground causes the earth’s healing powers kick in to help us release the free radicals. Children love the outdoors and do this naturally.
Throughout my heart healing journey, I did a lot of barefoot hiking. I had heard about earthing for several years but hadn’t tried it. Right after the first heart attack it became a practice that I did three or four times a week. My intuition told me that it would be the best medicine to heal my heart. I believe my recovery was much faster because of barefoot hiking. I also believe that because I was doing barefoot hiking so much after the first heart attack my heart was strong enough to survive the second one!
After the second heart attack, I experienced a lot of anxiety the first six weeks. I would go to the forest, take off my shoes and within five minutes of barefoot walking my anxiety was gone. I spent a lot of time in the forest during those weeks because it made me feel better.
Dr. Stephen Sinatra, the grandfather of earthing, found that earthing was supportive in the following areas:
• Increasing the production of ATP, the body’s energy fuel.
• Improving sympathetic nervous system activity. It was found that earthing reduced stress and improved the heart-rate value.
• Reducing the number of arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats. Arrhythmias are frequently set off by emotional stress and turmoil.
• Reducing high blood pressure, because of the reduction in free radical activity and inflammation.
• Reducing inflammation and pain, which is great because inflammation is the number one cause of disease and that includes heart disease.
• Improving circulation and electrodynamics of blood.
• Calming the nervous system.
• Helping to normalize cortisol, the stress hormone.
• Promoting better sleep and energy.
Dr. Sinatra also found that earthing has the potential to be a natural blood thinner. He experimented with dark field microscopy by creating images of people before and after they had done earthing. They showed a dramatic thinning and uncoupling of blood cells. Grounding appears to be the simplest and most profound interventions to help reduce cardiovascular risk and cardiovascular events. Because of this thinning effect of earthing, you should check with your doctor if you are on Coumadin. You should be able to do an hour of earthing without a problem with your blood.
Next time you find yourself walking on a dirt path, take off your shoes and walk barefoot! Let the healing touch of Mother Earth run through you. Imagine that the cells in your blood stream are recalibrating, because they are and enjoy what it feels like touch the earth like we did as children.
Bring on the mud puddles!