Category Archives: General Information

Identifying and Fixing Brain Chemical Imbalances

BY MARK COSTELLO, LAC, MACOM, DIPLAC

We all have friends and family members with health issues, including depression, anxiety, migraines and dementia. But what most of us don’t know is that we all have blood sugar problems that can lead to these brain chemistry problems.So what leads to these blood sugar imbalances? How exactly does blood sugar imbalances lead to deficits in brain chemicals like serotonin? And, how do these imbalances cause brain dysfunction – specifically depression, anxiety, migraine headaches and dementia?

Let’s first spend some time with the numbers:

  • Mental disorders affect 1 in 4 worldwide.
  • 16 percent of adults are at risk of depression during their lifetime. Of these, 50 percent will also suffer anxiety disorder.
  • Approximately 3.4 million Americans 71 and older have dementia. Of those, 9.7 percent – or 2.4 million Americans – have been diagnosed with Alzheimers.
  • Between 12 percent and 28 percent of Americans have migraines during their lifetime.

An obvious conclusion is that these are prevalent diseases and they touch every one of us in some way. But how is this connected with our blood sugar?

The simple answer is, your brain needs fuel to make seritonin and the other chemicals that make us happy and energetic. If the brain does not get this chemical, consistently and over time, we feel like we are lacking, either in energy or good humor. If you have depression or know someone who does, you know low energy and depression go together.

One in four Americans have “metabolic syndrome” otherwise known as “insulin resistance.” (In my practice, I encounter far more patients with this resistance – as much as 80 percent.) Insulin resistance causes wild fluctuations in blood sugar levels.

The brain is the most dependent part of your body to glucose, or sugar. Your brain needs sugar for the brain to change one molecule into another – in other words it needs a sufficient amount of biological energy called ATP. This happens during the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin. That energy is derived from the sugars in our food in the form of glucose (sugar, or blood sugar).

When the brain does not have enough energy, and especially over many years, a depletion of serotonin is the result. With a depletion of serotonin, our brains cannot respond to pleasurable events and the result is depression. This is called endogenous depression; i.e. depression is due primarily to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Mainstream medicine and psychology often fail to help people with this type of depression, because they have no proper explanation as to what causes “endogenous” depression.

If a person has fluctuations in the level of glucose in their blood over time, they are vulnerable to having low levels of the brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which control mood, energy levels, memory and pain. This is the cause of the mental diseases that I have listed above, including depression, anxiety/panic attacks, migraine headaches and dementia.

(I am an acupuncturist and clinician, so there will be some physicians, psychiatrists, neurologists and scientists who disagree about migraines and dementia being in the category of brain chemical imbalance, but from a clinician/treatment perspective, patients respond well to these treatments.)

What are some solutions?

For depression: Current medical solutions include anti-depressant drugs. These can be very effective, especially in the short-term. They do have side effects ranging from mild to severe, but these drugs are used with shocking frequency and volume. A large percentage of my chronic patients have been on them for many years and have no plans to get off of them.

One problem I have with the drugs (aside from the side effects) is that is does nothing to address the underlying problem of blood sugar imbalance. (We are speaking of the connection between blood sugar and depression, but thyroid function plays a huge roll also.)

Anxiety is also treated with anti-depressants, unless it is severe, and then it is often treated with valium-type drugs like Xanax. These drugs really pump up the GABA (one of the neurotransmitters, mostly responsible for calming) which is great for someone with anxiety attacks, but it is really difficult to stop taking these “diazepams” once the brain gets dependent on them.

Migraine headaches are also treated with drugs. There are drugs for when a person is having a severe headache – some are tartans, or narcotic pain medication. The side effects of tartans can be severe, and narcotics have the effect of not being able to work or drive. And this treatment strategy addresses the severe episodes, but not the cause, which can be ongoing for decades.

There are drugs for preventing attacks, but all of these drugs are primarily for other diseases and have been found to be moderately effective for preventing migraine headaches. The types of drugs are interesting in that they all either affect the central nervous system, or relieve the effects of stress peripherally. These drugs are anti-depressants, anti-histamines, anti-seizure drugs and botulinum toxin (Botox).

According to the Mayo Clinic website: “In most cases, preventive medications don’t eliminate headaches completely, and some cause serious side effects.”

The common thread through all of these diseases is that drug therapies help control the symptoms of the imbalance, but do nothing to address the underlying cause of the neurotransmitter imbalance, which is glucose level fluctuations in the blood.

So, how can we fix the underlying cause of these brain chemical imbalances?

Clearing up depression, anxiety, and migraine headaches using acupuncture, herbal medicine and dietary changes is very successful, but it takes a commitment of time and energy (money and lifestyle change) from the patient. Here is the simple-to-say protocol:

  1. Acupuncture twice a month.
  2. Eat in a way that keeps a constant, but slow flow of glucose to your blood. This means starting with a protein-rich breakfast and a snack every two to three hours with protein in it. There aren’t many protein snacks (nuts, eggs, meat, beans, seaweed, protein shake) but we all get used to eating these. Don’t finish meals with a sugar-rich dessert. And, do not eat simple carbohydrates, like bread, baked goods, bagels, etc. between meals. These products will make your blood sugar spike like crazy.
  3. Take supplements and herbal medicines that fix the chemical pathways that are broken to restore insulin sensitivity.

When my patients do these things for a few months, most of the brain chemistry imbalances described above slowly disappear.

When brain chemistry deficits are the result of blood sugar fluctuations, the problem is not cleared up quickly. Blood sugar levels need to be maintained for the brain to produce the neurotransmitters and then it takes time for those chemicals to reach normal levels again. Most patients start to see improvement in two to four weeks, but don’t feel normal again for months.

If nothing is done to correct insulin resistance, the result is often Type II diabetes. This is the most severe form of insulin resistance, at it’s most severe the body loses the ability to produce insulin and the patient is dependent on insulin shots for the rest of their life. And that result is one we should all be inspired to avoid.

ORIGINAL POST – https://www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=32621

Low Oxalates Foods May Help Reduce Auto-Immune Disease Risk, Autism and Fibromyalgia

Ronald Grisanti D.C., D.A.B.C.O., DACBN, MS, CFMP

Oxalate (or oxalic acid) is a compound found in a variety of plant-based foods. Under a microscope, oxalates are jagged in structure and look somewhat crystalline.

During metabolism, oxalic acid combines with other minerals like calcium, sodium, magnesium, and potassium to form compounds like calcium oxalate and sodium oxalate in the kidneys. This in turn may be responsible for mineral deficiencies.

One of the most common issues with increased oxalates in the urine (hyperoxaluria) is the formation of kidney stones. However, if the body struggles to eliminate oxalate it can accumulate as crystals anywhere in the body. Commonly it accumulates in blood, then the eyes, bones, skin, muscles, blood vessels, heart and other organs.

High oxalates have also been linked with autism and inflammatory bowel disease. It can also be an underlying issue in those with ongoing gut problems or irritable bowel syndrome.

Tissue destruction, fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are all issues that can be related to oxalates because oxalate in tissues trigger the inflammasome reactions of the body’s innate immune system.

As a side note, the thyroid will also suffer as oxalates can bind to T3 and disturb thyroid function.

The following list of vegetables should be helpful in identifying foods high in oxalates

Low Oxalates Foods May Help Reduce Auto-Immune Disease Risk, Autism and Fibromyalgia

As you can see from the list above your favorite spinach (> 900 mgs of oxalates) green smoothie may be contributing to a host of health issues!

Low oxalate diets involve eating less food that’s high in oxalates. Foods high in oxalates include certain types of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and legumes.

On a low oxalate diet, you should limit your oxalate to 40 to 50 mg each day.

Summary

Whether for kidney stone prevention or to address other possible chronic health conditions, a low oxalate diet may be the solution.
On a low oxalate diet, you may notice a decreased risk of kidney stones, improved mineral absorption, diminished joint and muscle pain, improvement in fibromyalgia, autism symptoms and improvement of autoimmune symptoms.

ORIGINAL POST – https://www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/public/1734.cfm

The Gene That Makes the Ketogenic Diet Dangerous

Ronald Grisanti D.C., D.A.B.C.O., DACBN, MS, CFMP

With all the craze about the ketogenic diet it would behoove one to know if they are a candidate for this type of diet.

First for those not familiar with the ketogenic diet here is a short summary:

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used mainly to treat hard-to-control epilepsy in children. Here are 8 additional benefits:

  1. Triglycerides Tend to Drop Drastically
  2. Increased Levels of ‘Good’ HDL Cholesterol
  3. Reduced Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels
  4. May Lower Blood Pressure
  5. Effective Against Metabolic Syndrome
  6. A Greater Proportion of Fat Loss Comes From Your Abdominal Cavity
  7. Improved ‘Bad’ LDL Cholesterol Levels
  8. Therapeutic for Several Brain Disorders (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease)

Now with all of these benefits the scientific literature has investigated if indeed this type of diet is beneficial for all people.

Well it may ultimately come down to your genes. Most specifically, your APOE genotype.

The three different types of APOE genes are as follows:

APOE2 – Best suited to a High Fat / Low Carb Diet (saturated fats are good)
APOE3 – Suitable For Both
APOE4 – Best Suited For A High Monounsaturated Fat / Low Carb Diet (Avoid Saturated Fats)

Research studies have shown that APOE4 carriers are most effected by high cholesterol, and benefit more from a low saturated fat diet, instead using monounsaturated fats,  low carb diet, whereas APOE 2 carriers suit a high fat low carb diet, regardless of the saturated fats.

So what should you do?

Ask your doctor to order the APOE genotype blood test and see if you are in fact a carrier of the APOE4 gene.

If you are a carrier of the APOE4 gene, I recommend decreasing your consumption of saturated fats and focus more on monounsaturated fats.

ORIGINAL POST – https://www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/public/1721.cfm

Is Acupuncture Safe and Beneficial to Pregnant Women? Yes it is!

By Chaunie Brusie, RN  Medically reviewed by Brian Levine, MD, MS, FACOG on August 01, 2020

In recent years, acupuncture has grown in popularity as an alternative therapy during pregnancy to treat a range of discomforts. If you’re pregnant and interested in trying acupuncture, you may wonder if it really works—and have concerns about potential dangers. Below we explore the safety and efficacy of using this ancient practice while expecting.

Overview

Acupuncture is a complementary medical practice of traditional Chinese medicine that seeks to balance the flow of energy (known as chi or qi) in the body. This healing art has been used in Eastern medicine for centuries and there is an established tradition (and substantial anecdotal evidence) of positive results.

While there is a lack of rigorous, comprehensive scientific studies to back up some acupuncture health claims, preliminary research does show many promising results.

Acupuncture is used primarily as alternative medicine and is not routinely a part of traditional care. However, the healing art is often included in the growing trend of an integrative healthcare approach. And many conventional doctors are seeing some benefits in incorporating acupuncture into their patients’ healthcare.

Some studies have also shown promising results for its effectiveness in pain relief. It’s also reported to help discomfort from arthritis, migraines, and headaches, and even improve skin appearance by improving circulation and tightening facial muscles.

How It Works

Most often, acupuncture treatments involve stimulating key points in the body (acupuncture points or acupoints) with thin, sterile needles. Applying acupuncture needles is thought to enhance the body’s natural ability to self-heal, thereby alleviating pain and other discomforts, boosting immunity, and treating some conditions.

Do the Needles Hurt?

Most people report that they barely feel any pokes from the needles.

Researchers have found that many acupoints correlate to deep-seated nerves, which trigger the release of endorphins and other brain chemicals when activated by the needles. This process of nerve stimulation helps to explain how acupuncture might block pain signals to help to alleviate a number of common discomforts.

Acupuncture and Pregnancy

Increased interest in acupuncture during pregnancy, in particular, is due, in part, to some doctors’ claims and limited research that the ancient practice can help improve fertility in couples looking to conceive.1?

Other doctors and healthcare providers have been recommending acupuncture as a way to provide pain relief during and after childbirth, and as a strategy for decreasing opioid use.

Many women are also turning to acupuncture to help alleviate common pregnancy ailments such as nausea, vomiting, and headaches caused by hormone changes.

Acupuncture during pregnancy has not been thoroughly studied, so it is challenging to say with 100% certainty whether acupuncture during pregnancy is safe or effective.

Additionally, not all the claims about its benefits are supported by science. Knowing what acupuncture works best for can help align your expectations and avoid disappointment if you do choose to try it.

Potential Benefits

A 2013 review by Medical Acupuncture revealed that anywhere from 4% to 13% of European women use acupuncture during their pregnancies.2? They did not have exact numbers for American women but noted that acupuncture use, in general, was rising in the United States. The researchers theorized that pregnant women would be part of that growing population.

Over the past few decades, alternative medicine techniques, including acupuncture and its use during pregnancy, have grown in popularity in the West.

In theory, acupuncture during pregnancy can be used to treat a variety of different pregnancy-related ailments or be used to assist with labor or conception. Potential uses include to:

  • Alleviate nausea and vomiting
  • Alleviate pain after a surgical birth
  • Alleviate pain during labor
  • Alleviate panic, stress, and depression during pregnancy
  • Assist with general pain and discomfort from pregnancy
  • Assist with labor induction
  • Assist women in conceiving, both naturally and with assisted reproductive technology, such as IVF
  • Correct a breech position during pregnancy
  • Reduce breast tenderness
  • Reduce fatigue
  • Reduce headaches
  • Reduce heartburn
  • Reduce pelvic discomfort
  • Treat constipation and hemorrhoids
  • Treat sciatica pain

Some pregnant women are drawn to acupuncture’s promise of gentle, relaxing, pain-free treatment for some of pregnancy’s most nagging discomforts.

Pain

Acupuncture for pain relief during labor and after surgery (c-section) is one of the most commonly cited uses for the therapy in pregnancy, especially because healthcare providers are looking for alternatives to opioids. New mothers are at higher risk for addiction after being prescribed opioid painkillers for pregnancy-related pain.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ (ACOG) 2018 report on labor and birth management mentions acupuncture as one of several documented strategies that may help manage pain during labor. But, the report also notes that there haven’t been enough studies done to definitively conclude that acupuncture should be recommended.3?How Pregnant Women Can Safely Use Pain Relievers

Nausea and Vomiting

The 2013 ACOG review found that acupuncture was effective for relieving nausea associated with analgesia from c-sections,3? so it has may have many uses for relieving symptoms, even in a hospital setting.

Acupuncture may also be helpful for women who suffer from severe nausea or vomiting during their pregnancies (technically called hyperemesis gravidarum), especially if they want to avoid medication as a remedy.

Labor Induction and Breech Positions

In at least two cases in the review, acupuncture was used successfully as a way to induce labor without any medication.3? This was in mothers who were full-term and had been recommended for labor initiation.

Acupuncture has also been said to be helpful in correcting a baby who is in a breech position, to turn the head down to be ready for delivery.

Pelvic Pain

One of the most largely-respected and widely-cited reviews on acupuncture during pregnancy concluded that the practice is beneficial in relieving pelvic pain and low back pain associated with pregnancy.4?Lightning Crotch During Pregnancy

Depression

Acupuncture has been associated with relieving symptoms of depression during pregnancy. This may be especially important to note since, unlike antidepressants or other medication commonly used to try to treat depression, acupuncture has no known potential risks to the unborn fetus.

Conception

Although acupuncture has been associated with helping women conceive, especially when used with IVF, a 2018 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that there is no proof that acupuncture increases the incidence of live births in women who are using IVF to get pregnant.5?

However, the study noted that many acupuncture recipients did report feeling more relaxed and less stressed with acupuncture, which is helpful when undergoing IVF, so the practice shouldn’t be completely ruled out for use when trying to conceive.

Any practice that is safe and could help a mother relax more when trying to conceive can be a helpful adjunct to staying healthy and potentially increasing the odds of conception.

Potential Risks

Acupuncture has a very low risk of negative effects. The most commonly reported adverse reactions include soreness at the needle site, local bruising, weakness, fatigue, sweating, and nausea.

According to a 2013 review, there is only one documented case of negative effects of acupuncture during pregnancy and it was related to injury as a result of asthma complications. The baby was unaffected and delivered healthy and full-term.

Pressure Points

Where acupuncture is administered may be especially important to consider when pregnant. The same review study mentioned that there is some concern from the ACOG about some acupuncture points causing premature labor, especially if used before a woman is full-term in her pregnancy.

The 2018 JAMA study on IVF and acupuncture also found that there was a higher rate of miscarriage (almost double, in fact) in the group that received acupuncture as compared to the group of women who did not receive acupuncture.5?

The study concluded that, in those cases, the acupuncture treatments may have been administered incorrectly, which could account for the higher miscarriage rates. They also noted that there is an especially high link between the acupuncture points LI4 and SP6 and miscarriage.

However, there haven’t been any documented cases of acupuncture definitively causing premature labor or miscarriage, so it is just a general recommendation to avoid the practice during your first trimester.

Non-Certified Locations

There are also some obvious risks of acupuncture, during pregnancy and otherwise, if you choose a practitioner who is not certified or one who does not follow proper safety protocols when using needles. A risk of blood-borne disease transmission, such as HIV, is always a risk when working with needles in the human body.

It’s also worth mentioning that not all acupuncture practices are built exactly the same. There are some imitation-type acupuncture practices that use incorrect needles or different-sized needles that are not true to traditional acupuncture practice, which could be associated with more adverse reactions and risks.

A Word From Verywell

While there is some promising research to support acupuncture during pregnancy, there isn’t enough high-quality evidence for acupuncture to be routinely recommended for pregnant women.

However, the risks and costs of acupuncture during pregnancy are very low (and sometimes covered by insurance). If you are interested in trying the practice to manage your pregnancy symptoms or incorporating acupuncture into your pain relief plan for birth, be sure to speak to your doctor about your options.

If your doctor gives you the go-ahead, be sure to find a practitioner who specializes in pregnancy acupuncture and check that they are licensed and certified with the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

ORIGINAL POST – https://www.verywellfamily.com/acupuncture-during-pregnancy-4583027

Anxiety- Big Picture Exercise

I have a powerful exercise for you today. This exercise is not an easy one but none of the powerful ones are.

It is called the Big Picture Exercise and it will give you the motivation to achieve a full recovery from anxiety. This is an imaginary exercise but I really want you to play along with it in order to get the full benefit of doing it. You will need a pen and paper for this exercise.

The Big Picture

The exercise begins with an ending… I want you to imagine your life has suddenly ended! This very second without any warning, you have just passed away (from natural causes). You now find yourself in the peaceful celestial realms of the afterlife. In your hands you find a beautiful book with your name inscribed on the front of it.

As you open it and look inside, you find snapshots of your entire life. The snapshots start with your birth and lead right up until this very moment. Start at the beginning of the book and take as much time as you need to go through it all in your imagination. Close your eyes if it helps to achieve this.

Recall as much of your life as you can. Events from your early childhood leading up and through your adolescence and into your adult life. It does not matter if you can’t remember much from certain periods. The idea is to just get a nice overview of your life.

Flow with whatever comes to mind. As you do this exercise pay attention to any feelings that arise.

What moments do you remember that bring you joy? Are there regrets? Are there things you wished you could have said or done? Is this more difficult now that you have passed away and can no longer change anything about your life? What would you give to have just one more shot at life?

Write down whatever comes to mind down. Now lets focus on just the anxiety you experienced in your life. I want you to, as honestly as possible, see what effect anxiety has had on your life up until your imaginary passing.

As painful as it might be, consider what the cost of anxiety has been to your life. I don’t mean in financial terms, (that’s pretty irrelevant now that you have passed away), I mean more so in terms of how it affected your sense of freedom, or friendships , career, love, or family. Be as honest in your feelings as possible and allow whatever comes up to surface and just sit with it.

I understand how hard this can be but trust me it is important to get a proper perspective and understand of the impact anxiety has had on your life. Take some time and write down whatever comes to mind. Now… by divine intervention, your life has been miraculously returned to you. You find yourself back in your old life alive and well!

What is it like to suddenly have your life back?

If you really threw yourself into this imaginary journey you might have a few things that you want to address. Maybe people you want to communicate with or maybe things you want to put right. Maybe no such things have come to mind and that is ok too. I want to keep the focus now just on the anxiety aspect of your life. You might now have a clearer understanding of the impact anxiety has had on your life in general.

If your anxiety is only a recent problem then that impact will be negligible but if it has been going on for many years the impact has probably been quite significant. Now with the same paper and pen I want you to set some goals for the life that has been given back to you. You are the master of your fate.

How do you wish your remaining years to be? What are the obstacles anxiety has created that you now wish to finally overcome?

Write it all out on a new page. Go into detail about the things you want to achieve with the time that has been given to you back on this earth. Each person is different. Some may map out small goals others will have really big ones. These goals are going to become your motivation to keep you focused on achieving a full recovery from anxiety.

What you write here will give you the power to achieve what you want and to get you through any setback. Keep this piece of paper someplace private that you can revisit any time you need a reminder.

Your brave new life is waiting for you.

ORIGINAL POST – https://www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/public/934.cfm

How to remove 87% of toxins from your air at home?

When it comes to air quality in your home I commonly recommend a good hepa filter like the Austin brand (http://austinair.com). However there is another good alternative that many people are doing and may not be aware of the benefits.

This includes filling your home with house plants. NASA has found that some species of houseplants can eliminate up to 87 percent of toxins from the air, including formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, trichloroethylene, carbon monoxide and even dust. The best plants found to be the most effective for optimal air quality include: English ivy, spider plants and the Boston fern. One or two plants won’t make that much difference. It is recommended to have many plants through-out your home.

ORIGINAL POST – https://www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/public/1291.cfm

What do the numbers 3,4, 8 and 9 have to do with your health and wellness?

You know those little stickers on fruits and veggies? They’re called price look-up (PLU) codes and they contain numbers that cashiers use to ring you up. But you can also use them to make sure you’re getting what you paid for. If you are interested in staying healthy, here’s what to look for:

  • • A five-digit number that starts with a 9  means the item is organic. Eating organically—or better yet, biodynamically—grown produce is paramount. This can be identified at the grocery store by a five-digit bar code starting with the number “9,” or purchased from your local biodynamic grower.
  • • A four-digit code beginning with a 3 or a 4 means the produce is probably conventionally grown. For example, regular small lemons sold in the U.S. are labeled 4033, large are 4053; small organic lemons are coded 94033, large are 94053. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of food quality when it comes to the prevention of disease. Sure, a conventionally grown bell pepper (identified by a sticker with a four-digit bar code starting with the number “4”) will contain the healthy compound beta-cryptoxanthin, but it will also come with a whole host of cancer-causing chemicals on it. 
  • • A five-digit code that starts with an 8 means the item is genetically modified (it has genes from other organisms). You won’t see many of those because only genetically modified versions of corn, soybeans, canola, cotton, papaya, and squash are now widely sold. And because PLU codes aren’t mandatory, companies can label those items as conventional. 

ORIGINAL POST – https://www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/public/1290.cfm

Grounding — A Simple, Pleasurable Way to Reduce Inflammation and Chronic Disease

Story at-a-glance

  • Grounding or earthing is defined as placing one’s bare feet on the ground, whether it be dirt, grass, sand or unsealed, unpainted concrete (especially when humid or wet)
  • When you ground to the electron-enriched Earth, an improved balance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system occurs
  • Being grounded cuts inflammation by thinning your blood and infusing your body with negatively charged ions
  • To take advantage of grounding indoors, your best bet is to use a grounding pad to sleep, stand barefoot or sit on
  • Grounding may be one of the most important overlooked factors in public health. When grounding is restored, many people report significant improvement in a wide range of ailments

Did you know the energy from the Earth can help you live a healthier life? The concept is known as earthing or grounding, which is no more complicated than walking barefoot.

In “Down to Earth”1 — which received the IndieFEST Award of Excellence for a documentary short in January 2017 — I speak alongside other experts to shed light on this super simple yet commonly overlooked way to protect and improve human health. As cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra, author of “Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?” explains in the film:

“[G]rounding is literally putting your bare feet on the ground. When you do that, you’re in contact with the Earth, and mother Earth is endowed with electrons, and these electrons are literally absorbed through your feet. It’s like taking handfuls of antioxidants, but you’re getting it through your feet.”

Your Body Needs Grounding

Research suggests a general lack of grounding, also referred to as “electron deficiency syndrome,” has a lot to do with the rise of modern diseases.

It’s not unusual for Americans to spend entire days without being grounded. But though it has become the norm, it’s completely unnatural, and didn’t really become widespread until the advent of shoes with artificial soles that prevent grounding. When you’re grounded, free electrons from the Earth are transferred into your body, and these free electrons are among the most potent antioxidants known to man.

As electrons are negatively charged and free radicals are positively charged, any free radicals encountered in your tissues are electrically neutralized or canceled out by these free electrons. This is why grounding is so effective against chronic inflammation. Dr. Laura Koniver, who discovered grounding quite by accident after it seemed to soothe her crying infant, says in the film, “Grounding … supports the body as a whole but it specifically supports organ systems down to the tissues and the cellular function of the entire body.”

Also, while you may not think of your body as a generator of electricity, you are very much an electrical being, and this is in large part why it’s so important to use grounding to harness the electrical charge of the Earth. In the film, Gaetan Chevalier, Ph.D., an engineer/physicist who has studied grounding, explains:

“Unbeknownst to us, we live inside a battery. The surface of the Earth is charged negatively and the ionosphere, a layer of the atmosphere about 60 miles up, is ionized by the sun. The rays of the sun are so strong that they split the molecules in two, a positive charge and a negative charge.

The negative charges are transferred to the surface of the Earth, through lightening mainly, and the positive charges stay 60 miles up. The problem arises when we don’t have a negative charge. We need grounding just as we need air and we need sunshine.”

Grounding Reduces Electric Field Induction

There’s even evidence that grounding reduces the voltage induced on your body from electricity in your environment — a factor that has become increasingly important in the modern world. As noted in the 2012 review:3

“Applewhite, an electrical engineer and expert in the design of electrostatic discharge systems in the electronic industry, was both subject and author of the study.4 Measurements were taken while ungrounded and then grounded using a conductive patch and conductive bed pad … Each method (patch and sheet) immediately reduced the common alternating current (AC) 60?Hz ambient voltage induced on the body by a highly significant factor of about 70 on average.

The study showed that when the body is grounded, its electrical potential becomes equalized with the Earth’s electrical potential … This, in turn, prevents the 60?Hz mode from producing an AC electric potential at the surface of the body and from producing perturbations of the electric charges of the molecules inside the body.

The study confirms the ‘umbrella’ effect of earthing the body explained by Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman in his lectures on electromagnetism. Feynman said that when the body potential is the same as the Earth’s electric potential (and thus grounded), it becomes an extension of the Earth’s gigantic electric system. The Earth’s potential thus becomes the ‘working agent that cancels, reduces, or pushes away electric fields from the body.'”

Benefits of Grounding

While it may sound “too easy,” the simple pleasure of walking barefoot can be a powerful health-promoting activity. A scientific review published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health in 2012 found that grounding can help:5

  • Improve quality of sleep and feelings of restfulness upon waking.
  • Reduce muscle stiffness and soreness.6
  • Reduce chronic pain.

Normalize secretion of the stress hormone cortisol, so that it adheres to a typical cycle of peaking in the morning and dipping lowest at midnight. This in turn helps promote more restful sleep and improve blood sugar regulation and weight control.


  • Reduce stress and balance your autonomic nervous system by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system (which rules the “rest and digest” functions of the body) and quieting the sympathetic nervous system (which cues the “fight or flight” response).
  • Reduce the severity of the inflammatory response after intense workouts.
  • Raise your heart rate variability (your heart’s ability to respond to stimuli).
  • Speed up wound healing.
  • Improve mood. In one study,7 grounding for one hour significantly improved mood among adults.

Reduce inflammation.8 In the film, grounding pioneer Clint Ober explains how grounding quenches inflammation: “Inflammation is produced by neutrophils, which are white blood cells. [When] you have an injury … a damaged cell … these white blood cells come over and encapsulate the damaged cell and … release reactive oxygen species, which rip electrons from the damaged cell and that destroys the damaged cell.

If there’s not enough free electrons there to reduce the remaining radicals, they’re going to steal an electron from a healthy cell and in the process damage it. Then the message goes out to the immune system and another neutrophil does the same thing and eliminates that cell, and then you have a chain reaction.”


Thin your blood, making it less viscous, by strengthening the negative electrical surface charge on your red blood cells. This improves their ability to repel each other and allows them to flow more easily through tiny capillaries, and is incredibly valuable as cardiovascular disease is correlated with thicker, slow-moving blood. It can also help protect against blood clots.

In fact, this blood-thinning effect is so profound that if you are taking a blood thinner such as Coumadin, you should consult your doctor before you start grounding regularly. You may need to lower your dosage to avoid overdosing on your medication.

Research9 published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine revealed that two hours of grounding increased the surface charge of red blood cells, thereby reducing blood viscosity and clumping. According to the authors, “Grounding appears to be one of the simplest and yet most profound interventions for helping reduce cardiovascular risk and cardiovascular events.”


Increase the structure of the water in your cells. Water is in every cell in your body, and this water is highly ordered (structured) and charged. If you don’t have properly structured water in your cells, it can impact the functioning of the much larger protein molecules (and others) that interface with the cell. The water inside the cell also interfaces with water outside the cell, which has the opposite charge, creating a battery effect.

Your body’s ability to generate electricity is actually a key part of your achieving health. Electrical charges delivered from cell to cell allows for nearly instantaneous communication within your body, and the messages conducted via these electrical signals are responsible for controlling the rhythm of your heartbeat, the movement of blood around your body and much more.

In fact, most of your biological processes are electrical. The water in your cells achieves its ordered structure from energy obtained from the environment, typically in the form of electromagnetic radiation, including sunlight and infrared heat.

But grounding may also play an important role. Just as water increases in structure when a negative charge is introduced by an electrode, the negatively charged electrons you receive when grounded help increase the structure of the water in your cells. By restructuring the water, you promote more efficient tissue healing. So, when you ground, you are charging every single cell in your body with energy your body can use for self-healing.


How and Where to Ground

While connecting just about any part of your skin to the Earth is beneficial, one area that is particularly potent is the center of the ball of your foot; a point known to acupuncturists as Kidney 1 (K1). It’s a well-known acupuncture point that conductively connects to all of the acupuncture meridians in your body. Exercising barefoot outdoors is a great way to incorporate earthing into your daily life and will also help speed up tissue repair and ease muscle pain associated with strenuous exercise.

The ideal location for walking barefoot is the beach, close to or in the water, as saltwater is a great conductor. (Your body is also somewhat conductive because it contains a large number of charged ions, called electrolytes, dissolved in water. Your blood and other body fluids are therefore good conductors.)

A close second would be a grassy area, especially if it’s covered with dew, and /or bare soil. Ceramic tiles and concrete are good conductors as long as they’ve not been sealed; painted concrete does not allow electrons to pass through very well. Materials like asphalt, wood and typical insulators like rubber or plastic will not allow electrons to pass through and are not suitable for barefoot grounding.

While any amount of grounding is better than none, research has demonstrated it takes about 80 minutes for the free electrons from the Earth to reach your blood stream and transform your blood, which is when you reap the greatest benefits. So, ideally, aim for 80 to 120 minutes of grounding each day.

How to Ground Indoors

Just as walking barefoot was once widespread, so too was sleeping on the ground. In the modern world, sleeping indoors serves to further insulate you from the Earth. There’s also the issue of elevation. When you are grounded, your body cannot carry a charge, which is good. The greater the distance between your body and the Earth, the greater charge your body carries. In fact, this has been precisely calculated. For every meter (3.28 feet) you are above the ground, 300 volts of charge will build up in your body.10

So, if you are in a second story bedroom, your charge would be 1,000 volts, on average, and this increased charge may increase your risk of health problems. For example, one 2009 study11 found a 40 percent increase in stroke risk among people living in multistory homes. Flying can also make you severely ungrounded. When indoors, and/or at elevation, you can ground by:

  • Using a grounding pad or grounding sheet to ground your mattress while sleeping.
  • Keeping your bare feet on a grounding mat while working. Grounding mats work well provided you have a grounded electrical outlet and can be particularly beneficial if you live in a high-rise. A grounded outlet is generally identifiable by the fact it’s a 3-prong outlet with a ground port (bottom outlet). Most modern homes built after 1970 will have a grounded electrical system. When using an earthing mat, make sure your bare skin is in contact with it. There should not be a layer of clothing between you and the mat.
  • Using a grounded yoga mat when exercising indoors. Research12 has shown doing yoga indoors on a grounded yoga mat helps reduce blood viscosity and exercise-induced inflammation, the same effects you’d expect from walking barefoot outdoors.
  • Touching the faucet with one hand while shaving or brushing your teeth with the other.
  • Taking off your shoes and placing your feet (bare or with socks) on the steel struts of the chair in front of you when flying in an airplane.

Grounding May Be Essential for Life and Health

It’s important to understand that grounding is not a “treatment” or “cure” for any disease or disorder. Rather, it is one of the key mechanisms by which your body maintains equilibrium and health. The human body evolved in constant contact with the Earth, and your body needs this continuous interchange of energy to function properly.

Free radical stress from exposure to pollution, cigarettes, pesticides, processed foods and electromagnetic radiation, just to name a few, continually deplete your body of electrons. The Earth, however is always electron-rich and can serve as a powerful and abundant supply of antioxidant free radical-busting electrons, provided you make an effort to stay grounded.

Without a proper supply of antioxidants, the free radicals can overwhelm your system leading to oxidative stress, inflammation and accelerated aging. “We now know that oxidative stress causes disease. It causes inflammation,” Sinatra says. “[But] we have this Earth — Mother Earth — that’s going to give us all these free electrons.”

Again, exercising barefoot outdoors is a wonderful way to incorporate grounding into your daily routine. Alternatively, simply take off your shoes as much as you can when you’re outdoors to take advantage of the Earth’s natural healing potential.

ORIGINAL POST – https://www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/public/1280.cfm