Why “grounding” is high flying silliness

Just published yesterday, by Joe Mercola, here is an introduction to a whole new topic of ridiculousness. Sometimes you just have to call some ideas “woo woo” because they are bizarre and off base. I share this story in case you see people walking around barefoot telling you they are soaking up free electrons from the earth and reducing inflammation. It’s making them feel better all right…

Caution: Wearing These Can Sabotage Your Health

When walking on the earth barefoot, free electrons from the earth transfer into your body via the soles of your feet. These free electrons are some of the most potent antioxidants known to man.

Lack of grounding, due to widespread use of rubber or plastic-soled shoes, may have contributed to the rise of modern diseases by allowing chronic inflammation to proliferate unchecked.

Experiments have shown that free electrons from the earth cause beneficial changes in heart rate, decreases inflammation, reduces pain, promotes healthy sleep, and thins your blood, making it less viscous, which has beneficial impact on cardiovascular disease.

Ideal locations for earthing are on the beach, close to or in the water, and on dewy grass.

Tip: @Blue_wode on Twitter

I don’t know what “these” are in the title of the article but I assume shoes. Now I’ve worn some uncomfortable shoes but this is ridiculous. In general, this is painful to read for anyone who recognizes red flags of pseudoscience. All the waving red flags… they make you want to stop and close the page. But, people really do believe this stuff. Let’s take a cursory view at what is said here.

Walking barefoot feels good.” Yeah, OK. That’s because the foot is sensitive and you are stimulating those nerves by walking barefoot. It has nothing to do with electrons flowing into you.

Ideal locations are the beach, near water, dewy grass.” Once again, feels nice to walk on those surfaces as opposed to rough asphalt or boring indoor floors.

“…free electrons cause benefits”. Look at all those benefits. None of which have been shown to be true. This is mumbo-jumbo. Free electrons are independent, moving in vacuum. Electrons in metals also behave as if they were free. Walking on ground is neither a vacuum nor metal so this use of “free” is incorrect. This discussion of electrons as some magical particle doing all these things is nonsense.

There is a discussion about inflammation, antioxidants and free radicals and several medical claims that are highly questionable. If these statements are true, why weren’t they discovered long before some biophycisist in “energy medicine” (what?) became intrigued by the idea and speculated about it? Why don’t we have home electron therapy for all these conditions?

Here’s a tip. Anytime you hear a medical claim that uses words like “energy”, “antioxidants”, “free radicals”, “earth” or “natural” or says disease “has a lot to do with” some nebulous concept that you can’t understand, it’s a safe bet that you are being sold something – a product, a treatment, an idea – that has no solid support by science. Also note, the references are all back to books that the authors want to sell. There are no journals cited.

The most surprising thing about this concept of grounding as proposed is that it does not push a product beyond books and unusual concepts. Walking around barefoot is free. I suppose the next logical step is rolling around on the ground naked, soaking up all those earth electrons. Never underestimate the power of human imagination.

Want to know more about Joseph Mercola? Here are some critiques.
Skeptic’s Dictionary
Joe Mercola: Quackery pays
9 Reasons to Completely Ignore Joseph Mercola
FDA Orders Dr. Joseph Mercola to Stop Illegal Claims
Joe Mercola: Proof positive that quackery sells

Additional information is welcome in the comments.

  5 comments for “Why “grounding” is high flying silliness

  1. May 1, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    Oh, you have no idea how much money is being made from this scam.. See the link above. My brother-in-law has bought sheets for himself and his mother that supposedly grounds him while he’s in bed so he can rid himself of all those free radicals. I gotta come up with a money making scam like this…oh, wait, I have ethics.

  2. DR
    May 1, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    Well, the words “Mercola” and “Silly” are synonyms, no?

  3. CardinalSmurf
    May 8, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    Isn’t “Mercola” the root word of “Malarkey”?

  4. kia
    May 8, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    I have friends that buy into this stuff 100%. I just don’t understand *why*. I’m also undecided about whether I can continue to be friends with them… if they can be so wrong, so misguided, so gullible on all this, then I’m starting to think any good qualities they do have (generally they’re very “nice” people) are overwhelmed by their gullibility, their fear, their stupidity.

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