If you’re feeling frustrated with your hot flushes, sore joints, anxiety and aching, tired body, then I’d like you to try something over the weekend. I’d like you to walk barefoot for at least 30 minutes and see how you feel.
Whether it’s on grass, or concrete or you’re near a forest track or the beach, then kick off your shoes and ‘ground’ yourself with the earth’s surface. Relatively new multi-disciplinary research has revealed that electrically conductive contact of the human body with the surface of the Earth (grounding or earthing) produces intriguing effects on physiology and health. Such effects relate to inflammation, immune responses, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. It may even help you more than all those menopause supplements you are taking for your hot flushes too.
Your hot flushes (flashes) are called ‘vasomotor symptoms’ or VMS to be precise. As you move from peri-menopause to menopause and oestrogen levels change, your hot flushes are caused by a dysfunction in the regulation of your temperature mechanisms. This includes the inflammation that builds up in your changing blood vessels and the fact that you may not be sleeping, therefore, your thyroid function changes. There is an important but powerful connection between your pituitary, thyroid and stress hormones during our menopause transition and when any one of these organs are out of balance, our temperature regulation is out of balance as well. When this happens our blood pressure might increase as do our sore joints and hot flushes or night sweats. But when you understand how our body regulates our temperature, then there are some powerful lifestyle solutions you can action, to help you turn down the heat and stop the sweat during your menopause transition. One of these strategies is simply called ‘earthing’ or ‘grounding’ and every woman who joins me on the 12 week MyMT programmes, will hear me talk about this in their modules, especially if they feel anxious, aren’t sleeping or have sore joints and muscles.
Menopause can be such a difficult time of our lives and with the hormonal upheaval going on for nearly a decade or more, it is important for all of us to understand that when we connect to the earth, we help to reduce our symptoms, especially our hot flushes.
Grounding or earthing refers to direct skin contact with the surface of the Earth, such as with bare feet or hands, or these days, there are various grounding systems you can purchase as well. Earthing connects you to nature’s energy that nurtures and balances your body at the deepest levels, draining it of inflammation, pain, stress, and fatigue. It works by connecting your skin to the surface of the earth. This contact then allows Earth’s electrons to spread over the skin surface and into the body. As your skin is your largest organ, then walking barefoot for at least 30 minutes daily, not only re-connects us with the Earth, but helps to re-activate our ancient cooling mechanism and reduce the build-up of inflammation in cells and tissues. [For those of you who are regular exercisers, then it’s important to understand how menopause is affecting your aging tendons and joints too. Read more here. ]
Your SKIN regulates your temperature too.
Oestrogens are well-known as potent neuro-modulators (nerve-regulators) of numerous nerve pathways so, changing oestrogen levels during menopause impact temperature balance. This process is known as temperature homeostasis. When our sleep is affected in menopause and because our blood vessels, sweat glands and nerves lose the role of oestrogen, it’s no surprise that we end up with exaggerated heat-loss responses that present throughout the day and night as hot flushes and night sweats. [Deecher, 2007]
Did you know that when you are experiencing hot flushes and/or night sweats, this is a sign that your body is under dis-stress and trying to cool down? Part of this is because as we lose oestrogen, our skin cells and sweat glands change too. They aren’t as efficient as they used to be.
Understanding that our hot flushes and night sweats become worse because our body is trying to cool down, led me to become curious about why my body was over-heating and I was feeling hot and bothered all the time. Women just take this for granted, but we mustn’t! What we need to do is understand that one of the reasons we heat up is to do with our changing blood vessels and sweat glands losing their effectiveness as we age. It’s why, one of my powerful strategies that women learn to not only regulate their temperature, but to also control blood pressure and reduce inflammation, is to walk barefoot.
The soles of your feet contain numerous blood vessels and walking barefoot helps to regulate our natural and ancient cooling mechanism. Why aren’t we told this when we line up for our HRT?
Our body is an electrical circuit and when our symptoms overwhelm us during our menopause transition, we need to reduce the stimulation on this electrical circuit that is controlled by our nervous system.
According to research, the thing that helps the most to restore electrical circuit harmony and to reduce the build-up of heat in our body is walking barefoot. The soles of your feet are covered in nerves, blood vessels and lymphatic vessels and it’s part of your ancient cooling mechanism to walk barefoot. Going barefoot settles your over-active nervous system, helping to reduce your blood pressure and temperature and slowing down your anxiety too. It improves your immune health as well.
“Evidence shows that contact with the Earth—whether being outside barefoot or indoors connected to grounded conductive systems— may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly eﬀective environmental strategy against chronic stress, inﬂammation, pain, poor sleep, disturbed heat regulation and cardiovascular disease. The research done to date supports the concept that grounding or earthing the human body may be an essential element in the health equation along with sunshine, clean air and water, nutritious food and physical activity.” [Chevalier, Sinatra et. al. 2012)
When my blood pressure was high and I felt so hot and bothered and ‘angry’ during menopause, I didn’t know to walk barefoot. But now it makes sense to me. A plethora of current research correlates inflammation with a wide range of chronic diseases and women’s health and ageing research is replete with the ‘problems’ nad medical decline of women as they age. Much of this decline starts in mid-life. But it shouldn’t! Dominant lifestyle factors such as insulating footwear, high-rise buildings, and elevated beds separate most humans from direct skin connection with the Earth’s surface, suggests new research on earthing. “An earth
connection was an everyday reality in past cultures that used animal skins for footwear and to sleep on” states the report in the Journal of Inflammation Research (2015). Furthermore, the research goes on to state that “our modern lifestyle has taken the body and the immune system by surprise by suddenly depriving it
of its primordial electron source.” [p. 94].
Shoes make our feet conform to their shoe design agendas. This means that walking barefoot is not only good for our temperature regulation and to reduce infllammation, but it’s great for our posture too. When our feet are free to strike the ground as they are designed to do, a biomechanical effect occurs that helps us to walk taller, improve our posture and strengthen our lower legs, hips and core muscles and strengthen collagen. Important for women who are going through menopause and are confused because they feel dizzy (I’ve written about this HERE).
When we rely on shoes to stabilize and support our feet, we tend not to use our foot muscles. That’s why going barefoot can help us improve our foot strength and stability – our balance improves due to enhanced signaling from the nerve endings on the bottom of the feet responding more naturally to the ground. As such, the blood pressure research is showing that stimulating nerve endings of the feet can also help reduce blood pressure, lower anxiety levels, boost the immune system as well as help to regulate our temperature. These are all changes in our health that are pertinent to us as women who are going through menopause.
As I say to all women whom I have met over the years at my seminars (I’ve now recorded this for you ONLINE), or who come onto the MyMT™ programmes, menopause is a natural biological event. The ‘problem’ for many of us, is that we become vulnerable to the effects of our lifestyle during our menopause transition and our hormone balance is fighting with our current lifestyle habits, including our diet and exercise. As well, it’s a period of our life, which for decades has been positioned in ‘sickness’ not ‘wellness’. My aim is to change that! Mid-life is when we should be thriving and feel healthy. If women aren’t changing their lifestyle to accommodate the momentum of hormonal changes as we progress through menopause into post-menopause, hot flushes, sore joints, anxiety and other symptoms hang-around, because this lowering oestrogen has effects on our blood vessels, muscles, joints and liver as we age. If you feel that you aren’t on top of your menopause changes (or post-menopause), then please have a look at my 12 week programmes (there are two different ones depending on whether you are overweight or not) and join me if you can. With the global pandemic, these are on sale with NZ$50 off the price still. READ MORE HERE …
Dr Wendy Sweet (PhD/ MyMT Founder/ Member: Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine
Chevalier, G., Sinatra, S. T., Oschman, J. L., & Delany, R. M. (2013). Earthing (grounding) the human body reduces blood viscosity – a major factor in cardiovascular disease. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), 19(2), 102–110. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2011.0820
Chevalier, G., Sinatra, S. T., Oschman, J. L., Sokal, K., & Sokal, P. (2012). Earthing: health implications of reconnecting the human body to the Earth’s surface electrons. Journal of environmental and public health, 2012, 291541. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/291541
Deecher DC, Dorries K. Understanding the pathophysiology of vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes and night sweats) that occur in perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause life stages. Arch Womens Ment Health. 2007;10(6):247-257. doi:10.1007/s00737-007-0209-5