On this Earth Day, take a break from your computer screen and restrictive shoes, and head outside barefoot to enjoy the Earth’s natural benefits. The process of grounding, also referred to as earthing, is the practice of electrically connecting your body to the earth.
Multiple studies have shown evidence for widespread benefits of the technique- from faster wound healing to decreased inflammation. But how does standing barefoot in the dirt really affect our overall health? Keep reading to find out!
What is grounding?
As described above, grounding is a therapeutic technique that allows you to reconnect with the Earth. It involves direct skin contact with the surface of the Earth or through grounding systems.
The Earth has its own natural frequency known as the Schumann Resonance, This electromagnetic field of the planet pulsates steadily at 7.83 Hz but changes increase to 16.5 Hz with changes of seasons, solar flares, and other earthly occurances. Since life began on our planet, every living being’s biology has been attuned to this subtle field.
A special type of brain wave, known as the alpha wave, is synced to the Earth's frequency, spanning from 7.5-12.5 Hz. Alpha waves function differently than normal brain waves, only present during early sleep, deep relaxation, dreaming, and meditation. These waves have regenerative properties, promoting calmness, alertness, inner awareness, learning, mind/body integration, and mental coordination. For alpha waves to function properly, your body must have sufficient access to the Earth's frequencies through grounding.
Beyond frequencies, grounding relies on the Earth’s vast supply of electrons. The electrons from the Earth are the best form of antioxidants- with no negative effects. In the human body, electrons neutralize reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS & RNS), which cause oxidative and nitrosative stress. ROS and RNS constitute almost all free radicals. Damage caused by free radicals contributes to numerous chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular and inflammatory disease, cancer, and cataracts.
Skepticism aside, grounding makes sense. For thousands of years, humans were constantly connected to the Earth- sleeping, walking, eating, and existing with direct connection to the ground. It wasn’t until the 1960s that rubber and plastic soled shoes overtook leather soles made from animal hides (which allow electron transfer).
The human body evolved to use electrons from the Earth to our benefit. Some researchers theorize our “electron deficiency” caused by a lack of grounding has led to widespread symptoms like chronic illness, immune disorders, and inflammatory disorders. Essentially, modernization has cut us off from our natural supply of electrons, which were used to bolster our immune systems.
Electrons are also essential to electron transport chains in mitochondria. Without a sufficient supply of electrons, the mitochondria cannot function adequately. Depleted mitochondria can lead to chronic fatigue and disease, and grounding can assist in ensuring your mitochondria have a saturated supply of electrons.
In short, grounding stabilizes the electrical environment of every organ, tissue, and cell in the body.
Benefits of grounding:
While grounding has not been subject to a large number of scientific studies, research performed on the technique has been resolute in its benefits.
Grounding has been found to positively impact:
Sleep → Multiple studies have suggested grounding decreases sleep apnea, sleep dysfunction, insomnia, and respiratory conditions while sleeping.
Wound Healing → Studies have suggested grounding reduces or prevents inflammation following injury. Redness, heat, swelling, and pain were all reduced after grounding exercises.
Chronic Inflammation → A review of over 20 studies found that grounding can offer rapid relief for chronic inflammation. Medical infrared imaging presented a decrease in inflammation throughout the body.
Cardiovascular Health → Blood tests before and after grounding found significantly less red blood cell clumping post grounding. Grounding has also demonstrated to reduce blood pressure levels for people with hypertension. Heart rate variability was also greatly impacted by grounding- far beyond basic relaxation techniques.
Anxiety and Depression → One small study found that even one hour of grounding can positively impact overall mood. This likely is caused by a decrease in cortisol levels.
Osteoporosis → Grounding for only one night significantly altered concentrations of minerals and electrolytes in the blood and decreased fasting glucose levels.
How to ground:
Walk barefoot → being barefoot on the grass, mud, sand, or dirt will all allow you access to the Earth’s energy.
Buy leather-soled shoes → soles that are created from natural fibers (like leather) allow grounding to take place.
Lie on the ground → lying on grass or sand will increase your skin-to-earth contact.
Gardening without gloves → get your hands into the dirt or simply touch plants.
Submerging in water → grounding experts also recommend wading in a lake or swimming in the ocean as a form of grounding.
Use grounding equipment → if you cannot get outside, there are ways to ground from inside your home without ground-to-skin contact. Grounding yoga mats, mattresses, and shoes are all available.