What on Earth is Grounding?

Grounding barefoot on the beach

Do you love the sensation of walking barefoot on the sand or grass? Ever wondered why? Earthing (also known as “Grounding”) refers to the discovery that bodily contact with the Earth’s natural electric charge stabilizes our physiology at the deepest levels.

The theory is that our immune system functions optimally when our bodies have an adequate supply of electrons, which are naturally obtained through barefoot contact with the Earth. Think of it as recharging your own internal electrical grid. When you ground to the electron-enriched earth, an improved balance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system occurs. And there is mounting evidence to suggest that incorporating Earthing into your daily routine could be helpful with relieving inflammation, boosting heart health, enhancing your mood, and helping to reduce chronic pain.

Grounded in Science?

The practice of Grounding has been linked in various studies with a reduction in pain and stress, as well as improvements in blood flow, energy, and sleep, generating a greater sense of well-being. Scientific research has demonstrated that electrons from the Earth can have an antioxidant effect, which helps to reduce inflammation.

Researchers at the Journal of Inflammation Research, an international peer-reviewed online journal, believe that grounding affects your body’s central connector of cells called the “living matrix.” They concluded that the body needs occasional reconnection to the earth as a way to recharge this matrix, which improves our body’s natural antioxidant capacity.

“Accumulating experiences and research on earthing, or grounding, point to the emergence of a simple, natural, and accessible health strategy against chronic inflammation, warranting the serious attention of clinicians and researchers. The living matrix (or ground regulation or tissue tensegrity-matrix system), the very fabric of the body, appears to serve as one of our primary antioxidant defense systems. It is a system requiring occasional recharging by conductive contact with the Earth’s surface – the “battery” for all planetary life – to be optimally effective.”

A study by the Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine tested to see how much grounding could affect recovery after vigorous exercise. Researchers examined the role of grounding on post-exercise muscle damage. They used both grounding patches and mats and measured creatine kinase, white blood cell count, and pain levels before and after grounding.

“Blood work indicated that grounding reduced muscle damage and pain in participants. This suggests that grounding may influence healing abilities.”

According to a recent review article in Science Direct, “Earthing simply means reconnecting the conductive human body to the Earth’s natural and subtle surface electric charge, an effortless lifestyle activity that systemically influences the basic bioelectrical function of the body. Doing so surprisingly stabilizes the physiology, reduces inflammation, pain, and stress, improves sleep, blood flow, and lymphatic/venous return to the heart, and produces greater well-being.”

Earthing also appears to minimize the consequences of exposure to potentially disruptive fields like “electromagnetic pollution” or “dirty electricity.”

What seems to make intuitive sense is that the human body evolved in contact with the Earth and needs to maintain this natural contact in order to function properly. Modern day rubber and plastics in shoes are electrical insulators and therefore block the beneficial flow of electrons from the Earth to your body. Lack of contact with the earth coupled with life in a modern technological environment means that we are constantly being bombarded with electromagnetic fields (EMF). Leading EMF researcher and an expert in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Dr. Martin Pall has demonstrated that electromagnetic fields directly impact us at the cellular level by activating voltage gated calcium channels, particularly in cardiac and neural tissues. Unwanted activation of these channels can result in a myriad of negative health symptoms, including pain and inflammation.

How to do it

There are two basic ways of Earthing: in its most natural form, by spending time barefoot outdoors in contact with natural conductive surfaces, like grass, soil, gravel, stone, and sand. Laying down on the ground also increases how much skin you expose to the earth’s natural electrical waves. Additionally, water is a great conductor of electricity, and there are a number of people in the Earthing movement who claim that getting in the water is a great way to ground as well.

You can also take the practice indoors with you, using inexpensive Earthing systems such as conductive mats, pads, body bands, or patches while sitting or sleeping.

While Earthing or Grounding is definitely on the fringe of alternative health therapies, it is gaining in popularity particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, as health conscious consumers look for natural ways to boost their immune system. And it could certainly be argued that anything that gets us out and about and enjoying nature is good for the mind and body.

Perhaps the best thing about Earthing is that it’s free and completely safe, with zero side effects. So next time you’re in the garden or enjoying a stroll on the beach, just kick off your shoes and think about all those electrons coursing through your body and feel recharged and refreshed!

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