By Luke Sumpter
Earthing, otherwise known as grounding or simply barefoot walking, is an extremely accessible and simple holistic therapy that offers abundant healing properties. It lowers inflammation, decreases stress and offers a means to allow us to feel more connected to the very Earth that gifts us with the ability to exist.
It is undeniable that the Earth fulfills a nurturing motherly role over all of the life forms that reside upon her surface; the food we need for energy, the water we rely upon to remain mineralized and hydrated, and the air we need for our breath and blood.
One slightly overlooked, yet profound, lifeline that our home planet offers us exists in the realms of physical contact. As reported by Psychology Today, it is a recognized scientific fact that if a human baby is not held, hugged and touched enough, it will literally stop growing. If such a situation continues long enough, it can muster fatal effects and result in the infant’s death. Although lack of contact with the Earth’s surface does not quite render such devastating effects, the science is telling us that if we choose to engage in physical contact with our planet’s diverse skin, its effects can help us prevent certain ailments and treat others.
So how do we go about integrating this holistic therapy into our own lives? How do we enable ourselves to experience another of Nature’s healing miracles, ensuring a crucial daily fix of the free and widely available Vitamin N?
Whether we realize or not, we apply the method of grounding every time we come into naked contact with an organic surface such as soil, sand, grass or a natural body of water. Each of us experience the euphoria of wet sand under our feet as we leave imprints upon a shoreline, or the soft silkiness of fresh grass caressing our soles on a hot midsummer’s day. It is correct that these situations are psychologically pleasing, but the positive feelings that come along with them are proven to also be the result of far more than just a release of certain brain chemicals.
So how exactly does grounding work? What does the science have to say about earthing?
The article, “Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons,” published by the US National Library of Medicine, begins by stating: “Emerging scientific research has revealed a surprisingly positive and overlooked environmental factor on health: direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the Earth.”
The surface of the Earth generates a “limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons.” Its surface conducts electricity and its supply of electrons is constantly replenished by what is known as the “global atmospheric electrical circuit.”
It just so happens that over 60% of an adult human’s body is composed of water, and water is a superb conductor of electricity. We are walking, talking, conscious electrical conductors.
Evidence (such as that provided by these studies) is mounting that shows the Earth’s electric field can produce a stable “internal bioelectrical environment” — meaning that contact with the Earth’s surface can contribute towards the functioning of all body systems. Interestingly, the Earth’s electric field may play an important part in setting several biological clocks within our bodies, which in turn have knock-on physiological effects, such as increased secretion of the potentially damaging hormone cortisol, which is released in response to stressful situations.
A pilot study authored by Ghaly M and Teplitz D set out to observe cortisol levels in 12 subjects with complaints of sleep dysfunction, pain and stress. The subjects were grounded to Earth while sleeping in their own beds by means of a conductive mattress over an 8 week period, simulating the exact same effects as direct contact with the Earth’s surface. Eleven out of the twelve participants reported falling asleep more rapidly, while grounding appeared to positively effect morning fatigue, daytime energy and night time pain levels. The study concluded that Earthing resynchronized levels of cortisol within the body, adding that the effects of grounding to improve sleep and reduce pain and stress was especially profound within females.
Another blinded pilot study conducted by A. Clinton Ober and published in ESD Journal recruited 22 males and 28 females who suffered from sleep disturbances and chronic joint and muscle pain. The group was divided into two. Half of the group slept in beds that were grounded, whilst the remaining volunteers slept in “sham” ungrounded beds. The majority of the grounded group stated that they experienced improvement in their symptoms while almost all of the control, ungrounded group did not. Ober concluded the results of his study by saying: “The benefits of grounding the body are; sleep significantly improves, muscles relax, chronic back and joint pain subsides and general health improves.”
Almost everybody in the Western world has at some point heard the buzzword “antioxidant” thrown around. A common term in our culture, antioxidants are molecules that bear electrons capable of neutralizing what are known as free radicals — rogue molecules that can cause damage to our bodies. The most clichéd sources of antioxidants include green tea and blueberries. However, it is assumed that the electrons absorbed into our bodies via direct contact with the Earth can neutralize free radicals. This means that by simply standing upon a soft patch of grass we can provide ourselves with a therapy for acute and chronic inflammation.
This is a rather astonishing fact to absorb when we consider experts in the field of medicine such as Dr. Joseph Mercola point to inflammation as the root cause of a host of diseases and ailments such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, strokes, thyroid issues and even ADD/ADHD.
It is interesting to consider that many people living in the modern world may go years at a time without ever coming into direct contact with the Earth. We spend so many hours of the day inside, and even when we do find ourselves outdoors, we are often literally insulating ourselves from the Earth’s electrical effects by wearing shoes with rubber soles, which serve as insulators.
On this issue the aforementioned article notes: “Modern lifestyle has increasingly separated humans from the primordial flow of Earth’s electrons. Throughout history, humans mostly walked barefoot or with footwear made of animal skins. They slept on the ground or on skins. Through direct contact or through perspiration-moistened animal skins used as footwear or sleeping mats, the ground’s abundant free electrons were able to enter the body, which is electrically conductive. Though this mechanism, every part of the body could equilibrate with the electrical potential of the Earth, thereby stabilizing the electrical environment of all organs, tissues and cells.”
This powerful and free form of preventing inflammation and the flurry of disorders it carries is available to anyone at any time. Next time you find yourself strolling across a meadow or playing in a park, remove those insulating shoes and expose yourself to the renewable flow of health-giving electrons that our Earth-mother provides. In addition, stress-melting practices such as yoga, meditation and qi gong may be greatly augmented by simply removing any mat or insulating material and letting the energy flow through your body.