If you have ever heard the term “grounding,” it may have been in a yoga class or another mind-body type activity. In yoga, analogies are often used to help the participator visualize themselves “growing from the ground” or “rooting themselves” during poses or mental exercises to help calm and expand the mind. This type of “grounding” refers to something different than the physical practice of “grounding” or “earthing” (used interchangeably). The correlation to earthing and health was first brought to life by Clinton Ober, author of Earthing: The most important health discovery ever!Earthing is thought to reduce inflammation in the body by physically absorbing free electrons that are present on the earth’s surface. These electrons are absorbed by direct contact with the earth, skin to dirt. Even though the concept is simple, we are rarely ever connected to the earth anymore. We work in concrete buildings, drive in cars, walk on cement roads, and wear non-conductive shoes. So how exactly does it work, and is earthing pure magic or undeniable science?
Ober himself, a cable installer, first discovered the concept of grounding during an experiment. Ober began to wonder if disease could be influenced by our disconnectedness from the earth. Out of curiosity, he connected a rod to the ground outside his home and then to his body to measure himself using a voltmeter. He noticed that EMF (electromagnetic field) voltage changed dramatically as he moved through his home. When he walked into his bedroom where he slept next to many electrical cables and devices, his voltmeter readings were extremely high. He then created his first earthing “product” by making a grid on his bed with metallized tape and a ground rod that was connected outside. Ober’s hope was that he could bring some of the ground’s electrons to his sleeping environment. He was then able to become electrically equivalent to the ground outside according to his voltmeter. When he noticed he could finally sleep without sleeping aids and his chronic pain significantly improved, he began to dive into research regarding the earth’s electrical potential and connection to physical health. During his journey, Ober was able to bring back popularity to what is already in front of us; the healing capabilities of nature. Is grounding really backed by science? See for yourself.
According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Public Health, “Omnipresent throughout the environment is a surprisingly beneficial, yet overlooked global resource for health maintenance, disease prevention, and clinical therapy: the surface of the Earth itself. It is an established, though not widely appreciated fact, that the Earth’s surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons…Mounting evidence suggests that the Earth’s negative potential can create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body systems. Moreover, oscillations of the intensity of the Earth’s potential may be important for setting the biological clocks regulating diurnal body rhythms, such as cortisol secretion.It is also well established that electrons from antioxidant molecules neutralize reactive oxygen species (ROS, or in popular terms, free radicals) involved in the body’s immune and inflammatory responses.”2The Journal of Inflammation Research hypothesizes that earthing or grounding allows the body to capture free electrons from the surface of the earth. Scientists hypothesize that by doing this, free electrons spread through the body and carry out antioxidant effects.3Once flowing through the body, electrons can slow or prevent ROS that cause damage to healthy tissue. It has also been suggested that grounding may “prevent or repair ‘silent’ or ‘smoldering’ inflammation.” With science emerging to back up the idea that the earth harnesses healing properties, finding ways to incorporate earthing into your daily life may improve your health. Even if you can’t spend all day standing on the grass, great innovators have found ways to remedy our disconnected lifestyles.
First and foremost, the best way to practice grounding or earthing is by simply getting outside and taking off your shoes. Connect with the earth in any way possible; walk on the dirt barefoot (yes, it’s alright to get a little messy), get down on your hands and knees to garden, and sunbathe in the grass. Because it is often socially unacceptable to walk around barefoot, many companies have now created conductive shoes to connect you to the earth in style. Lastly, indoor earthing equipment is making its debut including bed sheets, patches, and contact pads for feet or desks. Conductive products are made with small wires and rods you can either stick into the ground outside and use inside your house, or plug into the grounding (non-electrical and completely safe) section of an outlet that connects to the earth.
It certainly sounds a little mystical, but are you willing to give it a try? Perhaps nature is a little smarter than we think.
- Ober C, Sinatra ST, Zucker M. Earthing: the Most Important Health Discovery Ever! Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications; 2014.
- Chevalier G, Sinatra ST, Oschman JL, Sokal K, Sokal P. Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons. Journal of Environmental and Public Health. 2012;2012:291541. doi:10.1155/2012/291541.
- Oschman JL, Chevalier G, Brown R. The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Journal of Inflammation Research. 2015;8:83-96. doi:10.2147/JIR.S69656.
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