Way back…before we had the science to support our beliefs, we always knew being connected with the earth was important. Sayings exist across many cultures to indicate that being ‘grounded’ was a good thing. Being grounded is seen to be a positive quality…Down to earth, sensible, considered, solid, connected, stable, reliable and honest.
Why is it that we enjoy these characteristics in people, and how is it that we connect these positive traits with the term grounded? I’ll give you a clue, its got to do with how balanced and healthy we are when we spend time connected to the earth!
What we know now, is that regular earthing (grounding) has a host of beneficial physical and emotional effects. We are going to explore those today and dip our toe into the science of earthing. Let’s get grounded in the science!
When we take a look at the epidemic of disease across the western world we see an overwhelming burden of chronic disease. This is driven, or mediated by chronic, unremitting inflammation. In fact, it is accepted that inflammation is the driver in almost all disease states. So what is driving this inflammation? That is certainly a complex question with many complex answers. One of which, without a doubt, is our disconnection from the earth. The ground no longer beneath our feet.
An Evolutionary Mis-Match
Modern living involves high rise living, flying on planes, rubber shoes, indoor dwelling and sleeping on a bed rather than on the ground. We simply don’t connect with the ground enough anymore. When you consider that we used to be connected to the ground 100% of the time, we can understand that there is a deficit. Our evolutionary past gives us insight into this. We slept on the ground, existed barefoot, or even in more recent times, shoes had leather soles which conduct. Always an opportunity to connect!
So what are the consequences of transitioning from being 100% grounded, every minute of every day, to going days on end without grounding?
Let’s look at what grounding does!
“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” (Chevalier et.al., 2012)
In a nutshell, the earth’s surface is teeming with free electrons, negatively charged electrons that are absorbed by your body when you make direct skin on the earth contact with the ground, or in a natural water source. It has been shown that these electrons have an antioxidant effect on the body. The exciting news is that we have been able to demonstrate this is research.
A deficiency in electrons in the human body (which always happens when we have insufficient connectedness to the earth) is said to impact the electron chain transport within the cell - this equates to a profound lack of energy and has been implicated in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), it is also believed that it results in an uneven distribution of electrical charge across the cells and tissues - these imbalances lead to dysfunction and disease.
All functions in our body are reliant on the correct electrical function. In fact, our whole bodies are electrical - we are electrical beings living on an electrified planet.
- Managing inflammation at its core is an electrical activity where oxidation-reduction reactions (REDOX reactions) and reliant on the gain and loss of electrons. The implication here is the management of inflammation
- Communication across the nervous system is reliant on electrical conduction
- Muscle cells and cardiac cells contracting and resting are reliant on an electrical gradient
Our bodies also build up positive ions simply through everyday metabolic function and we need to discharge these positive ions and absorb more positive ions to restore proper function of the body. Some of the cool research on grounding has shown research participants have:
- Fewer signs of inflammation (redness, swelling, and pain) with wounds when grounded.
- Decreased post-exercise muscle soreness (DOMS) after grounding
- Improved immune responses
- Lower levels of inflammatory compounds in the blood
- Normalisation of circadian cortisol levels
- Better sleep
- Decreased pain
- Subjective improvements in stress levels
- Decreased free radical activity in the body
- Improved blood flow to the tissues and skin
- Thinning of the blood
- Switches you from a stress state to a parasympathetic state
- Improves blood sugar regulation
- Improves heart rate variability (a proxy for the fitness of your nervous system)
- Corrects blood pH
In fact, Dr. Jeff Spencer worked with the US cycling team and used grounding as part of their performance optimisation. He found the cycling team underwent the following changes when he implemented grounding:
- Less pain
- Improved sleep
- Accelerated healing
- Less sickness
- Improved oral health
- Better stress management
- More stable moods
- Improved energy levels
Sound like something you want? I know! Me too!
It has been said that earthing could be one of the most significant healing interventions of our generation.
How to earth
Here are some of the ways you can earth naturally:
- Never wear shoes unless it’s socially inappropriate (or unsafe) to go barefoot
- Commit to at least 40 minutes with your skin in contact with the earth every day
- Move some of your daily activities outside
- read a book sitting on the grass
- take your morning cuppa or coffee outside
- Hang out outside after a storm - a time at which there is increased electrical activity in the air
- Get to the seaside as much as possible, the crashing waves and the water are excellent for generating and transferring electrons
How often to earth
This is a simple one, every day for as long as possible, but at least 40 minutes. The opportunity to be outdoors and receiving electrons from our planet is too good to miss. You also get the benefit of sunlight, fresh air (indoor air is notoriously toxic) and an exposure to diverse temperature ranges which is hormetic for the body. Grounding barefoot in the winter is great cold exposure therapy and grounding in the summer is great for accessing sunshine.
Earthing with devices
There are many earthing devices available to purchase in the modern landscape. My first preference is to earth in nature as often as possible, but for those battling chronic disease, earthing at night would be a great intervention. Time asleep in bed is restorative and healing - it is an opportunity to implement healing conditions for your body, this includes removing Wi-FI, mobile devices and earthing.
There are also earthing shoes with a carbon plug so that you can absorb negative ions while wearing shoes and various earthing mats for your feet, computer, chairs and more. My reluctance around these devices is the opportunity they provide to encourage us to spend more time inside on devices. Always prioritise natural outside grounding.
For those of you keen to explore the benefit of earthing a little deeper, check out this fabulous documentary ‘The Grounded’
In a Nutshell
Contact with the earth has gone from 100% of our day, to almost none (for some). It is essential for the normal functioning of our body. Negative ions have been shown to support energy production, reduction in inflammation, stress and proper immune function. And did I mention it feels good? Who needs more than that!
- The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4378297/#!po=67.6471
- Can Electrons Act as Antioxidants? A Review and Commentary
- One-Hour Contact with the Earth’s Surface (Grounding) Improves Inflammation and Blood Flow—A Randomized, Double-Blind, Pilot Study https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/5206/15c20e11e2b86c62c8804e78cbd77aa0bc74.pdf?_ga=2.198999789.337127850.1587422374-683819268.1587422374
- Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface Electrons https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/
- Earthing (Grounding) the Human Body Reduces Blood Viscosity—a Major Factor in Cardiovascular Disease
- The biologic effects of grounding the human body during sleep as measured by cortisol levels and subjective reporting of sleep, pain, and stress
- Chevalier G. Changes in pulse rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygenation, perfusion index, skin conductance, and their variability induced during and after grounding human subjects for 40 minutes. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2010;16(1):1–7