Sometimes the simplest things bring us the greatest health benefits. When is the last time you really felt connected to the earth? Today’s blog post is all about something called “grounding” and how it can help heal the body.
What Is Grounding?
When is the last time you walked barefoot on the earth? Between wearing shoes, living in a house, and maybe even thinking of the ground as “dirty” and avoiding it at all costs, there’s a good chance it’s been a while since you truly got in touch with the earth as humans have always been meant to do.
Grounding, sometimes called earthing, brings us back to a neutral, balanced state when we make direct contact with the earth. Negative ions from the earth’s surface rush into our bodies to discharge the many unpaired positive ions, or free radicals, we’ve picked up in daily life. Those free radicals are associated with disease, aging, and inflammation, and when you expose your bare skin to the soil, grass, or even concrete, the earth’s healing powers swoop in to save the day.
We all have electrical energy, and modern technology has a way of throwing that energy off at times. Free radicals from just living a modern lifestyle and having daily exposure to pollutants, technology (EMFs), and more can build up in the body as free radicals. When we get back in touch (literally!) with the earth, the free radicals neutralize, our health can improve, and we bring ourselves back in sync with the earth’s energy field.
Health Benefits of Getting
Back in Touch with the Earth
There are so many health benefits to grounding, from a reduced risk of heart attack to better sleep and less chronic pain. The earth gives us so much! If we don’t ignore it (or miss out on it unintentionally, like by always wearing shoes outside), there’s so much healing power we can take advantage of.
Better Cardiovascular Health
A study published recently in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine [i] found that grounding can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. Contact with the earth naturally thins the blood and reduces inflammation. This could result in better blood pressure and blood flow.
Less Stress, Depression, and Anxiety
Another study [ii] showed that grounding could improve heart rate variability, which could lead to not only cardiovascular benefits, but also reduced stress and decreased anxiety and depression. Lowered stress levels could mean fewer headaches and even recovery from adrenal fatigue (because remember, stress can contribute to that!).
Another side effect of grounding is better sleep. A different study from The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine [iii] found that when subjects—especially females—slept in their own beds with conducive mattress pads, their nighttime cortisol levels dropped, they experienced better sleep, and were in less pain than they were before the study began. Better sleep may mean higher energy levels throughout the day, another perk that comes from grounding.
Could Reduce the Chance of Osteoporosis
The Journal of Environmental and Public Health [iv] discussed a possible reduction in the likelihood of developing osteoporosis when subjects spent time earthing. One night of grounding resulted in less calcium and phosphorous through the urine. The loss of these minerals over time is tied to the development of osteoporosis, so finding out how to reduce the loss could do wonders for bone health.
Free electrons’ role as antioxidants are explained in a paper by Dr. James Oschman in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine [v]. In the case of an “electron deficiency” (not enough contact with the earth’s surface), the immune system suffers and inflammation can’t be addressed and controlled as quickly as it should be. Once we’re able to neutralize the free radicals with the electrons from the earth, inflammation can begin to subside, and this is key to slowing or preventing so many chronic diseases.
Slows the Aging Process
Free radicals are some of the biggest offenders [vi] when it comes to aging, and if grounding is bringing balance to the body and neutralizing them, you’ll also be slowing down the aging process. Grounding’s effects on inflammation will also reduce premature aging, since inflammation is linked to not only the way you age on the outside, but a number of diseases that a lot of people accept as a normal, albeit heartbreaking, part of getting older.
Other benefits of grounding that have been reported include:
There’s not a “right way” to participate in grounding. It’s the most natural thing in the world, though it may feel oddly foreign when you first start practicing it. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to kick off your shoes and walk around in the grass (or dirt, sand, rocks, etc) or lie on the ground and take a short nap in the sun. You could even try yoga or meditation outside.
If you’re crunched for time and have some yard work to do, plant some flowers with your bare hands, dig around in the dirt, and remove the gloves for some of the work it’s safe to do with your hands uncovered. Even a couple of minutes spent in contact with the earth can work wonders. Just make sure you do it regularly to maintain the benefits.
There are also earthing mats and sheets on the market today that you just plug in and stay in contact with as you work or sleep. These are great if you really have no good way to enjoy some time in the grass, dirt, or even rocks.
If you want to know more, there’s a new movie, The Grounded, that discusses the amazing health benefits that contact with the earth can provide. It’s a true story about an Alaskan wildlife farmer who experiences pain relief through grounding and inspires others in his community to give it a try (they also see amazing results). The results are so fantastic, in fact, that doctors, scientists, and even Apollo astronauts become intrigued.
Even if you’re really skeptical about earthing and its benefits, it’s something that’s free to try and really can’t hurt! I encourage you to get outside, put your bare feet on the ground, and see if you notice anything different in the way you feel, whether it’s reduced pain or just better sleep and increased energy because of it. It’s really amazing to think just how healing this planet really is, from the beautiful food that grows here to nourish us to the benefits of just lying in the grass on a sunny afternoon.