The body’s skin naturally acts as a conductor, and is able to absorb electrical charges from the earth. Grounding occurs when this electrical force is passed from the earth through the skin, resulting in decreased inflammation, lower cortisol, and a reduction in free radicals.
Grounding, or earthing, refers to direct skin contact with Earth’s surface — through bare feet, or through grounding systems. The practice of grounding has been shown to promote feelings of well-being and calmness. The Journal of Environmental and Public Health states that the Earth’s surface “possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons,” which help to create stable internal environments to support the functioning of all body systems. Further studies have shown that when the body is grounded, its electrical potential “becomes equalized with the Earth’s electrical potential through a transfer of electrons from the Earth to the body.” The earth then becomes a “working agent that cancels, reduces, or pushes away electric fields from the body.” Grounding is therefore able to influence physiological processes, leading to its powerful ability to regulate the endocrine and nervous systems.
What does grounding help combat?
Grounding the body allows “negatively charged antioxidant electrons from the Earth to enter the body and neutralize positively charged free radicals at sites of inflammation.” If you’ve read about antioxidants, you know that they help protect against free-radicals in the body, which cause damage to healthy cells as well as elicit inflammatory responses. Grounding also alters immune system activity. For example, a 2011 study showed that after completing a single session of intense, eccentric exercise that resulted in muscle soreness, men who were grounded had a slight decrease in white blood cells (indicative of scant inflammation) and a shorter recovery time compared to ungrounded men, who had a sharp increase in white blood cells and a greater perception of pain following the exercise. In fact, you can read more here about earthing’s ability to reduce inflammation, which has been documented with infrared medical imaging in addition to white blood cell counts and other blood chemistry measures.
2. Reduces Cortisol and Improves Sleep
Chronic elevation of cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to inflammation and illness, has been known to disrupt circadian rhythms. A disruption in the body’s circadian rhythm can cause sleep disorders, which oftentimes lead to decreased immune response, hypertension, abnormal glucose levels, and even autoimmune disease. Studies have shown that grounding during sleep not only improves sleep quality, but reduces the levels of night-time cortisol and helps to “re-synchronize cortisol hormone secretion more in alignment with the natural 24-hour circadian rhythm profile.” The participants in this study also noted reductions in insomnia, pain and stress.
So, how can you ground?
As mentioned, simply walking barefoot outside is a great way to practice earthing. However, oftentimes this isn’t the most practical way to ground in our every-day busy lives. So, another option is to use grounding devices — mats or bracelets that plug into the grounding wire port of a 3-prong outlet. The earth’s electrons flow through the ground wire to the device you are using, enabling you to be grounded despite how high you are from the earth. We recently bought my mom the Ground Therapy Sleep Mat, and so far have seen good results. I encourage you to explore the different ways grounding can be beneficial for you!