For a moment, picture yourself outside on a warm, sunny day. Imagine you’re barefoot and running through a field of lush, soft grass. You might even find the corners of your mouth turning up toward your ears thinking about it.
Feel-good elements aside, there are unquestionable benefits to spending time outside. These benefits include increased natural killer cell activity (that’s a good thing as they help improve your immune response), improved parasympathetic nervous system activation, lowered systolic and diastolic blood pressures, decreased respiratory rates, and innumerable benefits from the scent-sational compound, cedrol.
And let’s be honest, with most Americans spending around 11 hours a day engaging with some sort of media — and less than 10% of their time outside — it may be time to try something new.
Earthing: It’s Not Woo, it’s Science
While it may seem intuitive that spending time outside is good for you, there are several ways to make it a more deliberate practice. One is something we’ve covered before — the practice of forest bathing.
But there’s another, more woo-woo-sounding practice that has some pretty interesting science behind it: earthing.
The practice of earthing involves one simple, but very different requirement: for your skin to make direct contact with the earth, whether that be in soil, sand, water, or another conductive surface. This practice was developed by an electrical engineer named Clint Ober, and inspired by his work with grounding cables.
The premise is that similar to what happens in a building without grounding cables, when our bodies are ungrounded they are negatively affected and can absorb significant levels of electromagnetic radiation from our various devices.
From your cellphones to wifi, to the wiring in your home — all that electromagnetic radiation interrupts your internal electrical balance, causing chaos and inflammation.
But aside from your technology, do you want to know the biggest culprit when it comes to your lack of grounding? Your shoes!
With all the time we spend in them, and because those thin rubber soles under your feet keep you from grounding properly, your shoes are partly to blame for inflammation in your body. Weird, right?
Unplug to Recharge Your System
You can think of your body as a big electrical machine that needs to be grounded to function optimally. Lucky for us, the earth that we exist upon is ALSO a big electrical machine, with a sort of pulse, known as Schumann Resonance — which reads around 7.83 Hz.
It just so happens that that’s the same as our brain’s optimal healing alpha frequency, which we can access through meditation or sound therapy-induced entrainment.
So the earth has this vibrational frequency, and each cell in our body is also vibrating at a frequency. But in order for us to connect those two frequencies, we would have to be conductive, right?
Well, the good news is that each cell in our body is conductive, passing along currents from cell to cell. In fact, this conduction is critical to our survival with our brain and heart leveraging electricity to perform our most vital bodily functions.
That intracellular conductivity is why simply touching the ground with our bare hand or foot allows the electrical frequency from the earth to pass from one cell to the next, from tissue to tissue, and from organ to organ.
In short, whenever you ground yourself by coming into direct contact with the earth, you’re effectively recharging and re-regulating things by plugging back into the negatively charged surface of the earth. You’re allowing, on a cellular level for your body to enter its natural healing frequency.
The Astounding Benefits of Earthing
In fact, Dr. Laura Koniver, MD explains that after a short 30 minutes of being in direct contact with the earth, our blood is less likely to clump, we have increased circulation and blood oxygenation, our heart rate variability increases. This all translates to improved heart function and increased blood flow to organ systems.
I know that may sound a little out-there, but stay with me. I’ll explain exactly how this works in a minute, but before I do, let me explain why I was so excited when I learned about this practice.
Earthing is dead-simple. Take off your shoes and touch some earth. Yet despite this simplicity, recent research has shown grounding to deliver lots of surprising benefits. They include things like:
- Reduced inflammation
- Reduced blood viscosity
- Improved heart rate variability (HRV)
- Improved vagal toning
- Reduced chronic pain
- Improved sleep (by normalizing day-night cortisol and circadian rhythms)
- Increased energy
- Reduced stress and increased calmness (by regulating cortisol and other hormones)
- Normalized blood pressure and blood flow
- Reduced muscle tension and fewer headaches
- Shortened recovery time from injury, jet lag, or athletic activity
- Improved adrenal health
All of that from just planting your bare feet on the ground?
If that makes you a little skeptical, you are absolutely not alone. So, let’s get into exactly how something so simple can deliver so much benefit — and you’ll see why I’m so excited by these findings.
What Earthing Does Inside Your Body
So what’s actually happening when you “ground” yourself by touching some earth?
As I alluded to previously, it really all comes down to reducing inflammation. So, to understand how earthing is delivering all these benefits, we need to break down what’s happening when it comes to inflammation.
Inflammation is the process by which your body attempts to protect itself when foreign bacteria, toxins, other invaders, or a trauma to the body proves dangerous to your body’s function.
There is always some measure of inflammation in our bodies – in fact, we need some measure of inflammation to fight off infections or heal injuries. The challenge is when, over time, that inflammation becomes chronic and accumulative. When that happens we experience what is called sustained oxidative stress, which is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body.
When we put our skin in direct contact with the earth, our body receives electrons from the earth, which act similarly to antioxidants. These electrons neutralize free radicals. Free radicals in short are atoms that don’t have a full protective outer shell, and which, therefore, bond with another atom and electrons to complete the outer shell.
Free radicals, unlike everyday atoms, are unstable and seek to bond to other molecules, which kicks off that cell-damaging, wrinkle-inducing, age-causing process, I mentioned a moment ago: oxidative stress.
But because grounding yourself through earthing allows your body to neutralize those free radicals, you can cut this process short — leaving you paying a whole lot less for wrinkle cream and hospital bills.
In addition, when we ground and make contact with the earth, all of those electrons also impact our red blood cells, causing them to repel each other, preventing clumping, creating less blood viscosity, and therefore a decrease in blood pressure. This allows our nervous system and many of our other physiological systems to function at their best.
In fact, a randomized, double-blind pilot study showed that as a result of just one hour of grounding, there was increased blood flow, and an increase in the autonomic nervous system’s control of bodily fluids, including a reduction in periodontal inflammation and increased optimization in abdominal circumstances for digestion.
Letting Our Nervous System Do It’s Thang!
So, there you have it. Kicking off your shoes and touching some earth can have a shockingly powerful impact. Giving it a try is about as no-brainer as it gets. If you’re ready to give this a shot, here’s a simple challenge for you:
- Spend some time in direct contact with the earth (sans telephone) or try sleeping with one of these grounding sheets.
- Take note of your mood and sleep (maybe using a Whoop if you have one) and see how earthing each day effects your mood, your sleep patterns, and your sleep quality.
- Journal and observe other subtle changes in headache frequency or intensity, or any chronic pain you may have in your joints and muscles.
Go spend some time outside today with your bare feet – you, your brain, and your body deserve it. Not to mention, it will be a mood game-changer. Yes, your feet COULD get a little “dirty”, but with all these benefits, you’ve got nothing to lose, except inflammation!