When was the last time you ran outside barefoot, ready to dash through the sprinkler in the hot sun?
If you’re like most, it was probably early childhood, if at all. And while you may not be a kid anymore, it turns out you could be missing out on a ton of health benefits by not connecting your skin directly to the earth.
This is because – even though it might seem a bit out there – the practice of tuning in to the earth’s energy field by earthing, or “grounding”, can regulate your body’s electrical field in a positive way, leading to remarkable side effects.
How Does Earthing Work?
Before we get into the benefits of connecting to the earth, it helps to understand exactly how earthing works.
In short, humans are bioelectric beings. This means that we carry an electric charge that regulates nearly every function in our bodies, from neurotransmitter signals to circadian rhythms. Our charge is slightly positive, building up in our cells on a day-to-day basis. (1)
Interestingly, the earth also gives off an electric charge; however, it’s a slightly negative one. Earthing benefits us because this negative charge is able to cancel out a large amount of our positive electrons. This is important, because when too many positive electrons build up in our bodies, we can experience inflammation, fatigue, pain, and other issues.
In a natural environment, these positive electrons wouldn’t be a problem, because we would always be in direct contact with the earth’s negative electrical force. In fact, most of human history was spent either walking barefoot or wearing animal skin shoes that readily absorbed and transmitted the earth’s electrical charge.
Since the invention of rubber-soled shoes, pavement, insulated buildings, and other structures that block out nature, our positive electrons remain in our bodies with nowhere to go.
When we are able to “ground”, or “earth”, these positive electrons on a daily basis, we start to see improvements in both our bodies and mind – proving nature is indeed one of the most important vitamins.
5 Natural Benefits of Earthing
1. Slows Aging
Our bodies are constantly exposed to and generating free radicals – molecules that damage our DNA and speed up signs of aging, like premature wrinkles and greying hair.
Researchers discovered that free radicals are positively charged (remember how we talked about our positive charge building up throughout the day?) and that negatively-charged antioxidant electrons from the earth can help neutralize them. (2)
Think of it this way: the earth is like a giant berry bursting with antioxidant and anti-aging potential. In the same way that you eat a lot of fruits and veggies to stay young and vibrant, you can also let your body consume the negative electron antioxidants from the earth to further prevent the signs of aging.
2. Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation is at the root of most of the diseases we’re faced with today. This is because inflammation is one of the immune system’s first responses to an injury, even if that injury is inside your body.
While this inflammation is a necessary part of the healing process – it is your body’s way of trying to protect the area that needs to be healed – too much can generate excess free radicals, damaging surrounding tissue.
Studies show that earthing can not only remove these excess inflammatory molecules, but also improve circulation to help shuttle in fresh nutrients and oxygen to areas that need it the most. (3)
3. Improves Sleep
Our bodies are extremely sensitive to the daily cycles of the earth and its electrical current. In fact, researchers believe that the earth’s “diurnal electrical rhythms” actually regulate our own biological clocks, hormones, and circadian rhythms. Knowing this, it makes sense that getting in tune with the earth’s natural electrical cycles would help put an end to our nightly tossing and turning.
One study found this to be the case, showing that participants who were connected to the earth during sleep improved their sleep patterns and normalized their cortisol levels. (4) They also found that these physical effects were “virtually immediate,” which is great for those looking for a potentially fast-acting, yet long-lasting solution for insomnia and other sleep disorders.
4. Reduces Pain
We often experience pain as a result of inflammation somewhere in our bodies. This is because inflammation generates free radicals that cause swelling and stiffness in injured areas. This can put pressure on pain receptors and release toxic molecules that activate them.
Earthing has been shown to ease the pain of inflammation by causing altered measures of immune activity. One study found that “ungrounded” participants experienced an increase in white blood cell counts after exercising (an indication of inflammation), along with more perceived pain. Participants who were grounded to the earth, however, experienced less inflammation markers and shorter recovery times. (5)
This study also showed that earthing helps to speed up recovery from delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). (6) So the next time you’re feeling extreme soreness from a tough workout, try getting in some more earthing time than usual.
5. Reduces Stress
There’s a reason most of us feel less stressed and more relaxed after a “getaway” vacation to the mountains or the beach, where we naturally practice earthing by touching trees, rocks, and soil.
One study found that patients who practiced earthing experienced positive changes in activity in their brain hemispheres that signified lowered stress hormones, as well as an increase in parasympathetic nervous system activity.
Participants also experienced a rise in heart rate that suggests “the start of a metabolic healing response necessitating an increase in oxygen consumption”. (7)
It seems that even a few minutes of contact with the earth can be enough to reduce our stress hormones and reduce the effects of chronic stress.
How to Start Earthing
The best thing about earthing is that it’s 100 percent free and available to everyone, everywhere. Even if you live in a major metropolitan area in a high-rise, there’s usually a nearby park or nature area where you can slip off your shoes and indulge in some earth energy.
If you have a yard, earthing is even easier. Simply leave your shoes at the door when you check the mail, take down the trash, do your gardening, or barbecue in the backyard. If you’re close to the beach, go for a daily barefoot walk in the sand.
Alternatively, you can look into “earthing beds” and “earthing mats” that transfer the earth’s electrons from the ground to your body. While going the natural route is always preferred, these products can be a great option if you’re looking for an extra earthing boost inside your home.
How Often Should You Practice Earthing?
Since there’s no such thing as “too much” earthing, you can essentially do it as often as you’re able. A good rule of thumb is to go barefoot outside for at least 30 minutes a day, every day. Of course, the more earthing you do, the more benefits you’ll receive!
Even if you’re not suffering from health problems, absorbing the electricity from the earth is bound to have long-term benefits, such as increased energy and reduced stress – both of which lead to better quality of life.
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