Sustainability made simple

Grounding Benefits: What the Science Says and 6 Tips

Grounding benefits
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Pezibear

Grounding benefits your mind, body, and being, and the ways in which it does so have been documented by our ancestors for millennia. Science is now beginning to understand why.

Earthing benefits have been documented for as long as mankind, and a deep connection to the earth is a core principle of many ancient belief systems and practices. Emerging literature and research is agreeing that the ancient belief in connections between mind, body, and the planet generate significant and measurable grounding benefits for human health. 

At its simplest definition, earthing, or grounding, simply involves direct physical contact with the earth’s surface. Walking barefoot is the most common grounding technique practiced across the world. Could something this simple really result in positive health outcomes, and where did the concept of grounding benefits originate? Let’s take a look.

The Ancient Roots of Grounding Benefits

Our ancestors deeply respected the earth.
Our ancestors deeply respected the earth.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / marxelocinema)

One of the most central aspects of our ancestral heritage was deep-rooted respect for, and connection to Mother Earth. Past generations believed that this connection to the earth is the foundation of our physical, mental, spiritual, and social health, as well as our very existence. This concept is still a core element of some belief systems today.

Earthing benefits are documented as far back as our possibly oldest known scriptures, known as the Vedas, which are native to the area now known as Northern India. These books are at least 5000 years old and describe a divine cosmic energy connection and a philosophy of balance and synchronicity with it. It was this philosophy that gave birth to yoga, meditation, and many spiritual and healing traditions still practiced across the globe today. 

The 7 chakra system is also first referenced in Vedic scriptures. Grounding is a key way of balancing and aligning the root chakra according to the teachings. This chakra point represents our sense of security, connectedness, and survival. The teaching essentially describes the importance of rooting ourselves in the earth in order to evolve and develop healthily. Many Buddhist and Hindu traditions include subtle feet chakra points in their systems to promote aligned energy flow from the earth through the mind, body, and spirit.

The indigenous shamanic people of Northern Europe and Siberia also emphasize the importance of grounding ourselves in the earth. They believe that beneath the soles of the feet lies the auric chrysalis — primordial energy points that interact with the earth’s vibrations and connect us to it like roots in a closed energy system. The health of these roots and their connectedness, synchronicity, and balance is believed to impact the whole being’s experience.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) also recognizes the benefits of earthing for the whole person. The moving meditation of Qi Gong and the practice of acupuncture both place focus on the Yong Quan point in the foot. This point is believed to root us to the earth — generating earthing benefits for the person and connections with the physical world.

Why Does Grounding Work?

Our improved understanding of energy and scientific interest in grounding benefits has led to a better awareness of how simple techniques — like walking barefoot or wild swimming — energetically affect the human being. It looks as though the ancient concept of universal energy flow, interaction, and synchronicity might not actually be far from the truth. 

All matter, including us as humans, is made from atoms. These microscopic particles are made of an equal number of negatively charged pairs of electrons, and positively charged protons. Therefore, an atom is usually neutral and balanced. If an atom loses an electron, chaos can ensue for our cells, which are made of atoms. There are many factors that cause atoms to lose electrons, including:

  • pollution
  • alcohol
  • tobacco smoke
  • heavy metals
  • transition metals
  • industrial solvents
  • pesticides
  • certain drugs 
  • radiation

Free Radicals & Oxidative Stress

The earth's negative charge may drive grounding benefits.
The earth's negative charge may drive grounding benefits.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Alterfines)

When an atom has an unpaired electron, it becomes a free radical. Free radicals are described as rogue and unstable. When produced in excess, free radicals and other oxidants generate a phenomenon called oxidative stress, which can seriously alter a body cell and how it functions. Oxidative stress in a balanced formation is a natural detoxifying process, however, too many free radicals are associated with a host of disorders and issues including:

  • Cancer
  • Aging
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Neurological disease
  • Inflammation
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis 
  • Kidney disease
  • Delayed sexual maturation

A scientific reason being proposed for grounding benefits is that the earth’s surface has a negative charge and is constantly generating electrons that could neutralize free radicals by replacing their lost electrons — acting as antioxidants. Negative ions are abundant in nature and many now attribute this energy exchange phenomenon to the sense of well-being the outdoors provides. 

We tend to associate antioxidants with our diets, and food is indeed another excellent way of neutralizing rogue free radicals. To experience the benefits of antioxidants outside of earthing or grounding activities, add powerful antioxidants like lotus root, chestnuts or matcha to your daily routine. Throw in a turmeric and ginger shot for a true blast of antioxidant, anti-tumor, and anti-inflammatory compounds.

The Science of Grounding Benefits

Science is unlocking many earthing benefits.
Science is unlocking many earthing benefits.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / brendageisse)

Modern scientific research has begun to prove that grounding benefits are abundant. A systematic review of evidence and clinical observations advocates for the use of grounding techniques in healthcare — emphasizing how it is often overlooked as a therapy that requires minimal effort by patients. These recommendations were made based on several research studies reporting that grounding benefits extended to physical, mental, and emotional outcomes

A recent study suggests that disconnection from the earth may be an important and overlooked factor in our current epidemic of inflammatory-related chronic diseases. This research presented evidence that grounding benefits include:

  • Reducing pain
  • Improving immunity
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Promoting wound healing

An earlier, randomized, double-blind pilot study agreed that earthing benefits the inflammatory response and circulation. They concluded that even just one-hour contact with the earth could promote healthier nervous system control of body fluids and peripheral blood flow. They suggest that grounding may improve blood circulation to the face and even optimize our appearance and skin vitality.

Many experts now believe that earthing benefits psychological well-being too. The practice is supported for improving low mood and post-traumatic stress disorder because of its influence on the nervous system, and is being investigated for a range of mental and emotional disorders.

Our sleep cycles and body clocks might also be directly correlated to our synchronicity with the earth, according to molecular research. This study also found that grounding benefits extend to cortisol secretion, which is the hormone driving our chronic stress response. These findings were echoed in a later review that found empirical data to support that grounding benefits also include:

  • Relieving muscle tension
  • Relieving muscle pain
  • Relieving chronic pain
  • Improved heart and breathing rates
  • Reduction of primary indicators of osteoporosis
  • Improvement of glucose regulation
  • Improved immune responses

6 Ways to Experience Earthing Benefits

Walking barefoot brings grounding benefits to mind, body and being.
Walking barefoot brings grounding benefits to mind, body and being.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / EME)

Grounding benefits are so easy to obtain! All you have to do is make skin contact with the earth.  Products such as grounding mats and socks are available, but we advise you to cut out the packaging, manufacturing, and consumption, and just go outside. Truly connecting to the earth involves being mindful of your relationship with it, as well as just physically connecting to it. For some people, feeling truly connected to the earth can help overcome loneliness

  1. Nature therapy, even without direct contact with the earth, itself is a form of mindfulness-based stress reduction that can profoundly improve quality of life. Grounding and MBSR are just two of many ways to reduce stress and decelerate your life.
  2. Walking barefoot is the simplest way to experience earthing benefits. Try our guide to mindful walking to truly enhance your experience in the present moment. There are many benefits of walking you should not miss out on, going barefoot just brings more. Whether you follow some nearby walking paths or go hiking in the rain, take off your socks and shoes and embrace your natural connection to the earth’s energies.
  3. Lie on the ground if you visit a park or garden. Touch it with your hands if you can’t remove your shoes and let yourself synchronize with its natural rhythm. Simply step outside anywhere without shoes.
  4. Find some geodes, stones, or pebbles and put them in the bath or a basin of water to soak your body, hands, or feet in — you can also try your favorite grounding crystals.
  5. The next time you throw an eco-friendly garden party, make it one without footwear so that you and your guests experience maximum earthing benefits.
  6. Go cold water swimming in natural bodies of water, or install a natural swimming pond instead of a pool if you want a facility to swim at home.

    Grounding Benefits the Planet Too

    Grounding benefits humans and the planet.
    Grounding benefits humans and the planet.
    (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Myriams-Fotos)

    The current state of our planet would indicate that we have lost the deep-rooted respect for and connection to the earth our ancestors held sacred. Human-environment interactions will determine the future for generations to come. 

    Grounding is a form of ecopsychology that anyone can easily engage in to become more aware of how the consequences of our behaviors affect the earth and the other inhabitants. There are many ways to save the ocean, save the rainforest and save the earth. Grounding ourselves in it is a particularly easy step towards a balanced, symbiotic relationship.

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