The ancestral health community often gets caught up in the negative environmental impacts on human health. Depleted soils, air quality, water quality, and environmental toxins, to name a few. However, we often overlook a powerful positive environmental influence on our health. One in which can dramatically impact our health for the better. Earthing or grounding. Having a direct physical contact with the surface of the earth, which has been scientifically proven to be amazing for our health!
Our modern lifestyle has us indoors and sitting. We are disconnected from our planet more than ever before. Hard floors, beds, desks, thick factory-made shoes. Earthing or grounding is a way to literally reconnect us with our natural environment, through the transfer of electrons from the earth, into our physical body. The earth’s surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of electrons. Sound too ‘woo woo’ to you? Research is proving that it’s legit!
Earthing has amazing health benefits, including decreased feelings of depression and anxiety, decreased pain, improved immune health, cardiovascular health, and sleep. All you need to do is get outside and walk barefoot. Or sit on the ground outside to work. Or take a nap in the grass. Walk on the beach. Reconnect your body with the earth as often as possible, and reap the health benefits!
How do these negative electrons found in the earth impact our health? Let’s dive in.
Earthing helps to regulate our sleep.
Sleep is imperative to our health. Yet many of us have a difficult time falling asleep and staying asleep. The sleep medication industry is booming! Stress is a huge factor. The earth’s negative electrons help to create an internal rhythm in our body, helping to set our circadian rhythm or sleep cycle, telling our body when to appropriately secrete specific hormones like cortisol and melatonin.
In one study, measurable improvements in diurnal cortisol profiles were observed with grounding, with cortisol levels significantly reduced during night-time sleep. These researchers concluded that grounding during sleep not only reduced cortisol, but also re-synchronized hormone secretions to align with a more natural 24-hour circadian rhythm. The subjects also reported reduced pain and stress! Less cortisol = better sleep = better overall mood.
Earthing boosts our immune health and reduces inflammation.
The earth’s electrons have also been shown to neutralize free radicals and boost our immune health! Our ancestors not only walked barefoot, or wore animal skins (which the earth electrons are absorbed through), they also slept directly on the earth. Now, even if we are ‘camping’ we are on cots, separated from the earth. However, constant contact with the earth neutralizes free radicals, and stabilizes all of our organs, tissues, and cells.
Earthing reduces inflammation in the body. These anti-inflammatory effects are due to negatively charged antioxidant electrons from the earth, entering the body and neutralizing positively charged free radicals, thereby reducing overall inflammation in the body. This is great news for people struggling with modern inflammatory conditions such as autoimmune disorders. Earthing also accelerated the immune response to vaccinations.
Earthing influences many physiological processes in the body.
Earthing the body might be the primary modulator of the endocrine and nervous system. In a double-blind pilot study, a biofeedback system recorded the electrophysiological and physiological parameters of 30 healthy control subjects. Upon earthing, about half of the subjects showed an abrupt change in EEG. Earthing changed the electrophysiological properties of the participants’ brains and musculature, for the better. There were overall reductions in stress and tension, and a shift in the autonomic nervous system immediately upon earthing. Grounding also improved heart rate variability, supporting cardiovascular health, improving all the way to the end of a 40 minute grounding period. This suggests that earthing has a greater heart rate variability benefit with increased time.
In patients who experience anxiety, emotional stress, panic, fear, and/or symptoms of autonomic dystonia, including headaches, cardiac palpitations, and dizziness, grounding could be a very realistic therapy. These patients may see positive effects most likely within 20 to 30 minutes and in almost all cases in 40 minutes. Depression and anxiety symptoms such as panic, sadness, hostility, etc all affect heart rate variability. Depression and anxiety are linked to cardiovascular disease. Earthing helps to switch the body into a parasympathetic or relaxed state, balancing the autonomic nervous system, thus decreasing depression, further decreasing risks of cardiovascular events for depressed patients with cardiovascular disease.
Earthing showed significant changes in minerals and electrolytes in blood serum, (in just one night!). The observed reductions in calcium and phosphorus were directly related to osteoporosis. These researchers concluded that a single night of earthing can help reduce primary indicators for osteoporosis.
Earthing also shows promising help for thyroid function! One night of grounding produces a significant decrease in thyroid stimulating hormones. Many individuals taking thyroid medication found that grounding with medication actually increased hyperthyroid symptoms, thus needing to work with their doctor and adjust their medication downward. The thyroid is the master gland affecting all physiological processes in the body. Earthing just may be the primary modulator for our endocrine health!
Earthing decreases pain and delayed onset muscle soreness.
In a pilot study, earthing reduced delayed muscle soreness (DOMS) in participants. In another study, healthy men ages 20–23 were put through a similar routine of toe raises while carrying on their shoulders a barbell equal to one-third of their body weight. Researchers grounded half the participants and tested their blood chemistry and pain levels. The researchers concluded that grounding the body to the Earth alters measures of immune system activity and pain. The ungrounded participants experienced a strong increase in white blood cells (associated with decreased inflammatory response) at the stage when DOMS is known to reach its peak and greater perception of pain. The grounded men, however, had only a slight decrease in white blood cells, indicating scant inflammation, and a shorter recovery time. Therefore, simply by connecting with the earth, we can recover more quickly from our body’s innate response to muscle trauma!
Getting outside and connecting with the earth for as little as a half hour per day can have a significant positive impact on our overall physical and mental health! Plus, it doesn’t cost anything. Granted it is more difficult to get outside and ground in the colder months, especially for those living in colder climates. However, there are special conductive shoes that can be worn outside. Unlike synthetic factory made shoes, animal skin moccasins (as our ancestors wore) are also conductive to the earth’s electrons. So get outside, play outside, walk barefoot, work outside when you can, and sleep on the earth. The more you can, the better you will feel. Cheers to grounding and good health!
Kathryn Kos is a mama of two boys, a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP), and a freelance writer/editor. She has written for Paleo Magazine, Mark’s Daily Apple, and Elephant Journal. She has a passion for the paleo lifestyle (not just nutrition, but also sleep, sunlight, play, movement, and grounding), as well as infant and child nutrition. Kathryn loves packing Steve’s Paleo snacks in her kiddos school lunches! You can read more of her work at Primal Bliss Nutrition