25 Nov What happens when we walk barefoot on the Earth?
Are you grounded? You may be wondering what I mean by grounded (and I don’t blame you.) Here, I’m referring to the practice of walking within and on nature barefoot. Yes—no shoes or socks as a barrier. Simply: the soles of your feet pressing into the Earth. Some people call this practice, “Earthing.”
THE EARTH HAS A PULSE
Like a giant battery, the Earth has a charge. A pulse. Research on the Earth’s frequency was initiated by German physicist, Professor W.O. Schumann, of the Technical University of Munich in 1952. His calculations alongside other scientists who consistently validated his research concluded that the Earth maintains a frequency of 7.83 Hz. This is now referred to as the Schumann Resonance. There are a lot of roots to slide through here when it comes to this connection to our wellbeing as living inhabitants of this planet // as well as negative impacts on this resonance with pollution+industrialization and the ping-pong effect on disease states, however, let’s touch on 1 practical aspect and how we can benefit.
That is: grounding or earthing.
A practice that was the norm in generations past and is unquestioned in some traditional cultures today, the idea of walking barefoot as a main-way of transport is deemed unusual contemporarily so to speak. I know I’m generalizing, however, it would be undoubtedly strange to find someone in a suit+briefcase rushing to work and running errands sans platforms of any kind other-than-skin. We’ll go out in our PJ’s before deciding to walk out barefoot.
I get it. I live here. And the ‘modern’ world is increasingly different from days past—sterile and polluted in other forms. Still, this is something we’d have to schedule and remain open to the oddness of it all—akin to unusual stretches when we take up yoga for the first time or simply adopt a more active lifestyle that engages the elements. It feels strange but it also feels good.
SO MANY BENEFITS
So, what happens when we connect to the Earth (soil, sand, stones, dirt, mud, grass, and all) in such a manner? The idea is that the electron-rich emission from the negatively charged ground serves as a powerhouse of anti-oxidants, which neutralize free-radicals in the body. Yes. Antioxidants outside of green tea and acai bowls. This is one theory of the mechanics behind a plethora of studies that link the practice of grounding to a reduction/improvement in a wide-array of human ailments including:
✓ Chronic stress
✓ Autonomic nervous dysfunction
✓ Insomnia / sleep disturbances
✓ Disturbed heart rate variability
✓ Hyper-coagulable blood (TCM: xue yu)
✓ Blood urea concentrations
✓ Exercise recovery
THE EARTH KEEPS US BEAUTIFUL
Facial circulation improvement (right image) demonstrated after 20 minutes of grounding, as documented by a Speckle Contrast Laser Imager (dark blue=lowest circulation; dark red=highest circulation.) Image Source: Scientific Research Publishing
…and the list doesn’t end here. A 2015 study from the Developmental and Cell Biology Department at the University of California at Irvine (my alma mater *zot zot*) found that grounding even improves facial blood flow regulation. Here’s a pertinent excerpt from the research findings:
“Facial blood flow regulation clearly improved among grounded— but not sham-grounded—subjects. The results demonstrate, for the first time, that even one-hour contact with the Earth restores blood flow regulation to the face suggesting enhanced skin tissue repair and improved facial appearance with possible implications for overall health.”
This is, quite literally, beauty straight from Mother Nature!
CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY + AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES
Let’s drive this point even further (i.e., grounding is an amazing practice so let’s make it happen more) with another study. Here is an excerpt from a review published in the Journal of Inflammation Research regarding the benefits of grounding as it related to inflammation, immunity, wound healing/tissue repair, and the prevention/treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases:
“Our main hypothesis is that connecting the body to the Earth enables free electrons from the Earth’s surface to spread over and into the body, where they can have antioxidant effects. Specifically, we suggest that mobile electrons create an antioxidant microenvironment around the injury repair field, slowing or preventing reactive oxygen species (ROS) delivered by the oxidative burst from causing ‘collateral damage’ to healthy tissue, and preventing or reducing the formation of the so-called ‘inflammatory barricade’. We also hypothesize that electrons from the Earth can prevent or resolve so-called ‘silent’ or ‘smoldering’ inflammation.”
SLEEP / STRESS / PAIN 😴
In a grounded state, our bodies’ diurnal rhythm of cortisol (our stress/wake hormone) normalizes. Cortisol is critical to regulating our stress responses, blood sugar levels, metabolism, inflammatory responses, among other functions in balance with other hormones. A study that measured 24-hour circadian cortisol profiles showed a trend toward normalization when the subjects slept in a grounded state over the course of 8 weeks. See graph below:
As a result of these measurable improvements in diurnal cortisol (significant reduction during nighttimes sleep), the participants reported feeling more refreshed upon waking.
“Subjectively reported symptoms, including sleep dysfunction, pain, and stress, were reduced or eliminated in nearly all subjects…Results indicate that grounding the human body to Earth (“Earthing”) during sleep reduces night-time levels of cortisol and resynchronizes cortisol hormone secretion more in alignment with the natural 24-hour circadian rhythm profile. Changes were most apparent in females. Furthermore, subjective reporting indicates that grounding the human body to earth during sleep improves sleep and reduces pain and stress.”
Below is a side-by-side thermography image of a 44 year old woman who has suffered from chronic back pain. The left image was taken before she began the practice of grounding for the study. The red areas represent the areas of pain and inflammation (think: heat.)
The right image with notably less hot/red areas was taken after four nights of sleeping grounded; it shows a significant reduction in inflammation. The woman confirmed this experientially with the following:
◙ 70% reduction in pain interfering with sleep
◙ 30% reduction in pain
◙ 30% reduction in morning stiffness and soreness
Four weeks into the study, she reported:
◙ No pain interference with sleep
◙ 80% reduction in pain
◙ 70% reduction in morning stiffness and soreness
At the completion of the eight week study, she reported that her chronic pain was now gone.
HAVE WE FOUND A PUZZLE PIECE?
Could this be a missing link in many of our modern day troubles? I believe so. Grounding/Earthing is something I write for my #acusanctuary ladies on reminder pads to do frequently and it’s simply amazing to see the positive responses out of this timeless practice.
Remember, we are electrical beings. This is something that both traditional east Asian medicine and Western allopathic medicine agree upon. Whether we are talking about qi and meridians or SA/AV nodes in our hearts, we are bioelectric. Let’s nourish that part of us. Let’s reconnect with the soil. Let’s truly be down-to-earth.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind:
◙ Sit, stand, or walk for any amount of time that you feel comfortable with. Even a few minutes is good enough. Take it to the next level by trying to balance on one foot at a time to work on your joint stability at the same time.
◙ Soil, sand, grass, and concrete are great surfaces to practice grounding.
◙ Remember, wood, asphalt, plastic, silicone, and vinyl are not conductive.
◙ Take note of changes you may feel during and afterwards.
◙ Again, start with just a few minutes and add on time as you feel fit. You want to make this a realistic part of your routine.
◙ You may also look into grounding products for chair mats in the office, patches, sleep mats, etc, however, I personally prefer and recommend making some time for the outdoors.
◙ Still want to wear something? Try leather sole shoes/soaks. My favorites are Minnetonka Moccasin Softsoles.
How awesome is all of this?! Don’t you just love simple (and fun) reminders that connect us to our health and mother nature? So, grab a friend and go out in nature, only this time, keep your shoes in your backpack.
Tell me about your experience with grounding/earthing. ♥
Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? by Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra, Martin Zucker
The Body Electric: Electromagnetism And The Foundation Of Life by Robert Becker (Author), Gary Selden
Oschman, J.L. (2007) Can Electrons Act as Antioxidants? A Review and Commentary. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 13, 955-967.
Sokal, P. (2013) Differences in Blood Urea and Creatinine Concentrations in Earthed and Unearthed Subjects during Cycling Exercise and Recovery. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 382643, 6 pages http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/382643
Chevalier, G. (2014) Grounding the Body Improves Facial Blood Flow Regulation: Results of a Randomized, Placebo Controlled Pilot Study. Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications, 4, 293-308. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/jcdsa.2014.45039
Chevalier, G. (2015) One-Hour Contact with the Earth’s Surface (Grounding) Improves Inflammation and Blood Flow―A Randomized, Double-Blind, Pilot Study. Developmental and Cell Biology Department, University of California at Irvine, Irvine, USA. Vol.07 No.08(2015), Article ID:58836,37 pages 10.4236/health.2015.78119
Brown R, Chevalier G, Hill M. (2015) Grounding after moderate eccentric contractions reduces muscle damage. Open Access J Sports Med. 2015 Sep 21;6:305-17. doi: 10.2147/OAJSM.S87970.