Back in the day—and we mean way back in the day—life looked liked a little different. Humans went barefoot, swathed in animal skins, living as one with the earth and wildlife.
Fast forward to present day: Humans huddle around computers shivering in air conditioned rooms, coughing, feeling fatigued.
Okay, that’s not the full picture. Life is still good, in many ways. But why is everyone so...inflamed? There’s that word again. Luckily, there are many ways to fight chronic inflammation, including pinpointing the symptoms and adopting an anti-inflammatory diet. And some even believe it could be as simple as kicking off our shoes and frolicking barefoot through the grass.
This process is called "earthing." Also known as grounding, the idea is that making direct contact with the electrical charge on the Earth’s surface, through the skin, can remove free radicals from the body and return it to homeostasis, easing inflammation and preventing autoimmune diseases.
According to Clint Ober, author of Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever, “If you have chronic pain, you have chronic inflammation—the immune system’s chronically producing free radicals, eating up the body.” He says these positively charged free radicals are always searching for negatively charged free electrons to bind to.
Comprised of water and minerals, the body is an excellent conductor of electricity. When someone is grounded, the body absorbs free electrons from the Earth (the presence of these negatively charged electrons is documented in Lectures on Physics by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman), which then neutralize the excess free radicals in the body, preventing tissue damage, and therefore stopping the immune response and bringing the body back to a normal state.
Sure, it sounds a little out there, but quite a bit of research has actually validated the effects of earthing. In some studies, infrared medical imaging, measurements of blood chemistry, and white blood cell counts show evidence of reduced inflammation as a result of earthing. The practice also seems to cause blood thinning, which may improve thyroid function and help lower blood sugar and blood pressure. Other benefits include reduced stress and improved sleep.
So just how to go about getting grounded? According to Ober’s book, going barefoot for 30 or 40 minutes a day can significantly reduce pain and stress. A little germophobic? Shoes with leather soles work fine—the moisture from perspiring feet can conduct energy from the Earth through the leather and into the body. There are even Earthing kits consisting of bed pads and floor mats that can be plugged in to a three-prong electrical outlet and allow people to get grounded indoors. But really, what’s better than having an excuse to play outside?
Maybe earthing could be a medical marvel, maybe not. But venturing outdoors is definitely something great anyone can do for themselves. “It’s not about bed pads and wires and all that kind of stuff,” says Ober. “It’s more about our connection with nature, with the planet, with the universe.”
Photo credit: Khánh Hmoong via Flickr