What is Grounding?
The word "grounding" has many different use cases, ranging from electrical engineering, construction, and more. Even in the health and wellness space, grounding can refer to a handful of different things, all with different applications. Most commonly though, grounding -- also referred to as earthing -- is a technique that involves connecting bare skin directly to the earth for health benefits. This includes walking barefoot, sitting on the earth, gardening with bare hands in the soil, swimming in the sea, and more.
Skin-to-ground contact provides the body with free electrons. Grounding restores the body to its natural, slightly negative charge. This can be easily tested with a multimeter, a standard meter used to detect voltage and current.
Most people have drifted away from this natural electrical state (polarity) given the amount of time spent indoors. The EPA estimates Americans spend 93% of their time indoors (b), which leads to a condition of “electron deficiency.”
What are the benefits of grounding?
A growing body of research shows that grounding has wide-ranging health benefits. These include balancing our nervous system, improving uptake and flow of oxygen to our cells, and reducing inflammation. It may have also have anti-aging effects. The Earthing Institute cites dozens of studies on the health effects of grounding, including improvements in energy, mood, sleep, recovery, and wound healing (c). Additionally, grounding has the ability to reduce oxidative stress, which results from loss of electrons.
Studies also suggest that grounding to the earth is beneficial to our physical and emotional health. Some of these benefits include: promotion of feelings of peace and relaxation, reduction of inflammation, improved sleep, pain perception reduction, improved wound healing, and regulation of cortisol cycles (a).
The Science Behind Grounding
Our body functions most efficiently with a slightly negative charge or polarity. While indoors, we not only miss out on that electron flow from the earth, we are also surrounded by positively charged electromagnetic fields from technology like cell phones, computers, electrical wires, and power lines. Even when venturing outdoors, the use of non-conductive footwear blocks the connection with the earth. The abundance of positively charged electromagnetic fields combined with the lack of connection with earth cause the body to slowly shift into a more positive electrical state, leading to negative health ramifications. Such a lifestyle changes our polarity, our natural charge.
How Does Grounding Affect The Bioenergetics of Your Body?
A common analogy in bioenergetics is to view our cells like batteries—more accurately like capacitors—storing a negative charge. This negative charge is the potential energy that powers many physiological processes ranging from cell signaling to hormone production. It is analogous to the polarity or charge of a synthetic battery flowing from positive to negative. Grounding the body is like plugging into a slow trickle of electrons from the earth, similar to recharging any other battery.
Within bioenergetics theory, grounding helps to address both the body’s polarity and its relation to earth’s three “big fields”—the magnetic polar, equatorial, and vertical axes. Polarity is essential for maintaining homeostasis. This makes sense because the polarity is the distribution of the electric charge on a body. Without it, we lose some of the energy needed to maintain basic biochemical reactions; grounding is therefore linked to enzyme, hormone, and mineral health, as well as metabolism.
How Can I Practice Grounding?
The topic of grounding is becoming more and more popular each year as information arises & earthing benefits become clearer. As a result, practicing grounding has never been easier, and there are handful of ways to get started:
- Earthing Products: There are tons of earthing products readily available that cover everything you could think of. Perhaps most notably are grounding mats, which aim to keep the barefoot to earth connection that many lose out on from time spent indoors. This is particularly helpful for those who work long hours-- either from home or even at the office. Grounding footwear is also quite popular, as most footwear contains rubber-soles that block earth energy to the feet. Earthing footwear includes shoes (running, hiking, etc.), slippers, sandals, and even socks to help circumvent energy blockages from the ground to the feet. Perfect for people that are always on the go!
- Earthing furniture is also growing in popularity. Similarly to grounding mats, which are traditionally wider in size, earthing chair mats are available as well. These are small and operate very similarly to a cushion that can be placed on a chair in your dining room, living room, etc. or even car seat. Earthing mattresses, which can also be bundled with earthing bed sheets, blankets, pillow cases & more, are also perfect for those who are unable to practice grounding during the day. Given that the average American sleeps for nearly 7 hours a day, this is a great way to log a high hour volume everyday for a grounding activity and receive earthing benefits as well.
- Reiterating our capacitor analogy above, modern technology -- including cell phones, computers, electrical wires, etc. -- are charged with positive energy that diminish the negative energy that the body operates best on. A handful of preventative measures can be taken to reduce this though. While possibly redundant, one key measure is simply to reduce your use of technology, and substitute it with time outdoors where possible. Additionally, small process changes can be made to pieces of technology you use every day. For example, leveraging settings in your computer to reduce exposure to blue light. Furthermore, people have also reported success with using metal shielding on their electrical cords to block out EMF exposure, wearing blue light glasses while looking at screens or monitors, and simply turning turning their wi-fi router off when not using the internet. The ultimate idea being to marry an ancestral way of living with our modern lifestyles.
The benefits and importance of grounding are clear. Additional measures include staying well-hydrated and including natural salt and trace minerals in your diet. Through these simple, and nearly cost-free methods, it is possible to maintain the flow of negatively charged particles within your body to restore energy and health.
Oschman JL, Chevalier G, Brown R. The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. J Inflamm Res. 2015 Mar 24;8:83-96. doi: 10.2147/JIR.S69656. PMID: 25848315; PMCID: PMC4378297.