By Rachel Welch
Discover the Power of Grounding for Health and Wellness
There is something special about spending time in nature. From the refreshing breeze to the warmth of the sun and the sounds of the animals around us. Nature has an abundance of lovely features for us to take in. In the world of supplements and nutrition, we have learned that nature also provides us with amazing nutrients that can aid in our overall health. From benefits to immunity, resilience against disease, energy, mental health, and more, great nutrition can make or break the way that we feel. Just as important is hydration, ample sleep, and a good balance of work and fun in your daily life.
Maybe you’ve enjoyed a seaside vacation and experienced the therapeutic relaxation of walking barefoot on the beach. Perhaps you took your family to the park and played frisbee or had a picnic while being barefoot in grass, or maybe you decided to walk to the mailbox without shoes, because it was easier than finding them. If you have engaged in any of these activities, which you probably have, you have (perhaps without even realizing it) experienced a scientific phenomenon.
Grounding, or earthing is terminology that is now being used to refer to the experience of spending time connected to the earth, whether through bare feet, or even high-tech grounding technology and products. Recent research has confirmed that not only is grounding emotionally healthy, but it is also physically healthy in several ways we previously didn’t have the evidence to support. So, go grab a seat on the grass or sand, and let’s get grounded.
What is grounding/earthing?
The terms grounding and earthing can be used interchangeably, and both mean the same thing. In essence, grounding is the practice of connecting with the earth and connecting your bare skin to the earth. One of the pivotal researchers who helped us become familiar with grounding is Clint Ober. Ober grew up in the unique environment of a native reservation, where he spent abundant amounts of time in nature. In The Earthing Movie documentary, Ober recalls a memory from his childhood where he received new sneakers and went running around. He mentioned that one of the elders stopped him and said “Take off those shoes! They’ll make you sick.”
Later in his life, Ober began his career in the field of grounding, but not in the way that we know it now. Rather, he began his career in the field of cable television and dealt closely with all of the related wires and electrical connections.
For a sliver of cable history, the cables/cords used to connect the world of television to people’s homes had to be grounded into the earth, to reduce the risk of an electrical current from entering the home and blowing up electrical systems. Ober was one of the helpful fellows who assisted people with this grounding process while setting up their cable, and one day had an epiphany. He pondered the connection between electrical cords for cable, and the electricity that runs throughout the human body, and sparked the curiosity about whether or not grounding would have the same impact on us, as it does on cords and cables.
The body: It’s electric!
Our bodies are driven by the reliable and automatic function of our heart and its beat. The human body’s multitude of cells are to thank for the electricity that courses through our being, and which prompts our hearts to keep on beating. While we may not be able to charge our phones, our bodies all maintain a steady electric current at all times. This electricity is natural and is also altered by certain things that we consume. Magnesium, sodium, potassium, calcium, and even oxygen have some level of electrical charge, which, when consumed, changes the currents in the body.
Some cells can generate electrical activity and do so by separating charged particles and leaking a few of them out to other cells. From there, electrical events take place and continue to travel and latch on. The charged electrical particles travel to the heart, where they land in the sinoatrial zone, which serves as the natural “pacemaker” of the heart.
From the heart’s pacemaker, the electricity visits our nervous system and continues to bring things to a lively charge. We are electric, just as Marcia Griffiths suggested. Do you feel a little more energized or boosted after envisioning your impressively powerful electric currents? We hope so. Now, let’s shift back to Ober and his discovery about how grounding affects this charge.
The body, grounded
Ober found that in a similar nature to grounded electrical wires, the human body also responds to direct contact with the earth, and changes its electrical state. In normal circumstances, such as when we are disconnected from the earth via a floor, shoes, etc. our bodies tend to maintain a positive charge. The earth (or ground) is negatively charged. When our positively charged bodies make contact with the negatively charged earth, our bodies can find a balanced, neutral charge. This is where the intriguing health benefits occur.
Grounding and good health
Around 1993, Ober faced some challenging and life-threatening health issues that ultimately led to his pursuit of a natural solution. Soon, he discovered the health benefits of grounding, and was stunned by the efficacy. Ober discovered, with the help of some colleagues and researchers, that grounding has the potent potential to lead to better sleep, reduced inflammation, reduced pain, and more.
Their studies concluded when an individual makes direct contact with the earth, the body undergoes an immediate change in its charge, resulting in a rapid reduction of bodily inflammation. Amazingly, when Ober and his teams observed and attempted to record and time the transition of the body’s electrical charge, they found that it happened so rapidly, that it was impossible to measure. This means that the benefits of grounding are so instantaneous, that they are too fast for us to record with our current tools. Additional studies have been completed to further support the benefits of grounding. Some of these have found that grounding reduces pain and muscle soreness by altering the body’s circulation and chemical factors. Others have found that grounding changes the amount of white blood cells and cytokines, which are fundamental to healing. Furthermore, a separate study found that grounding results in less blood clumping and viscosity, which could be a fundamental finding in the realm of cardiovascular disease. Suffice it to say, getting grounded might be one of the most powerful tools you can keep in your health-based toolbox. Grounding is rapidly becoming the source of continued study and intrigue, and for good reason. With this research, we also are inspired to consider other electrical reactions that may impact our body, such as vitamin D.
Grounding and vitamin D
How is grounding related to vitamin D? If you consider how vitamin D is naturally created – from time spent in the sun – then you begin to observe the relationship between this powerful nutrient and the electrical process of grounding. Vitamin D is created in our bodies via electrical energy and frequencies from the sun, over 90 million miles away. When you look at it from an electrical perspective, it is fascinating to see just how many things our bodies electrically respond to.
How do I get grounded?
All you have to do is spend some time outside, connected with the earth. Some of the best ways to do this can be as simple as walking outside in your yard or driveway barefoot. Take your morning coffee outside with the fresh grass and morning dew at your feet or spend a few quiet moments before bed looking up at the stars while lying on the earth.
If you are lucky enough to be in the proximity of the beach it is a fantastic place to get barefoot with the earth and soak up some charge-balancing potential (and some vitamin D, for that matter!) Saltwater is especially conducive to electrical balancing, so if a dip or swim in the sea is your thing, you can also get grounded by spending time in the water.
Other ways you can get grounded include:
Touching the earth: This can be as simple as placing your hand on a tree, a plant, or the bare ground. The benefits begin instantaneously, so even a few minutes can be beneficial. This is great news for the green-thumbed gardeners out there, as you naturally get the benefits of grounding by working with your plants or crops, and by kneeling on the earth as you tend to your garden. So, gardening can bring both the perks of grounding and the joy of a beautiful and natural refuge.
Another fun fact about gardening is that soil contains a special bacteria that, when inhaled, gives us the same mental health benefits as popular SSRIs and antidepressants. Thanks, nature!
If you’re not a huge fan of the dirt, bugs, and leaves outside, you can still gain the grounding benefits from the comfort of a lawn chair. As long as some part of you (say, your bare feet) is touching the ground, you are achieving grounded greatness. So, find what outside solution is most comfortable for you, and get to grounding!
Earthing aids: As with most health discoveries, the world and our capitalistic society wasted no time, and have created a slew of manmade grounding tools that you can utilize at your leisure. Grounding products like blankets, shoes, sheets, floor mats, mattress pads, and more allow you to bring the benefits of grounding inside.
Whether you sleep on a grounding mattress pad and get grounded while you sleep (hello, extra beneficial sleep), or you choose to place a grounding mat under your desk for maximum multitasking and productivity, grounding products are out there, waiting for you to buy and try.
Ready, set, ground.
With the multitude of ways to get grounded and the amazing health benefits, there’s no reason not to get outside and try it out. If you’re more of an “indoor cat,” explore some of the grounding products that are made to bring the grounded charge to the comfort of your home. Surely, we could all use a bit of help with getting better sleep, experiencing less pain, and reducing our risk of cardiovascular disease. Amazingly, nature has placed a fabulous solution all around us – the earth.
As you continue on your health journey with grounding, good sleep, healthy eating, and balanced nutrition, we hope you will consider implementing grounding into your journey. It’s only a matter of time before more research makes it much too appealing to ignore.