Earthing, also known as grounding, is when your bare skin–typically the feet–contacts the earth. The earth is like a giant battery with a subtle electric pulse called the Schumann Resonance that has charged us with electrons for all of human history. When you are electrically grounded, your body matches the earth’s electric potential.
Grounding is a crucial component in the telecommunications industry and with electronics. You have to ground everything to the earth in order to maintain electrical stability, prevent charge, and avoid electrical interference (noise). For example: all data transfer cables are grounded, or have grounded shields, to prevent electrical interference.
The crisp image TV is able to bring is due to the cable shielding which prevents electrical interference (noise). The cable is wrapped with a conductive sheath that is grounded to the earth to shield any electrical charge from interfering with the wires transmitting data rich signals inside.
Grounded technology is what has allowed for the complexity of perfect data transfer in today’s age of the telecommunication industry, through the internet, cable, and telephone.
The human body is no different. We require ground to maintain electrical stability–we are electric beings after all–and achieve perfect data transfer between the complexity of our environment (Earth’s 24-hour day cycle) and our human circadian rhythm, which informs the myriad of biological processes our bodies perform daily.
Human beings function optimally when we have a slight negative charge, which happens naturally when we connect electrically with the earth. Natural rhythms of sunlight, lightning, and the earth’s hydrologic cycle charge the earth with an unlimited supply of negative ions. When we humans are disconnected from the earth, our electric potential goes out of balance. This happens more rapidly and more intensely with exposure to man-made electromagnetic frequencies (mmEMF), like those from your cell phone, wifi, refrigerator, and any other electronics in your environment.
Clint Ober, author of Earthing and pioneer earthing researcher, worked 25 years in the telecommunications industry where grounding electrical equipment was a part of his daily work. One day the idea occurred to him that ever since the advent of rubber soled shoes, humans were no longer in contact with the earth. Could this be having an effect on human health?
As it turns out, the answer is a resounding yes. Humans are electrical beings: like everything both living and inanimate, we are made up of atoms which have a net charge that’s either positive, negative, or neutral. Just like electrical equipment, when our bodies are not grounded, there is a buildup of positive ions that wreak havoc on our health.
One of the first ways Clint Ober tested his theory was by testing the participants’ salivary cortisol levels: and results were profound.(1) While cortisol levels were all over the place, before grounding, after earthing cortisol levels were regulated and synchronized with circadian rhythm. Furthermore, people sleeping grounded showed a normalization of cortisol secretion that started to increase at 4am and peaked at 8am. The only things that changed in these sleeping subjects was the fact that they were sleeping grounded. His findings started him on a long journey of research, and resulted in scientists and researchers around the world looking into the remarkable (and plentiful) science-backed health benefits of grounding.
There are two primary things that happen when you are grounded that are responsible for all of the science-backed benefits of earthing: reduced inflammation and regulated circadian rhythm.
Inflammation is primarily caused by neutrophils, which are a type of white blood cell the body releases when it detects a pathogen or damaged cell. Neutrophils are sent to the site where the pathogen or damaged cell is located, encapsulate it, then release reactive oxygen molecules (reactive = missing an electron).
If you don't have enough electrons in your body, when a neutrophil does its job (oxidative burst to destroy the pathogen or damaged cell) and there are left over reactive molecules, within nanoseconds these reactive molecules are going to steal an electron... the only resource left being a healthy cell in an ungrounded body.
When an electron is stolen from a healthy cell, the immune system is then triggered: "oh there's more damage," and sends more neutrophils to remediate the newly damaged cells, and so begins a chain reaction. Silent, chronic inflammation that can continue for years. To prevent this inflammatory domino effect, it's easy: get grounded.
When you are electrically grounded to the earth, free electrons spread throughout the body, which has an antioxidant effect. After the neutrophils release their oxidative burst and seek out electrons, the electrons from earthing are there to neutralize the situation. This prevents neutrophils from stealing electrons from healthy cells.(2)
In short, circadian rhythm is your body’s internal clock. Sunlight and earthing connects you with the Schumann resonance, which inform our internal clock. Circadian rhythm encompasses much more than just the sleep-wake cycle; it’s how your body coordinates the 24-hour cycle of precise biochemical reactions that are crucial for optimal health.
When we live disconnected from the harmonizing frequencies of the earth, our internal timing is off, which results in serious problems like inflammation, insomnia, mood affective disorders, and autoimmune disease.
Science shows lowering inflammation and regulating circadian rhythm are two of the top ways to improve your health: earthing does both.(3) Here are some more of the science-backed benefits of earthing.
Earthing has been shown to increase the surface charge of red blood cells, thereby reducing blood viscosity and clumping. The red blood cells maintain separation as a result of their surface charge, allowing for a more orderly single-file flow into the capillaries. Grounding appears to be one of the simplest and yet most profound interventions for helping reduce risk of cardiovascular events. The circulatory benefits of grounding increase the health and recovery of our body's tissue by improving the delivery of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
Further studies have shown earthing's effectiveness in improving heart rate variability (HRV). Variability in one's heart rate is linked with reduced stress and greater calmness. HRV is a widely accepted indicator of health–yet another reason why earthing is a powerful tool to use to minimize risk of a cardiovascular event.(4)
Earthing after injury has been shown to reduce or even prevent the hallmark signs of inflammation: redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function. Researchers have confirmed expedited recovery of painful chronic inflammation using medical infrared imaging.
Pain reduction from earthing helps both newly formed wounds as well as the many types of chronic pain, such as arthritis. By producing measurable differences in the concentrations of white blood cells, cytokines, and other molecules, earthing benefits the inflammatory response.
Grounding after exercise is a great way to speed recovery. One study monitored pain and immune response and pain in response to injury employed delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) of participants who wore grounding patches and slept on grounding mats versus a placebo group. The grounded participants not only reported less pain, their immune system and healing process showed less inflammatory markers.(5)
Earthing yields quantifiable changes in diurnal circadian cortisol secretion levels that improve sleep. Grounding’s regulating effect on circadian rhythm prepares your body for sleep hormonally, while its stress-reduction qualities lower anxiety and other symptoms that can make it hard to fall or stay asleep. Earthing helps prevent insomnia, quickens sleep onset, and results in a deeper, more restorative night’s sleep.
In one study on frequent flyers, researchers measured the cortisol of nurses who lived on the east coast (New York) and were flying to the west coast (San Diego) daily. Their cortisol was three hours off. Because they were traversing the country without connecting to the earth, their circadian rhythm was off. By simply grounding the nurses for 15 minutes–having them stand barefoot on the earth after landing–their cortisol synced up to a normal timeframe. Earthing is a vital component of avoiding jet lag and by re-synchronizing one's circadian rhythm!(9)
Earthing preterm infants led to a 95.6% mean decrease in skin surface voltage at the onset of electrical grounding. The incubators in this study were outfitted with a power supply inches from the baby's mattress, which produced a sizable electromagnetic field (EMF) at the mattress level–meaning babies in the incubators were constantly exposed to EMF.
When researchers affixed grounding patches to the newborns (neonates), they found impressive improvements in the infants' vagal tone. The vagus nerve is a fundamental component of the parasympathetic nervous system balance, and vagal tone is linked to activity of the heart, vessels, lungs, digestive tract, and more.
The electrical environment of an incubator affects autonomic balance. Electrical grounding improves vagal tone and may improve resilience to stress and lower the risk of neonatal morbidity in preterm infants.(6)
If your body is experiencing chronic inflammation, one of the first functions to be affected is cognition. All-too-common results of this are brain fog, fatigue, irritability, and problems with mood, memory, and mental processing. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms of electrons via grounding make earthing a potent way to maintain normalized function in the brain. Clean up chronic systemic inflammation with regular earthing to experience life with minimal neurological impairment.
Earthing has significant influence on the electrical activity of the brain, generating an immediate change in brain scan results via electroencephalography (EEG), surface electromyography (SEMG), and somato-sensory evoked potentials (SSEPs). The normalizing effect of earthing on the brain, as indicated by the tests performed in this study, indicates that grounding may play a primary role in regulating neurological and nervous system function.(7)
Earthing mats or earthing sheets are an easy way to bring the benefits of earthing into your home as they simulate the effect of sleeping in direct contact with the Earth, while still being in the comfort of your own home. Place a grounding mat under your desk upon which you can place your feet while you work. Earthing sheets can be used on the bed to stay grounded all night long. Grounding equipment like earthing mats and sheets can either be plugged into the grounding outlet of your wall, or you can route the cord outside and stick a stake straight in the earth!
Athletes are always among the firsts to discover new health and performance tactics, so it is no surprise to discover athletes around the world are employing the science-backed benefits of earthing into their training and recovery protocol.
Tour de France athletes have been using grounding sleeping bags during competitions for years. By sleeping in these 'grounded cocoons' each night, the athletes experience accelerated tissue repair and wound healing, and wake up refreshed and ready to compete in the next leg of the race, averaging 105 miles a day! The athletes utilizing grounding therapy report better sleep, less pain, more energy, and faster recovery on a consistent basis.(8)
See for Yourself: Thermal photography taken before and after grounding has demonstrated a notable reduction in inflammation and normal thermal symmetry after just 30 minutes of earthing.(3)
Earthing shoes are another simple trick to stay grounded. Wear grounding shoes to reap the benefits of going barefoot, with more protection underfoot to not limit where you can go!
Earth Runners earthing sandals feature a copper plug and conductive stainless steel stitching up the entire length of the lace, keeping you fully grounded whenever you are standing or walking upon the earth.
Or, turn any minimalist shoes into grounding shoes with an Earthing Shoe DIY Kit.
Are Earthing Shoes Effective?
Everyone can add earthing into their daily routine, there are many ways to incorporate grounding into your day.
Read a book or play with the kids in the backyard, sans shoes
Eat lunch outside with your bare feet planted on the ground
Take a nap on the bare earth
Have a picnic (but leave your feet off the blanket)
Take your lunch outside, and let your feet touch the earth
If you don’t want to hike/run/walk the dog while barefoot, wear earthing shoes.
The amazing benefits of earthing are making waves around the world.
Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO
Ben Greenfield, triathlete & NYT Bestseller