Grounding: Relax as Nature Intended
You know that relaxed feeling when you’re at the beach, barefoot, toes mingling with the course, sunbaked sand? What causes that? Is it something in the air, or being on vacation, that reenergizes you? What if I told you that just being in contact with the ground is behind this calm feeling? And what if I further added that beyond just calming you, this contact also helps fight many modern diseases? Too good to be true? Decide for yourself after hearing what modern science and ancient wisdom has to say about this direct contact, known as grounding, or earthing.
While the science is new and emerging, the practice is ancient. Today,
“emerging evidence shows that contact with the Earth—whether being outside barefoot or indoors connected to grounded conductive systems— may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly eﬀective environmental strategy against chronic stress, ANS [Automatic nervous System] dysfunction, inﬂammation, pain, poor sleep, disturbed HRV [Heart Rate Variabilitiy], hypercoagulable blood, and many common health disorders, including cardiovascular disease. The research done to date supports the concept that grounding or earthing the human body may be an essential element in the health equation along with sunshine, clean air and water, nutritious food, and physical activity.” 
Native Americans in the 1900s were familiar with the benefits of earthing, too. “It was good for the skin to touch the bare earth, and the old people liked to remove their moccasins and walk with their bare feet on the sacred Earth ... they sat on the ground with the feeling of being close to a mothering power... the soil was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing.”  When looking at how grounding works, it’s clearer to see why such immense benefits have been felt and observed through the years.
Think of the human body as the battery life on your phone, and the earth as your phone charger. Through the activities of the day, our human energy is depleted. We are in the red. The most obvious ways we recharge include eating and sleeping. But this is like charging your phone only long enough to get you through the next email or text. Grounding, then, is like fully recharging your phone until it’s in the green. “Through direct contact or through perspiration-dampened and electrically conductive animal skins used as footwear or sleeping pads, the ground's abundant free electrons were able to enter their bodies, which are electrically conductive. Through this mechanism, every part of the body can equilibrate with the electrical potential of the earth, thereby stabilizing the electrical environment of all organs, tissues, cells and molecules.”  The earth generates these electrons through the sun, lightning, and the core itself. The flow of electrons from the earth to our bodies occurs since “anytime you have two conductive objects and they make contact—such as your bare feet and the ground—electrons will flow from the place where they are abundant to the place where there are fewer of them. The electrical potential of the two objects will thus equalize. That’s grounding.”  So if grounding if such a natural phenomenon, why is it that we’re no longer feeling like a fully-charged battery?
The condition of modern living, especially in big cities, has separated us from the earth, and in turn these charging electrons, in many ways. We wear shoes that have rubber or plastic soles. While good from an ecological and vegan perspective, the insulative properties of rubber and plastic keep us from recharging fully. Additionally, our homes have floors made of tile or wood, layered over with synthetic carpeting. Our beds are further propped atop these wood- carpet- floor layers with an additional wooden frame. Ever get those static zaps when you touch a metal object or when putting on a sweater? It’s because our bodies build up electrical charges over time when there is nowhere for them to be grounded. It’s the same in the offices we work in. “Many individuals may spend the majority of their time indoors in ‘‘Faraday cage’’-like conditions exposed to (unnecessarily) high electrostatic and AC electric fields. Such conditions can reduce available concentrations of biologically-essential [Small Air Ions] SAI, whilst increasing their likelihood of inhaling and retaining airborne contaminants, such as charged ultrafine particles and being exposed to higher levels of difficult-to-remove surface contamination.”  These conditions are ripe for stress, fatigue, sickness, and disease.
One such disease is chronic inflammation. One way to combat inflammation is through eating more food with antioxidants. See our article 8 Great Anti-Inflammation Foods if you’re interested in learning more about how this works.
Grounding works similarly to neutralize harmful free radicals in our bodies. “Accumulating experiences and research on earthing, or grounding, point to the emergence of a simple, natural, and accessible health strategy against chronic inﬂammation, warranting the serious attention of clinicians and researchers.”  Why grounding is so effective is that once the electrons from the earth enter our bodies, “it is well established that negative charges (electrons) are attracted to positive charges (free radicals).”  And free radicals are what’s largely responsible for chronic inflammation in the first place. While certain foods provide various levels of antioxidants, “the ground represents the biggest and best natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that exists.”  Beyond inflammation, emerging research is also uncovering links between grounding and reducing aging, hormonal imbalances, insomnia, and cardiovascular disease. More research is still needed to confirm these works, though.
We don’t have to go barefoot everywhere you go to reap the benefits of grounding, though. From grounding flip-flops to grounding mattress pads that you connect to a metal rod stuck in the ground outside your bedroom window, we can seamlessly integrate grounding back into our modern lifestyles. Also, just spending a few minutes each day outside in our yards, or in the sandboxes of our apartment complex’s playground area, can go a long way towards achieving preventative maintenance on our bodies.
See how I incorporate grounding into my own routine here.
Have you heard of, or tried, grounding? Do you think that the answer to living disease free is located right under your feet? Let us know in the comments below.
 Chevalier, Gaétan, Stephen T. Sinatra, James L. Oschman, Karol Sokal, and Pawel Sokal. "Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earths Surface Electrons." Journal of Environmental and Public Health 2012 (2012): 1-8. doi:10.1155/2012/291541. P. 7.
 Jamieson, K.s., H.m. Apsimon, S.s. Jamieson, J.n.b. Bell, and M.g. Yost. "The Effects of Electric Fields on Charged Molecules and Particles in Individual Microenvironments." Atmospheric Environment 41, no. 25 (2007): 5224-235. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2007.02.050 P. 5233.
 Oschman, James, Gaetan Chevalier, and Richard Brown. "The Effects of Grounding (earthing) on Inflammation, the Immune Response, Wound Healing, and Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Inflammatory and Autoimmune Diseases." Journal of Inflammation Research, 2015, 83-96. doi:10.2147/jir.s69656. P. 93.