Top 3 Health Benefits of Grounding: Improve Inflammation, Sleep and Pain
Have you ever seen a person walking around barefoot and wonder if that behavior was wise? Such a person may not have been careless. Maybe he or she was practicing grounding, also known as earthing. This practice seeks direct contact with the earth. It may be achieved in a variety of ways, but the easiest method is walking barefoot. Our ancestors practiced this behavior for generations. You might be surprised to learn there is actual merit behind this choice. Read on to learn the top 3 health benefits of grounding.
1. Improve Inflammation
There have been several small studies that suggest the benefit of earthing. A 2015 report (1) documented the role of earthing on inflammation, specifically white blood cells and cytokines. Inflammation is the key word in this scenario. The theory is that free electrons from the earth spread throughout the body yielding anti-inflammatory benefits. Oschman et al (2015) noted that other sources of grounding are also effective. They suggested that a conductive surface that is connected to the Earth via a grounded wall outlet or a rod submerged in soil can serve as a grounding mechanism. The authors recommended implementing this practice in one’s daily routine. It can be part of a multitasking schedule. Now, you can ground yourself while completing other daily tasks. (1)
2. Improve Sleep
It is essential to reduce inflammation for the promotion of overall health. However, there are additional pillars of health. One such pillar is sleep. Insufficient sleep can be difficult to resolve. One small study of 12 subjects indicated that grounding impacts cortisol levels leading to better sleep and less stress (2).
3. Improve Pain
Another key player impacting sleep and inflammation is pain. A separate study (3) evaluated a small group of individuals. The investigators monitored pain levels after conducting a series of exercises. The participants followed a specific sleep schedule and diet plan. The researchers assessed each participant’s pain level. They found that the ungrounded individuals had higher levels of white blood cells. In contrast, the grounded participants had decreased white blood cells after exercise injury. Neutrophils were elevated in both groups but were lower in the grounded participants leading to lower levels of lymphocytes. The investigators concluded that electrons serve as antioxidants and prevent tissue damage. The lower levels of neutrophils and lymphocytes in the grounded participants likely shortened the inflammatory response improving the healing process in grounded individuals. They suggested that the absence of grounding results in inadequate exposure to electrons. This deficiency may yield a static environment diminishing blood flow to damaged tissue and prolonging the healing process and chronic inflammation (1).
How do the health benefits of grounding impact other areas of health?
As a nutritionist who specializes in chronic disease including gastrointestinal disease and autoimmune conditions, I know inflammation is a constant factor in managing health and improving quality of life. The inflammatory response extends beyond these diseases including cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes and cognitive related diseases. We know that diet plays a huge role in providing the body with inflammatory fighting ingredients. However, we are also learning that other lifestyle practices can aid in preventing disease. The concept of grounding or earthing may be one of those lifestyle changes. More advanced research is needed to confirm this hypothesis.
How can you gain the health benefits of grounding?
Fuel your body with antioxidants from the inside out with what you eat and from the outside in by exposing the body to Earth’s electrons. Go out and celebrate the warmer months; take off your shoes and absorb electrons. Safe practices would include:
- a day of gardening with hands in the soil
- a barefoot walk on the sand
- barefoot play time at the park with your kids
- relaxing outside at your home without shoes.
My goal for the next month is to spend the weekends outdoors barefoot (when appropriate) before the weather turns cold.
If you want to learn more about earthing and its role in health management, check out Ober’s book (4) entitled Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?
- 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.
- Ghaly M, Teplitz D. The biologic effects of grounding the human body during sleep as measured by cortisol levels and subjective reporting of sleep, pain, and stress. J Altern Complement Med. 2004;10(5):767–776.
- Brown D, Chevalier G, Hill M. Pilot study on the effect of grounding on delayed-onset muscle soreness. J Altern Complement Med. 2010;16(3):265–273.
- Ober CA, Sinatra ST, Zucker M. Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? 2nd. Laguna Beach: Basic Health Publications; 2014.