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Barefoot Grounding / Earthing – Hippie Bologna or Cure-All?

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Have you ever heard of the terms grounding or earthing? Grounding is not an uncommon expression and is well-known to anyone who works with electricity, but earthing is a more commonly used word referring to being barefoot on the raw Earth. While many people in the holistic health and wellness world may be well aware of the positive effects that come from barefoot earthing, there are probably numerous personalities that associate being barefoot with some 1970’s music festival they pretend isn’t a part of their free-spirit past. According to Healthline, the definition of grounding is a “therapeutic technique that involves doing activities that ‘ground’ or electrically reconnect you to the Earth”.

I always felt like being barefoot in the grass, sand, or dirt felt better, but I wasn’t quite sure why. I figured that allowing my feet to rely on their muscles rather than shoes for support was doing my body some good. While that is also true, there is much more going on in one’s body when being barefoot on the Earth’s surface. After listening to Ben Greenfield’s podcast with Clint Ober a while back, I instantly began incorporating more barefoot grounding time into my weekly routine. More recently, I watched “THE EARTHING MOVIE”, which gives some pretty compelling testimonies on how earthing has been a holistic medicine approach that is largely responsible for reversing many chronic ailments and diseases (such as chronic inflammation).

Source: The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases

Earthing/Ground Benefits

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty scientific evidence. The Earth has negative ions that it receives from the sun and lightning, which is partly why the air feels so fresh and energetic after a thunderstorm. When we wear plastic-soled shoes, we are prevented from being electrically grounded to the Earth and therefore we do not receive any of those negative ions.

One of the central theories of a research study performed on grounding is that it affects the living matrix, which is a “ground regulation system or tissue tensegrity matrix system”.

According to this same study, there is a significant increase in the way that collagen is restored through grounding.

“Collagen, the principal protein of the extracellular connective tissue matrix, is a triple helix with a hydration shell surrounding each polypeptide strand. The protein can transfer electrons by semiconduction, and protons (H+) and hydroxyls (OH−) migrate through the hydration shell. These charge movements can be very rapid and are vital to life. The ground substance is a highly charged polyelectrolyte gel, a vast reservoir of electrons. Note the collagen fibril embedded in ground substance units known as matrisomes (a term coined by Heine). Detail of a matrisome to the right (b) reveals vast stores of electrons. Electrons from the ground substance can migrate through the collagen network to any point in the body. We suggest that they can maintain an anti-oxidant microenvironment around an injury repair field, slowing or preventing reactive oxygen species delivered by the oxidative burst from causing collateral damage to healthy tissue, and preventing or reducing the formation of the so-called “inflammatory barricade”.

The Benefits

The results of the above-mentioned study show that double-blind, multi-disciplinary investigation has revealed that “electrically conductive contact of the human body with the surface of the Earth (grounding or earthing) produces intriguing effects on physiology and health. Such effects relate to inflammation, immune responses, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.”

Source: The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases

The image above shows an increase of blood flow and decrease of inflammation after the subject spent thirty minutes being grounded with an electrode patch. In the documentary “THE EARTHING MOVIE”, there were several testimonials of people who suffered from chronic inflammation who were cured by sleeping on grounding mats.

Source: Grounding: 20 years and over 20 peer—reviewed research studies

Some of the most important research found on grounding/earthing can be found in this document provided by Ultimate Longevity. Here are some of the most notable physical benefits from the research they provided:

  • Improved sleep

  • Improved vagal tone

  • Improved emotional stress, heart rate variability, and autonomic tone

  • Improved blood viscosity

Along with other physical enhancements, there have also been anecdotal improvements with arthritis, bone spurs, Parkinson’s, spinal readjustment, MS, autism, PTSD, autoimmune conditions, TMJ, wound healing, recovery from injuries, bone density and osteoporosis, and even pet health.

Source: 20 medical thermography case studies

Above are images of a woman who experienced dramatic healing of an eight-month-old open wound after only two weeks of grounding therapy. The research goes on and on, and I encourage any of you reading to look into this for yourself if you are not yet convinced of the powerful healing that occurs when grounded.

Grounding Tools

Aside from standing barefoot on the Earth, above are some additional tools you can purchase in order to ground yourself. A grounding mat or pillowcase by Ultimate Longevity can be used while you sleep, while one of my favorite products is the EarthRunner sandal, which has a copper plug in the bottom of the sole in order to electrically ground you as you hike.

With this knowledge, you would be doing yourself a disservice to not make grounding a part of your daily rituals. With all of the exposure to electricity that we receive every day, it is important to respect ourselves enough to sink our toes into some grass and reset. Happy grounding!

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