When was the last time you felt the grass directly beneath your toes? How did it make you feel?
Joyful? Relaxed? Energized?
Even if you are slightly weirded out by the feeling of grass, dirt, or the presence of bugs, there are some real benefits to Earthing and we’re going to cover them in this article.
What is Earthing?
Earthing, also commonly referred to as “grounding”, is a new alternative therapeutic strategy that seeks to reconnect us with the textures and energies of the Earth. Earthing can be accomplished in many ways:
- A simple barefoot walk outdoors, at a park or a beach
- Lying on the grass, dirt, or beach for a while
- Outdoor yoga or meditation – but skip on the mat
- If you must remain indoors, then using grounding mats or socks
Where Does Earthing Come From?
In many ways, earthing has been around forever. Only very recently did we begin to put rugs and concrete between us and the Earth. Rubber soles and synthetic socks are even more recent. Yet, they all have the same effect: they add extra layers between us and earth, disconnecting us from Nature.
Sports medicine experts have long been chasing the clues that point us back towards nature.
First, we rediscovered the importance of direct sunlight versus vitamin D supplements.
Around five years ago, the barefoot running scene took off, showing us that we could be better off by running the way our ancestors did.
Earthing and grounding have been used by trauma counsellors as a way to halt panic attacks. However, the practice earned much more attention during the first half of 2020 – just as people around the world were confined to city apartments for weeks on end with no way to reconnect with nature.
How Can Earthing Improve Your Health?
While the pleasure of feeling sand beneath your toes is undeniable, many are quick to dismiss earthing because it sounds too ethereal or “new agey”. Some might even say “woo woo”.
In reality, there is a physical explanation behind earthing: it puts us in direct contact with the abundance of electrons on the surface of the Earth.
All around the planet’s surface, electrons are always in constant flux, which can conduct electricity. These tiny electrical charges may not shock us, but they can still help balance the electrical signals that our brain uses to communicate with each organ in the body.
This process, in turn, can provide you with the following 4 benefits:
1. It will improve your sleep
The benefits of earthing on sleep health were among the first to be documented and even tested in small-scale trials. Back in the year 2000, a researcher found that frequent earthing sessions performed once a day for at least a month, can help you fall asleep faster and help you sleep longer.
For people who are constantly suffering the effects of poor sleep, just this simple improvement may be enough to radically alter their mental health: sleeping problems can cause mood swings, exacerbate depression, and even cause weight gain.
2. It will lower your stress levels
Chronic stress is too common in modern life. The symptoms that we usually describe as “being stressed out”, such as headaches, fatigue, and restlessness, are caused by the hormone cortisol. Back in the wild, this hormone was meant to help us fight for our lives or run for it. When chronically high, cortisol has been linked to headaches, anxiety disorders, and a higher risk of heart disease.
In 2004, two researchers from California used saliva samples to measure the levels of cortisol among a group of participants, both before and after earthing sessions. They found that after a few days of daily earthing, their cortisol levels decreased noticeably.
3. It will lower inflammation around the body
Researchers are not sure why, but evidence now exists showing that earthing can help regulate the body’s inflammatory processes.
“Inflammation” is a natural body process that is usually set off after an injury. In the simplest terms, it creates heat and increases blood circulation around the injury to speed up healing. This good inflammation is usually confined to the injury’s immediate surroundings,
However, many of the hormones involved in this process can also become chronically high. In fact, the presence of many of these, such as C-reactive protein, is considered to be a predictor for a heart attack.
In 2015, a study published in the Journal of Inflammation Research showed that earthing, done either naturally or via conductive electrodes, could lower several of the body’s inflammation markers.
4. It can help you control your blood pressure
The effects of earthing and inflammation on heart health can also be measured using a much more “low tech” method. Another study from 2018 used daily grounding sessions among a group of patients with high blood pressure. The patients then measured their blood pressure three times a week, to get a look at their “average” levels.
This study lasted 12 weeks. At the end of the study, patients noted their blood pressure had gone down by approximately 15%.
Can Earthing Really Improve Your Health?
We are the only species on the planet that isn’t connected directly to the earth for the majority of the day. Whether it’s shoes with rubber soles while walking on concrete, or sleeping on our comfortable mattresses instead of the grass, we rarely get a chance to ground our bodies directly with the earth like all other species, especially mammals, do all day long. Thanks to modern equipment, we can now see the benefits that earthing has on our physical and mental health. We can measure how earthing lowers stress levels and inflammation while providing a much-needed boost to our mental and physical health.