I recently watched a documentary on ‘Earthing’ called ‘The Earthing Movie: The Remarkable Science of Grounding’. The documentary had plenty of anecdotal stories about children being able to accomplish more while ‘grounded’, as well as helping behavioral issues, and even autism. It also featured several doctors and researches and quoted a few studies that were done on grounding. The movie makers and participants state that inflammation can be eliminated by grounding, and that muscle repair happens more quickly with grounding.
Some of the statements made in the movie seemed a bit over zealous to me, so I decided to do a little scientific research to find out if there was any validity to the claims.
So what is Grounding Therapy exactly? (Sometimes called Earthing.) According to Healthline, Grounding is:
“ a therapeutic technique that involves doing activities that “ground” or electrically reconnect you to the earth. This practice relies on earthing science and grounding physics to explain how electrical charges from the earth can have positive effects on your body.”
In simple terms, Grounding is connecting with the earth with your bare feet or body, in order to electrically ground you to the earth. Similar to how we ground electrical connections. I’m sure you have heard of a ‘ground wire’. Connecting your body to the earth via being barefoot, or with an actual ground wire would ‘ground’ you.
If you have followed along on my writing, you know that I love the scientific research and have gone in depth on many topics from the keto diet, to colorectal cancer, to reversing type 2 diabetes, to the oral microbiome, and the health benefits of fermented foods. You can guess that I have done a good bit of research on grounding and earthing therapy.
So here is what the science says……….
Studies have been done on the effect of grounding on sleep disturbances, muscle pain, cortisol levels, transfer of electrons from the Earth to the body, stress levels after grounding, metabolic healing response to grounding, glycemic control, blood viscosity, inflammation, immune system activity, and pain reduction.
Some of these studies were randomized and double-blind control trials (the gold standard). Guess what? Grounding therapy works to help stress, inflammation, work out and muscle recovery, pain reduction, sleep disturbances, and more!
I would recommend reading some of the results in this paper:
Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/
The paper concludes: “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 dysfunction, inflammation, pain, poor sleep, disturbed HRV, 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. “
One-Hour Contact with the Earth’s Surface (Grounding) Improves Inflammation and Blood Flow — A Randomized, Double-Blind, Pilot Study https://www.scirp.org/journal/paperinformation.aspx?paperid=58836
The Biologic Effects of Grounding the Human Body During Sleep as Measured by Cortisol Levels and Subjective Reporting of Sleep, Pain, and Stress https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/acm.2004.10.767
Earthing the Human Body Influences Physiologic Processes https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/acm.2010.0687
The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4378297/
You can review additional studies by searching “earthing” on pubmed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=earthing
My Thoughts On Grounding Therapy
We all know how good it feels to walk barefoot in the grass on a sunny day, feel the sand between our toes on the beach, or dangle our feet in the water.
As I learn more and more about the microbiome and our interdependence on the Earth, earthing makes sense to me.
From the science, I will note that some of it is ripe with conflicts of interest from those that sell grounding devices, books, etc. But all-in-all, the science is pretty convincing, with no apparent health risks.
AND……. It can’t hurt!
My N=1 Grounding Experiment
I decided to try a grounding strategy that was inexpensive, and without purchasing a possible gimmick product like an ‘earthing mat’. I purchased a $17 copper grounding rod and copper wire on Amazon. I staked the grounding rod outside of my bedroom window, and ran a copper wire from the rod to my bed and wrapped it around my ankle while sleeping! YES, I actually did this!
After 3 days, I noticed that the inflammation in my knees seems a little better. I sleep fairly well most of the time so I did not notice any change to how I feel when I wake up. I still want coffee first thing in the morning, and I still wake up after about 6 hours or so of sleep to use the bathroom. I did not notice a change in my mood, or my severe tinnitus. They say that you may get some flu like symptoms the first few days of grounding and I can attest that this is true.
My amazing girlfriend decided to try this as well and purchased a grounding mat from Amazon for both of us: https://smile.amazon.com/Earthing-Universal-Grounding-Mat-Kit/dp/B01CKG71Y4
I personally did not notice a difference between my copper rod and wire and this mat, with the exception that you do have to be directly on the mat so I place it under my calves and find it a little annoying, but that is just me.
HOWEVER, my girlfriend has had menopausal nighttime hot flashes for many years. It usually starts in her feet as a tingle, and works it’s way up until she is ripping her clothes off with her heart pounding and then she is wide awake. With the grounding mat under her calves, she gets the tingle in her feet — BUT IT STOPS THERE! She no longer has nighttime hot flashes like she used to and is getting a lot more sleep as a result. That evidence was enough to convince me that grounding is indeed a valid therapy.
It is my opinion that Earthing should be recommended by health professionals to patients. Whether it is a placebo affect, or it actually works, suggesting to patients that they need to walk barefoot in the sand is a great idea! It feels good, and WILL reduce stress.
SEE: Integrative and lifestyle medicine strategies should include Earthing (grounding): Review of research evidence and clinical observations https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550830719305476
Stress reduction after all, is one of the keys to a long and healthy life.