By Anja Springthorpe

Grounding, also called earthing, relates to direct skin contact with the Earth’s surface.  Connecting bare feet or the palms to the ground exposes the body to subtle electrical currents emitted from the surface. 

This practice has been associated with health benefits for centuries.  In fact, research conducted by Polish neuroscientists found that grounding to the Earth’s electrical currents equalizes the electrical charge of the body.  This equalizing is proposed to yield the beneficial effects for our well-being.

The Journal of Inflammation Research published a review of contemporary studies on grounding in regards to inflammation, immune response, wound healing, pain as well as auto-immune diseases.  Across all studies, grounding improved well-being, reduced pain and increased recovery time after illness or injury. 

Receiving Earth’s electrical charge appears to increase white blood cells and cytokines, both essential for immune as well as inflammatory processes.  A well-balanced immune system is better equipped to resolve inflammation, the main culprit for many diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancers, skin conditions, depression or heart disease for example.  In fact, the authors of this review concluded that earthing is a “natural, and accessible health strategy against chronic inflammation.”

Another noteworthy finding is the effect of grounding on the diurnal rhythm, a complex hormonal cycle synchronized with day and night.  Lifestyle, sleeping patterns or sustained stress can influence the diurnal cycle.   Specifically, the production of cortisol can be significantly impacted by these external factors.  Cortisol is not just our main stress hormone, but it is also involved in a number of essential functions. 

Cortisol regulates blood sugar, metabolism, inflammation, cognitive function, hormone balance and immune function.  An imbalance in cortisol levels can impact our health considerably.  A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that grounding normalized diurnal rhythms as well as balanced cortisol levels within eight weeks.  Participants of this study reported improved well-being, better sleep and reduced perceived stress.

Modern lifestyles provide little opportunity to connect to the Earth’s surface.  Unless at the beach, we are often reluctant to walk barefoot.  Considering the ever-growing body of research on grounding, we ought to rethink our habits.  Kicking off those shoes and reconnecting with Earth on a daily basis can increase health, longevity, well-being and overall happiness.

Cortisol regulates blood sugar, metabolism, inflammation, cognitive function, hormone balance and immune function.

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