The Benefits of Earthing
How often do you touch the earth, walk barefoot in the grass, or maybe even hug a tree? When is the last time you jumped into a body of water? It may be difficult to remember playing in the mud as a child, but I bet you enjoyed it.
That sense of peace and well-being found in nature isn’t just metaphysical. Your body’s cells, hormones, and emotions are responding to the free flow of electrons into and out of your body, which is often blocked by the technological materials insulating us from the world. This connection to the earth is called grounding or earthing, and it has many health benefits.
To encourage you to reconnect daily with the earth, below are reasons to plan some good old-fashioned you-and-Gaia-time:
#1. De-Charge Your Body’s Surface to Dodge Pollutants
After walking across the carpet to shake someone’s hand or open a door, you’ve likely felt the jolt of a static shock. This happened because the surfaces of your body became ‘charged’ as two non-conductive materials moved against each other (e.g., your rubber-soled shoes and the nylon carpet). Electrons were transferred from the floor to your shoes, leaving your body with a negative charge that was neutralized when you touched something conductive.
Carrying around an excess negative charge disposes your body to attract positively charged airborne pollutants, like mold, heavy metals in automobile brake and tire dust, and chemicals including formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene that are released from numerous consumer items such as textiles, household cleaners, and flooring. All such pollutants are irritants that tax your immune system and rob you of electrons, and some of them are carcinogenic.
#2. Reduce Inflammation and Accelerate Healing
Reactive oxygen species, also known as free radicals, are byproducts of oxygen metabolism that can damage our body tissues through the process of oxidative stress. While some inflammation is necessary to heal from wounds, excess inflammation can collaterally-damage nearby tissues, and chronic inflammation accelerates aging and is the basis for human diseases including cancer. Grounding brings electrons from the earth into the body that can then neutralize positively charged excess free radicals before they can interact with our cells.
#3. Counteract Stress, Balance Your Hormones, and Improve Sleep
If you work indoors, driving a car, or surrounded by tall buildings, make it a point to tour your nearby parks often. City life can make it especially difficult to ground oneself, and the amount of artificial electromagnetic signals bombarding someone is orders of magnitude greater in high-rise buildings full of WiFi routers and electrical wiring than in forest cabins.
Modern life involves many stresses that activate the body’s sympathetic “fight or flight response” via our pituitary-adrenal axis, but unfortunately those stresses rarely occur at opportune times to then engage in vigorous physical activity that will process the ramped-up cortisol and catecholamines like epinephrine. Earthing can help shift from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic “rest and digest” mode and normalize cortisol levels at night to improve sleep.
In addition to the ground, the air around oceans, rivers, and waterfalls—places where people feel a great sense of peace—contains a high concentration of negative ions, which cleanse the air by attaching themselves to pollutants.
And if you can’t make it outside barefoot on a regular basis, put plants throughout your home or consider using a grounding mat, which is simply a conductive mat that plugs into the ground and allows electrons to transfer from your body to the Earth.