Earthing or grounding is the simple process of getting outside with your bare feet on the ground and it has astounding benefits. We have forgotten how important this is and not just from a spiritual perspective. We have been created to work in harmony and connection with Gaia and wearing shoes all the time has ironically been one of the most damaging things we have done to ourselves in the name of progress.
The Earth is electrical – just like your body! There is a well-known scientific phenomenon called the atmospheric Global Electrical Current. It’s basically a current of electricity coming out of the ground where lightning strikes and returning to the ground elsewhere. This creates negative-charged free electrons in the ground which contribute to the benefits of Earthing in people and animals (and probably all life forms on Earth). These free electrons are replenished by an estimated 5,000 lightning strikes a minute all around the Earth.
When you touch the ground with bare feet or bare skin, then, you’re not just touching the soil – you’re connecting with a massive electrical warehouse of free electrons which are then transferred to your body. This will “ground” you – literally and figuratively. Just like an electrician knows the importance of grounding a house’s electrical system, so too is it important to ground your body.
The health benefit of earthing is in reducing inflammation. Inflammation is the immune system’s natural response to allergens, trauma or infection. There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is not normally a problem, as the body needs to make pro-inflammatory compounds to deal with injury or infection and then will go on to make anti-inflammatory compounds to repair your system after the infection has dissipated. Chronic infection is a problem because the immune system continues to promote inflammation throughout the body with pro-inflammatory compounds.
Inflammation is now considered to be the root cause of many ‘modern’ diseases; it is a significant factor for arthritis, as well as heart disease, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and diabetes. Inflammation is also known to accelerate the natural process of aging and causing your body and immune system to weaken over time due to repeated or prolonged stress. Inflammation leads to more stress, which leads to the worsening of all auto-immune conditions.
There are many theories about the causes of chronic inflammation. The Gaian healing approach is to consider the possibility that your body is not ‘broken’, but merely misinformed and to focus on the solution, not the problem. Some understanding of the inflammatory response is helpful here, so that the mind can recognise the real benefits of earthing.
The normal inflammatory response is, in part, a burst of free radicals produced by the immune system in response to an injury. This natural production of free radicals occurs to prevent infection and to promote healing at a site of injury. A free radical is an electrically charged particle. Free radicals are produced during oxidation: the process during which electrons are extracted from molecules. Oxidation occurs through electromagnetic radiation or sunlight and when oxygen in our bodies bonds with other molecules. This constantly happens when we breathe, for example, or when our body breaks down nutrients.
This electrical charge occurs because the free radical is missing an electron. To become stabilized, a free radical must “steal” its missing electron from another molecule. When the electron is stolen from an invader (e.g., bacteria), the invader’s molecular structure is damaged, which leads to its death (as intended by the immune system). When there are no invaders left to destroy and when there is a lack of electrons available from antioxidants to stabilize excess free radicals, free radicals then turn to the only other source from which they can steal electrons – healthy cells. The resulting damage to and death of healthy cells, from loss of electrons to free radicals, further signals the immune system for additional help. This sets up a continuous autoimmune response (creating more free radicals), which promotes chronic inflammation and tissue damage, often referred to as oxidative stress.
The simple solution is to provide excess free radicals with the missing electron they seek, so that they don’t need to steal from healthy cells. The Earth herself is a massive source of free electrons that flood the body on contact with the naked skin. Research has shown that the rhythm of this free electron flux helps to entrain the body’s circadian rhythm, including the rhythmic secretion of cortisol. This suggests that grounding is also important for optimal sleep, daytime alertness, and endocrine function.
Earthing also shields the body from the damaging effects of man-made electro-magnetic fields and microwaves as the Earth’s voltage is conducted throughout the skin, creating a natural Faraday cage effect.
Earthing is also known to thin your blood and make it less viscous, reducing the risk of blood clots, elevated blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Just getting outside with your bare feet on the ground for 30 minutes a day can significantly reduce pain and swelling in a few weeks.
If you stretch your mind beyond the scientific into the experiential, you will enjoy even more benefits from earthing. Walking barefoot in your garden gives Gaia-Sophia useful information that She uses to provide you with the specific plants you need for your optimum health. Plants use underground fungal or mycelial networks to share information and that includes information about you released through the pores in your feet. Last summer, our first summer here, we payed special attention to many of the healing plants and wildflowers we saw around. This year we have at least four times as many. This isn’t something you need to believe, as you can easily try it for yourself and it costs nothing! You can find out more about this at our Lammas Alchemy Retreat.
I find that daily earthing, when the weather allows, has helped my manage my body temperature more effectively; I’m less hot when it’s hot and less cold when it’s cold. I also find that I’m able to deal with problems more effectively and I have considerably less anxiety.
Clint Ober is credited with bringing earthing into the mainstream and his book, Earthing, is a good read and full of research and testimonials.
There is also a lovely film, called Grounded, which follows the affects of grounding through a small Alaskan community – and has lots of beautiful Alaskan scenery.
There are also a range of grounding products available, such as sheets and mats that enable you to be grounded while inside. (We use grounding sheets and we all sleep better.)