Have you ever noticed how amazing you feel after walking barefoot on a beach or through dewy grass? Have you experienced an indescribable peacefulness after swimming in the ocean or spending the weekend camping? As a geologist, I’ve spent a fair number of days sprawled out on rocks soaking up the warmth while eating my lunch and basking in the great outdoors. I was always aware of a connectedness and exhilaration that would come over me, but I just assumed it was the fresh air. While being outdoors is the one common denominator in all these activities, I have recently discovered that there may be an additional explanation that is based on science and the electrical potential of the Earth.
The Earth is basically a limitless reservoir of free mobile electrons. What this means is that no matter what type of charge comes in to contact with it, the Earth can completely absorb the charge or send electrons to neutralize a positive charge. This is the reason we have a ground in electricity. If there were ever some power surge, the excess energy would dissipate in to the ground where it is neutralized.
The desire to go barefoot or dip in to a body of water, therefore, may be a biological desire to neutralize electrical energy in our body and to tap in to the diurnal electrical rhythms of the Earth. We all strive for balance and to be “grounded” and this might be exactly how this term evolved.
It has been proposed in research over the last 30 years or so that almost every type of modern disease and psychological or physiological stressor can be attributed to an abundance or scarcity of electrons. That may sound a little oversimplified but let me explain what I mean.
Having positively charged free radicals in the body can wreak havoc on well-being. Free radicals are basically just a molecule that have an unpaired valence electron, which leaves the atom or molecule unstable with a positive charge. Presence of free radicals is otherwise known as something being oxidized (basically the same process as rusting). That is why there has been an advent in understanding the benefit of consuming anti-oxidants or using them in skincare products. Oxidants are what ultimately cause tissue damage, aging and degeneration because these positively charged free radicals go barraging through healthy tissue seeking electrons to become stable and harm the tissue from which they take electrons in the process.
If our bodies are full of these free radicals from stress, environmental toxins or dietary toxins, coming in to contact with the Earth will basically allow the free electrons to flow in to the body and neutralize them before they cause damage. Chronic inflammation is thought to be associated with the damage caused by free radicals as the electrons are poached from the tissue. Inflammation is associated with many of the diseases that plague our modern society including heart disease, chronic pain, diabetes and arthritis.
In addition to reducing inflammation, coming in to contact with the Earth (otherwise known as Earthing), is hypothesized to improve stress levels, increase energy and decrease insomnia as a result of normalizing the diurnal electrical patterns in the body and equilibrating them to the natural pattern of the Earth. Earthing can be a great thing to do once you have traveled across time zones for this reason. Putting yourself in to contact with the Earth resets your daily clock and adjusts your circadian rhythm to the new time zone.
It is such a simple thing, Earthing. We obviously evolved as a mammal that was meant to be in contact with the Earth without insulating barriers. Even early humans walked with conductive materials on their feet such as leather or skins and slept on the ground. Have you ever noticed how often modern day humans are in electrical contact with the Earth?
That’s right. Almost never. Take a look around and notice how many adults and children are walking around with shoes that put a rubber or plastic barrier between us and the Earth. How many houses are completely removed from the Earth, covered in insulating materials such as wood, carpet and/or elevated and completely removed from any contact with the ground? Almost every single one.
How To Earth
Earthing is really easy to do. You can get the full benefits of coming in to electrical equilibrium with the Earth in about 15-20 minutes a day. It’s as easy as being in contact with the earth or a conductive material that is in contact with it (rock, ceramic tile, or concrete like in a basement or on a sidewalk, etc.). Walking in direct contact with the Earth works great, as well as just placing one’s feet or body on it. If you like wading in the water, it can be accomplished there, especially saltwater, which has extra conductivity.
In the book Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? I checked out after I had an interest in this subject, the book’s author, Clint Ober, talks about grounding devices (such as bedsheets, pads for forearms or feet at the computer, etc.) that can be connected to an outdoor grounding device. I also just stumbled across a resource for Earthing devices that sells products and has a great video that summarizes this post. I haven’t had a chance to try them yet, but am thinking about ordering one of the products. It sounds as though the effects of sleeping grounded are profound.
But just walking around barefoot or lazing with as much skin as possible touching the Earth is pretty easy to do! The feet work particularly well because of the vast amount of nerve endings, whose tissue is supposed to be especially conductive. It has the added benefit of stimulating the feet, as in reflexology. I find it interesting that our feet evolved to be such reflex points at the same time we were always making contact with the Earth with them.
Next time you’re working in your garden, walking on a beach, working in your concrete floor basement, or attending your child’s sports match, try removing your shoes and see if you feel any different after about 15 minutes. Note your pain, energy and stress levels, happiness, and sleeping patterns. This is something so simple to try and really you have nothing to lose. It seems like a pretty easy thing to convince kids to do too! This simple act has brought a lot of healing energy in to my life.