On a recent, grey Vancouver morning, I walked onto the elevator with my dog, Lola.
We were coming in from a slightly rainy walk.
Lola will argue anything beyond misty is hard to walk in.
We agree to disagree.
The ride was brief but memorable. I chatted with a lovely person from my building who commented on how nice the light rain was for them earlier.
"I had to walk in it without a jacket on," they said, "you know, to ground myself."
The Definition of Earthing
Earthing, also known as grounding, is simply making a physical connection between the electoral frequencies of the human body with that of the Earth's (1)
...Earthing (also known as grounding) refers to contact with the Earth's surface electrons by walking barefoot outside or sitting, working or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems, some of them patented, that transfer the energy from the ground into the body. (2)
Or, as taken from the book titled "Earthing: the most important health discovery ever!" by Clinton Ober, the introduction to earthing reads like this:
Earthing is both a timeless practice and a modern discovery. It simply means living in contact with the Earth's natural surface charge-- being grounded--which naturally discharges and prevents chronic inflammation in the body. (3)
Along the lines of "being in contact with natural elements" does it for me.
Did you like to play in dirt as a kid or spend summers barefoot?
Me not so much.
But I love water. I suppose I do love walking barefoot on the beach.
I also really dig pottery and thoroughly enjoy getting my hands all mudded up; clay everywhere.
My teacher called me a messy potter, which he very much encouraged.
I guess I feel calm after all these activities.
This all could be defined as earthing or grounding, I just didn't know it at the time.
Maybe you can identify with similar feelings...
Does Earthing or Grounding Work?
There is some published research that backs up claims that grounding is effective while many dispute that it is not.
The research is simply not backed up by huge quantitative numbers.
Research has explored its effects on mood, fatigue, chronic pain, inflammation, cardiovascular disease and post activity for athletes with muscle pain.
Studies quantify results by using subjective means i.e. participants reported feeling better or sleeping better, thermal imagining and blood tests that measure inflammation.
The one thing that this does have going for it, is that you can literally go to the forest, to a patch of grass, to the beach and take off your socks and shoes.
You do not need to buy any special earthing or grounding paraphernalia to ground yourself.
So I guess put it this way: if walking around barefoot on the grass makes you feel good or sitting on a grounding mat makes you feel good or if sleeping on a grounding mat makes you feel good, then, well, go feel good.
How Does Earthing or Grounding Work?
In Ober's book, it's laid out like this:
A study from 2005, published by Roger Applewhite, an electrical engineer, confirmed the following:
"Electrons move from the Earth to the body and vice versa when the body is grounded. This effect is sufficient to maintain the body at the same electrical potential as the earth."(4)
"Grounding powerfully reduces alternating current (AC) voltages indued on the body by ambient electromagnetic fields (EMF's)."(5)
So to nutshell this theory-- the earth, overall, has a negative charge.
Free radicals or destabilized molecules, produced by natural by-products of chemical processes, produce a positive charge in the body.
An influx of negative charges, through earthing or grounding, acts like an anti-oxidant by neutralizing the positive electrons, thus eliminating free radicals.
Unfortunately there is no direct way to measure free radicals in the body.
While I absolutely love the idea of grounding, I wouldn't recommend this as a first or only line defence for any of the above ailments but rather in combination with other treatments.
There is overwhelming subjective support for earthing or grounding so I think something is definitely happening here, I'm just not sure what exactly and will be on the lookout for more science to support Ober's theory, as more and more studies come out.
Until then, enjoy the feeling of the cool ground underneath your feet as you walk barefoot on sandy beaches or in shady forests as summer slowly comes to a close.
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Jennifer Halisky RMT, is a registered massage therapist working out of Cushna Wellness, in the lovely neighbourhood of Gastown, situated in Vancouver, British Columbia.
(3)(4)(5) Ober, Clinton, et al. Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever! (Second Edition). 2nd ed., Basic Health Publications, Inc., 2014. page 4, 72