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Earthing and Grounding: Science, Benefits, How to

By Liam McAuliffe M.T.S. Updated on

‘Earthing’ and ‘Grounding’ are two names given to therapeutic techniques that connect the body to the natural electrical properties of the earth for various health benefits. 

At first, this may sound a little woo-woo. But the science behind earthing and grounding is compelling: The earth is abundant in free electrons (negatively charged) that when connected to the body can help neutralize free radicals, providing antioxidant and immune boosting properties [1].

It’s worth noting that the type of grounding we’re talking about here is different than the “grounding” in mental health settings where people practice mindfulness activities and breathwork to regulate the nervous system and reduce anxiety

In this article, we’ll explore the science of grounding and earthing, the health benefits of grounding, and how to practice earthing, both indoors, and outside. 

Table of Contents

What is Earthing?

Earthing, also known as grounding, refers to the practice of connecting your body to the natural electrical charge of the earth. Earthing is as simple as regularly walking barefoot outdoor, lying on a beach, and swimming in natural bodies of water.

Earthing and grounding can also be practiced indoors with the use of inexpensive grounding systems including pads and patches that connect to the grounding socket of your household electrical circuit [2].

Benefits of Earthing and Grounding

Though the research is still emerging, people practice earthing and grounding to support their health and wellness in various ways. Purported benefits include: 

  • Reduce fatigue and increased energy
  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Faster recovery from exercise
  • Enhance/elevate mood
  • Reduce blood pressure and hypertension
  • Support heart health
  • Improve Sleep Quality

How Earthing Works

It is believed that earthing and grounding affects an electrical matrix shared between the earth and all living cells, including those that constitute the human body. 

The belief is that grounding connects the body to the earth’s natural field of subtly negatively charged free electrons.  The electrical conductivity that exists throughout this matrix can neutralize free radicals (unpaired electrons) in the body. This activity may provide immune defense functions similar to antioxidants [2].

The Science on Earthing and Grounding

The science on grounding is still emerging, and most have been fairly small. Yet, the results are remarkably beneficial and come with almost no risk or side effects. 

Reduces Fatigue and Pain

A 2019 randomized control trial looking at the effects of grounding (earthing) on massage therapists using grounding mats found that: 

“As a group, therapists experienced significant increases in physical function and energy and significant decreases in fatigue, depressed mood, tiredness and pain while grounded as compared to not being grounded. 

At one-month following the study, physical function was also increased and depressed mood and fatigue were decreased” [2].

Earthing to Reduce Inflammation

A 2020 review study found that grounding had significant anti-inflammatory effects. 

The authors found that, “Grounding reduces or even prevents the cardinal signs of inflammation following injury: redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function. Rapid resolution of painful chronic inflammation was confirmed in 20 case studies using medical infrared imaging.” 

heat imaging showing decreased inflammation after grounding

Increased Circulation

The same review study cited research demonstrating that grounding increased blood flow to various areas of the body, including the face. See image below:

heat imaging showing blood flow increased to face after grrounding

 

Grounding for Sleep

A 2004 study looking at the effects of grounding during sleep via the use of earthing mats found that, “grounding the human body to earth (“earthing”) during sleep reduces night-time levels of cortisol and resynchronizes cortisol hormone secretion more in alignment with the natural 24-hour circadian rhythm profile.” 

Interestingly, the changes to sleep quality were most apparent in female participants. 

The researchers also found that participants reported less pain and stress [3]

Combining earthing techniques with bedtime yoga poses may increase your sleep quality. 

Exercise Recovery

A 2015 study looking at the effects of grounding patches for exercise recovery showed that they significantly affected the presence of inflammatory and repair markers in the blood including neutrophils and platelets [3].

These findings suggest that grounding may positively influence healing and pain relief. 

Grounding for Hypertension and Blood Pressure

The first study looking specifically at the effects of grounding on blood pressure was conducted in 2018. 

During the 12 week study all 10 participants with hypertension showed significant improvement in systolic levels. Improvements renegade from 8.6%-22.7%, with an average 14.3% decrease [4]

How To Practice Grounding and Earthing

You can practice grounding both indoors and outside, when awake, and when sleeping. 

Earthing is extremely easy to practice since it simply requires tapping back into the original connection that humans have to the earth by making direct physical contact. 

Earthing Outdoors

Most people ground outside by taking off their shoes and socks and standing on bare earth, rock, or grass. Placing your hands on the earth or laying your whole body down are also effective. 

Simply walking around barefoot, laying on the beach, and swimming in natural bodies of water are all grounding techniques that most of us do without even knowing it. 

  • Walk around barefoot in the grass
  • Lay on the beach or earth–have a picnic! 
  • Wade and swim in natural bodies of water 

Indoor Grounding

Grounding indoors requires specific equipment like grounding mats, socks, and sheets. Many of these products plug into the grounding socket in your electrical outlets. This grounding socket is connected by wires to a rod placed into the earth. It’s already there as part of your normal electrical wiring and easy to tap into. 

Using a grounding mat in conjunction with a standing desk may be an effective way to improve your in-office health routine. 

Indoor Grounding Equipment

Earth and Grounding: The Takeaway

Earthing and grounding are two words for the same set of techniques used to reconnect us to the electrical properties of the earth. 

The belief is that all cells, including those that make up our bodies, are connected to an electrical matrix with the earth. The earth has an abundance of negatively charged free electrons that when connected with our bodies, provide antioxidant and immunological benefits. 

Though the research is still emerging, studies suggest that grounding and earthing may offer powerful positive benefits including reduced inflammation, improved wound healing, reduced blood pressure, faster muscle recovery, and improved sleep.