By Dr. Daniel Chong
What are the most well known steps to better health?
Eat well. Exercise. Get more sleep.
Sound familiar? How about Touch the earth? Wait a second you say. Unless I have this whole gravity thing all wrong, I thought I was touching the earth.
Well you are, but not like you should be. It just so happens that humans are actually meant to touch the earth with our bare skin, and that doing so may be as fundamentally healthy for us as any other health promoting habits you’ve learned about along the way.
This fact may come as a surprise to most but traditional healthcare systems like Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have promoted the health benefits of skin-to-skin contact with the earth for thousands of years. Now a growing body of evidence-based research is proving what those wise physicians knew all along.
When you touch the earth with your skin or through material that does not insulate you from its energy field (grounding or “Earthing”), you literally absorb electrons from its surface into your body. This process has many powerful effects on you, the details of which we have only recently begun to understand.
Here are three of the most important reasons why reconnecting with the earth everyday also keeps the doctor away...
1. Touching the earth is calming, reduces the effects of stress and can help you sleep.
Have you ever arrived at your favorite park or beach, taken your shoes off and felt a seemingly instantaneous sense of calm overtake you? You’ve probably never even thought twice about it. Being at the beach or in a park is just nice, so of course you feel calmer right? Well, there may be something more to it than that.
Recent research into the effects of grounding is showing that it leads to an increase in parasympathetic (calming) nervous system activity, and reduces sympathetic (stress-response) activity. The end result of this effect is that your entire body (not just your mind) calms down.
Beyond that, additional research into other parameters of stress has shown that grounding normalizes both cortisol secretion, a hallmark of stress activity in the body, and melatonin secretion, which is crucial for a good night’s sleep.
2. Touching the earth is anti-inflammatory.
Chronic inflammation is now understood to be a primary, causative factor in seven of the top ten leading causes of mortality in the United States. It is beyond the scope of this article to review the details of chronic inflammation, how and why it happens, but it is important to realize that chronic inflammation is not a good thing, and grounding yourself may be a simple way to reduce it, whatever the cause may be.
An inflammatory response in your body begins with the production of free radicals (electrically charged particles) in an injured area, which help prevent infection and stimulate the healing process. However, when an inflammatory response becomes chronic, the excessive free radical activity begins to damage healthy tissue in the surrounding area. Depending on the tissue in question, this process could result in cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis or one of many other types of chronic disease.
Grounding yourself, which saturates the healthy tissue in your body with negative electrons, creates a barrier through which these free radicals cannot pass, in turn protecting you from the outlying damage they would otherwise cause.
3. Touching the earth helps keep your blood flowing.
For blood to flow well through your veins, arteries and capillaries, the cells need to move freely amongst each other, and not get stuck together. To aid in this process the surface of your red blood cells all have a negative charge to them, known as a zeta potential, literally causing them to repel each other. The greater the negative charge is around your blood cells, the greater the zeta potential, and the better your blood will flow. The electrons you absorb from the earth’s surface are negatively charged and lead to a greater zeta potential, which is why touching the earth helps naturally thin your blood. This discovery has far-reaching implications for the field of cardiology, and some of the most cutting edge, brightest minds in it have begun to take notice.
Microscopic views of red blood cells before and after grounding (source):
Conclusion There are many more reasons why reconnecting with the earth is good for you, some of which I’m sure have yet to even be discovered. Perhaps the most obvious explanation, however, is that it is simply natural.
With our technologically advanced world changing at such an astoundingly fast pace, it is easy to forget where we have come from and what our bodies are adapted to. I theorize in my own work with chronically ill people that many of them have become that way specifically because of how unnatural their lives have become. Time and again I see proof that, if they are willing and able to reintroduce simple, natural necessities like whole food, movement, sleep and reconnection with the earth into their lives, they get better.
So put your bare feet on the ground and reconnect, or find something similar that works for you. Your body will thank you for it.