What is grounding? Here’s all the science behind this wellness phenomenon
The ancient practice of grounding, sometimes known as Earthing, has been woven into human culture for centuries. However, in the last decade, it’s experienced a resurgence among people wanting to enhance their wellbeing and deepen their connection with nature.
At its core, grounding revolves around the idea that direct physical contact with the Earth’s surface – be it grassy fields or natural soil – can electrically reconnect us to the Earth’s energy. This may seem a little woo-woo, but it’s important to understand that grounding is not an isolated, mystical concept. It’s been around for a while and we’re only just finding out how it can benefit our health.
So, let’s take a look into the science of grounding and unravel the common theories surrounding this practice.
Does grounding affect our health?
Grounding is a therapeutic technique that involves walking barefoot, lying on the ground outdoors or using high-tech grounding equipment to put us in touch with the Earth. However, a lack of scientific research surrounding the technique has left a lot of people unsure whether or not it’s really worth exploring.
The most recent study related to grounding comes from the Biomedical Journal. This 2023 review article, summarised that grounding can affect the cells in our body, influencing everything from inflammation to ageing. People from this particular study also claimed that grounding influenced their energy levels.
Experts conducting the study claimed that by connecting ourselves to the Earth, we plug into a giant electrical ‘ground plane, that works to balance out our body’s electrical current’ – almost as if we were hitting the reset button for our internal wiring.
Another 2018 study from the journal Explore, also revealed that grounding can reduce inflammation in the body. The study looked at how regular grounding therapy benefitted 16 massage therapists (a profession where many people experience physical and mental health problems related to their jobs). Interestingly, the study found that pain, stress, depression, and fatigue all decreased among participants.
This study also showed that grounding made a big difference in people’s overall health and happiness, with improvements in inflammatory biomarkers, blood viscosity, and heart rate variability.
Other benefits of grounding
Enhanced mental health
In a 2015 study of 40 people in the journal Psychological Reports, one hour of grounding therapy was shown to significantly improve mood.
While this study was small, it still highlights the positive benefits of bringing the body in contact with the Earth, something that when coupled with the general health benefits of soaking up the outdoor air, creates a compelling case for incorporating grounding practices into our daily routines.
A recent 2022 study in the journal Healthcare revealed that grounding was also beneficial for improving sleep quality in patients with dementia. Some experts believe that this is because grounding and spending time outside keeps our cortisol levels in check, aiding quality sleep.
But here’s the catch: the study says we need more research to directly confirm these benefits and to make sure that the practice works for everyone.
You may not think it, but the soil in your garden or local park is teeming with beneficial bacteria, fungi, and other microbes, collectively known as the soil microbiota.
According to a 2019 study from the journal Microbiology Open, when we come into direct contact with the Earth, these microorganisms can influence our microbiota in a number of ways, and even enhance our immune system’s resilience by impacting our gut health.
As well as the health benefits we’ve spoken about, grounding is a good reminder that in our fast-paced world, a touch of nature can bring us back into balance, providing a sense of calm amidst life’s challenges. So, the next time you have a chance, kick off your shoes and feel the earth beneath your feet. You might just feel better for it.
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