Grounding Health Hacks: Fact or Fiction? Exploring the Science and Benefits
Can Connecting to the Earth Really Improve Your Health?
If you have enough exposure to internet health circles you come across all kinds of bizarre and niche health hacks. Grounding is one of the new kids on the block that fits this description.
In this article, we will discuss whether there is any validity to the concept of grounding, or if it should be buried 6 feet under.
What is Grounding?
Grounding, also known as earthing, is basically the idea that spending time in nature, particularly with your skin touching the bare earth, provides health benefits.
To understand why people make this claim, you must understand what free radicals are. A free radical is an unstable molecule with an unpaired electron. They are reactive and can cause damage to cells in the body - this is called oxidative stress.
While free radicals are a normal part of human physiology and are produced during normal metabolism, they can also be created by external sources. Pollutants, certain foods, cigarettes, radiation, and so forth all cause excess free radical creation.
When you have too many free radicals they cause damage to the body. This can present chronically as cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative disorders. In the shorter term, it causes chronic inflammation and tissue damage.
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Antioxidants are what these compounds are supposed to be helping reduce. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and mitigate the negative side effects.
The same is said for grounding. Electrons carry a negative charge. Grounding the body is really no different than grounding a wire or anything else containing electricity we use every day. When a grounding wire (or bare skin) is touched to the ground, electrons run through this wire and equilibrate. Free radicals are neutralized.
Since this works well for electricity, in theory, it would also work well in the human body.
In reality, this is very much a first-world problem. Some people are so detached from nature that they need to purposely seek out the earth in order to feel better. 200 years ago the average person would be begging to come in from nature and enjoy some fine air conditioning.
Regardless, this movement has spurred countless articles and products to promote grounding. One particularly funny one is regular shoes with the ball of the foot cut out so the bare foot can touch the ground, but the wearer can still look normal in public.
It turns out, there are actually a ton of studies on the effectiveness of grounding. One study looked at the benefits of grounding on wound healing and chronic inflammation. All of the results are positive.
This research review describes 20 different research articles on Earthing/Grounding. It is gaining popularity and it seems there’s a good reason.
Both human and animal studies are promising. They are showing improved wound healing, reduced chronic inflammation, improved pain, improved sleep, and so on. By reducing these chronic conditions you are also reducing the risk of other chronic conditions.
Poor sleep, chronic inflammation, and chronic pain particularly are difficult to live with. Any step towards improving them can significantly improve a person’s life.
Obviously, there must be more research in this field. Anecdotal evidence is abundant. But it’ll never be accepted by the masses without mainstream approval. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that considering touching dirt is free.
How to Ground Yourself
In case you haven’t picked up on this yet, grounding is ridiculously easy.