Nature, well, naturally, gets it right. Animals follow their instinct, fine tuned to live in harmony with the environment.
The human brain overrides this instinct more often than not, to pursue ‘development’ perceived as enriching lifestyles, what that entails is entirely subjective, and that’s fair enough. However, what isn’t subjective, is that we can’t outwit nature’s laws - mess with them too much and they hit back, climate change being a prime example.
The solution, the more we fit in and connect with nature, the better everyone feels.
Most of us feel more relaxed in nature, animals are instinctively aware of this fact, and people, even if only at a subconscious level, are as well. Why talk about nature? Well, we want to tell you all about earthing! A practice defined by spending more time in nature and putting your bare feet and bodies on the ground.
What is earthing or grounding? And why is it so important?
Imagine what we can’t see — electric charge — it's all around us from the ground up. Electric charge is of course a good thing, but too much charge accumulated in our bodies with nowhere to go can create an unnatural state, and an overload!
The static electricity (your charged body) becomes visible, when your hair suddenly ‘stands up’, and we all have experienced rubbing clothes, or touching the metal frame of a car’s door, causing an electric shock.
There generally is a mild natural positive charge in the air around us, but anything with an electrical current, such as the power lines keeping the lights on, or the cables, plugs and chargers powering our computers and gadgets, can raise that charge to unnatural levels. The closer we are to our electronics the more our bodies can become electrically charged. For example, an elevated state of charge in our bodies is pretty common especially when we are in close contact to cables or electric devices, but if we were barefoot in contact with the ground it would be zero, which is our natural state.
On the other hand, if we live close to power lines we can be exposed to greater voltages, varying from 400 volts to a whopping 750,000 volts supplying the grid to our homes. And this menu is ever expanding, 5G networks, although useful to living faster, are a highly debated subject.
Will this positive charge kill us?
No, but we would be running around with an elevated level of charge in our bodies. Given the limited research on the topic, nobody really knows at what point this starts to create health issues or damage otherwise healthy cells.
Earthing helps us to rid ourselves of accumulated and unnatural charge
The body restores to a natural (and neutral) state of balance by exchanging electrons from the ground. It’s instant and measurable.
And it's as simple as putting our paws and feet on the ground. However, contrary to our furry friends, we rarely run around barefoot, the electrons can’t get through our shoes’ and other insulating barriers, may it be rubber, or other types of soles, therefore preventing the exchange.
Earthing isn’t anything new or high-tech, and there certainly isn’t a 24/7 need to do so, we discharge pretty much instantly. But we recharge pretty quickly too, of course depending on the electric charges we’re exposed to. So, we’re running around charged again until the next time we get the chance to earth ground!
Earthing and electronics - we’re not the only ones who need to ground!
If all this seems a little odd to you, think about electronics. Yes, you may say we’re not a computer, or a microwave. We most certainly are not! But we are ‘electrical beings’. Our body functions thanks to an electrical circuit, our heart pounds, and cells, which use electrons, send signals to our brains and throughout our bodies. Grounding physics applies to us just as it does to our electronics.
We know for a fact that not everyone survives a lightning strike, around 300 kV. When lightning strikes, our cells overcharge, blood vessels burst, neurons die and with that brain signals change. Our heart's electrical rhythm then gets out of sync - resulting in a heart attack.
Should we escape back into the dark ages?
As we can’t escape the electric charges hovering around us, should we just turn the clock back and live without? Probably not. For one, it's impractical, more humans on this earth have made cities a necessity. And one has to admit, it's nice to have the comforts coming with electricity.
For starters, without it you wouldn’t be reading this! Secondly, living a la natural, does make one feel more in harmony with the environment, but trust us, you’ll start to miss your fridge pretty quickly!
Kids, still more instinctive than adults, may prefer to run around barefoot, but even where one may imagine a more natural life, flip flops are a must. Just take the nomads of East Africa. The Masaai, jumped at the opportunity to protect their feet from the hard ground, scorpions lurking about, the moment they came across rubber old rubber tires to use as soles for home-made flip flops.
Our ancestors walked the earth barefoot, or with naturally conductive soles, and they slept on the bare ground with no artificial electrical charges flying around them. Whilst one could argue that many moons ago we were more balanced beings without shoes or high rise buildings, there is only one way to transfer what our ancestors took for granted to our modern lifestyles - we must make the effort to earth ground ourselves from time to time, it’s not possible to do away with shoes or buildings or electronics but awareness of earthing can help in adapting our urban architecture.
What the studies say about earthing
Bio-electricity is still a science in motion, not least thanks to the fact that body cells aren’t the easiest of study partners. The effect of electrical charges entering the body’s electrical circuit - due to the recent electrification of our world - is still a relatively new field. So, have the early researchers seen any benefits from earthing?
There are quite a few studies out there that look at the science of earthing, and why it could be an important tool for our well-being. To date, a key discovery is earthing’s link to a notable reduction in inflammation, known to play a key role in the development of many diseases.
“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.”
Oschman J.L., Chevalier G., Brown R. The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, Journal of inflammation research, 2015, 8: 83–96.
The full list of benefits identified range from better moods and pain relief, to faster healing injuries, and improvement in managing - possibly even preventing - chronic diseases. Let’s look at some more research!
Earthing could be extremely beneficial for our cardiovascular health. A study from 2013 illustrated that earthing may reduce the clumping of red blood cells due to its positive surface charge (inside cells are negative), resulting in a good blood flow positively influencing the heart, reducing blood pressure and inflammation.
A study from 2015 found creatine kinase (CK) to be lower when earth grounding after exercise, indicating help with muscle recovery and damage in athletes. Hemoglobin, carrying oxygen, as well as platelets, were noted to be higher, another indicator of increased repair.
Our immune system is known to function thanks to electrical conductivity, numerous studies have found that our skin charges can help us to heal faster and more effectively from wounds. These discoveries have sparked interest among those studying bio-energetics, who believe the illness could ‘just’ be a miscommunication between our cells communicating on a bioelectric level.
When earthing can become risky
In general, earthing is risk-free. However, one word of caution: a current, such as lightning, will look for the path of least resistance. So, running around barefoot in a storm may not be the best of ideas! In this case rubber soles are a real plus.
Choosing wisely, where one earthes is also advisable to avoid any (very rare) negative side effects of earthing. If you should happen to earth ground on top of major underground electrical currents, your attempt to neutralize may go the other way. Don’t stress though! The majority of cables are insulated and will never present such an issue, the earthing danger arises in the case of a break or leakage. The earth is then drawn into the circuit and may become electrified before it neutralizes once again, similar to the situation when lightning hits.
The risk of losing contact with the earth
Anything that’s an electrified object, including wires, produces an electrical field.
In a nutshell, our bodies complete the electrical circuits around us. We are conductive, we can take on whatever an object we touch tries to discharge, and we become its negative earthing wire discharging into the negative earth. If we aren’t grounded we may get a shock, or simply accumulate positive charge, depending on how strong the current we came into contact with was.
When we are close to said current without touching it, we can still be the target of discharge as currents and voltages are inducted into our bodies in a more subtle way from an Electromagnetic field (EMF), not leading to an electric shock, but changing our negative charge nonetheless. Consequently, the wires in our homes can lead to induction by proximity. A phenomena, which would be amplified, were our electrical circuits in the house, office, etc. not properly grounded, if by a fault of an appliance, or a shoddy electrical job.
Earthing is not a cure, by it’s certainly worth a try
If you’ve got this far, you will probably have made your own mind up about whether or not earthing is worth a try.
We certainly think it is, and believe that much of what earthing can offer is still not yet carved in stone, but may well be in the near future. So whilst we can’t proclaim that earth grounding provides a sudden cure for all, we do believe that a daily dose of earthing offers a healthier mind and body, just as your daily dose exercise, sunlight and fresh air does.
There are quite a few media personalities who are early adopters of earthing! We’ve listed a few below.
Brad Fittler - Australian Rugby League coach and former player
Gwenyth Paltrow - American actress and founder of Goop
Naomi Harris - English actress
Bianca King - Filipina actress, model, music video director, and host
Justin Langer - Australian cricket coach and former player
How long does it take for earthing to work?
Most studies list daily earthing of 30 minutes to an hour as beneficial. Earth grounding happens pretty much instantly, so there is no need to call in sick, be late to work - again, or walk around the office barefoot all day. It's not entirely practical!
Let’s imagine that you built up some charge whilst sleeping. In this scenario, ideally you would wake up in the morning and go straight outside before getting ready for the day. This early morning earthing practice would bring you back to neutral and essentially free you up for any charges you may pick up later. Then, once you get home after work all you need is another ‘dip’ in the earth, and presto you’re back to zero!
The longer you’re grounded the better, as you recharge nearly all the time, in part due to the electronics you’re surrounded by on a daily basis. But it’s not that simple for all of us! If you live in the countryside, or at least have a garden, and it's not winter, daily earthing is a lot easier to do.
Where is the best place to earth?
The amount of earthing time needed to stay at zero, depends (more or less) on your location. The earth is more conductive than sand, for example, so you may want to hang out for a little longer in the sand if you’re earthing there.
The earthing benefits of walking barefoot on grass aka earth just underneath are also indisputable. Pavement is earth grounding, as long as its stone, not asphalt, earthing on concrete also conducts, so you should be discharging as you pop out for lunch, for example. In buildings - assuming that the building is properly grounded - it rather depends on the flooring: with marble, or stone floors, you could stay earth grounded while sitting at your desk! If you instead have carpet and wood flooring, you would have to step outside, or maybe onto a tiled terrace, or rooftop to get in some earthing time.
How would you notice the effects of earthing on your body?
Whatever earth grounding techniques you may use, if you feel changes in your mood and well-being, that could be a sign! if you really want to know for certain that you are grounded, or how much charge you’re carrying around wearing rubber soled shoes, or even see how earthing has affected your body - there are several ways to do it!
The Voltmeter: A voltmeter is used to measure the difference in electrical potential (the voltage) between two points of an electrical circuit. Using a voltmeter is a simple and easy means of establishing how much voltage is in your body. Whether you want to use it before earthing, during and after earthing, the measurements will tell you where you’re at.
The Thermal Camera: Follow up your earthing practice with this nifty device for some deeper insights into the internal changes that can be attributed to earthing.
A thermal camera takes a photo of your body temperature. You’re essentially not looking at, but inside your body. You will see colours ranging from cold - purple, blue, over green, yellow, orange, to red - hot. Wherever there is more heat it equals inflammation*, where it's cold, depending on the body part it could be a lack of circulation. You can experiment with this to your heart’s delight. Take shots before and after earthing, or even a few days later.
*when using a thermal camera, make sure the conditions - environment (cold/hot) and your state (exercising/resting) - are always the same, as they generally influence the results. This could mislead you into thinking that you have inflammation when actually, it's just normal body heat!
Welcome to the world of earthing!
We’ve laid out all the facts, and now it’s time for you to come to your own conclusion, to write your own story! Are you thinking about adding more earthing time into your life? With the potential to increase your well-being, mental and physical health, you’ve got so much to gain and nothing to lose.
You now understand that research into the effects of excess charge and the associated benefits of earth grounding is still in its early days. Looking into the future, we hope to enable more studies that will allow us to paint a much clearer picture for everyone. We want to understand the effects of any excess electrical charge on our health and the full range of benefits that come with earthing. With your help and that of the wider community, we’re hoping to eventually build a public database illustrating the impact of earthing on the body via the changes captured by thermal imaging cameras.
One of the key barriers to earthing - faced by pretty much everyone - are our jam packed schedules and always-connected lifestyles. We’ve become inextricably tied to technology and many of the other pollutants in our environment, that serve to increase the positive charge that surrounds us and that we're susceptible to each and every day.
Team Inner Mettle has created the world’s first everyday earthing shoe to solve a problem. A problem that most of us share: we don’t always have the time to practice good habits such as earthing! We’re struggling to keep our bodies in balance. When not at the beach, going barefoot usually isn't an option, nor safe, nor very comfortable!
The Inner Mettle Earth Connect Shoes are here to bring your body back to where it is supposed to be. And they are coming soon to Kickstarter! Sign up to be first in line for the early-bird offer when we launch.
The content in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you or any other person has a medical concern, always seek the advice of your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read in this article or linked materials.