Grounding: A Simple, Pleasurable Way to Reduce Inflammation and Chronic Disease

Dr. Joe Mercola

Story at-a-glance


  • Grounding or earthing is defined as placing one's bare feet on the ground, whether it be dirt, grass, sand or unsealed, unpainted concrete (especially when humid or wet)
  • When you ground to the electron-enriched Earth, an improved balance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system occurs
  • Being grounded cuts inflammation by thinning your blood and infusing your body with negatively charged ions
  • To take advantage of grounding indoors, your best bet is to use a grounding pad to sleep, stand barefoot or sit on
  • Grounding may be one of the most important overlooked factors in public health. When grounding is restored, many people report significant improvement in a wide range of ailments



Did you know the energy from the Earth can help you live a healthier life? The concept is known as earthing or grounding, which is no more complicated than walking barefoot.

In "Down to Earth"1 — which received the IndieFEST Award of Excellence for a documentary short in January 20172 — I speak alongside other experts to shed light on this super simple yet commonly overlooked way to protect and improve human health. As cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra, author of "Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?" explains in the film:


"[G]rounding is literally putting your bare feet on the ground. When you do that, you're in contact with the Earth, and mother Earth is endowed with electrons, and these electrons are literally absorbed through your feet. It's like taking handfuls of antioxidants, but you're getting it through your feet."



Your Body Needs Grounding


Research suggests a general lack of grounding, also referred to as "electron deficiency syndrome," has a lot to do with the rise of modern diseases. For a visual demonstration of this concept, see this previous article, which features an experiment conducted by Gary Schwartz, Ph.D., at the University of Arizona. Using sunflowers, he demonstrates the biological effects of grounding and what happens when the flowers are not grounded.


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Benefits of Grounding

While it may sound "too easy," the simple pleasure of walking barefoot can be a powerful health-promoting activity. A scientific review published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health in 2012 found that grounding can help:5


Improve quality of sleep and feelings of restfulness upon waking.


Reduce muscle stiffness and soreness.6

Reduce chronic pain.

Normalize secretion of the stress hormone cortisol, so that it adheres to a typical cycle of peaking in the morning and dipping lowest at midnight. This in turn helps promote more restful sleep and improve blood sugar regulation and weight control.

Reduce stress and balance your autonomic nervous system by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system (which rules the "rest and digest" functions of the body) and quieting the sympathetic nervous system (which cues the "fight or flight" response).

Reduce the severity of the inflammatory response after intense workouts.

Raise your heart rate variability (your heart's ability to respond to stimuli).

Speed up wound healing.

Improve mood. In one study,7 grounding for one hour significantly improved mood among adults.

Reduce inflammation.8 In the film, grounding pioneer Clint Ober explains how grounding quenches inflammation: "Inflammation is produced by neutrophils, which are white blood cells. [When] you have an injury … a damaged cell … these white blood cells come over and encapsulate the damaged cell and … release reactive oxygen species, which rip electrons from the damaged cell and that destroys the damaged cell.

If there's not enough free electrons there to reduce the remaining radicals, they're going to steal an electron from a healthy cell and in the process damage it. Then the message goes out to the immune system and another neutrophil does the same thing and eliminates that cell, and then you have a chain reaction."


Thin your blood, making it less viscous, by strengthening the negative electrical surface charge on your red blood cells. This improves their ability to repel each other and allows them to flow more easily through tiny capillaries, and is incredibly valuable as cardiovascular disease is correlated with thicker, slow-moving blood. It can also help protect against blood clots.

In fact, this blood-thinning effect is so profound that if you are taking a blood thinner such as Coumadin, you should consult your doctor before you start grounding regularly. You may need to lower your dosage to avoid overdosing on your medication.


Research9 published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine revealed that two hours of grounding increased the surface charge of red blood cells, thereby reducing blood viscosity and clumping. According to the authors, "Grounding appears to be one of the simplest and yet most profound interventions for helping reduce cardiovascular risk and cardiovascular events."


Increase the structure of the water in your cells. Water is in every cell in your body, and this water is highly ordered (structured) and charged. If you don't have properly structured water in your cells, it can impact the functioning of the much larger protein molecules (and others) that interface with the cell. The water inside the cell also interfaces with water outside the cell, which has the opposite charge, creating a battery effect.

Your body's ability to generate electricity is actually a key part of your achieving health. Electrical charges delivered from cell to cell allows for nearly instantaneous communication within your body, and the messages conducted via these electrical signals are responsible for controlling the rhythm of your heartbeat, the movement of blood around your body and much more.


In fact, most of your biological processes are electrical. The water in your cells achieves its ordered structure from energy obtained from the environment, typically in the form of electromagnetic radiation, including sunlight and infrared heat.


But grounding may also play an important role. Just as water increases in structure when a negative charge is introduced by an electrode, the negatively charged electrons you receive when grounded help increase the structure of the water in your cells. By restructuring the water, you promote more efficient tissue healing. So, when you ground, you are charging every single cell in your body with energy your body can use for self-healing.



How and Where to Ground

While connecting just about any part of your skin to the Earth is beneficial, one area that is particularly potent is the center of the ball of your foot; a point known to acupuncturists as Kidney 1 (K1). It's a well-known acupuncture point that conductively connects to all of the acupuncture meridians in your body. Exercising barefoot outdoors is a great way to incorporate earthing into your daily life and will also help speed up tissue repair and ease muscle pain associated with strenuous exercise.


The ideal location for walking barefoot is the beach, close to or in the water, as saltwater is a great conductor.


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Grounding May Be Essential for Life and Health


It's important to understand that grounding is not a "treatment" or "cure" for any disease or disorder. Rather, it is one of the key mechanisms by which your body maintains equilibrium and health. The human body evolved in constant contact with the Earth, and your body needs this continuous interchange of energy to function properly.

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Without a proper supply of antioxidants, the free radicals can overwhelm your system leading to oxidative stress, inflammation and accelerated aging. "We now know that oxidative stress causes disease. It causes inflammation," Sinatra says. "[But] we have this Earth — Mother Earth — that's going to give us all these free electrons."

Again, exercising barefoot outdoors is a wonderful way to incorporate grounding into your daily routine. Alternatively, simply take off your shoes as much as you can when you're outdoors to take advantage of the Earth's natural healing potential.

Read the whole article at the source here.