Can going barefoot and making shoeless contact with the earth significantly improve your health?

A growing number of researchers argue that it can – and a collection of studies support their view.

This point of view, as you might imagine, is not universally accepted among medical folks. But it’s worth understanding why earthing has attracted fervent advocates who say that getting barefoot can support better health.

The argument for the health benefits of going barefoot stems from the fact that the earth is electrically charged and possesses electrons to spare. So, these researchers say, when your skin touches the earth, or your body is otherwise “grounded,” the electrons you pick up can lead to antioxidant benefits along with other health-boosting influences that support your well-being.

Some people call this “earthing.”

How Earthing Works

One of the fundamental arguments for the benefits of earthing derives from the way our “electrical environment” is said to affect our bodies. We live our lives surrounded by electric appliances, electric lights, computers, phones and even the wiring in our walls that create electric fields that induce an electric charge on our skin and disturb the electric charges of the molecules in the body.

However, according to Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, when you pick up electrons from the earth by touching it, the earth’s powerful energetic potential acts as the “working agent that cancels, reduces or pushes away electric fields from the body.”1

Well, whether or not that idea holds up to scrutiny, studies have demonstrated that earthing can produce measureable effects.

Resisting Our Electrical Environment

A randomized, controlled 12-week study in Asia performed on people over the age of 65 who had what the researchers describe as “mild” Alzheimer’s disease, found that grounding sessions improved the quality of their sleep.2

A possible factor in this sleep improvement, say the researchers, may be the reduction of the stress hormone cortisol at night. Excess cortisol when you are trying to fall asleep may lead to agitation that keeps you awake. A previous study has demonstrated that earthing may rebalance cortisol secretion in a way that reduces wakefulness at night.3

The researchers report that while their study found earthing to be “beneficial for improving sleep quality in patients with dementia,” they didn’t find any changes in depression or anxiety. They believe that larger and longer trials are needed to dig up more of earthing’s potential benefits.

Earthing Also Eases Pain and Improves Mood

Research has now indicated there are other potential uses for earthing that are being mostly overlooked:

  • Earthing can improve your mood – A double-blinded study at the University of California Irvine shows that grounding can significantly boost your spirits. In this test, the folks who were grounded sat in a comfortable chair for an hour at a time with their bare feet on mats designed to ground them to the earth. While their moods improved (measured by the Brief Mood Introspection Scale) subjects who were “sham-grounded” with their feet on non-conductive mats did not experience the same benefit.4 
  • Pain can be reduced by grounding – Tests at the University of California San Diego demonstrate that grounding can relieve pain, improve physical function and increase quality of life. In this study, researchers also found that grounding reduced biomarkers of inflammation that are found in blood tests.5 
  • Being grounded can reduce your blood pressure – An investigation at Iowa State University discovered that earthing can bring down blood pressure. In this study, systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading) was reduced by an average of about 14 percent.6 

Can Earthing Work to Better Your Health?

Well, advocates say that to give it a fair trial you should go barefoot for about 30 minutes to an hour a day and see if it improves how you feel.

And if you do a lot of exercise, grounding may be especially helpful. A study in Austria shows it can help your muscles recover more quickly from a workout. So, if you feel really beat after some intense exertion, stretching out on the grass – getting full body contact with the earth – might be just the thing for those tired muscles. Couldn’t hurt to try!