Understanding Earthing vs. Grounding: Benefits and Practices

Holistic health practices have gained popularity in recent years as methods for reducing inflammation, improving sleep, and decreasing stress. In addition to yoga and meditation practices, health and wellness enthusiasts are turning to techniques such as earthing or grounding.

These natural healing techniques, which aim to connect the body with the natural electrical properties of the earth, claim potential health benefits such as improved sleep quality and reduced stress levels. Here, we discuss these and other potential benefits and how you can incorporate these practices into your routine.

What is earthing and grounding?

ADVERTISEMENT

Earthing or grounding is the process of connecting the human body to the Earth's surface. Research hypothesizes that these practices enable the flow of free electrons from the Earth’s surface through the body, bringing potential health benefits.

To achieve the connection with Earth, you should use direct skin contact, such as walking barefoot or lying down on the grass, sand, or stone. Earthing can be also practiced at home by using grounding devices such as mats, blankets, or socks.

Is there a difference between earthing and grounding?

Current research does not provide specific definitions for these terms. Most of the studies use them interchangeably.

Benefits of earthing and grounding

While earthing and grounding practices are becoming more popular, there are still very few studies that would back up the potential benefits claimed by practitioners and enthusiasts we will discuss. It is worth mentioning that most of the cited studies were performed on a small number of participants, and further research is required to fully support the claims.

Reduces fatigue and pain

Grounding could help with pain management. A 6-week double-blind randomized controlled trial with 16 male massage therapists has reported that the group incorporating grounding techniques reported an increase in energy levels and a significant decrease in fatigue, tiredness, and pain.

ADVERTISEMENT

Reduces inflammation

Among potential grounding benefits is the reduction of inflammation. The review published in the Journal of Inflammation Research has summarized the potential effects of grounding on inflammation. The medical images taken with infrared light (where different colors correspond to different body temperatures) evaluated the effect of grounded sleep on inflammation. Grounded sleep enables physical contact with the Earth's surface, either by directly touching the ground or by using grounding blankets. The medical infrared images presented in this review showed less color associated with warm and painful areas.

Another study reported that grounded sleeping might lower inflammation markers and help muscles recover after intensive training.

Improves cardiovascular health

Limited research indicates that practicing earthing might contribute to naturally boosting circulation and blood flow. One randomized pilot study in 40 volunteers found that one-hour contact with a grounding mat, pillow, and patches improved the circulation of fluids, including peripheral blood flow.

Limited research suggests that this improved circulation might be helpful for skin repair. However, it is worth highlighting that there are not many recent studies supporting these previous findings.

Improves sleep

Some small studies suggest that using grounding blankets or mats might help improve the quality of sleep, potentially synchronizing the circadian rhythm.

One study conducted in Korea with over 100 healthy participants reported that individuals using the earthing mat experienced better sleep quality than those who did not use the mat. Another study also suggested the potential benefits of grounding methods on sleep quality. The trial has reported improved sleep quality in patients with Alzheimer’s disease who used a grounding mat for 12 weeks compared to placebo control.

While these studies show promising results, more scientific evidence is needed to confirm the beneficial effects of grounding on sleep.

ADVERTISEMENT

Helps with exercise recovery

Since grounding has shown potential benefits in reducing inflammation, its effects have been studied in the context of exercise recovery.

One study assessed the effects of grounded sleeping on muscle recovery in 22 healthy participants after intensive downhill treadmill training. The analysis of blood samples has shown that grounded sleeping helps to reduce certain inflammation markers, which might help with faster recovery. Further clinical studies are essential to substantiate these claims.

Regulates hypertension and blood pressure

Some studies highlight the potential benefits of earthing in regulating blood pressure. A case study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine assessed the effects of a grounding mat on 12 healthy patients. The technique resulted in a decrease in blood pressure in all patients, with an average decrease of 14.3%.

However, the scientific evidence is still limited and requires the evaluation of a larger cohort of patients to support these claims.

Potential risks and precautions

Since earthing and grounding have not been extensively studied, the information on the potential risks of improper application of these techniques is very limited.

Keep in mind that walking barefoot outside might result in injuries and cuts from sharp objects, which might also result in infection. Make sure that you walk in known terrain (e.g., your garden) where these risks are minimized.

Grounding mats and sheets require connection to power sockets. Therefore, they carry a risk of electrical hazards. Make sure that you use certified and tested products purchased from known distributors to avoid potential risks.

How to practice grounding and earthing

ADVERTISEMENT

There are several ways that might help you incorporate grounding and earthing practices into your routine:

  • Walk barefoot. You might try to walk without any foot coverage on grass, soil, sand, and other natural surfaces. This will help you create contact between your skin and Earth’s surface. Make sure that you incorporate these practices in a safe environment so you won’t injure your unprotected foot with sharp objects.
  • Immerse yourself in natural waters. You might consider swimming in lakes, rivers, or seas to connect to the Earth through water. Remember to choose places where swimming is safe or where you are observed by lifeguards.
  • Hug a tree. Trees are rooted and connected to the Earth. Consider hugging or leaning against the tree to feel more connected to the Earth.
  • Use grounding mats for sleep. If you aim to practice indoor grounding, you might consider investing in a grounding mat or grounding blanket. These earthing products mimic direct contact with the Earth's surface. You might use them when sleeping or relaxing at your place.
  • Use grounding socks or shoes for indoor grounding. If you cannot practice outdoor earthing, you could purchase special footwear, which would allow for a grounding connection. These solutions are particularly beneficial in urban settings where walking on grass or sand might be limited.

Final word

If you are interested in holistic health practices, exploring earthing might be a good start for you. Walking barefoot outside or hugging trees might help you not only connect to the Earth but also enjoy nature, which can be a good mindfulness practice to help release stress.

If you lack time or places where you can practice outdoor earthing, you might consider purchasing grounding socks or mats and enjoying the practice at home. It is important to combine these holistic approaches with other health practices, such as an appropriate diet, good sleep, and daily exercise.

FAQ

Key takeaways:

ADVERTISEMENT

Leave a reply

Your email will not be published. All fields are required.