Is the Earth’s Energy an Antioxidant? Earthing: All You Need to Know

We all know the energizing feeling of stepping into fresh mountain air or a salty ocean breeze. We're drawn to the natural vibrance in mountains, waterfalls, mineral hot springs, and oceans, making us feel detoxified from head to toe. Some scientists and medical experts theorize this may be more than a nice feeling. They argue that absorbing negatively charged ions from the earth's surface, water, and air — an activity known as earthing — may act directly on the body down to the cellular level.

Key takeaways:

Is it possible that earthing is a type of antioxidant to our bodies, reducing free radicals, calming inflammation, and soothing depression?

What is earthing?

Earthing, also known as grounding, is any activity where your skin is in contact with the negative ions emitted from the surface of the earth. One can ground by touching the earth or naturally conductive material in direct contact with the earth, like water, sand, or stones.

Earthing and its benefits have yet to be scientifically proven. Currently, it’s a scientific theory that negative ions emitted by the earth’s surface may reduce inflammation caused by oxidation and, as a result, boost overall well-being.

Since ancient times, many civilizations believed in the healing power of connecting with Earth. Today's researchers are working to uncover the science of the effects of Earth's energy on the human body. While awaiting scientific proof, earthing is gaining popularity among health experts, athletes, celebrities, and biohackers.

Nature itself is the best physician.


Is earthing a hoax?

Let’s look at the basic science behind earthing.

Bioelectrical experts compare human cells to small battery packs because they conduct low-level electricity at the cellular level. Our cells are constantly exchanging energy, in part through electrically charged elements like sodium and potassium. Humans are indeed energetic beings. Cardiologists, in particular, understand this because the heart is full of electrical exchange.

To understand earthing, one needs a little reminder of high school chemistry.

Ions are electrically charged atoms or molecules. Electrons have a negative charge, so an ion becomes negatively charged when it gains an electron. On the other hand, ions become positively charged when they lose an electron. The earth's surface is negatively charged, while its center is positively charged. In between the two, the elements are neutral.

When positively charged free radicals build up in the body, oxidative stress occurs and causes cellular damage and inflammation throughout the body. Some scientists and medical experts theorize that the earth's negatively charged ions may neutralize free radicals in our bodies by bonding with them. If so, this would also counteract their damaging effects.

More high-quality research is needed, but if ongoing scientific studies validate earthing, it may offer robust healing benefits. For now, however, we aren't sure whether earthing is a legitimate health tool. We need time and ample research to unveil the truth.

In the meantime, earthing is quite safe when done reasonably and is worth a try for those looking for a health boost.

Possible benefits of earthing

If negatively charged ions can transfer into our bodies and neutralize free radicals, a long list of health benefits could result. Even if science validates this, earthing would not cure chronic diseases. Instead, it may be a potent way to improve pain levels, reduce physical and mental symptoms, and calm the nervous system, which could significantly affect overall wellness. Preliminary research on grounding shows promising but inconclusive results.

Currently, experts have found no adverse side effects to earthing. Since it's safe, consider grounding for 20–30 minutes daily to possibly experience these surprising benefits:

  • Better cardiac health with thinner blood, improved heart rate variability, and lower blood pressure
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Boosted cellular energy and bioenergetic flow
  • Increased fertility
  • Eased depression
  • Less chronic pain
  • Lower stress levels
  • Calmer nervous system
  • Improved hormonal balance

For those concerned about electromagnetic radiation (EMR), grounding may also protect against its harmful effects, according to earthing researchers. The danger of electromagnetic fields is also a new and inconclusive science. However, according to Dr. Devra Davis in her groundbreaking 2015 lecture at the University of Melbourne, there is enough evidence to recommend serious caution about the overuse of cellular phones and other wireless devices emitting man-made EMFs. Perhaps earthing could offer protection against such radiation.

Is grounding safe?

The great thing about earthing is that it is safe when performed with common sense.

According to a study published in 2018 in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, “no data showed the harmful effects of NAIs [negative air ions] on humans/animals.” In fact, growing research shows that people who spend time outdoors in the sun, in green spaces, and in various natural environments are healthier and happier than those who don’t.

Still, common sense is required to practice earthing safely. Always consult your physician first to be sure earthing is safe for your medical conditions. If you choose to walk barefoot, be sure you keep your eye on the ground to avoid dangerous objects. When you swim in the ocean, do it with the utmost safety in the undertow and crash of the waves. If you hike or picnic where ticks live, take the necessary precautions. Garden wisely if you work without gloves.

These are just a few of the common sense ways to practice earthing.

The physician treats, but nature heals.


How to practice earthing every day

Connecting with the earth’s negative ions may reenergize and restore your body’s balance. You can do this in numerous ways.

As you start with simple practices, you can soon personalize them for your unique needs. Health is a personal journey, and earthing is no different. Experiment safely with earthing and outdoor activities to discover which activities boost your individual physical and mental health.

The ultimate goal is to embrace nature as a normal part of your life. This will differ based on where you live, where you travel, and your tastes and needs. So, start with inexpensive, simple activities that make sense to you. See how they affect your health and go from there.

As you read earlier, earthing proponents believe you can absorb Earth’s negative ions directly through the ground. They also argue that you can ground yourself by touching natural resources, like stones or sand, lying against the earth and breathing in the air near sprays of ocean water or waterfalls.

Since water is a great electrical conductor, experts say the best places to ground are natural water sources like the ocean, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, and lakes.

Earthing tips according to experts

To get you started on your earthing journey, here are a few earthing tips and ideas recommended by experts:

  1. Try to ground for at least 20–30 minutes consistently every day. According to earthing enthusiasts, grounding doesn’t offer cumulative effects, so it’s best to ground daily.
  2. Carpet, wood, asphalt, plastic, rubber, and vinyl are not conductive, so ground directly to the earth or through conductive material like grass, sand, soil, unsealed tiles, pure leather, or concrete.
  3. Take a barefoot walk on moist sand or river pebbles. Your feet have a lot of nerve endings that may benefit from grounding. Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists believe the feet are a major energy point in your body.
  4. Wear full leather moccasins (no rubber soles) to stand in the grass or walk on a smooth hiking trail through a forest.
  5. Stand near the ocean and waterfalls to benefit from the water spray of negative ions.
  6. Try yoga, tai chi, qigong, or other mind-body exercises in the grass, soil, or sand. Combining earthing with physical or mind-body exercise stacks various biohacks to get multiple health benefits at once.
  7. Dip your feet in a mountain stream whenever you can.
  8. Swim in clean natural lakes or soak in a mineral hot spring.
  9. Meditate outdoors while laying or sitting on a leather hide or a blanket with natural, loosely woven fibers.
  10. Garden without gloves and shoes.

Entrepreneurs are manufacturing earthing devices and shoes. These may offer exciting benefits as they develop, but experts recommend earthing as naturally as possible. If you use devices, earthing specialists advise people to buy products thoroughly tested and studied by third parties.

According to experts supportive of the practice, earthing is only one tool among many for pursuing a healthy lifestyle. Other powerful ways to combat inflammation and cellular damage include diet, exercise, and stress management.

If you choose to try earthing, do it cautiously like you would with any trending wellness activity. Consult with your health practitioners and read earthing studies and articles on your own. The best way to see if earthing is worth your time and effort is to record how you feel after safely grounding.

Over time, you may see an improvement in your well-being and a reduction in symptoms. If so, you're in great company with the ancient traditions throughout the globe.

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