Does Earthing Actually Work?

grounding techniques

Image: Public Domain Pictures

One of the latest health trends to sweep the internet is Earthing. You may have heard of earthing, or you may have heard another name for it, grounding. Basically, Earthing promises health benefits from putting yourself in touch with the planet.

People who believe earthing is effective argue that the Earth has a natural energy field that everyone is constantly tapping into. In the early days of the human race, people had a more direct contact with this field because their feet were constantly touching the bare ground.

But since we started wearing shoes and living in houses, we have lost that natural connection. Proponents of Earthing think this loss of connection to the Earth’s energy field is responsible for all kinds of health problems. And there’s no doubt that many people believe that Earthing has cured them of these problems.

Of course, it sounds a little unscientific, right?  However, many different things, like yoga, that don’t necessarily rely on modern medicine have been shown to have significant health benefits. Is it possible that Earthing falls into this category?

So, let’s talk about what Earthing is and whether or not it works.

What Is Earthing?

Earthing proponents argue that the body is naturally in balance with the magnetic field of the earth. Specifically, they argue that the electrons in the earth’s surface naturally move into the body and bind to chemicals in the body called “free radicals.”

These free radicals do take electrons from your body’s cells, which can damage the DNA.

And according to the theory, your body needs these electrons to keep the immune system functioning properly. Without them, you’re more likely to develop autoimmune diseases, mental health problems, and chronic pain. So, according to the people who believe in the benefits of Earthing, the process can help cure pain, insomnia, and autoimmune disorders.

If you’re interested in Earthing, the good news is that it’s a pretty easy therapy to do. All you really have to do is spend some time putting your bare skin in contact with the ground. But if you can’t find the time to walk around barefoot, many Earthing sites can sell you specially designed beds or mats to help you ground yourself while you sleep.

The idea is that by balancing out the levels of electrons in the body with the electrons in the ground, you’ll get all of these miraculous health benefits.

But is that supported by science?

Does Earthing Really Work?

Earthing is a relatively new theory. And there have been very few scientifically rigorous studies into the benefits of the therapy. The ones that have been published, and are regularly cited by pro-earthing articles, are usually in less reputable scientific journals and written by people with suspicious medical credentials.

These studies do often show a benefit from Earthing in reducing pain and regulating sleep patterns. But be sure to take that with a grain of salt. Most of these studies don’t meet the standards for peer-reviewed medical research.

And the scientific basis behind Earthing is a little shakey. The main benefit, that the Earth gives you electrons to fight free radicals, is based on a misunderstanding about how free radicals work. Yes, free radicals take electrons, but simply putting more electrons in the body doesn’t do anything to fight them. Instead, your body naturally produces anti-oxidants that do that.

There’s little evidence that touching your skin to the ground will suddenly rid your body of free radicals. And there’s no scientific reason to think that it would.

That doesn’t mean that people who practice Earthing aren’t seeing a benefit. The truth may be that they are, and you’ll find hundreds of testimonials from people who argue that Earthing has changed their lives.

But, is that because the therapy itself is effective?

It may be, but there’s little evidence to suggest it is. Instead, these people may be experiencing the “placebo effect.” The placebo effect is well-documented in medicine and essentially, it occurs when someone undergoes a therapy without any proven benefits, and yet they still see benefits. That’s because the brain is capable of some amazing things. People benefit from the therapy simply because they believe they will.

Of course, with so little information on the benefits of Earthing, it may be too early to completely discount it. There may be a real physical benefit to the therapy, but it’s probably rooted in psychology and not in the Earth’s magnetic field. It’s always nice to feel like you’re getting in touch with nature. And the reduction in stress you experience from that feeling may be good for your physical health.

Until we have better studies on the therapy, we simply don’t know what the benefits are, if there are any.

So remember, many of the people on the internet who suggest Earthing has benefits don’t really have the facts to back it up yet. And in many cases, they simply want to sell you products. Always be skeptical of anyone who recommends a therapy on the same site where they’re selling products related to that therapy.

And always do independent research on any therapy before you commit your money to it.