Earthing: Can Walking Barefoot Really Slow Aging and Calm Inflammation?

avatarMegan Patiry

When was the last time you went barefoot outside for your health? Earthing might be just what your body needs to prevent illness and even ease pain.

There’s some interesting research that suggests going barefoot can realign your body to the earth’s negative charge. While the science behind this idea is still budding, it may be worth a try to kick off your shoes once in awhile.

Here’s what it means to “go earthing”, and how research claims it can impact your health and wellbeing.

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What is Earthing?

“Earthing” is the practice of reconnecting the soles of your feet with the earth by regularly walking barefoot outside. This could mean anything from gardening barefoot in your backyard, taking a walk on the beach, or even setting out for a hike on a trail through the forest.

Also known as “grounding”, earthing is said to have several health benefits that come from reconnecting with the earth’s energy.


The Benefits of Earthing

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Our body is essentially one big electrical system: from our neurotransmitter signals to our heartbeat, we run on a regular electric current to keep us going.

Just like our bodies, the earth has its own current in the form of electrons. When we make direct contact with the earth’s surface, these electrons are able to flow through our skin and interact with our bodies in a positive way. Our skin is a great conductor of electricity and is extremely sensitive to outside electrical current even in small amounts. (1)

It is suggested that this limitless supply of beneficial energy is an under-appreciated resource for preventing disease and maintaining your health. (2)

Benefits of earthing include:

  • Fights aging
  • Cools inflammation
  • Improves sleep
  • Boosts energy
  • Reduces pain and stress

The theory is that we receive these benefits by re-aligning our own electrical system with that of the earth’s. Studies on other electrical systems similar to the one in our bodies, like cables that transmit television signals, show that when they’re “grounded” into the earth, signal interference disappears. This led to the idea that grounding ourselves to the earth regularly could have a similar stabilizing effect on our own electrical system and organs. (3)


Can Earthing Really Slow Aging?

How can walking around barefoot help keep you looking young? Just like certain foods we eat contain antioxidants that help fight free radicals, the earth’s negative electrons do the same.

Free radicals are generated in our bodies in response to toxins in our environment, including pollution and processed foods. If left unchecked by antioxidants, these free radicals can damage your DNA and cause signs of aging, including wrinkles and the development of disease. (4)

The earth’s negatively charged electrons act as antioxidants in your body, neutralizing these positively charged free radicals before they can cause damage. This could help slow aging by preserving your DNA. (5)


Can Earthing Reduce Inflammation?

Have you noticed that when your body is injured, it becomes inflamed? Think of when you cut your finger or experience an ankle sprain: the area around the injury swells up. This is because your body sends protective compounds to the site of your injury. However, these compounds also act as free radicals that can damage healthy tissue in the surrounding areas. (6)

Similar to the way earthing fights aging, the electrons you receive from walking around barefoot can neutralize these free radicals. By reducing tissue and DNA damage, earthing can also signal to the body to stop releasing inflammatory compounds, which can reduce overall inflammation. (7, 8, 9)

It’s important to remember that inflammation doesn’t occur only in response to a visible physical injury. It can also occur internally in response to a disease like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or some other types of stress inside your body.


What About Stress, Insomnia, and Pain?

restful-sleep.jpgIf your stress levels are high, you’re having trouble sleeping, or you’re in pain, it may be worth a try to take up an earthing routine.

In a study exploring the effect of earthing on human physiology, grounding had a positive electrical effect on the left hemisphere of participants’ brains that activated their parasympathetic nervous system. This could help reduce stress and encourage relaxation. (10)

If you can’t get outside regularly, grounding mats may be a way to reap the benefits of earthing while indoors. These are mats with a cord that you can plug into an outlet to connect to the earth’s electrical field. Lay the mat on your bed, underneath your desk, or anywhere in your home for an easy way to de-stress.

Research suggests that earthing with a grounding mat can reduce the production of cortisol. High cortisol levels are associated with stress and high blood pressure, so bringing cortisol back to normal could have a stress-reducing effect. (11)

If you have trouble sleeping, these lower cortisol levels might help with that insomnia. One study found that people who sleep with earthing mats experience more sound sleep and wake up less than those that don’t. (12)

Pain can also cause stress and insomnia, and earthing might help with reducing chronic pain. One study found that participants that slept using earthing pads experienced reduced symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, sleep apnea and hypertension. (13) This may be due to the ability of earthing to reduce inflammation and stress, both of which exacerbate pain.


How to Go Earthing

The cheapest and easiest way to go earthing is to walk barefoot outside in your yard. The more you can be in direct contact with the earth, the better!

If you don’t have a yard or anywhere you can regularly get your feet in the grass or on the beach sand, you can try investing in “earthing mats” that are connected to the earth’s electrical field. Set one under your desk while you’re working, in your bathroom, your kitchen; anywhere your feet spend a lot of time.


The Bottom Line

While the validity of earthing is controversial, it may be worth a try. The theory is that by reconnecting with the earth’s surface, we can flood our systems with negative electrons to help realign our bodies to fight pain and disease. While more research needs to be done on the benefits of walking barefoot, you can’t doubt that walking through a green field or sandy beach naturally feels good.

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(Read This Next: Autophagy: How to Activate Nature’s Detox System)

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