You’ve undoubtedly heard the fundamentals of health:
- Eating whole foods
- Exercising regularly
- Sleeping better
- Relaxing in stressful situations
Change sucks. The ideas above go against a lifetime of deeply engrained habits.
But there’s something experts have completely missed.
As a health coach, I’m always in search of the lowest hanging fruit — the easiest lifestyle changes yielding the greatest results. Since radical lifestyle changes usually don’t last.
Today I’ll cover one ignored component of health shown to improve pain, physical recovery from training and injury, enhance sleep, mood, reduce inflammation, mitigate jet lag, and increase overall quality-of-life. You’ll learn the diverse benefits of earthing, how to effectively use it anywhere in the world, or to biohack it with the right gear.Earthing takes zero effort. The people that need it most feel better within minutes (or even seconds). Click To Tweet
Have you ever wondered why some electrical appliances have 2-prong adapters, and others 3-prong?
3-prong adapters “ground” the device, protecting it against shocks, shorts, and interference. Similarly, your body needs grounding (also called earthing) to work properly.
Earthing, one component of forest therapy, is the process of reconnecting with nature through bare-skin contact with the Earth. Earthing shields the body’s intricate bioelectric circuits from the electrosmog of modern life. Clint Ober, the author of Earthing [Amazon], says this on grounding:
“Earthing remedies an electrical instability and electron deficiency you never knew you had. It refills and recharges your body with something you never knew you were missing … or needed. Vitamin G.”
How Grounding Works
The third-prong in fancy appliance cords grounds the device. Plugged into the outlet, that prong connects to your outlet’s grounding circuit which travels down directly into the Earth’s soil.
In a way, you’re just like the fridge, computer, TV, and other appliances.
The Earth is negatively charged, and the body is positively charged. When bare-skin contacts soil or other conductive materials, earthing begins. Free electrons flow up through the ground into the body and neutralize disease and cellular destruction caused by rampant free-radicals. This process continues until you and Earth have equal charges.Our planet's soil is the top source of brain & body regenerating free electrons. Click To Tweet
Earthing remedies your electrical instability and allows for undisturbed propagation of your body’s subtle electrical signals.
Earthing works fast. James L. Oschman, PhD says:
“The moment your foot touches the Earth, or you connect to the Earth through a wire, your physiology changes. An immediate normalization begins. And an anti-inflammatory switch is turned on.”
Here’s an approximate timeline of effects:
- Seconds: rapid activation of the calming parasympathetic nervous system. Begins reducing stress and improving sleep. Pain diminishes.
- Twenty minutes: healing response begins. Repair increases around injured or inflamed areas.
- Thirty minutes: healing continues.
- Forty minutes: markers of cardiovascular and blood health improve.
For best results, spend 20-40 minutes fully grounded, skin touching soil. Want something more convenient? Learn how to harness technology to biohack earthing below.
The Original (Forgotten) Health Hack
I realize that earthing sounds like a play out of the new-age hippie handbook. But there’s nothing new about it.
Humans have understood grounding for millennia. Medical systems from across the world came to the same conclusion:
- Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Native Americans
Today, our electronics industry knows this too. Ungrounded devices fall prey to electrostatic discharge (ESD), causing billions of dollars of destruction every year. Smart manufacturers know to ground high-power devices to prevent electrocution and injury.
But earthing is rightly re-popularizing.
The Biggest Disconnection in History
How often do you make full, physical bare-skin contact with soil?
We wear rubber-soled shoes as expressions of our unique tastes, culture, and fashion. Our houses are usually insulted and raised off of the ground. Around-the-clock insulation strips us of the richest known source of free-electrons. We become electron deficient. Free radicals run rampant, aging us prematurely. Thick electrosmog interferes with our delicate internal electrical signals.
For most of our history, humans lived in constant contact with the Earth. Any disturbance to our complex machinery flowed through us into the ground. Our planet acted as a giant shock-absorber. No wonder health activist David Wolfe deems:Shoes are perhaps the world’s most dangerous invention. Click To Tweet
Living above the ground in rubber-coated shoes has drained our “human battery”.
Now, you be thinking this is too good to be true.Earthing: an effective remedy, available virtually anywhere on the planet. Any time of day, absolutely free to everyone. Available in unlimited supply. No pills, elixirs, supplements, creams, herbs, or complicated routines required. Click To Tweet
It’s as simple as relaxing in nature.
While experts reassure that earthing is perfectly safe, there are a few potential side effects:
- Flu symptoms: earthing triggers detoxification pathways. Activation of these pathways can trigger a Herxheimer reaction which temporarily causes flu-like symptoms.
- Tingling: caused by the normalizing effects of energy transfer. Goes away after several sessions.
- Medication dosing: grounding doesn’t interfere with medication. But your dosage might need reducing. Always consult your doctor before changing your lifestyle.
If you experience any side effects, cut back. Slowly build up your time earthing.
Benefits of Earthing
My PubMed search turned up 43 studies on grounding & earthing. Similarly, Clint Ober summarized 20+ of them in his article “The Science Behind Grounding“.
A quote I came across perfectly summarizes the value (emphasis mine):
“The research, along with numerous anecdotal reports, demonstrates that Earthing clearly deserves inclusion in the clinical practice of preventive, alternative, and lifestyle medicine and has great potential to render these approaches more effective.”Integrative and lifestyle medicine strategies should include Earthing (grounding)
Humans have historically lived on the ground. The sicker the person, the more extreme the gains. Especially among the frail. Quenching your electron deficiency has potent mind/body benefits. Healing each organ system including cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, and immune systems.Earthing + Time = Power Healing Click To Tweet
Anti-Inflammatory & Healthy Blood
The negatively-charged electrons donated by the Earth travel through your body, neutralizing positively-charged free radicals and lowering inflammation levels.
Reducing inflammation is the core of earthing. Nothing to sneeze at considering inflammation is the root of most diseases. Inflammation overwhelms and throws off bodily processes, setting the stage for problems. Other cardiovascular benefits include:
- Increased blood flow and energy.
- Normalized blood pressure.
- Reduced blood viscosity.
- Potent and rapid antioxidant.
Pain and inflammation are closely related. Some researchers even hypothesize that inflammation causes pain.
Ever fly halfway around the world and feel out of it for days? By the time you’ve adapted, the trip’s half over.
Jet lag occurs from changing timezones faster than our biology can adapt. The mechanisms of which aren’t completely understood.Grounding doesn't completely eliminate jet lag, but helps you adapt faster. Click To Tweet
One study investigated how earthing speeds up adaptation to new timezones:
- Resynchronizes the stress hormone cortisol and circadian rhythm.
Again, the Earth’s free electrons come to the rescue. Enjoy more of your precious vacation.
Think back to the last time you swam in a natural body of water. Or, as I recently wrote, when you go forest bathing. How was your mood afterward?
Whenever I ground I’m always in a better mood afterward. It’s not just subjective; people comment on my mood. Research shows that it repairs the brain, nervous system, and:
Like inflammation, lower stress indirectly improves your wellbeing.
Grounded folk often report feeling and looking better. Anecdotally, Clint gets reports that skin has more radiance, eyes are brighter and more vibrant. No studies have investigated the beautification effects, but I believe it’s the result of:
- Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis improving.
- Better sleep.
- Less stress and pain.
- Balanced nervous system activity.
Modern Computer Lifestyle (Anti-EMF)
Electrosmog, or EMFs, are a seemingly unescapable reality to those of us living in cities. When you can’t escape EMFs, shield from them. As I learned in Dr. Mercola’s book EMF*D [Amazon], swimming in the ocean and lakes protects you.
But that’s not all.
Grounding yourself in any form allows the voltage from EMFs to flow through you. A study found that grounding:
Computer workers report feeling better from work while grounded. Describing the experience with words like ‘comfort’, ‘safety’, and ‘security’.
Sleep“Pretty much everybody who sleeps grounded says they sleep better." Click To Tweet
This includes an otherwise-healthy 24-year-old case study. A demographic rarely studied.
Improving sleep is a top reason people Earth. At age 25, sleep is still my Achilles heel.
Ober ran a small trial of how 60 subjects slept. He split them into two groups: grounded and ungrounded. As published in the ESD Journal, grounded people did well:
- 85 percent went to sleep more quickly.
- 93 percent reported sleeping better throughout the night.
- 82 percent experienced a significant reduction in muscle stiffness.
- 74 percent experienced elimination or reduction of chronic back and joint pain.
- 100 percent reported feeling more rested when they woke up.
- 78 percent reported improved general health.
Other studies, including a 2004 investigation regularly find that grounded humans sleep better.
Less Pain & Fast Injury Healing
The extra electrons you absorb from the planet go straight towards rebuilding damaged tissues. Clint recounts dozens of success stories. I remembered four:
- A friend reported arm pain of 8/10 (left) and 9/10 (right). 30 minutes later, it dropping to 2/10 (left), and 3/10 (right).
- A man who stopped taking 2400mg of ibuprofen after two days of grounding.
- Runners with less swelling and milder shin splints.
- Truck drivers feeling less stiffness and aches.
So far two studies find similar effects of earthing on pain and injury:
When your pain comes from intense exercise or a chronic condition, earthing can help.
Balanced Immune System
Often correlated with inflammation, grounding modulates the immune system bringing it back into balance:
- Quieting overactive immune systems to improve autoimmune disease.
- Strengthening underactive immune systems.
That includes a common immune issue.
Food & pollen allergies improve according to regular earthers.
Athletes look for any edge on the competition. When Clint started presenting his findings, sports scientists took notice. From strength, to power, to endurance.
Tour de France cyclists and Elite powerlifters swear by earthing. A Tour de France trainer said (emphasis mine),
“I now tell the athletes I train to make every effort to ground themselves. They willingly do so because they have a sense that something is working. They say they have less pain, and that allows them to train more consistently and recover faster. That’s a big deal because consistent training is so important to success.”
The research backs up the effects of earthing on physical performance:
- Reduces delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) from exercise.
- Reduces muscle damage.
- Speeds up muscle recovery.
When asked about earthing, a prominent cyclist had this to say,
“I’m sleeping so much better and have less pain. I get up the next day, and I feel so much more recovered. I can’t believe the workouts that I’m doing. I should be more tired. My results and improvement are increasing with more frequency. They’re staying at a high level. It takes less effort to get and stay where I am.”
Further proof of the biological necessity of grounding, earthing works on pets. His book accounts both a dog owner and parrot owner. Pet owners report improvements in:
- Joint mobility
- Muscle tone
The owners that stopped using the grounding pads noticed their pet’s symptoms returning.
Is Grounding Placebo?
Thinking this is all too good to be true?
I don’t blame you.
You can design a test yourself. Get a body voltage meter and test the effect of grounding. Or look to other life…
There are two groups immune to the placebo effect: babies and animals. Neither knows how they’re “supposed to” act or feel.
Animals strongly prefer grounded beds over others.
- Dogs consistently sleep on grounded objects or beds.
- Parrots perch on lower branches, which is unusual because they prefer the safety of the highest branches. When someone disconnected the grounded perch, the parrot moved back to sleeping at the top. And then went back down once it was plugged back in.
I’d assume that other species also prefer grounded beds. But for the time being, I’ll test on my dog, Jetta :).
How to Ground Yourself Naturally
Earthing yourself naturally is simple. Find the right patches of ground, and take off your shoes. Sit for 20-40 minutes. Get the most out of the experience by stacking it with other biohacks. Then go about your day.
In practice, it’s more complicated. Bare ground can be hard to find. These materials are conductive to earthing:
- Bare soil
- Concrete (but not asphalt)
- Bathing in oceans, lakes, streams, or rivers
Have you ever swam in a natural body of water and felt good? But a different, unexplainable type of good. The salts and electrolytes make bodies of water especially effective earthing hotspots.
For greatest effect, ensure that the surface isn’t painted, sealed, or coated with an insulating material. Also, you can dampen the area or your skin for greater conductivity.
But for fast-paced urbanites, an hour per day seeking grass and grounding isn’t feasible. That’s where technology comes to the rescue.
The Best Products to Biohack EarthingYou can passively earth from the comfort of your couch, while sleeping, or working. Click To Tweet
Modern technology can help.
There are three types of earthing devices:
- Rod & wire: the low-cost, manual method. Great for those that live on the first floor and have access to soil. Run a conductive wire out your window, attach to a metal rod, and drive into the ground.
- Shoes: specially designed to conduct electrical charges through the typically-insulated shoe sole. Ideal for grounding on-the-go. Only effective when walking over conductive surfaces.
- Plug-in: earthing mats connect directly to any grounded (3-prong) outlets. My favorite of the options, mats are completely portable and effective. Move them between rooms, sleep on them, or pack them for travel.
The best grounding shoes I’ve found are special sandals called Earth Runners. They also have a DIY kit to upgrade any pair of common shoes into earthing shoes. The process takes only a few minutes.
My choice earthing mat is the Ultimate Longevity Universal Mat [UltimateLongevity.com]. Designed by Clint Ober, the pioneer of earthing, I feel safe using his mats. Initially, I wanted to go for a cheap knockoff. But these mats plug directly into your house’s electrical socket. I’ve had enough knockoff products break on me. And electrical failures can kill.
I didn’t notice immediate effects of my mat. Then I began working on it all day. Sometimes sleeping on it. A week of heavy use later:
- My Oura scores started increasing. Four points per night sound minor, but I’ve tried many sleep hacks.
- I don’t feel as sore from my workouts and I recover faster (keeping diet steady).
- My mood has stayed consistently high.
- I’m more relaxed throughout the workday.
- I eat slightly less than before.
Ultimate Longevity also sells grounding rod kits, and eathing sheets but I do not yet have experience with them.
The Best Earthing Resources
My article barely scratches the surface. Looking for more information on earthing & grounding?
- Book: Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever! by Clint Ober [Amazon]
- Article: “Thermography Imaging Research Study on Grounding“. Before and after infrared imaging showing changes in inflammation and circulation in 20 different patients.
- Article: “The Science Behind Grounding” (20+ peer-reviewed research studies). A quick overview of the results and science behind grounding.
General Earthing Documentaries
- Down to Earth (15 minutes): a quick but thorough introduction, including an overview of the science and benefits.
- The Eathing Movie (76 minutes): a full-length version that expands on Down to Earth. Winner of Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary Film at the 2019 Dances with Films Festival in Hollywood, CA.
- The Grounded (64 minutes): follows the healing transformation of one man and his impact on his community.
Earthing & Elite Sports
- Interview: Accelerated Recovery & Wound Healing in the Tour de France (3 minutes). Dr Jeff Spencer from the U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel Pro Cycling teams explains how earthing has given athletes the edge.
Earthing: Recharging Your Human Battery
“Earthing gives you the most [health] benefits for the least amount of work of anything I’ve ever seen. There’s no work!”— David Wolfe, Health Coach
- Feel your best?
- Look great?
- Get nature’s top antioxidant supplement?
- Crush jet lag?
- Improve sleep?
- Prevent EMF damage?
- Speed up injury and wound recovery?
- Boost athletic performance?
- Heal your immune system?
Or improve your furry animal friends’ quality of life?
Earthing requires zero effort. The benefits start seconds after you make contact with bare Earth. And they continue to grow over the course of your 20-40 minute session.
Earthing is one of the highest leverage activities you can do. But maybe you don’t have an hour to spare walking to the nearest grass, grounding, and walking home.
Technology saves the day. Earthing mats & shoes bring nature’s power healing straight to your couch, desk, or bed. Choose a high-quality brand and get the best of both worlds.
Have you tried grounding? Let me know in the comments below.