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What is Grounding? What are the Benefits of Earthing? And How Do I Start?

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Have you ever heard the terms “grounding” or “earthing”? They mean the same thing, and grounding has healing and protective powers and health benefits, yet it is still often overlooked when it comes to human health. But it’s based in real, measurable science, and it’s super easy (and FREE) to try. Which brings us to Healthy Living Tip #84: Go Barefoot and Embrace Earthing.

If you find yourself suffering from the harmful effects of EMF overexposure, you’ve likely stumbled across earthing. Also known as grounding, the practice has been getting a lot of attention within the past few years. Many health-conscious people love discussing the topic of earthing benefits, and there is an increasing body of research linking earthing with the ability to combat EMF health effects. 

Grounding (or earthing as it’s also known) might sound a little bit out there at first. But once you come to understand the science behind it, you’ll find it actually makes a lot of logical sense. 

What’s more, it is possibly one of the best ways to protect yourself from a whole host of health issues, including damage and negative health effects resulting from exposure to EMF radiation. And one of the best things about grounding is that it’s absolutely free to give it a try. There are, however, a few things you’ll want to keep in mind if you plan on making grounding one of your new sources of EMF protection. 

What is Earthing?

So what is it? It’s really simple. Grounding is being in direct contact with the earth’s surface (a.k.a., the ‘ground’, hence its name).

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It’s the grass tickling your feet, the dirt in your toes, the energy flowing up through the soles of your feet and feeding into your whole body. 

How Grounding Can Reduce The Negative Health Effects of EMF

Now, when we talk about “energy” from the Earth, we’re not referring to anything metaphysical, spiritual or supernatural. We’re talking about literal, measurable energy. There’s no scientific debate that this energy exists. 

Our bodies are electrical beings. In fact, it’s because our bodies are electrical that humans are so vulnerable to damage from even very low levels of EMF radiation. Our body transmits and receives electrical signals in our nervous system to regulate each of our functions – they are critical to our health – the nervous and cardiovascular systems are two perfect examples of this.

The earth, too, is electromagnetic. There is a current flowing through our planet, and it has its own electromagnetic field. This is referred to as the Schumann Resonance. We as humans are bioelectrical beings that evolved to live with exposure to the earth’s natural electrical fields.

Earthing, or grounding, is the process of connecting your body directly with the earth.

Being in direct contact with the ground would allow a person to “absorb” the energy from the Earth. Imagine it as getting Vitamin D from the sun by soaking it up through your skin. This is the same way we get energy from the surface of the Earth, through the bottom of our feet.

The practice of grounding enables the Earth’s electrons to transfer from the ground into our bodies. And this, in turn, brings health benefits.

The Many Earthing Benefits

There are many documented benefits of earthing. Here is a list of just some of the earthing benefits:

Earthing and Mitigating the Effects of EMF Exposure

Earthing plays a very important role in reducing the symptoms of EMF exposure. This is because EMF radiation is positively charged. (Don’t mistake positive for a good thing!) 

This is why we want to expose ourselves to more negative ions, which can be found in abundance in nature. You absorb these beneficial ions as an electric current through the feet when grounding. 

Ions are simply molecules that have either gained or lost an electrical charge. They are created in nature and move through the air and water. These are the molecules that are responsible for the feeling of calmness and relaxation we feel during and after a walk through nature or on the beach. 

These ions help us to feel less stressed and at rest because they are working wonders within the body. They enter our bloodstream and increase the levels of serotonin. This helps to alleviate stress (which can be triggered by EMF exposure), depression and anxiety, which are often some of the main symptoms of EMF exposure. 

But grounding does more than instill a sense of calm in our bodies.

“It is an established, though not widely appreciated fact,” says a review article published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, “that the Earth’s surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons. […] It is also well established that electrons from antioxidant molecules neutralize reactive oxygen species (ROS, or in popular terms, free radicals) involved in the body’s immune and inflammatory responses.”

That’s right: electrons from the earth neutralize free radicals in our bodies. 

And because our bodies are electrically conductive, being in direct contact with the ground allows us to absorb these electrons. “Through this mechanism, every part of the body [can] equilibrate with the electrical potential of the Earth, thereby stabilizing the electrical environment of all organs, tissues, and cells.”

This is also why grounding can help to reduce the damaging effects of exposure to EMF radiation. Contact with the Earth helps to stabilize our bodies after the bombardment of electromagnetic radiation that our bodies are exposed to on a daily basis. Grounding can help undo, or at least to mitigate, some of the damage caused by exposure to human-made EMF radiation.

Now, it may not seem like this energy would be much help against the harmful effects of EMF, but grounding is actually quite a powerful practice. Earthing has the ability to restore and help stabilize our bioelectrical systems within the body. Remember, these are the systems that keep us alive and healthy.

Earthing helps put these processes back in their current state and allows the body to begin healing naturally and more easily. This means reducing inflammation, which is a major cause of disease, as well as reducing pain. 

You might also notice yourself feeling calmer and having a better night’s sleep. Have you ever noticed that you felt much more relaxed and at ease when you take a walk through nature? The process is very similar to grounding. 

Even if you are not barefoot in contact with the ground, you are still receiving negative ions from being in nature. Negative ions are actually very important in helping us to recover from exposure to EMF. This is one key way in which earthing and EMF are critically intertwined.

Why Is Grounding Important?

Grounding in today’s age of technology is almost critical. On a day to day basis, we absorb so much radiation and are exposed to dangerous levels of EMF regularly. The body stores this energy inside of us and can cause many health issues that could be prevented if we just took the proper precautions. 

At times it may seem like it’s impossible to avoid being bombarded with EMF. That’s why grounding is a great way to stabilize the body after exposure. You can look at it as a way of coping with the technologies of the world. 

Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman explained his belief that earthing helps us “becomes an extension of the Earth’s gigantic electric system, becoming a “working agent that cancels, reduces, or pushes away electric fields from the body.”

Grounding puts the body back into its proper state of functioning. Most people wear shoes that are made with a rubber sole. This actually stops the feet from being able to absorb the energy put out by the Earth. 

Being “disconnected” from the Earth while absorbing dangerous amounts of EMF isn’t a good combination. Grounding regularly can really help you feel better in a major way. 

To take advantage of the benefits of grounding, you don’t need to do anything extreme. While there are products out there that aim to bring the benefits of earthing indoors, your best option is simply to take off your shoes and go spend some time outside. 

How Do I Practice Earthing?

You can sit or lie on some grass, go for a walk on the beach, or pitch a chair outside and sit for half an hour with your feet touching the ground. The further away you are from a city (and all its ambient EMF radiation), the more benefits the experience will bring.

Try it for a half hour and see how it feels. Do you notice a difference? Do this regularly, and you’ll start to notice the benefits. 

It really is that easy. (If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of it, the only potential caveats are around where you choose to do your grounding, but we’ll talk about that in depth below.)

The more time spent grounding and in nature, the more we mitigate the negative effects of radiation. Ideally, it is best to practice grounding on a daily basis. Going barefoot on grass for at least 30 minutes a day can have profound impacts on your overall health and wellbeing. 

Where To Practice Earthing

Now, there’s one more aspect of grounding I want to discuss in more detail, and that’s where to do it.

Broadly speaking, there are two main places to practice earthing outdoors: out in nature away from human civilization, or close to buildings that have electrical wiring (most typically your yard at home). The latter presents some potential downsides.

Let’s take a look at both.

Earthing Away From Buildings

The absolute best place to practice earthing, hands down, is out in nature, away from any manmade EMFs or electrical currents. You could go walking through a forest, or sit in your local park with your bare feet touching the grass. Pack some food and a book and you have a great way to pass an hour lunch break on a work day.

Another excellent option is the beach. Walking or running on the sand with bare feet puts in you direct contact with those negative ions which help combat the effects of EMF exposure. Of course, lying with your whole body in the sand is even better!

Earthing At Home In Your Yard

Now, here’s where things get a bit tricky. We’ve already seen that there’s tremendous benefit in putting your body in touch with the earth. However, as with all things EMF, this topic is not without controversy. 

In an ideal, ‘non-electrified’ world, there would be zero issues with walking barefoot in your yard. As it turns out, however, in most of our yards (at least in the US), there will be current from our electrical system flowing in the ground. Because there is man-made electrical current in the ground, this may ‘un-do’ some of the benefits we are trying to achieve. I know, it’s never easy, is it!

How Electricity Reaches Your Home

Understanding how our electrical grid system works will help you understand why this is. Admittedly, this can get a little complicated, so I’ll do my best to break it down as simply as possible.

If your home is connected to a municipal power grid, the electricity coming into your home originates way back at the generating power plant. At the power plant, electricity is created and then sent over high-tension power lines throughout the city. Along the way, it will stop at ‘sub-stations’. You’ve probably seen these throughout your town. They’re often on corner lots in neighborhoods, near parks or playgrounds with open space, etc. They look something like this:

Earthing and ground currents: electrical substation

The purpose of the substation is to either ‘step up’ the power flowing to it, or ‘step down’ the power. The power leaving the generating plant needs to be quite high so that it can power all the neighborhoods in the area. But of course, it must be a fraction of that power to enter your home. So, there are constant increases and decreases of power all throughout the distribution system.

Closing the Loop

Now think back to your high school science class for a second. You probably remember that in order for current to flow, it must have a closed loop. Think about a light in your home. When you enter a room, and the light is off, that means there is no ‘loop’ or ‘circle’ to the light and back to the switch. In order for the light to turn on, you must ‘close’ the circle by turning the light on. Got it? 

When you turn the light switch on, you are closing the circle in the wires so that current can flow. It goes from the hot wire in the light switch, to the light bulb, to the neutral wire, back to the light switch. Current cannot flow if there is no continuous circuit or ‘loop’.

This is important to understand, because this is essentially how our electrical grid system works in our town, but on a much bigger scale. When electricity leaves the power plant, it cannot flow unless it has a circuit, or ‘loop’ to flow on. In order to achieve that, the entire electrical system is connected in one big circle. The electricity goes out on the ‘hot’ wires, and flows back on ‘neutral’ wires. If this loop did not exist, current would not flow and no electricity would be delivered to your house.

Grounding the System

Here in the US, our National Electrical Code requires that this system be ‘grounded’ at numerous places along that circuit. In this context, grounded means that the neutral, or return, wire, is connected to the earth. Now remember that the neutral wire is carrying current back to the power plant. As it is carrying current, and it is connected to the earth, this means that current has a path to flow to the earth – and it does!

Now to take this one step further, the same thing is happening in your home’s electrical wires, only on a smaller scale. 

Somewhere near your home there is a transformer – it’s either a pad mount (big green box on the ground) or on a utility pole. That transformer is reducing the amount of power from the neighborhood distribution line to a lower amount of power that your home’s wires can handle. 

Currents and Your Yard

Now remember, in order for that electricity to flow into your home, it must have a loop. Just like the city’s own distribution circuit, your home has it’s own ‘circle’. The electricity flows on ‘hot’ wires to your house, and then back on the ‘neutral’ or ‘return’ wire to the transformer. 

Once again, the National Electrical Code requires that your home’s electrical system be grounded to the earth. This means that all of your home’s ‘equipment grounding conductors’ are connected to the dirt, either through a grounding rod buried in your yard, or the metal water pipes that come into your house from underground, or maybe to the rebar that’s in your slab and touches the earth. As the electricity in your home flows in a ‘circle’, it will come in to your house on the hot wires, and go back to the transformer on the neutral, but along the way it passes these grounded points like your water pipe or grounding rod, and it also sends some current that way, because it’s an easy path. 

This means that current goes through your yard on its way back to the transformer. In addition to flowing on the earth in your yard, it can also flow on your equipment grounding conductors, or ‘ground wire’ – and it does!

If you want to understand this concept in better detail, I suggest watching this excellent video by Mike Holt:

How Do Ground Currents Affect Earthing?

What all of this means is that when you are ‘grounding’ or ‘earthing’ yourself to your home’s electrical system, or to your yard, you are connecting yourself to that current. This is exactly what we DON’T want to do!

There are many proponents of grounding that say this is not a problem. I would strongly disagree with that. When you understand how your system works, there is simply no other conclusion you can draw. 

Even in the ‘cleanest’ of homes, I invariably find current on grounding wires in the home. While I am obviously a fan of grounding your body, I never suggest that you connect directly to your home’s wires for this reason. Many companies that sell grounding products, (mats, sheets, wrist bands, and even canopies and paint) instruct you to connect the product to the ground wires in an outlet in your home. I strongly advise against that practice. Indeed I have seen many people with EHS get worse when they have attempted this. There is a lot of ‘garbage’ riding on that ground wire like stray current and dirty electricity. You don’t want to connect your body to that!

You’ll note that in the first part of this post, I talked only about connecting your body to the actual earth outdoors. Even after all I’ve just said, I DO still recommend that – with a few caveats. 

Though your yard likely has some current trying to return to your transformer, the levels of this current will vary widely. You may have so little that it’s not a problem for you to walk barefoot in your yard. If you have grounding products that you have already purchased, it is far more reasonable to connect those products to a grounding rod placed out in your yard than to the wires in your walls. That may actually provide you some benefit. The same goes for walking barefoot in your yard.

Testing For Currents

So how do you know if it’s a good idea to earth at your home? Testing how much current you may have in your yard is more challenging than you’d think. There are limitations to getting an accurate measurement due the interference of the measuring devices themselves. However, you can check your ‘Neutral-to-Earth Voltage’ as demonstrated by Mike Holt in the video above. It’s not a perfect correlation, but it will give you some information.

If that’s too much for you, you can simply go by how you feel. At the end of the day, that’s the best way to verify if it’s a good idea for you personally. While you may be tapping into a small amount of current, you are also getting those negative electrons like I talked about above. So for some people, the benefits outweigh the risks. 

For others, however, the current that may be present is too much for them, and it’s not worth it. This is a situation where no two people will react the same. You have to test it out and see what works best for you. 

Summing Up…

Many people find a lot of symptom relief by grounding in their yards and near their homes, and many people feel worse. As with all things EMF and EHS, it’s complicated. You are your own best meter, and when it comes to grounding, a little trial and error is needed.

That said, whenever you have an opportunity to ground away from the city, do it! As mentioned above, the beach is one of the best places to walk barefoot, or of course, put your whole body in the sand! Most remote locations away from any municipal power grid are generally good places for you to practice earthing and get those amazing negative ions. 

Perhaps this means we should try a little harder to take more breaks and get out in to nature more often. For all aspects of our health, I highly recommend this!

Grounding is just one of the ways you can protect yourself against the negative effects of EMF, for free. Learn more about why we always say the best EMF protection is free.

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About the Author

Cathy Cooke is a certified Building Biology Environmental Consultant and certified Electromagnetic Radiation Specialist through the Building Biology Institute, and a board certified Holistic Nutritionist with the National Association of Nutrition Professionals. She helps people achieve optimal health by addressing the body, mind, and home. Cathy has been featured on numerous podcasts and webinars including: The Kelly O Show, The Project Kuwait, Learn True Health, The Divine Insight Show, The Lifestyle Locker with Dr. Josh Handt, A Whole New You, Natural Wellness Tips, The Skin You’re In, Digester’s Dilemma, Shield Your Body and others. Previously, Cathy worked in the non-profit sector for nearly twenty years, including seven years as the Health and Safety Director for the American Red Cross of Alaska, managing the health and safety training department and responding to local and national disasters. She holds a degree in Historic Preservation and spends several months each summer as a project supervisor for the non-profit HistoriCorps which aims to save historic buildings on public lands. Cathy is very active her in own community and is a sought after speaker on health related topics, specifically regarding the growing EMF issues. She is also the founder and director of the non-profit Idahoans for Safe Technology. She received her Bachelor’s Degrees in Anthropology and Spanish from Creighton University. She is originally from Kansas City, MO and currently lives in Boise, ID. You may book time with Cathy through SYB Remote Consulting.

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