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Here’s What Happened When I Tried Grounding

I’m not sure when I first heard about grounding — the practice of connecting with the Earth’s surface directly with your skin. But since I’m always on board with hanging out in nature, I decided to give the practice a shot. I was even more intrigued when I came across research about the effects of earthing (another name for grounding) on relieving chronic inflammation.

Here’s what I learned.

What the research says

A 2015 report found that grounding shows a measurable difference in the concentrations of white blood cells, cytokines, and other molecules involved in the inflammatory response.1 It went on to say that grounding reduces or even prevents the main signs of inflammation that follow an injury: redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function. Researchers studied the resolution of chronic inflammation in at least 20 cases using medical infrared imaging.

How do you ground?

You can ground yourself by walking barefoot outside or by connecting to conductive systems, (some of them patented by the people who helped fund some of the research), that claim to transfer the energy from the ground into the body.1,2 Personally, I think if you’re going to ground, then you should do it outside, but that can be hard in the winter or when you work indoors all day.

Another study says, “Emerging scientific research supports the concept that the Earth’s electrons induce multiple physiological changes of clinical significance, including reduced pain, better sleep, a shift from sympathetic to parasympathetic tone in the autonomic nervous system, and a blood-thinning effect”. Some researchers suggest that disconnecting with the electrons produced by the Earth may contribute to physiological dysfunction and decreased well-being.2 Studies have also looked at grounding and its effects on pain and inflammation along with its ability to normalize cortisol levels and improve sleep.3

Did it help?

I’m not here to legitimize the science behind grounding, but I do want to share my experience. I tried the practice either by walking in the grass for 10 minutes a few times a day, putting my hands in the dirt, or putting my feet in a river. (I lived in Colorado, so this was easier than it might be in a city.)

Except for the one time I got stung by a bug while walking barefoot, I found connecting with the grass or sitting by the water extremely calming. It was a similar feeling to taking off uncomfortable clothes at the end of the day and putting on your jammies. I experienced a full-body sigh of relief each time.

While I didn’t experience a spontaneous resolving of my endometriosis pain — I also didn’t do that much grounding — I did feel better after walking in the grass or playing in the dirt. It’s possible simply being outdoors is what helped. Research shows proximity to water or nature can increase well-being.4,5

What I noticed more than anything was just how much I don’t connect with nature. Focusing on grounding helped me become more mindful about how much time I spent indoors. If you’ve got a regular 9-5 job in a city, it’s pretty hard to just stand around in the grass for even 10 minutes without your shoes on. But I recommend finding a park, fountain, or patch of grass close to your work and taking your lunch break outside, barefoot if you can.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Oschman J, Chevalier G, Brown R. The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. J Inflamm Res. 2015;8:83-96. Accessed May 20, 2019.
  2. Chevalier G, Sinatra S, Oschman J, Sokal K, Sokal P. Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface Electrons. J Environ Public Health. 2012. Accessed May 20, 2019.
  3. Oschman J. Perspective: Assume a spherical cow: The role of free or mobile electrons in bodywork, energetic and movement therapies. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 2008;12(1):40-57. Accessed May 20, 2019.
  4. Henderson-Wilsonc C, Weerasuriya R. Feel blue, touch green: examples of green spaces promoting mental health. BJPsych Int. 2017;14(4):85-87. Accessed May 20, 2019.
  5. Bloomfield D. What makes nature-based interventions for mental health successful? BJPsych Int. 2017;14(4):82-85. Accessed May 20, 2019.