When's the last time you kicked off your shoes and reveled in the feeling of the Earth under your feet?
It may sound hard to believe, but engaging in this simple pleasure could give your health a much-needed boost.
Often it is the case that engaging in activities that feel good on an intrinsic level really are good for your health -- like the feeling of the afternoon sun warming your bare skin.
Walking barefoot outside, with the soles of your feet free to mesh with the surface of the Earth – an activity known as Earthing, or grounding -- is another such case.
You are an electrical being -- your body regularly produces positive charges, which can oxidize and harm you if it is excessive. The Earth's surface is electrically conductive; it maintains a negative charge with its free electron supply continually replenished by the global atmospheric electrical circuit.
As such, as reported in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health:
"It is an established, though not widely appreciated fact, that the Earth's surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons.
… Mounting evidence suggests that the Earth's negative potential can create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body systems. Moreover, oscillations of the intensity of the Earth's potential may be important for setting the biological clocks regulating diurnal body rhythms, such as cortisol secretion."
There is growing research showing that this connection to the Earth's surface plays a vital role in preventing disease and offers a host of benefits from improved sleep to pain relief.
The problem, of course, is that while humans have historically spent much of their days with their bare skin next to the Earth (both while walking and sleeping, including on animal skins, which still allow electrons to enter the body), today this vital connection has been lost.
"Throughout history, humans mostly walked barefoot or with footwear made of animal skins. They slept on the ground or on skins. Through direct contact or through perspiration-moistened animal skins used as footwear or sleeping mats, the ground's abundant free electrons were able to enter the body, which is electrically conductive. Through this mechanism, every part of the body could equilibrate with the electrical potential of the Earth, thereby stabilizing the electrical environment of all organs, tissues, and cells.
Modern lifestyle has increasingly separated humans from the primordial flow of Earth's electrons. For example, since the 1960s, we have increasingly worn insulating rubber or plastic soled shoes, instead of the traditional leather fashioned from hides… Obviously, we no longer sleep on the ground as we did in times past."
The scientific theory behind the health benefits seen from this simple practice is that since the Earth has a greater negative charge than your body, you end up absorbing electrons from it. This is one of the most potent antioxidants we know of and may have an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect on your body. As written in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine:
"It is well established, though not widely known, that the surface of the earth possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons as a consequence of a global atmospheric electron circuit. Wearing shoes with insulating soles and/or sleeping in beds that are isolated from the electrical ground plane of the earth have disconnected most people from the earth's electrical rhythms and free electrons.
… A previous study demonstrated that connecting the human body to the earth during sleep (earthing) normalizes the daily cortisol rhythm and improves sleep. A variety of other benefits were reported, including reductions in pain and inflammation. Subsequent studies have confirmed these earlier findings and documented virtually immediate physiologic and clinical effects of grounding or earthing the body."
To put it simply, it's thought that the influx of free electrons from the Earth's surface will help to neutralize free radicals and reduce both acute and chronic inflammation, which is at the root of many health conditions and accelerated aging.
The effects of grounding appear to be so profound that researchers suggest health practitioners prescribe outdoor "barefoot sessions" as the weather permits. This is as simple as it sounds – you kick off your shoes and socks and walk barefoot on the grass, the dirt, the sand or whatever "Earth" is available to you. Studies suggest that benefits such as pain relief and stress reduction may occur in just 30-80 minutes of barefoot time a day.
So, like access to regular sun exposure, walking barefoot outside is a grossly neglected foundational practice that you can easily correct. In the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, researchers concluded:
"Emerging evidence shows that contact with the Earth—whether being outside barefoot or indoors connected to grounded conductive systems—may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly effective environmental strategy against chronic stress, ANS [autonomic nervous system] dysfunction, inflammation, pain, poor sleep, disturbed HRV [heart rate variability], hypercoagulable blood, and many common health disorders, including cardiovascular disease.
The research done to date supports the concept that grounding or earthing the human body may be an essential element in the health equation along with sunshine, clean air and water, nutritious food, and physical activity."
Natural health expert Dr. Joseph Mercola
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