Do you ever feel the slightest bit ungrounded? Like your life, your thoughts, and your priorities are spinning out of control?
Given the modern world we live in, I’d be surprised if anyone could answer with an honest “no”.
Never before in history have human beings been so disconnected to the earth, whilst fielding an avalanche of 24/7 news cycles and digital communication overload.
It’s enough to make anyone feel a bit ungrounded from time to time (if not most of the time).
I have noticed this in my own personal experience and in practice, as more and more patients present with signs and symptoms of what we characterize in Traditional Chinese Medicine as an Earth-deficiency.
It is becoming epidemic.
And though acupuncture can go a long way in resetting that pattern, an acupuncture-session-a-day isn’t a sustainable solution for most.
Beyond Traditional Chinese Medicine, a variety of scientific studies have revealed the proven health detriments of a lack of groundedness. It’s even been coined:”Vitamin-G deficiency” (“G” standing for “grounding”).
In other words, most of us aren’t getting enough one-on-one time with the natural world, specifically, the ground we walk on.
What happens when we deprive ourselves of Vitamin G via direct contact with the earth?
Sleep patterns suffer, heart disease risk increases, our mental and emotional well-being goes downhill, inflammation heats up causing increased levels of pain, and our relationship to stress can feel overwhelming.
The good news is, the best ways to get grounded and cure “Vitamin G” deficiency are simple, accessible, and free to everyone everywhere.
Read on to learn the best free sources of Vitamin G, plus some of the fascinating science behind the earth-human-health connection.
How the Earth’s Surface Heals the Human Body
Though it may sound a little out-there, the health benefits of earthing—the practice of connecting oneself to the ground or sea by walking around barefoot, swimming, or gardening—are well-documented by science.
We can tend to think of our bodies as purely biological in nature, when in truth they are also very much electrical.
Our nervous systems, heart beat, and brains all function via electrical impulses. This is evident when we get an EKG, which measures the electrical energy of our hearts.
The human body carries a predominantly positive electric charge, while the earth carries a more negative electrical charge. Therefore, our bodies rely on a balance of these charges to maintain groundedness and good health.
Generations ago, humans had plenty of contact with the earth—we foraged, slept on the ground, and bathed in natural waterways. All these regular activities kept our electrical systems balanced.
These days we spend most of our time indoors and surrounded by electronics which emit a positive charge.
What happens when two positives meet? They repel each other. Hence why we need that balancing negative charge from the earth to soothe and ground our circuits.
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, walking barefoot naturally stimulates a major acupuncture point near the ball of the foot known as kidney 1 (K1); a key entry point for the absorption of grounding Earth Qi.
I’ll explain more of the vast health implications of the K1 point coming up, but suffice it to say earthing has a history of health benefits far beyond what we have discovered in the West.
The Proven Health Benefits of Earthing/Grounding and Vitamin G
As you can imagine and have likely experienced, chronic disconnection from the earth takes a serious toll on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Likewise, when you take the time to connect to the earth on a daily basis, the health perks add up quickly.
Here are some of the latest scientific findings on the health benefits of getting grounded/earthing:
- Earthing prevents cardiovascular disease—research has shown earthing can reduce your risk of cardiovascular health issues by reducing blood viscosity—a major factor in heart disease1.
- Getting grounded can help you sleep better—insomnia creates a cascade of health issues and is a sure sign of Earth-Qi (or Vitamin G) deficiency.
A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, showed earthing during sleep (through use of an earthing mat) helped improve sleep by balancing night time cortisol levels (your body’s stress hormone) which helps reset your circadian rhythm. In addition, participants experienced reductions in pain and stress. The results were especially prominent in women2.
Though this study focuses on night time grounding, I have seen great improvements in patients’ sleep patterns from daytime earthing too.
- Earthing can significantly reduce pain and inflammation—with all the controversy and safety concerns surrounding prescription and over-the-counter pain pills, this may be the most significant benefit of all.
In a study published in the Journal of Inflammation Research, scientists found earthing significantly reduced pain and inflammation in study subjects by influencing a variety of biological and chemical processes related to inflammation.
Exercise fiends, take note: results included positive effects on delayed onset muscle soreness or “DOMS”—the type of pain you experience a day or two after strenuous exercise.
- Earthing can help improve immunity—in the same study cited above, researchers observed the immunomodulating effects of earthing on concentrations of white blood cells, cytokeines, and lymphotcytes (to name a few). It gives new meaning to the term “natural remedy”.
- Earthing helps improve a variety of organs and systems via the K1 acupuncture point—as mentioned previously, walking barefoot stimulates the K1 kidney acupuncture point to absorb the Earth’s energy.
This major acupuncture point connects with your Urinary Bladder point which influences your heart, lungs, diaphragm, liver, lungs, and brain.
Why Earthing/Grounding is Essential for Promoting Mental and Emotional Well-Being
For those who suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, depression or other mental health issues, daily earthing is one of the most important self-care practices you can adopt.
Besides all the mental and emotional health benefits associated with time spent in nature and greenspace (stay tuned for a future post on this), earthing helps improve your mental and emotional health in four big ways:
- It has been shown to improve heart-rate variability which can help those suffering from stress-induced emotional disorders such as panic attacks, depression, and anxiety3.
- As mentioned above, it helps regulate cortisol levels which improves sleep and helps you better cope with stress.
- It is effective for depression because it reduces whole-body inflammation, which many mental health experts and pioneering researchers believe is a major contributing factor to depression4.
- Walking barefoot, gardening, playing in the dirt or sand, or swimming in the ocean all help diversify your gut microbiome which has a positive influence on that all-important gut-brain connection.
Research aside, there is the innate sensibility within that says going outdoors will make you feel better. We would be wise to heed that call, and do it with bare feet.
The photo in this blog with the kids barefoot about to go paddleboarding pulls the message together beautifully. First of all, we see the innocence of children who are still in touch with their center. Secondly, they are barefoot, a key to grounding. Thirdly, the idea of paddleboarding or surfing brings together a beautiful metaphor. To be successful at either (I can speak from experience with both surfing and paddleboarding), one has to develop an inner centeredness, an inner calm if you will. No matter how the waves are rocking and rolling around you, it is awareness from your center that allows you to go with the flow and stay balanced on the board as you ride the waves.
How to “Earth” or “Get Grounded” for Maximium Benefit
The best ways to “earth” include spending 20-40 minutes a day…
- Walking on the grass, dirt, sand, or even cement barefoot.
- Swimming in the ocean or walking on the beach (the electrical charge of salt water provides an abundance of negative electronics, in addition to the sand).
- Gardening, preferably without gloves or shoes.
- Exercising outdoors barefoot—yoga, QiGong, Tai Chi, walking, running, dancing, or anything you can do comfortably without shoes.
- Using an earthing or grounding mat, sheet, or pad—these devices ground you to the earth via a copper wire and can be used on your bed, office chair, in the car, whilst doing yoga, etc.
- Playing in a clean, natural body of water barefoot such as a clean creek, river, or lake.
Since many children suffer the effects of Vitamin G deficiency in the form of attention issues, inflammatory diseases, and mental health challenges, I encourage you to include them in your earthing practice (and it’s great for pets too!).
My personal favorite ways to reconnect with the earth are to walk on the beach, swim, paddleboard, putter around the yard and garden with my dogs and practice Qi Gong barefoot. I often comment how my feet just feel “happy” when I am walking barefoot on the beach.
However you choose to do it, make sure you aim for 20-40 minutes a day for maximum benefit.
When I began this blog, a priority was to provide science-backed information on the more little-known, non-commercial paths to healing.
Earthing is a perfect example of a natural therapy anyone can practice regardless of age, monetary means, or location. Just find a piece of ground, take off your shoes and relax your feet.