“Earth’s crammed with heaven… But only he who sees takes off his shoes.” ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning
We are no strangers to the health benefits of connecting with nature. After a long day at work, running away to the woods is always at the top of my mind. The mixture of fresh air, sunshine and the sounds of nature are practically nirvana when I am stressed.
Recently I came across an additional excuse to run away to the woods: Earthing. This is a fairly old trend that has recently gained scientific backing. It is the process of walking barefoot or sleeping directly on the earth. Your body must stay in contact with either dirt or plants, and it doesn’t work on concrete or asphalt. Sounds hippy-ish and maybe a bit too New-Age, huh? Well, let me explain the science behind earthing.
How Does it Work?
The science behind earthing all boils down to electron transference, or in simpler terms, electricity. Our bodies are natural electric conductors, meaning we have the ability to create a conductive loop through us. The earth is a huge source of electrons and electrical pulses.
By connecting our bodies directly with the earth we are able to cycle electricity/electrons at a slow and healthy pace. It’s like giving ourselves a little natural ‘buzz’ of energy. Luckily, there are even stronger benefits to the practice of earthing, including stress relief, reduction of chronic illnesses, and more.
The Science Behind Earthing In Stress Relief
When it comes to stress relief, common suggestions are exercise and getting outdoors. With earthing, you get the best of both worlds!
When we walk, our breathing forms a rhythm with our pace. With the added bonus of the ‘buzz’ from walking barefoot, we can increase our heart rate and endorphins release. Plus, we get to enjoy breathing in fresh air rich with oxygen.
The Science Behind Earthing In Chronic Illness
Studies on earthing have shown that everything from inflammatory pain to our body’s physiological processes is improved.
A study done on patients that practiced sleeping on the earth showed that earthing versus sleeping on a traditional mattress “increased free thyroxine and thyroid-stimulating hormones.” Thyroxine is considered by doctors to be the most influential thyroid hormone on our bodies. It travels through the bloodstream into our vital organs and affects most of our body’s systems. By increasing its production we can increase our chances of living longer and healthier lives.
(image source: Dissecting Patient Centered Care)
Further studies have delved into the potential for earthing to reduce our risks of cancer and other chronic illnesses. Chronic illnesses – cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions – are the leading cause of deaths affecting Americans in the 21st century. Scientific research has begun to tie together inflammation caused by increased cortisol levels and the increase in chronic illness. This ‘inflammation hypothesis’ “is establishing chronic inflammation as the culprit behind almost every modern chronic illness.”
Cortisol levels and inflammation are both decreased by earthing. Researchers found that cortisol levels were normalized when “earthing,” and inflammation was reduced. According to the studies: “It is also suggested that free electrons from the earth neutralize the positively charged free radicals that are the hallmark of chronic inflammation.” In simpler terms: laying on the ground is good for your health and can reduce your chances of chronic illnesses in the future.
Connect with the Earth
If you find yourself a little restless, needing some fresh air and green space; take yourself out to the woods and go earthing. Make it a regular part of your weekly routine, and it might even extend your years. Nature is good for our bodies and souls, so connect with it to improve your mood and your life!