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Grounding: the subtle and powerful science of reconnecting to the earth

A collage-type image with imagery of soil, sea and plants
Grounding: art by Aimée Lister

Do you ever find yourself trying to figure out in what ways you can start cultivating a happy and healthy lifestyle? Well, the answer might be just beneath your feet, literally.

Grounding, sometimes referred to as Earthing, is the theory that standing barefoot on the ground has the effect of balancing the body electrically, leading to positive mental and physical impacts.

It has its origins in a reflective and mundane moment on a park bench. In the movie, The Earthing Movie: The Remarkable Science of Grounding, which explains the origins and benefits of this theory and practice, Clint Ober finds himself grounding his desk in order to get rid of static electricity and get his computer going, in Sedona Arizona. Having done this he set out on a walk, explaining, ‘I didn’t think too much about it’. He was sitting on a bench when a bus pulled over and a myriad of what seemed to be brand new white Nike shoes paraded across the sidewalk. It then occurred to him that maybe shoes were keeping people from being grounded.

That very night Clinton connected one side of a wire to a ground rod outside and ducked taped the other side to his bed, and he immediately felt the benefits in the improved quality of his sleep. Having been diagnosed with chronic inflammation, it didn’t take him long to start researching and piecing together the link between our physical disconnection to the Earth and increased levels of inflammation in the body.

Inflammation has become a routine part of daily life, and the scariest bit about it is that so much of it falls under the category of silent inflammation (also known as chronic inflammation) which can affect the body from a period of months to years, sometimes even without our realising it. Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatism, sclerosis, heart disease and even stress and cancer are inflammatory processes.

Ober’s new way of thinking is revolutionary in the sense that it stops looking at these disorders as the cause of inflammation, but rather as a symptom of our disconnection to the planet on which we stand.

Inflammation is produced by neutrophils, a type of white blood cell which treats damaged cells by encapsulating them and realising reactive oxygen species which rip electrons from the damaged cell, destroying it. The white blood cells release free radicals, which also occur naturally as part of metabolic processes, at the 'repair field' (the damaged region), eradicating pathogens and dead cells. In the absence of a healthy level of electrons, these white blood cells begin to leak into surrounding tissues where they begin to steal electrons from healthy cells which sends a message back to the immune system which responds by sending more neutrophils to the newly damaged cells, resulting in a chain reaction where the body begins to attack itself - chronic inflammation.

So, where and how does the grounding process start? Well, the sun releases electrons which reach the ionosphere and charge it up. The ionosphere then periodically releases this charge through lightning, transferring those electrons to the ground.

When we connect to the earth through a conductive surface, there is a transfer of electrons into our body, which then coat the red blood cells causing them to repel each other. When this happens, the red blood cells are unable to clump, resulting in a reduction of blood viscosity, which makes it easier for the heart to pump blood and reduces high blood pressure.

In 2017, a study was carried out in which grounding wires were attached to 26 premature infants in an intensive care unit. The heart rate of these infants stabilized and their vagal tone (the activity of the vagus nerve ,one of the main nerves responsible for the parasympathetic nervous system, and a critical indicator in the health of babies), increased by 67% with grounding, hinting at the strong correlation between a connection with the earth and overall health.

Suddenly, caring for and connecting to the environment means so much more than ensuring resources for future generations. It means re-claiming the human right to a good quality of life, for all of us who are alive now, and all of those that are to come. If we take care of the planet upon which we stand, it will take care of us.

By Louder Than The Storm writer Nina Purton


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