I love earthing. It calms me down and helps me recover from exercise, infection, and anxiety. Here’s a scientific stance on earthing as it relates to inflammation. Read this great research paper for the nitty gritty.
Our bodies respond to exercise, infection, or injury damage by immune response. The immune response sends oxidative bursts that clear damaged tissue at the site of injury. This makes room for building healthy tissue. Think muscles getting bigger after training. Or you feeling amazing after all the coughing, sneezing, green yellow snot, and fevers from an infection. There’s a breakdown, then a buildup. Same response, different concentrations.
It’s called “oxidative burst” because agents are produced that have reactive oxygen molecules. The molecules have open-ended electrons that react with other molecules that make up the cells in our bodies. A common one made by our immune systems is superoxide. Contact with these molecules is called oxidation, and it leads to cell death. That’s why you don’t want to eat “oxidized fats”. They’re damaged by oxygen in the air, UV, and overcooking. The damaged fat’s free radicals will react with your body if you eat them.
The problem with the oxidative burst cell clearing process is that it affects surrounding healthy tissue. Oxidative bursts are not sniper shots. They are more like shotgun sprays in the general area. So what should have been protection for a tiny cut can become a whole swollen limb, if your immune system is not held in check. You’ll see what I mean in a moment.
Now for the experiment from the research paper. A group of people were subjected to soreness from calf raises. They were divided into earthed and non-earthed groups for the recovery period. Half of the subjects were given earthing mats and patches on their calves, and the other half were given placebo treatment. According to this research, swelling and muscle pain lasted longer for those who were not grounded. The subjects who were grounded experienced quicker resolution of swelling and pain. They also saw quicker white blood cell clearing from the repair areas. The ungrounded subjects had white blood cells lingering much longer.
So what’s the connection? Grounded means Earthed. Earthed means connected by bare skin to the surface of the Earth. The studies conducted regarding tissue inflammation and Earthing used grounding mats (example). These are semi conductive mats or patches that are attached to a person’s skin and plugged into the ground. The electrical connection to the ground brings the person to about the same voltage as the Earth.
That’s because they are connected to the earth’s electron supply. And electrons are antioxidants. Antioxidants diffuse oxidation within tissue. Remember that an oxidized molecule has a free electron, or free radical that makes it harmful. So a free electron from the earth or a donated one from vitamin C can stabilize the oxidant and stop the killing process.
So when you’re hurt, your body sends the immune response. White blood cells go there, and start clearing out dead tissue or killing off pathogens with free radicals like superoxide. The oxidative products from this cause inflammation at and around the injury. If you’re earthed, the balance comes from free electrons from the earth. They quickly subdue the killing, swelling, and pain. It’s nature’s balance.
If you’re making contact with the ground, an unlimited supply of free electrons from the earth are passing into your body. They are stored throughout your tissue and can eventually be used at the site of an injury, to resolve an inflammatory immune response.
If you’re not grounded, you don’t get that influx of electrons. Sure, there are antioxidants from foods and chemicals like bilirubin and vitamin C. But these are limited supplies, especially if we are not feeding ourselves with antioxidant-rich foods. Not only are we not eating enough nutritious foods, we are also eating oxidized fats and keeping the balance tipped toward inflammation.
When earthing, think electrically. Anything that doesn’t conduct electricity between you and the ground blocks that flow of free electrons. Rubber, wood, plastic, floor finish, glass, you name it. Dirt, grass, water, wet sand, and even concrete, with water molecules throughout it’s structure, are conductors and semiconductors that will allow earth’s electrons to flow into you. You don’t need much. Our bodies are hyper sensitive to electricity. The minuscule flow of electrons from the ground is enough to help us.
Without free and mobile electrons from the earth, inflammation lasts longer than it needs to. Swelling gets bigger than necessary. And sometimes, even if the initial hurt subsides, the inflammation never really goes away. Not only are we experiencing inflammation from injury, exercise, and infection, we are also getting it from environmental toxins and the food we eat.
The key is to keep the balance tipped in favor of quick healing and minimal inflammation. Earthing will keep your supply of electrons full and push you toward thriving.