advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Is There Anything to "Earthing"?

I recently read about the practice of "earthing" - the idea that walking barefoot outside will "ground" us and make us healthier. Is there any scientific basis for these claims?

A
Answer (Published 1/8/2013)

"Earthing" also called "grounding" stems from the idea that in modern city life we no longer have direct physical contact with the Earth, and therefore are losing out on purported health benefits of exchanging electrons with the surface of our planet. A handful of small studies have found that grounding appears to provide some general health benefits, such as better sleep, less pain, reduced stress and tension, and better immune function compared to study participants who weren't grounded. One study suggested that earthing eliminates the potentially harmful effects of the electromagnetic fields given off by all the electronic devices that surround us.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging - Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet! - Everything you need to get started eating a healthful, satisfying diet is here - including eating and shopping guides, over 300 recipes, and an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid! Start your 14-day free trial now - and start eating anti-inflammatory today!

According to earthing proponents, you can ground yourself by walking outside barefoot, sitting on the ground or being connected to the Earth via grounding devices that transfer electrons from the earth to your body. There are even special shoes that feature copper contacts the soles, linking the body to the earth.

Supposedly, electrons drawn into the body from the earth neutralize damaging free radicals and by extension reduce disease-related chronic or acute inflammation. In one investigation, participants slept on a special mat that had a connection to a grounding device outside the house. When compared to the ungrounded participants in the same study, the grounded ones showed significant changes in key biomarkers including serum sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, total protein and others.

Earthing enthusiasts claim that throughout history, our ancestors walked barefoot or wore shoes made from animal skins, which gave them direct contact with the Earth. Of course, for the most part those ancestors, grounded or not, lived short, hard lives for a variety of reasons, so it is difficult to draw conclusions about the effect of grounding, if any, on their overall health.

We'll need additional studies of better design and with more participants before we can know whether it is really possible to derive health benefits from earthing. While the studies done so far are intriguing, some of the hype for earthing is over-the-top. I don't buy the extravagant claim by one proponent that, "You can literally feel the pain draining from your body as soon as you touch the earth." Is that something you've noticed whenever you've stood barefoot in your backyard or kicked off your sandals at the beach?

Be aware that there's a substantial commercial aspect to earthing. One website that I visited sells a range of equipment, including earthing beds said to do what "no other mattress on the planet can…(reconnect) you to the Earth's gentle, natural healing energy while you sleep."

I'm all for going barefoot whenever possible, outdoors or in. It simulates the feet and can be very relaxing. Those who practice reflexology often recommend walking barefoot on round stones to help stimulate pressure points on the feet, and I've written on this site about the relatively new enthusiasm for barefoot running, which (when you get used to it) is supposed to be less jarring and less likely to lead to injuries. As for earthing, let's wait see if future research confirms and expands on the very little we know now.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here