Friday, July 1

Earthing: How Going Barefoot Can Control Inflammation

Why don’t birds perching on power lines get electrocuted? The answer is that a bird, or a person, is not a very good conductor of electricity, and the current flows through the wire instead of the bird. Electricity is like water and always seeks the path of least resistance. This is also the reason why your electrical installation at home and your appliances have a third wire, the ground line, so that any possible surge travels through that wire to the ground, and does not pass through your body.

Your body can also store static electricity, as you may have experienced more than once after getting out of the car or walking across a rug and then being shocked by knocking on the door. That spark is your body “grounding itself”, that is, serving as a bridge so that the electrical charges balance. The problem is that in today’s world, your body is grounded less and less.

The first rubber soles appeared at the end of the 19th century. Until then, humanity had used a piece of thick leather to protect the feet, but today almost all of us walk with pieces of rubber or plastic foam under the soles of our feet, and that sole electrically insulates us from the ground. There are indications that this change seems to have been more momentous than it seems.

Static electricity and inflammation

If you have ever rubbed a balloon against a wool sweater, you know that it becomes charged with static electricity. The balloon steals electrons from the wool and stays charged. The same thing happens to your body when you walk in synthetic-soled shoes on a wool rug. Mobile phone repair people wear grounded wristbands so that static electricity doesn’t destroy delicate electronic circuits. In a few experiments it has been observed that “grounding” people has positive effects on health, something that is also known as “grounding” or “earthing”.

In a small study with 10 participants healthy subjects grounded themselves using patches on the palms of their hands and the soles of their feet. Then the fluidity of their blood, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, was measured, and it was found that the grounded people had the most fluid blood.

Other larger studio tested the effect of grounding on recovery after exercise. The researchers used both patches and grounded mats and measured creatine kinase, an enzyme produced when muscles are damaged. They also measured white blood cell concentration and subjective levels of pain. The grounded volunteers experienced less muscle damage and less pain and swelling.

The same grounded patches were applied to a tour de France cyclist who had sustained a very deep wound to his leg, which healed more quickly. In other cases, sleeping in a grounded bed improved inflammation and reduced ulcers in people with diabetes.

In a controlled study (the highest quality) with physical therapists, who have a very physically demanding job, it was found that those who worked on a grounded mat felt less pain, anxiety, depression, fatigue, sleep disorders. They were also able to serve more clients per work day, and reported feeling more energy and less stress.

How grounding works

The explanation proposed by researchers is that when we are in contact with the earth we are accumulating electrons that are stored in the cellular matrix, the space between our cells. These extra electrons are necessary to neutralize free radicals that are produced in inflammatory processes.

When we walk in insulated shoes, our reserve of extra electrons is discharged, and inflammation increases more than it should. Most studies on the effects of are small, and experts agree that more research is needed. However, the preliminary positive results, and the lack of side effects, is generating interest in ways to connect with the earth. These are the most common:

  • walk barefoot: The easiest way to ground yourself is to take off your shoes and walk, if possible in nature, on grass, sand or dirt.
  • Lay on the floor: lying on the grass in a park or on the beach always seems appealing, the contact with the ground is maximized since it is not only the feet that come into contact with the ground.
  • dive into the water: taking a bath in the sea or in a river, or simply getting your feet wet already has the same effects, since water also puts us in contact with the earth.
  • Grounded Mats: they are used to work with electronic equipment, and consist of a small mat that is connected to the ground of a power outlet.
  • grounded sheets: in many cases our beds have synthetic mattresses that isolate us from the earth. There are conductive sheets or mattress pads that are placed on the bed connected to the ground to improve sleep.
  • connected shoes: Some brands of shoes offer rubber soles with a copper button that goes through them and comes into contact with the foot, which allows you to be permanently connected to the earth.

Almost all of these solutions are free, and there is one more that is even simpler: touch a faucet. The plumbing system is always connected to ground, and it will serve to charge you with all the electrons that you have lost instantly.

What is all this based on?

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