Highlights from the referenced PubMed article
PubMed Central has a terrific article on the healing effects of grounding. This article captures the highlights, including links they contain. (For an index of pages like this one, see 4.0 Earthing Reference Highlights.)
My thanks to Markham Heid for the link he provided in Why You Should Spend Time Walking Barefoot Everyday (another terrific read). He mentioned “grounding” practically as an aside, but the article he referenced was filled with terrific information, including charts, diagrams and highly compelling photos. (To see them, follow the “Figure N” links in the highlights below.)
Acronyms used in the article, with additional explanations:
- DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (soreness that appears a day or two after pronounced exercise or exertion)
- ROS: Reactive Oxygen Species (produced from oxygen by the immune system in a chain-reaction “oxidative burst” that “oxidizes” an invader (a form of “instant rust” that destroys it — but which produces collateral damage in the process.
- RNS: Reactive Nitrogen Species (anti-microbial compounds the immune system makes from nitrogen which, together with ROS, form the “oxidative burst” the immune system generates to destroy foreign invaders)
- “Multi-disciplinary research has revealed that electrically conductive contact of the human body with the surface of the Earth (grounding or earthing) produces intriguing effects on physiology and health. Such effects relate to inflammation, immune responses, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
- “We present several hypotheses to explain observed effects, based on current research results and our understanding of the electronic aspects of cell and tissue physiology, cell biology, biophysics, and biochemistry.
- “Recently, a group of about a dozen researchers (including the authors of this paper) has been studying the physiological effects of grounding from a variety of perspectives. This research has led to more than a dozen studies published in peer-reviewed journals. While most of these pilot studies involved relatively few subjects, taken together, the research has opened a new and promising frontier in inflammation research, with broad implications for prevention and public health
- “Grounding reduces or even prevents the cardinal signs of inflammation following injury: redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function (Figures 1 and 2).
- “Our main hypothesis is that connecting the body to the Earth enables free electrons from the Earth’s surface to spread over and into the body, where they can have antioxidant effects.
- “We suggest that mobile electrons create an antioxidant microenvironment around the injury repair field, slowing or preventing reactive oxygen species (ROS) delivered by the oxidative burst from causing “collateral damage” to healthy tissue, and preventing or reducing the formation of the so-called “inflammatory barricade”.
- “We also hypothesize that electrons from the Earth can prevent or resolve so-called “silent” or “smoldering” inflammation.
Summary of Findings to Date
- “Grounding appears to improve sleep, normalize the day–night cortisol rhythm, reduce pain, reduce stress, shift the autonomic nervous system activation from sympathetic (emergency) toward parasympathetic (calming), increase heart rate variability (body and mind at peace), speed wound healing, and reduce blood viscosity.
Effects on Sleep
- “The results of the experiment led to these conclusions: 1) grounding the body during sleep yields quantifiable changes in diurnal or circadian cortisol secretion levels that, in turn, 2) produce changes in sleep, pain, and stress (anxiety, depression, and irritability), as measured by subjective reporting.
Effects on Pain and the Immune Response
- “The grounded subjects experienced less pain, as revealed with both the analog soreness scale (Figure 5) and by their ability to tolerate a higher pressure from the blood pressure cuff (Figure 6).(7)
- “Neutrophils’ production of ROS and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) is termed the “oxidative burst”.(21)….While ROS clear pathogens and cellular debris so that the tissue can regenerate, ROS can also damage healthy cells adjacent to the repair field, causing so-called collateral damage.
- “The fact that the grounded subjects had fewer circulating neutrophils and lymphocytes could indicate that the original damage resolved more quickly, collateral damage reduced, and the recovery process accelerated. This would explain the reduction in the cardinal signs of inflammation (redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function) following acute injury, as documented, for example, in Figures 1 and 2, and the rapid reduction of chronic inflammation documented in Figure 3.
- “Our working hypothesis features this scenario: mobile electrons from the Earth enter the body and act as natural antioxidants;3 they are semi-conducted through the connective tissue matrix, including through the inflammatory barricade if one is present;23 they neutralize ROS and other oxidants in the repair field; and they protect healthy tissue from damage.
- “We suggest that rapid resolution of inflammation takes place because the Earth’s surface is an abundant source of excited and mobile electrons, as described in our other work.(1)
- “We further propose that skin contact with the surface of the Earth allows Earth’s electrons to spread over the skin surface and into the body.
- “These observations indicate that grounding or earthing the human body significantly alters the inflammatory response to an injury.
Anatomical and Biophysical Aspects
- “It is not widely appreciated that collagen and other structural proteins are semiconductors….We now know that water plays crucial roles in enzymatic activities and semi-conduction. Hydrated proteins actually are semiconductors
- “ the collagenous connective tissue matrix are charge reservoirs (Figure 12)….The matrix is therefore a body-wide system capable of absorbing and donating electrons wherever they are needed to support immune functioning.(44)
- “we know from medical infrared imaging that inflammation begins to subside within 30 minutes of connecting with the earth via a conductive patch placed on the skin.(2,3) Secondly, metabolic activity increases during this same period. Specifically, there is an increase in oxygen consumption, pulse rate, and respiratory rate and a decrease in blood oxygenation during 40 minutes of grounding.(45)
- “These considerations also imply anti-aging effects of earthing or grounding, since the dominant theory of aging emphasizes cumulative damage caused by ROS produced during normal metabolism or produced in response to pollutants, poisons, or injury.46
Wound Healing & Inflammation
- “Remarkable as it may seem, our findings suggest that this classical picture of the inflammatory barricade may be a consequence of lack of grounding, and of a resultant “electron deficiency”. Wounds heal very differently when the body is grounded (Figures 1 and 2). Healing is much faster, and the cardinal signs of inflammation are reduced or eliminated.
- “Electrons from the Earth may in fact be the best antioxidants, with zero negative secondary effects, because our body evolved to use them over eons of physical contact with the ground. Our immune systems work beautifully as long as electrons are available to balance the ROS and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) used when dealing with infection and tissue injury.
Chronic Diseases & Body Energy
- “The disconnection from the Earth may be an important, insidious, and overlooked contribution to physiological dysfunction and to the alarming global rise in non-communicable, inflammatory-related chronic diseases.
- “A lack of electrons can also de-saturate the electron transport chains in mitochondria, leading to chronic fatigue and slowing the cellular migrations and other essential activities of the cells of the immune system.(64)
- “When mobile electrons are not available, the inflammatory process takes an abnormal course. Areas that are electron deficient are vulnerable to further injury — they become positively charged and will have difficulty warding off infections. The result is an immune system constantly activated and eventually exhausted.
- “Cells of the immune system may fail to distinguish between the body’s diverse chemical structures (called “self”) and the molecules of parasites, bacteria, fungi, and cancer cells (called “non-self”). This loss of immunologic memory can lead to attacks by some immune cells on the body’s own tissues and organs.
- “An example is the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells of the islets of Langerhans in the diabetic patient. Another example is the immune system attacking cartilage in joints, producing rheumatoid arthritis. Lupus erythematosus is an extreme example of an auto-immune condition caused by the body’s immune system attacking host tissues and organs.
- “Which part or parts of the body the weakened immune system will attack first depends on many factors such as genetics, habits (sleep, food, drinks, exercise, etc), and toxins in the body and in the environment.(65,66) A repeated observation is that grounding, or earthing, reduces the pain in patients with lupus and other autoimmune disorders.(1)
- “The very fabric of the body appears to serve as one of our primary antioxidant defense systems. As this report explains, it is a system requiring occasional recharging by conductive contact with the Earth’s surface — the “battery” for all planetary life — to be optimally effective.
Eric Armstrong describes himself as The Lazy Health Nut. He is always looking for the fastest, easiest, and most efficient way to get fit, lose weight, and develop athletic skills. (Such pursuits do take time and effort. But let’s not waste energy in the process!) He’s the author of The Secret Science of Weight Loss, and other books.
Learn more: About Eric (lazy health nut)