Nerd Talk Tuesday : The Science of EARTHING

Nerd Talk Tuesday Featuring : "Earthing"

Just when you thought the world of alternative health couldn’t get any weirder than eating raw organ meat and juicing celery, people start talking about the effects of Earth’s magnetic field. 

May I present to you alternative medicine’s latest and greatest trend, earthing.

As the name might suggest, the concept of “earthing” is centered on, well, the earth. The act of earthing refers to the unbarred contact between your bare feet and the ground. Based in the idea that Earth’s surface is rich in free moving electrons, people have taken to earthing as a way to balance their own body’s electric functions

At first glance, the idea seems pretty ludacris, but let’s explore the topic further. What does the science have to say? 

It has long be observed that the surface of Earth is abundant in free electrons. This gives the surface a negatively charged potential, seeing as electrons are negative subatomic particles. (You’ll recall from 6th grade science class that atoms are composed of positive protons, negative electrons, and neutral neutrons). 

Prior to modern footwear apparel, it is thought that humans exchanged free moving electrons from the surface. Today, however, rubber soled shoes keep us largely insulated from the Earth’s surface. 

It is hypothesized that this insulation renders humans unable to regulate their body’s bioelectrical functions (cells communicate via electrical impulses which are signaled by the exchange of electrons). 

All this sounds logical enough, but does it hold up to a more critical analysis? 

Well, the existing scientific literature would seem to say, “Yes”. 

Experiments conducted back in 2011 showed that earthing subjects while sleeping resulted in:

  • decreased free tri-iodothyronine
  • decreased blood glucose in patients with diabetes
  • increased free thyroxine and thyroid-stimulating hormone

Subsequent research in 2012 found:

  • reduction in pain and inflammation
  • better quality of sleep
  • reduce chronic stress and risk of cardiovascular disease

All of the results were deemed statistically significant. 

To be frank, I’m not 100% sold on the idea of earthing. However, I do seem to recall feeling more jubilant and relaxed as a child running barefoot everywhere. Jokes aside, the research on earthing is sparse, but is significant. Is it time to throw your sneakers up on Ebay? Maybe not, but feeling the grass beneath your toes every now and then couldn’t hurt!