In a previous post on light therapy we discussed the healing power of sunlight and how we derive nourishment from the sun. Just as we require vitamin sunlight (for vitamin D, among other things) the Earth itself provides a form of nourishment that we can refer to as vitamin Earth.
Traditional Chinese medicine describes two basic forces of which human beings are a fusion. One is yang energy which is warming, active, and light. The opposite is yin energy which is cooling, passive, and dark. The ultimate expression of yang energy is the sun and sunlight. Similarly, an expression of yin energy is a cool, dark cave deep in the Earth. This concept of yin energy is akin to this concept of vitamin Earth. Just as we need an activating influence provided by the warmth of the sun, we also need a cooling and calming form of nourishment to provide balance.
Grounding provides the literal and metaphorical basis for this calming and balancing influence. The idea pervades language when we encourage someone who is moving too fast in life to get grounded. In electrical engineering, the grounding wire pulls extra hot (yang) current into the Earth where it can be discharged, and its effect nullified. This is similar to how grounding can benefit us as individuals.
The theory goes like this: just as we evolved being exposed to sunlight, we too are adapted to walking barefoot on the Earth’s surface. Shoes and floors disconnect us from the Earth, which one might think benign, however the Earth does provide a subtle form of nourishment through the electrical absorption, via the skin, of negative ions.
If you think of the planet as one big battery, the upper atmosphere is positively charged while the surface of the Earth maintains a net negative charge. The quick exchange of ions is what we observe as a lightening strike. Thus, we evolved in an environment of negative ions which favors our physiology in several key ways.
Negative ions, both absorbed through the feet and breathed in via the air (such as along an ocean’s shoreline), provide a neutralizing effect on positively charged free radicals. Positively charged molecules can build up in the body through normal processes (called reactive oxygen species) though this effect is amplified by being around electronic devices which emit positive ions. Working on computers and cell phones all day will result in a build up of positive ions that rarely get discharged if one were to travel from work to car to home in insulated rubber-soled shoes. This is the dilemma of our times.
An abundance of free radicals predisposes one to chronic inflammation. One means of neutralizing this ongoing and damaging effect on the body is through antioxidants which are endogenously generated from a diet rich in plant foods. Grounding adds another layer by the assuming of electrons through the skin when in contact with bare ground. This normalizing of electrical potential has a wide range of effects including the quelling of inflammation, the calming of the nervous system (shifting it into parasympathetic dominance), as well as a blood-thinning effect.
Implementing grounding, or earthing as it is starting to be called, is as easy as taking off your shoes and walking barefoot on the ground. Wet grass or soil is perhaps the most conductive means to ground on land but walking on the beach and through the tide reigns supreme as a means of grounding. Is it any wonder why so many people feel nourished by the ocean, and incidentally, live predominately along the shorelines of every land mass?
If suffering from chronic disease, pain or inflammation, being barefoot on the ground can produce a number of physiological responses in seconds though a longer period, such as being grounded overnight, garners further systemic benefits.
For grounding overnight, pioneers in the field have invented a conductive bed sheet that can either be anchored, via wire, to its own grounding stake (through a window to the outside) or by a special adapter that plugs into the ground plug of an electrical outlet. A word of caution: the latter means of grounding is dependent upon the circuits of a home being properly grounded and not overloaded in a way that produces dirty electricity.
The best solution of all is also the cheapest; walking barefoot on the ground whenever you are able. The winter months in some regions are an obvious impediment, so during those warm summer months, stock up on outside time to ensure you fill up your body with a surplus of vitamin sun and vitamin Earth.