by Georgia Kinch 

When was the last time you walked through the grass barefoot, allowing the soles of your feet to connect with Earth’s surface? In today’s culture, keeping your feet protected with sturdy shoes is the norm. But there are some people who believe that such contact between our bodies and the Earth is essential to our health and wellbeing. The process is referred to as “earthing” or “grounding”, and the idea is that the Earth’s surface contains free electrons that can be transferred to human bodies via direct contact, and that these electrons then act as antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals in our bodies to reduce inflammation and prevent disease. The idea of earthing is nothing new, as the practice began with our ancient ancestors who often had no choice but to walk barefoot and sleep directly on the Earth. Today, the practice is most common among people who follow a holistic health approach, which emphasizes the interaction between our body and the environment. There are countless websites and books that provide information on earthing, including the website Barefoot Healing: Australian Earthing Specialists, which makes the claim: “Earthing outdoors is easy, just touch your bare feet to the grass for at least thirty minutes or go barefoot at the beach and notice how fast stress and pain reduces and energy improves!” [1]. The reason that the belief in earthing is extraordinary is because behind such substantial claims, there is little clinical evidence to prove that earthing is actually an effective health practice.

Despite a lack of concrete evidence, believers of earthing do put forth a convincing set of assertions. Some of the benefits that supposedly come from earthing include: Defuse the cause of inflammation, reduce/eliminate chronic pain, improve sleep, increase energy, normalize the body’s biological rhythms, improve blood pressure, lessen menstrual symptoms, and dramatically speed healing time (just to name a few) [1]. A review of earthing research conducted by the Developmental and Cell Biology Department at the University of California at Irvine found that reconnecting the body to the Earth’s surface electrons actually may result in significant improvements in sleep disturbances and chronic plain. One of the studies reviewed involved randomly assigning subjects with sleep or pain disorders to sleep on conductive carbon fiber mattress pads, half of which were connected to the Earth’s surface, and half of which were not. The subjects who were connected to the Earth’s electrons reported a significant improvement in quality of sleep, feeling rested upon waking, muscle stiffness and pain, and general well-being when compared to the control subjects [2]. The review concluded that more research does need to be conducted, but that earthing very well may be an essential element in the quest to increase human longevity.

While subjective responses and anecdotal success stories may be enough to convince some, there are plenty of non-believers in the supposed benefits of sticking your bare feet in the ground. The main argument against earthing is that the explanation of electron transfer doesn’t quite make sense from a scientific point-of-view. An article, eloquently titled “’Earthing’ Is a Bunch of Crap”, explains that from a chemistry-standpoint, electrons are electrons, and there is no significant difference between an electron that comes straight from the Earth and one that comes from any other synthetic material. The author also states that while there is an interaction between our bodies and the Earth’s electrons, it lasts such a short time that no enduring effect could be expected. He gave the example of what happens when you shuffle your feet across a carpeted floor (losing billions of electrons) and then touch a metal doorknob (instantly getting them all back): “It’s simply not possible to build up and maintain a significant charge imbalance between your body and the rest of the world, because everything we interact with contains electrons, and they move back and forth between objects all the time” [3]. So, when you look at earthing through a scientific-lens, it really is hard to believe that the Earth’s electrons are of much more value than those of our own floors at home.

With little scientific evidence to back it up, why are there still such avid supporters of earthing? Several cognitive processes seem to be at play, with the most influential one being the confirmation bias. When someone has a specific belief about how an event will play out, they tend to focus on the evidence that supports their belief while ignoring evidence that contradicts it. This is often seen in the medical field and is known as the Placebo Effect. In the case of earthing, believers go into the practice with the hope that they will experience the health benefits that it is known for. With such expectations in mind, the body can actually trick itself into producing those effects on its own, and when the participant notices those changes, they likely will attribute the success to earthing.

At a time when death by chronic disease is at an all-time high, it’s unsurprising that so many people are turning toward alternative methods of medicine to maintain or restore their health. Believers of earthing typically belong to the holistic health community which, in general, has been growing in popularity for several decades. According to The National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health, approximately 38% of adults and 12% of children in America are using some form of complementary medicine [4]. While earthing is by no means a part of traditional medicine, it does belong to the group of practices that is becoming more socially accepted as an effective way of maintaining health. As more people begin to support and practice integrative medicine, it can be expected that earthing will be socially reinforced and gain more popularity.

While earthing is difficult to validate from a scientific point-of-view, the testaments from those who practice it are quite inspiring. The idea that we can improve our health by reconnecting with nature is intriguing for many, but the Placebo Effect makes it almost impossible to determine whether the health benefits do indeed come from earthing, or if they come from our desire for earthing to work. Regardless, earthing appears to be a holistic trend that will continue to grow. Perhaps the next time you’re feeling sluggish, try taking a walk in nature and see what happens for you!



[1] What Is Earthing? (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2018, from

[2] Chevalier, G., Sinatra, S. T., Oschman, J. L., Sokal, K., & Sokal, P. (2012, January 12). Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons. Retrieved April 12, 2018, from

[3] Orzel, C. (2014, May 28). “Earthing” Is a Bunch of Crap. Retrieved April 12, 2018, from

[4] The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States. (2017, September 24). Retrieved April 12, 2018, from







11 thoughts on “Body-Earthing

  1. My sister is one of the people who is barefoot as much as she can help it. She doesn’t take it as far as having a strong belief about it like the people mentioned above, but she is a big believer in energy and the earth, she is a self proclaimed hippie. She still wears shoes to work and such, but in her leisure she never wears shoes My thing is, i got a nail through the foot, while wearing shoes, when I was young. So I am scared that if it could happen with shoes on, it can definitely happen if I was barefoot. I am not taking any kind of chances! My feet hurt walking on pavement, i can’t imagine living my whole life waling around on rocks and risk stepping on a bee or something.

  2. I had never heard of this before now. I’ve always liked being barefoot whenever I can which isn’t very often, but I didn’t know that there could be potential medical benefits to it. It does make sense that people would think that it relieves stress, because the only outdoor places that you can really go barefoot is at the beach or in the grass in your backyard which usually means your relaxing and its probably warm which can account for the relief of stress. What doesn’t make sense to me is where they came up with the idea that the electrons from the earth are any different than all the other electrons in the world .

  3. Very interesting and informative. I was unaware that this belief existed but it is very fascinating! I walked around barefoot a lot as a kid, and like Grace, got a nail through the foot. I’ve also gotten things like a thumbtack and glass through my foot before (the glass was with shoes on). All of these were very painful and I want to prevent them from happening again so now I do not walk around barefoot except for in my backyard back home, we have such nice feeling grass (I ESPECIALLY DON’T GOT BAREFOOT ON CAMPUS – EWW). I always felt better when I kicked my shoes off and took a walk, it’s very freeing, which might be why people say this help promotes health and energy.

  4. I had never heard of this belief before, but it reminds me of so many other holistic approaches to healing and well-being. They all have the same commonality: no scientific evidence to support its claims. Pretty much all “proof” for beliefs such as this one is anecdotal. I’d like to know how people come up with these connections. Does someone just start feeling good one day and attribute it to walking barefoot? Who is to say it could be something else.

  5. This is a strange theory I’ve never heard of. It seems like a hard amount of pseudoscience and “experts”. I wonder if there are other placebo effects that are prevalent in other forms of pseudoscience. I wonder if this theory is popular in any other part of the world internationally.

  6. Hi Georgia,
    I actually knew someone with this belief! I think it’s so strange how they talk about “free electrons” being “transferred” and acting as antioxidants, because that really shows a lack of understanding of how electrons work. I also never knew how widespread this belief (and similar ones) are- great post!

  7. Hi George,
    It is an interesting topic. I did not know that ”approximately 38% of adults and 12% of children in America are using some form of complementary medicine”. As you mentioned, it will be socially reinforced and gained popularity. As long as people psychologically feel better and it does not cause harm to them, they can take it, but people need to make sure that they take the real medicine. The same is with the ‘body-earthing.” People can practice it if they feel good, but they should not know that the real solutions or ways to their problems they face.

    • ”People can practice it if they feel good, but they should know that the real solutions to their current problems they face in life.” (Sorry, I type the sentence wrong above)

  8. I think this blog is so cool because I have never heard of this before! I liked how you talked about these things being socially reinforced, gaining popularity throughout there course. I think its important to note how people should not use this over real treatment because that would be detrimental to them.

  9. This is such an interesting post! I wonder what the counter argument is from believers when they are told that electrons are just electrons and it doesn’t matter what surface they transfer to your body from. I’ve never heard of this before, so I like learning about it and a new way that people are looking to nature for healing. I believe that as long as it doesn’t cause anyone danger or prevent them from seeking actual medical treatment, then it’s a unique approach to wellbeing and could even be beneficial with the placebo effect.

  10. Wow this topic is very interesting and something that I have heard some buzz about a lot especially in the self help/productivity field. I think its interesting how easily people buy onto these ideas, but it does highlight how some people are so quick to believe in any homeopathic therapy, without looking into weather there is any scientific evidence to support it.

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