Grounding or earthing refers to direct skin contact with the surface of the Earth, such as with bare feet or hands, or with various grounding systems. Subjective reports that walking barefoot on the Earth enhances health and provides feelings of well-being can be found in the literature and practices of diverse cultures from around the world.1 For a variety of reasons, many individuals are reluctant to walk outside barefoot, unless they are on holiday at the beach. Experience and measurements show that sustained contact with the Earth yields sustained benefits. Various grounding systems are available that enable frequent contact with the Earth, such as while sleeping, sitting at a computer, or walking outdoors. These are simple conductive systems in the form of sheets, mats, wrist or ankle bands, adhesive patches that can be used inside the home or office, and footwear. These applications are connected to the Earth via a cord inserted into a grounded wall outlet or attached to a ground rod placed in the soil outside below a window. For the footwear applications, a conductive plug is positioned in the shoe sole at the ball of the foot, under the metatarsals, at the acupuncture point known as Kidney 1. From a practical standpoint, these methods offer a convenient and routine, user-friendly approach to grounding or earthing. They can also be used in clinical situations, as will be described in the section entitled Summary of findings to date.1
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. The findings merit consideration by the inflammation research community, which has the means to verify, refute, or clarify the interpretations we have made thus far.
Grounding reduces or even prevents the cardinal signs of inflammation following injury: redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function (Figures 1 and and2).2). Rapid resolution of painful chronic inflammation was confirmed in 20 case studies using medical infrared imaging (Figure 3).2,3