Biological grounding involves standing barefoot on the ground. The idea is that any residual static discharges into the earth – like emptying a battery. The idea has intuitive appeal. Who hasn’t been electrocuted and sometimes clicked by a static-discharging door handle? Or, who hasn’t taken off a shirt or smock and heard the crackle of a static discharge? The question is, are there any therapeutic benefits? This article explores what published science may have to offer to support practice grounded in the context of health and well-being.
A university library search for the term “grounded” yielded 183,000 peer-reviewed publications. The meaning of the word “grounding” ranges from the devastating grounding of a naughty teen to putting issues on the grounds of fact, and more. Another search, this time on a biological basis, narrowed the field to nearly 31,000 peer-reviewed publications. The term biogrounding resulted in a manageable 600 peer-reviewed publications to screen. This article reports on many of these publications and their associated linked publications.
So this is a highly simplified theory. Now we all know that free radicals are not a good thing. A free radical lacks one electron (and is therefore positively charged). When connected to the earth, the earth provides electrons to eliminate free radicals. In 1994, Anisimov conducted tests showing that the Earth’s surface is electrically charged.
Now, according to Rosalind Tan (2014), our bodies conduct electricity. Charged ions and free electrons get good conduits through blood and other bodily fluids. Charge can build up in the body like a battery, especially in dry climates. Fuel truck drivers must exclude any possible sparks, sometimes using wrist straps. The relevance here is that grounding or grounding people is an important part of solid science.
The earliest and pioneering work was Dr. White GS (1929). Before his time, he helped sleep-deprived people by grounding their beds with copper wire.
In 2010, Clinton Ober et al claimed in their book: “Earth – The Most Important Health Discovery Ever Made?” The following:
- “Remove the cause of inflammation and improve or eliminate the symptoms of many inflammation-related diseases.
- Reduce or eliminate chronic pain.
- Improves sleep in most cases.
- Increase energy.
- Reduce stress and promote physical calm by cooling the nervous system and stress hormones.
- Normalizes the body’s biological rhythms
- Thins blood and improves blood pressure and flow.
- Relieve muscle tension and headaches.
- Relieve hormonal and menstrual symptoms.
- Significantly accelerates healing and helps prevent bedsores.
- Protects the body from environmental electromagnetic fields that may interfere with health.
- Accelerates recovery from intense physical activity. “
Ghaly & Tepliz in 2004 measured cortical (stress hormone) secretion during sleep in 12 subjects. The subjects’ electric fields were measured and it was found that the average voltage of the 12 subjects decreased from 3.270 V to 0.007 V due to grounding. They concluded that grounding a person during sleep improves sleep by reducing nighttime cortisol levels.
Ib Andersen commented in 1965 how a person can become electrified relative to his surroundings just by walking on a nylon rug. He added that electric fields may induce electrical induction in a person if:
- “A person has a certain potential relative to his surroundings.
- A person is at earth potential while free charge occurs around.
- 1 and 2 have both. “
Christian Back (1967) was an electrical engineer who devoted his book “Ions for Breathing” to atmospheric electricity. The term “ion” is ill-defined, just as a rock can vary from the size of a grain of sand to the size of a massive asteroid. The term extends from atomic ions such as household salts that dissolve into sodium cations and chloride anions all the way to larger aerosol sizes. He discusses electric fields in rooms around occupants, and delves into the effects of ions on these people.
The diffusion of small air ion concentrations is well studied by Jamison et al. in 2006 measuring charged particles and molecules in an office for a person. Measurements are taken on a horizontal plane passing through the seated eye level and then on a vertical plane that nominally coincides with the seated person. In the vertical plane, the average number of negative small air ions per cubic centimeter (SNAI cm-3) was 361 per cubic centimeter over 276 sampling points, with numbers ranging from 10 to 930 ions per cubic centimeter. In the vertical plane, the contour region bounded by the upper concentration completely obscures the seated subject, immersing one in the higher SNAI range.
Another interesting point is the electrostatic potential they measured in the vertical plane, which averaged 104.9 V and ranged from 2.2 V to 7.7 kV. The maximum is near the foot pedal where the operator rubs the shoe. Guidelines in Russia and Sweden specify less than 500 V at 50 cm from the computer.
High school science teaches anions and cations. Not surprisingly, the air we breathe also contains ions, and Charry (1984) concluded that small air ions may have biological effects. However, Kruger had already presented experimental data in 1976 showing that small ions in the air were indeed biologically active.
Just as fish swim in an ocean of sodium and chloride ions, humans swim in an atmosphere of positive and negative ions. While ions can be produced, more than one-third of positive ions are naturally produced as a result of radioactive decay. They do not travel far and have a short lifespan. Indoors, the ions have a shorter lifespan (30 seconds) because they bump into things and short out. (Alpha Lab Inc) That’s the key to biological grounding: by shorting to Mother Earth’s ground.
Finally, an excerpt from an invited editorial written by the late Dr. AP Kruger in 1982 is taken from the International Journal of Biometeorology. The editorial straight forwards many urban myths about air ions. He ended his editorial with advice to potential buyers of air ionizers:
- “Air ions, whether negative or positive, are normal components of our biosphere, and they are biologically active.
- Much is known about the effects of air ions on bacteria, protozoa, plants, insects and small animals. Little is known about their role in humans. There is evidence that air ions can affect mood, behavior and performance on certain tasks.
- It has been suggested that air ions may have value in the treatment of certain diseases, but more rigorous trials are needed before air ion therapy can be established as an acceptable addition to the medical arsenal.
- Some air ionizers produce ozone and should be avoided.
- No one has yet found that the concentration of negative air ions produced by any reasonably constructed commercial generator could be harmful. “