Sep 28

Barefoot in the Grass

Walking barefoot on the earth, known as grounding, assists the body in neutralising free radicals, thus reducing and avoiding damage to organs, tissues and cells.

by Dawn McGeorge, Herbal Medicine Complete student

Walking barefoot in direct contact with the earth has long held a place of beauty in my heart. As a child it was always a battle to get shoes on to my feet and I resisted whenever possible, drawn by an intrinsic connection to the earth and to feeling free in spirit. That childlike simplicity changes as we age and life gets more complicated but being ‘barefoot in the grass’ is something that I have held on to, to nurture the inner child and keep listening to that voice of connection.

The science of ‘grounding’ will be discussed later in this article but the basis of this practice is the body’s ability as a conductor to absorb the free negatively charged electrons abundant in the ground when in direct contact. Through this practice we bring the body into equilibrium with electrical potential of the earth thus balancing the electrical environment of organs, tissues and cells (Chevalier et al, 2012). So simply, the earth is a large battery powering life and if we connect with it we can recharge our energy and balance our systems. Until more recent years I was totally unaware of any of the science behind what is referred to as ‘grounding’ or ‘earthing’, being barefoot in nature was a pleasurable calming of the spirit that brought about a feeling of immense wellbeing.

Culture and Spirit

Historically, many cultures around the globe held the belief that the ground provided a healing energy and that they were connected to this source in a way that has been mostly lost in the modern world. Our ancestors mainly walked barefoot and slept on the ground with any foot covering or sleeping mat being made of animal skin and felt deeply connected to Earth. Animals and the skins used for shoes and mats are also conductor of electricity

The sense that the earth is sacred is a belief system shared across spiritual faiths and civilisations through time. Ancient Greek mythology tells the story of how Hercules defeated the giant Antaeus because he knew that the secret to Antaeus strength lay in his feet being connected to the ground. Hercules lifted Anteus into the air and defeated the giant.

Chinese knowledge is based on Qi, the energy source that fills the universe. In this system, Earth Qi is made up of magnetic field and heat found underground along with lines and patterns of energy (Ober et al, 2014)

Indian Vedic tradition believes that there is a vital lifeforce or energy that keep the body alive and healthy referred to as ‘Prana’. Earth is one of the three  sources of Prana, the sun and air being the other two.

Native Americans believe that Mother Earth is a living being held most sacred and the saying “always remember your grandmother is under your feet” is an invitation to respect the land and keep the feet in direct contact with the earth (Forbes, 2021).

Bushpeople of Africa to this day still hold that physical direct connection to the earth is the key to health and wellbeing. The Hadzabe tribe for example remain mainly barefoot, sleep on the ground and spend the majority of their time sitting or walking on the earth. In some southern African tribes barefoot ‘trance dance’ rituals tap into the energy of the earth for healing and spiritual connection (Ober et al, 2014).

Celtic traditions also held ritual around walking barefoot in the earth to feel the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of this practice as this practice was, and still is, felt to provide healing energy from the magnetic earth. This grounding or earthing was particularly powerful in the morning where the was dew on the ground. We now know that water is another conductor but this would have been naturally felt in the body way before this knowledge.

Visitors remove their shoes before entering a Mosque

Muslim faiths remove their shoes in places of worship and in their homes and in Christianity pilgrimages are often taken barefoot in reverence to the ‘holy ground’.

The Science and Heath of ‘Grounding’

In recent years there has been an increase in academic research and studies which suggest evidence to support the science of ‘grounding’ or ‘earthing’ as a natural way to prevent and improve many health conditions related to inflammation and autoimmune diseases, either through barefoot connection to the earth or grounded conductor systems (Oschman et al, 2015) 

As the human body is a bioelectrical being that lives on a planet that is electrically charged, it follows that our bodies operate the cells, tissues and complete system through transmit ion of electrical charges (Zucker et al, 2019). Positively charged electrons known as free radicals are unavoidably formed in the body through metabolism. Whilst these free radicals play an important part in our immune systems defence where white blood cells release them to destroy pathogens, bacteria, viruses and damaged tissue, this anti-inflammatory response to disease or trauma leaves behind positively charged oxidised free radicals which need to be neutralised by free negative electrons and anti-oxidants in the body to avoid damage to organs, tissues and cells (Ober et al, 2014). Grounding can provide unlimited free electrons that transfer from the earth to the body providing an anti-oxidising effect which neutralises free radicals and balances and the system whilst reducing damage to the tissues and cells.

As mentioned earlier, studies have suggested that the equilibrium of the electrical charge across the body through grounding brings many  physical health benefits such as (Oschman et al, 2015):

  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Heart diseases
  • Nervous system support
  • Healing of wounds
  • Pain reduction

Not only does evidence show that grounding has beneficial effects on the physical body but also the emotional and mental health aspects of wellbeing, making this natural practice a holistic healing strategy. Chevalier reported in 2015 that  a significant difference in pleasant and positive mood  was observed in people in the study that were grounded compared those that were not. There has been some limited investigation around the ability of connecting with the earth to improve the wellbeing of people with Alzheimer’s disease, however, it is early days for the knowledge in this area (Lin et al, 2022). Research studies also suggest that the following benefits may also be seen from grounding (Ober, 2014):

  • Improved sleep
  • Reduces stress
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Increases energy

Aside from what happens inside the body through metabolism, excessive positive electrons and static electricity generated by electrical equipment and devices such as computers and mobile phones can be detrimental to brain function, supress the immune system and can cause respiratory problems, fatigue, headaches, anxiety, depression, premature aging and a whole host of other health issues. Positive electrons (ions) can develop into free radicals that in turn may damage the healthy cells in the body and increase acidity in the blood. The negatively charged  free electrons that are available to the body by connecting with the earth and grounding counterbalance the harmful positive electrons in our bodies that have come from our outer environment (Ober et al, 2014).

In conclusion, no matter whether you are coming from a place of intrinsic value for barefoot walking, from a spiritual belief system or a scientific evidence based health improvement perspective, the joy and sense of wellbeing that comes from placing our skin next to the ground is a pleasure to behold and, in my experience, should be indulged in whenever possible.

“Soil is earth’s barefoot and when we walk barefoot, two bare feet touch each other with love!” 
Mehmet Murat ildan

Article written by Dawn McGeorge as part of her Herbal Medicine Complete studies at School of Natural Medicine UK. Here is a link to Dawn’s Facebook Page


Chevalier G, Sinatra ST, Oschman JL, Sokal K, Sokal P. Earthing: health implications of reconnecting the human body to the Earth’s surface electrons. J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:291541. doi: 10.1155/2012/291541. Epub 2012 Jan 12. PMID: 22291721; PMCID: PMC3265077.

[Accessed 8th July 2022]

Chevalier G. The effect of grounding the human body on mood. Psychol Rep. 2015 Apr;116(2):534-42. doi: 10.2466/06.PR0.116k21w5. Epub 2015 Mar 6. PMID: 25748085.

[Accessed 8th July 2022]

Lin C-H, Tseng S-T, Chuang Y-C, Kuo C-E, Chen N-C. Grounding the Body Improves Sleep Quality in Patients with Mild Alzheimer’s Disease: A Pilot Study. Healthcare. 2022; 10(3):581.

[Accessed 13th July 2022]

Forbes. J. 2021. Indigenous Americans: Spirituality and Ecos. Journal of  the American Acadamy of Arts and Science.

[Accessed 12th July 2022]

Ober. C. Sinatra .S. Zucker. M. 2014. Earthing – The most important health discovery ever! Basic Health Publications. USA.

Oschman JL, Chevalier G, Brown R. The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. J Inflamm Res. 2015 Mar 24;8:83-96. doi: 10.2147/JIR.S69656. PMID: 25848315; PMCID: PMC4378297.

[Accessed 8th July]

Zucker. M. Chevalier. G. Ober.C. 2019. Grounding the Human Body: The Healing Benefits of Earthing.

[Accessed 12th July 2022]

[Accessed 13th July]

Article written by Dawn McGeorge as part of her Herbal Medicine Complete studies at School of Natural Medicine UK. Here is a link to Dawn’s Facebook Page