Originally appeared in Planet Jackson Hole

Get outside and look down to discover one of nature’s best antioxidants

Summer is here and the longest day of the year is upon us. In whatever way you choose to celebrate the solstice, please include the pleasure of going barefoot outdoors. Sure, it feels good to walk without shoes on a sandy beach, on soft grass or on a gentle path in the woods, but it also turns out that sustained skin contact with the earth is the best antioxidant there is.

Healing Electrons

We get oxygen from trees and vitamin D from the sun. What we get from skin contact with the earth is a free and unlimited supply of healing electrons that the body can use to counter the unhealthy buildup of inflammation-causing free radicals. People who routinely sit or sleep on the ground, walk barefoot or wear animal hide shoes receive an ample health boost from skin contact with the earth.

We all accumulate free radicals throughout the day from our own stresses, from chemical toxicity in the air, in the water, and in our foods. These are exacerbated by poor eating habits, too much time sitting and little or no skin contact with the ground. Researchers point out that the free radicals we build up throughout the day eventually overwhelm our immune systems.

On the other hand, the surface of the earth has a charge which counters all that toxicity. Connecting the skin to the ground allows the earth’s negative electrons to permeate the body, rebalance and even neutralize the accumulation of free radicals.

This can prevent and heal chronic inflammation, which is the role of antioxidants. In addition, electrons from the earth have no secondary side effects. Our bodies have evolved to require and benefit from the recharge from the earth for eons. Wading in unpolluted river water, swimming in clear lake water, and in the ocean also neutralize negative energy.

According to research by Dr. James Oschman, grounding appears to improve sleep, normalize the day-night cortisol rhythm, reduce pain, reduce stress, shift the autonomic nervous system from sympathetic toward parasympathetic activation, increase heart rate variability, speed wound healing, and reduce blood viscosity.

Another physician, Dr. Laura Koniver, lists the benefits of regular skin contact with the earth to include: reducing chronic pain, improving sleep, reducing stress hormones, relieving muscle tension and headaches, speeding the healing of wounds, and even eliminating jet lag.

Now is the Time

With all that’s now known about the benefits of skin in contact with the earth, products designed to allow you to get grounded to the earth’s energies without having to be barefoot outdoors have been developed.

If you are curious, research “earthing” online and discover everything from bed sheets, sandals and computer mats crafted to facilitate grounding with the free and infinitely available healing currents of the earth.

The recommended helpful dose of bare feet on the ground is a minimum of 10 minutes per day, even walking on the earth with natural fiber socks creates the grounding connection.

This is easy during the summer months. So get outside and experiment on your own.