If you’ve heard people talking about a “grounding mat hoax” recently, you might be wondering whether grounding products are as beneficial as they claim to be. Countless holistic wellness companies and fans say walking barefoot on the earth is good for your health. However, the lack of obvious health benefits connected to grounding mats in studies has led to some controversy.
On the one hand, we know that spending time outside is great for the human body as it helps you soak up vitamin D and minimises stress. Still, this doesn’t necessarily mean that using a mat in your home designed to replicate the sensation of walking on the earth is the same as being outdoors.
If you’re thinking of getting involved with grounding using one or more of these popular devices available on the market, it’s best to know what you’re buying into first.
What Is Grounding? The Basics of Earthing
Grounding products are designed to deliver the benefits of “earthing” or walking on bare earth when you’re indoors. These are based on the concept that placing your bare feet on the ground allowing your skin to have direct contact with the soil, can help neutralise the electric charge in our bodies. The theory suggests that in this way, the power of the earth’s energy can assist with various ailments and health problems.
Those who have embraced earthing and regularly use grounding mats state the earth has a mild negative charge within it, while our bodies naturally build up a positive charge. Direct contact with the ground is said to neutralise our positive charge and place the body back in a neutral state.
Grounding mats, therefore, provide a way to replicate the perceived benefits of earthing when you can’t get outside and dig your toes into the soil. Earthing proponents believe a grounding mat can be as useful as getting outside to leverage the earth’s charge.
Grounding or earthing has become a common practice among many people invested in holistic wellness strategies over the years. According to them, contact with the earth’s surface is enough to help with everything from inflammation to stress reduction. Alternative medicine claims that some forms of grounding can even help reduce pain or minimise the risk of problems like cardiovascular disease. However, evidence of these benefits is not yet available.
Does Grounding Therapy Work?
Grounding, in general, is a relatively under-researched topic in the scientific community. While many anecdotal claims are linked to this concept and its impact on well-being, genuine scientific evidence is limited.
Advocates believe the earth is loaded with free electrons, and we can connect to these by removing the barriers between our skin and the soil. When we stand on the ground with bare feet, the free electrons are said to spread over the body and deliver antioxidant effects. This technique should create a kind of antioxidant microenvironment to help with wound healing, the immune system, and blood flow.
One study published in 2015 found significant benefits for grounding. The review found a strong connection between using grounding tools and human health. Electrically conductive contact with the earth enhanced chronic inflammation, recovery from autoimmune diseases, and wound repair. However, the reliability of this study has been called into question in the past.
The report was conducted by three independent contractors, two of whom owned a small percentage of shares in an earthing company. This indicates there could be some subjectivity in the study, which may have influenced the outcomes.
What Are Grounding Mats?
Ground mats mimic the earth’s electrons with a “negative” charge, intended to balance the “positive” one created by stress, cell phones, and countless other factors in our day-to-day lives. They are electronic devices that need to be plugged into an outlet in your home to create such a negative charge. Notably, this doesn’t mean you’ll be giving yourself an electric shock when you stand or sit on one of these blankets or mats. Instead, the electrical charge is unlikely to have any impact on your body at all from a sensory perspective.
Grounding mats can be placed on the floor at home, whilst some are designed to lay beneath your bedding. Those intended for use in bed promise benefits like improved sleep and accelerated wound healing. There are even “grounding patches” for people who regularly suffer from common issues like jet lag and poor oxygen consumption.
Grounding blankets, like many holistic and complementary therapies, are intended to have a subtle effect on the way you think and feel. While some people report experiencing benefits straight away, others fail to see any kind of advantage in restoring their electrical balance.
Unfortunately, the scientific research into these tools is either limited or completely non-existent. Public health providers often avoid championing any real benefit of a grounding device.
Are Grounding Mats Legit?
There’s very little evidence suggesting grounding mats can significantly make any difference to mental or physical health. Research does exist into the concept of grounding in general, but even this is limited. For instance, one 2011 publication examined four different experiments into grounding and the impact it may have on human physiology.
The study looked at various environmental and public health factors, from glucose levels to immune responses and thyroid hormone levels. Researchers discovered there could be some benefits to walking barefoot outside. However, earthing studies have yet to demonstrate if these advantages potentially translate into the use of grounding mats.
The available research into grounding blankets or mats is extremely limited. While some studies indicate that earthing practices could be beneficial for some, there’s no guarantee you’ll experience any genuine health benefits from these products. Additionally, many manufacturers also remind users not to expect any dramatic changes.
Most reports suggesting that sleeping grounded or using grounding products, in general, can be beneficial for common ailments are based on anecdotal evidence alone. However, some experts are looking into additional research into the “grounding mat hoax” theory.
Do Grounding Blankets and Mats Actually Work?
According to the people who design and use grounding mats and blankets, there are a lot of potential benefits to discover with these products.
Some of the advantages are specifically connected to offsetting free radicals in our bodies. These have often been associated with chronic pain and other problems on a scientific basis. Due to our rubber-soled shoes, we no longer benefit from the earth’s electric charge when walking around outside. This means the positive charge in our bodies builds up over time with no significant outlet. However, the electrons in grounding tools are designed to offset free radicals and additional charges to minimise inflammation and other problems.
The alleged benefits of grounding include faster recovery from injuries, reduced pain, lower stress levels and inflammation. Some people also believe these products can help with delayed onset muscle soreness.
Experts agree extra research will be needed to confirm whether plugging a device into a grounded wall outlet can make a difference to how we feel on a regular basis.
Do You Feel Anything When Using a Grounding Mat?
Perhaps one of the reasons why many people are uncertain about the validity of a grounding mat is that most users don’t feel much when using these kinds of devices. When you plug your mat into an electrical outlet, there’s no surge of energy or static electricity.
Although many people won’t feel anything when standing on one of these grounding products, many devices will come with warnings to ensure you don’t expose yourself to an electrical shock. There are a few ways to determine whether a grounding blanket is working. Even if you might feel better after sitting and meditating on your mat for a while, this doesn’t necessarily guarantee the device has been successful.
There are various other factors which might influence how you feel instead. For instance, standing on a mat for some time and relaxing without focusing on your stresses or anxieties can help you unwind and lower your stress levels. Of course, the same could be said for simply sitting quietly for a few moments.
According to fans of the grounding movement, however, you can determine whether one of these devices impacts your health by monitoring your mood. Many customers use journaling and similar strategies to track their feelings, pain, and sleeping issues.
Once again, the evidence obtained using this method would be anecdotal and could even be attributed to a placebo effect. The human brain has the potential to make us think and feel a certain way when we believe we’ll respond to something in a positive manner. If you go into the process of using an earthing strategy with a strong belief you’re going to feel a difference, you might convince yourself the product is working, whether it is or isn’t.
Over to You: Safety First
In general, there don’t appear to be any significant risks with using a grounding mat. For those who like the idea of alternative medicine for handling things like jet lag or stress, a grounding mat might be an interesting choice. Some proponents even believe these mats can deliver continuous support for blood pressure issues and minimise blood viscosity.
However, it’s important to know what you’re dealing with when you start using one of these products. Because there’s no clear evidence highlighting the scientific benefits of earthing products, it may not be safe to use one of these items instead of a genuine treatment for a significant problem, like high blood pressure. Without clear insight into the scientific benefits of grounding blankets or mats, we also don’t know how significant any disadvantages are either.
You’ll also need to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to remain safe: this means setting your mat up correctly and ensuring you’re not exposing yourself to any electricity. Some manufacturers also recommend using the products for limited periods of time each day. However, it’s difficult to say for sure if there are any clear disadvantages to using the mat more often.