The Earth Beneath Your Feet (Part 1): Why Going Barefoot May Boost Your Health and Beauty (and Dirt Just Might Act as a Giant Antioxidant)

Dr. Sara GottfriedAre you ready to get healthier and love up those ever-challenged adrenal glands by trying something new, old, and easy called earthing?

I’m all about easy.  And free? Who isn’t totally into that?

Kick off your shoes. It’s that simple. This health and beauty treatment is as old as dirt.  In fact, it is dirt. Just step outside, then step out of your Louboutins (or, in my case, Dansko mom clogs) for at least 20 minutes a day and touch your tootsies to terra firma.  That’s it. You’re earthing.

Bonus prize: over 40 biomarkers, including that bad boy stress hormone, cortisol, are reset and made right by earthing, and the genes that are switch on and off by cortisol just might start serving you better too. More on that topic — the science — in Part 2.

Is “Earthing” Totally Woo-Woo Pseudoscience?

It’s called earthing because some scientists theorize that to stay healthy, particularly with all the stray electrons we’re exposed to from constant smart phone and computer use to insulation from our cars and shoes from earth energy, our bodies need a daily charge from mild electrical currents surging through the earth’s surface.

Think of yourself as a walking talking battery-powered device. You need to plug into the earth to keep all your systems charged and running at optimum levels, particularly your adrenal glands and how they are managed by your brain signals (and burned out by stress).  Hey, it works for your phone and your toothbrush… why not the human body?

Sometimes called grounding, you can also accomplish the task by swimming in salt water. Just like electrical connections in our homes need to be grounded, so do we.  Otherwise we go all haywire and the results can be major mood tankers such as: chronic pain, sleep issues, endocrine imbalances, depression, anxiety and possibly even mood swings and weight problems.  Even the aging process itself. If going barefoot can help hold the line there, why not try it? How do you feel after you swim in the ocean, go barefoot in your garden, or walk shoeless at the beach?


Not too long ago in human history, everyone’s feet were planted firmly on the ground. Either bare or in natural materials. There were no other options.  But that was then. When we got all modern in the 20th century with plastics, synthetics and highrise buildings, we disconnected.  Result?  Our immune systems, circulatory systems and the synching of our biorhythms with our physiological processes have suffered. Maybe that’s why everyone on “Mad Men” is such a mope.

On a molecular level, what we require is direct contact with electrons on the earth’s surface. Hello – earth to feet. Surfaces paved over with asphalt or covered with concrete, wood, linoleum or wall-to-wall carpeting won’t work. It’s got to be dirt, grass or sand or some combination thereof.

It All Comes Down to Rust

Why?  Because of our old nemesis – reactive oxygen molecules in the body aka “free radicals.”  Like the hounds of hell, these are unleashed on our bodies’ vulnerable cells.  And there’s no getting away from them. They’re a byproduct of oxidation from everyday stuff the body has to do like breathing and burning calories. Once released, these nasty free radicals need electrons so they go trawling for them throughout the body, causing cellular mayhem.  When they steal an electron from a stable molecule, it triggers unhealthy chain reactions. Scientists hypothesize that this may promote the inflammation processes at the root of many of the chronic diseases and conditions plaguing us today like overweight, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis and cardiovascular disease.

The Earth Beneath Your Feet_Part 1To help combat these destructive free radicals and prevent the health problems they can cause, scientific studies for a while now have pointed to the need for more antioxidants. So we try to eat foods rich in antioxidants such as deep green and orange veggies or fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids. We also take supplements to increase our levels of antioxidants.

But guess what? The electrical currents embedded in the earth’s surface make the dirt under your feet a giant antioxidant. They protect the body from oxidation by supplying the electrons the free radicals so they go away and leave you alone.

Here’s how Dr. Stephen Sinatra articulates the benefit of grounding, which, according to him, turns your blood from ketchup to red wine and is the cheapest way to create optimal health.

Keep in mind that I still have my hat on as a rigorous physician-scientist. Yes, I feel good when I walk barefoot on the beach, but is it really resetting my adrenal glands? Is it time to sleep on a grounding mat? We’ll explore the science in more detail (don’t worry -I slogged through the data so you don’t have to – and will share only the need-to-know) next time.

In the meantime, let me know if you have personally found earthing or grounding to be helpful in some way. If so, in what ways?

What evidence, if any, would convince you this activity is worthwhile? Or is the bar low because earthing or grounding is free and riskfree?

Resources — News You Can Use

1. Link to cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra’s website


3. David Wolfe’s many YouTube videos on his grounding experiment at Longevity Now.


You don’t have to settle for being stressed out, binging on sugar and chocolate, and aging prematurely. Stop blaming yourself and step into sacred action. It’s your birthright. You can have the joyous, mission-driven life you want, and Dr. Sara is here to show us how. Learn about your unmanaged stress and how to correct it naturally. Dr. Sara is pure genius—I’ve not seen this content anywhere and I’ve been in the industry for more than 30 years. Here’s my call to action for you: share this content with your entire community and spread the word that we now have answers to galvanize our health.  – Marci Shimoff, eight-time New York Times bestselling author, including Love for No Reason and Happy for No Reason.


  1. Jen Blumenthal on January 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Geez, no wonder I feel so good at the beach! My adrenal glands need it. Now, Dr Sara, if you would please write me a prescription for the beach for the health of my adrenals then I would HAVE to move there. You know, doctor’s orders. 🙂 Maybe then my hubby would agree! haha… Thank you for the great information!! I’m going to try this… when it’s not 18 degrees outside…