Fact Check: NO Evidence Walking Barefoot Changes pH Of Body

Fact Check

  • by: Marlo Lee
Fact Check: NO Evidence Walking Barefoot Changes pH Of Body Not Grounded

Does walking barefoot, or "grounding," change the pH in the body? No, that's not true: That claim is not grounded in science. A retired chemist and a dermatologist both told Lead Stories that there is no evidence that grounding has the ability to change the pH of anything around the body. The chemist said blood pH can change with exercise, while the dermatologist said pH is genetically determined, but can be affected by personal care products.

The claim appeared on Facebook (archived here) on August 15, 2023. It opened with a man speaking into a microphone:

If you think about the last time you had bare feet touching bare soil ... this was the last time that you earthed or grounded.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-08-21 at 11.23.45 AM.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Aug 21 15:13:43 2023 UTC)

The unidentified speaker claims that humans build up a charge and that that charge isn't discharged back into the Earth if they don't make contact with the Earth. He also claims that walking on the surface of the Earth will change the body's pH. The speaker does not specify whether this will change the pH positively or negatively.

Although the speaker is not identified in the Facebook video or caption, Lead Stories used FaceCheck.ID to determine it is Gary Brecka, a self-described "professional Human Biologist." According to his website, his educational background consists of two biology degrees, one from Frostburg University and one from the National College of Chiropractic offered by the National University of Health Sciences.

The speaker says correctly that pH stands for potential hydrogen. The highlighting of "potential of hydrogen" in orange was done by Lead Stories in the following screenshot, from Encyclopedia Britannica:

Screenshot 2023-08-21 at 11.33.14 AM.png

(Source: Encyclopedia Britannica screenshot taken on Mon Aug 21 15:34:56 2023 UTC)

Mark Jones, a retired chemist, told Lead Stories in an August 22, 2023, email that he couldn't find a study that supported the benefits of grounding:

I can't find a study supporting the benefits [of grounding] in any top-tier journal. Blood pH can change with any exercise. It doesn't matter what your touching, it has to do with acids being formed by metabolism. The flow of material through the skin, especially the skin of the feet, sufficient to impact blood pH strikes me as incredibly unlikely.

Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, emailed Lead Stories on August 22, 2023, to say the pH of a person is genetically determined:

To my knowledge there is no data showing that touching your bare feet to the earth will change the pH of the skin. Your pH is genetically determined and can be affected by a variety of factors including bathing and personal care products.

Lead Stories previously fact checked the claim that drinking soda changes the pH of the human body and that "grounding" can treat any disease a person may have. Another Lead Stories fact check on health concerning feet can be found here.

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Marlo Lee is a fact checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Howard University with a B.S. in Biology. Her interest in fact checking started in college, when she realized how important it became in American politics. She lives in Maryland.

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