How does dirt make you happy?

Remember the days when most kids were happiest and healthiest when they were outside getting dirty?

And even today avid gardeners and dedicated farmers feel good when they are working with soil.


Well, it turns out there is a scientific basis for that contact with dirt, aside from the sunshine/vitamin D element.

Modern scientists have unraveled the mysteries of many medicinal plants and practices that our ancestors knew were beneficial even though they didn’t know why, but only recently have researchers discovered a link with soil microbes and human health.

And, amazingly, that link appears to be a natural antidepressant in dirt! Gardeners inhale the bacteria and have topical contact with it.

Mycobacterium vaccae is the substance under study which has been found to mirror the effects on neurons that chemical drugs like Prozac provide—without damaging side effects. The bacterium appears to stimulate serotonin production, which makes us more cheerful and relaxed.

Studies conducted on cancer patients found that the patients who had contact with gardening and soil, however minor, reported having less stress and anxiety, and an overall better outlook on life.

A serotonin deficiency is linked to depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and bipolar problems.

The antidepressant soil microbes cause the body’s cytokine levels to rise, which results in production of higher levels of serotonin.

The microbes are also being investigated for improving cognitive function, Chrohn’s disease and even rheumatoid arthritis.

Laboratory tests on rats have had very promising results, with the bacterium-treated rats showing markedly better cognitive function, lower stress and better concentration.

Earlier studies on prisoners who worked at incarceration facility gardens/farms and on landscaping projects showed much the same results, with prison gardens providing the extra bonus of better food—instead of the nutrient-deficient Standard American Diet common to most institutions.

A few hospitals and nursing homes have begun to undertake facility food-raising with an eye to better food and health for patients.

Now, with the knowledge of the beneficial soil bacterium, there appears to be multiple reasons for institutions to include growing grounds in their plans.

Better food and better mental and physical health for patients/prisoners; thus, lower Big Pharma costs!


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