How Dirt Makes Me Happy
“Prozac may not be the only way to get rid of your serious blues. Soil microbes have been found to have similar effects on the brain and are without side effects and chemical dependency potential.” says Bonnie L. Grant in her online column Gardening Know How
Of course, we gardeners have intrinsically known this fact by the way we are drawn to the earth to heal and to flourish. How our problems seem to resolve as we tenderly untangle the roots of competing plants in the soil of our gardens. Yes, I know that my garden makes me feel good. But I always find it validating to have science come along and confirm what I already know! Dirt makes me happy. It keeps me grounded.
Studies now suggest that there’s a natural antidepressant in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, that mirrors the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide. Antidepressant microbes in soil cause cytokine levels to rise, which results in the production of higher levels of serotonin. Mycrobacterium antidepressant microbes in soil are also being investigated for improving cognitive function, Crohn’s disease and even rheumatoid arthritis.