Garden Dirt as Anti-Depressant?

Garden Dirt

by Roberta Murphy

I have always felt such a sense of peace when I am in the garden fooling around with dirt and plants, but never gave it much thought until this morning.

I read an article today relating research that confirms my senses: Garden Dirt actually serves as an anti-depressant. And could take the place of Prozac.

I don’t suffer from depression and have never taken Prozac, but I do notice a difference in myself when I am in the garden, fooling with dirt, and daring to go barefoot (which has different research supporting the practice). I feel a delicious sense of peace and connected with the earth. It now turns out that beneficial microbes in the soil can enter the body through both breathing and our skin (Perhaps I should remove gloves more often?).

It appears that antidepressant microbes, specifically Mycobacterium vaccae, in the soil cause our cytokine levels to rise, resulting in the production of increased levels of serotonin. There may also be some evidence that there may be an increase in cognitive ability and better concentration on tasks. These effects may be felt for up to 3 weeks, if current research with rats is any indication. According to the article in Gardening Know How.

“Mycobacterium antidepressant microbes in soil are also being investigated for improving cognitive function, Crohn’s disease and even rheumatoid arthritis.”

After reading this article, I can’t help but wonder how a garden might be helpful for memory care residents, or even those in assisted living of some sort. Not only would they get the gratification of growing flowers or vegetables, but it just might elevate spirits and cognition. In know a couple of elementary schools in Encinitas and Carlsbad have cultivated gardens as a learning experience for the children. Might the soil organisms also make them more attentive in class?

Makes you wonder.

I know that in an hour or so, I am going to go fool around in the garden, play in the dirt, and spread more worm castings while I’m at it. And this time,  I’m not wearing gloves!

 Want to know more?

Read more at Gardening Know How: Antidepressant Microbes In Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy