As seen on The Spirit Science, people who regularly spent time gardening praise the numerous health benefits this practice has to offer, including better mood and less stress.
Moreover, gardening, with all the exposure to fresh air and vitamin D from the sun is believed to have the power to help people who are suffering from depression.
According to some experts, this is believed to be a result of the antidepressant microorganisms that present in the soil. To learn more why science encourages you to start spending more time in your garden, continue reading this article!
What Are Antidepressant Microbes?
Soil and dirt, as explained on The Spirit Science, contain M.vaccae, bacteria known to boost the release of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. These two neurotransmitters send chemical messages to the brain, that is, dopamine affects the pain and pleasure sensations whereas serotonin is in charge of regulating the libido, social behavior, mood, sleep, and memory.
While you are in your garden planting cucumbers or picking up weeds around your veggies, you are inhaling the microorganisms and they are also being absorbed through the skin. Once they get into the blood and respiratory system, you will immediately feel better and experience less pain.
What Does Science Say?
The link between these soil microbes and happier mood were found accidentally. Namely, M. vaccae surpassed the expectations of oncologist Mary O’Brien who explains that they were only used as immunity boosters for people suffering from lung cancer. She explains that the bacteria did not only strengthen the patients’ immunity, but also improved their vitality and happiness and lowered their pain and discomfort.
Study on Soil Organisms
The neuroscientists Dorothy Matthews and Susan Jenks did a study (with laboratory mice) which concluded that eating, breathing, and touching a soil organism may have to do with the development of our immunity and nervous system. The mice, after being administered M.vaccae, experienced better cognitive functioning and felt less anxious than their placebo counterparts. Matthews theorizes that this discovery may be the basis for advocating for specific adolescent schooling practices, i.e. creating learning environments throughout schools that will be focused on allowing students to spend time outdoors benefit from M.vaccae. They will feel less anxious and better their capacity of learning new things.
According to Professor Graham Rook from the University College London, the gastrointestinal tract is a place with hundred trillion microbes and they are a product of our lifestyles and genetics and interact with different parts of the body, from the lungs to the gut. Hence, lacking microbial exposure may be the answer to the increase in chronic health issues among the worldwide population, including depression and autoimmune illnesses.
The connection between the brain and gut is a bridge between mental health and gardening.
Without doubt, including gardening to your daily life will not just help you feel better and deal with anxiety and depression easier, but it will also help you be more physically active, which is pivotal for an optimal health. So, what are you waiting for? Put on gloves and it is time to get dirty and enjoy nature!