Some of us grew up as kids in the days of mud pies. We got to race around the bush bare-foot, fall into the creek and just enjoy getting dirty. We even did some gardening and got dirt under our fingernails. The clean-up after all this fun was something else but we endured it.
We were happy and relaxed and the reason was dirt. Well, not entirely the dirt but the dirt helped a lot. Yep! Dirt is good for us. Making mud pies helped us relax and enjoy ourselves. Racing around the bush gave us a healthy dose of bacteria.
Then came Prozac and other anti-depressants? They worked, after a fashion. But still, there is dirt.
Feeling down, stressed, depressed? Try some gardening. There's something about working in the soil that is relaxing. The exercise is great but then there are the bacteria. Good bacteria.
We now know that a teaspoon of living garden soil contains billions of bacteria. Soil is a complex living organism (so long as we have not killed it with chemicals). Yes, there are harmful bacteria but so many of the bacteria in soil are essential for providing the nutrients that plants need to grow and thrive.
Introducing Mycobacterium vaccae, the one bacteria that has an amazing impact on stimulating the human immune system and helping us to relax and maintain our happy disposition.
It was Christopher Lowry, a neuroscientist from the University of Colorado, who pioneered the research about the impact that Mycobacterium vaccae can have on our moods and well-being.
Lowry discovered that Mycobacterium vaccae stimulates a group of neurons in the human brain that produce serotonin. We could go into a lot of science at this point but simply put, serotonin is important in regulating a range of body and mental functions such as, metabolism, appetite, sleep, aggression, anger, mood, anxiety, motor activity, coping responses to stress and more.l