Thursday, May 13, 2010

Getting down and DIRTY!

Yeah, I like getting down and DIRTY, and who knew it, it's good for me!  

I've blogged several times about working in my veggie and flower gardens.  Working in the garden always makes me happy; I love the exercise, I love the results, and I love the DIY factor.  Well, my body already knew what my brain just learned today!  I DO feel better when I work in the garden, and for good reason.

Today I read about researchers at Bristol University and University College London have discovered that the harmless, naturally occurring soil bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae helps elevate your mood.   Christopher Lowry, a neuroscientist at the University of Bristol in England, thinks that "the bacteria activate immune cells, which release chemicals called cytokines that then act on receptors on the sensory nerves to increase their activity."  

Researchers believe that Mycobacterium vaccae, may be able to alleviate depression.  Lung cancer patientswho were injected with killed M. vaccae reported better quality of life and less nausea and pain. A team of neuroscientists and immunologists injected mice with the bacteria, and think that it activates a set of serotonin-releasing neurons in the brain—the same nerves targeted by Prozac.

So, how does gardening lift my mood?  Besides the enjoyment I get from gardening, the endorphins released because I am actively using my muscles, and the joy I get from the yummy and beautiful results, scientists say that the results indicate that simply inhaling the bacteria gives a healthy dose.  So weeding, digging in the garden, planting, etc. could help get you in a good mood too.  Even a walk in the woods may do the trick.  According to Lowry, “you can also ingest mycobacteria either through water sources or through eating plants—lettuce that you pick from the garden, or carrots."  Now I really can't wait to munch on our homegrown lettuce and carrots! 

So what are you waiting for?  Get out there and get down and DIRTY and in the process enjoy some natural prozac in the form of a small bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae. 

Lowry's Study “Identification of an Immune-Responsive Mesolimbocortical Serotonergic System: Potential Role in Regulation of Emotional Behavior,” by Christopher Lowry et al., published online on March 28 in Neuroscience.


1 comment:

  1. This explains everything! I was laying down in the dirt and mulch on my side digging up a Hosta this afternoon.
    It was the best part of my day so far. Now I know why.
    Thank you :-)