Could tending to a garden actually be able to help fight depression? Sure, gardeners talk about how it reduces stress and improved their moods but what limit can that be pushed to?
Well, as it turns out there are actually antidepressant microorganisms in the soil. Yes, in the soil. I know at first you’re probably thinking ‘gross’ but it is not anywhere near as gross as it sounds, these little microorganisms are actually pretty interesting.
These tiny microorganisms are known as mycobacterium vaccae (M. vaccae) and they are able to naturally activate the release of serotonin and dopamine in our brains! These two neurotransmitters work to send chemical messages to our brains. Dopamine is something that affects our emotions and serotonin regulates our moods.
When we garden these microorganisms are absorbed through our skin and inhaled as we breathe. Once they enter your blood stream and respiratory system they get straight to work boosting your mood. This connection was discovered by accident but is something we should all take into consideration. We should all be gardening or at least playing in the soil from time to time.
A study done by several neuroscientists that was published in the Behavioural Processes Journal titled “eating, touching, and breathing a soil organism may be tied to the development of our immune system and nervous system” showed that M. vaccae boosted the cognitive function in mice and made them less anxious. Could the mass deficiency of outdoor exposure be the reason as to why most people suffer from things like depression? There appears to be a bridge between gardening and mental health.
If you aren’t already you should get out and garden. These benefits are very real. Starting a garden is a worthy investment you should not miss out on.