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Why Dirt is Good for You

We have all seen it before. Kids completely covered in dirt and mud with a grin from ear to ear. Gardeners tending to their plants with the look of contentment across their face. It is no secret that digging in the dirt brings happiness but exactly how is what makes it fascinating.

Nature’s Prozac

Prozac has been an effective resource to those afflicted with symptoms of depression including seasonal disorders. Coincidently, there is a link between microbes found in soil having a similar brain effect as the pharmaceutical antidepressant.

Specifically, Mycobacterium vaccae found in soil cause cytokine levels to rise, which promotes the production of serotonin. This production has a positive effect on neurons, decreasing stress levels, and increasing relaxation.

The Farm Effect

Any of us who grew up milking a cow before we headed off to school or spent our summers building incredible biceps flinging bails of hay is likely familiar with The Farm Effect. In short, a 50% reduction in allergies within farm families, particularly the children, has been documented across North America and Europe. Similar outcomes of fewer allergies occurred with children that grew up in a home that had a dog indoors.

The exposure to different organisms in the environment helps immune systems grow and increase in strength. Dr. Joel V. Weinstock, the director of gastroenterology and hepatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, has referred to the immune system at birth “like an unprogrammed computer. It needs instruction.” One way to initiate the instruction, is by exposure to good, beneficial bacteria that is often found in nature.

As much as we are fans of gardening over here, we are even bigger fans of a good handful of soil and the benefits it carries. If a spoonful of dirt a day sounds less tempting than just playing in it, come over to the greenhouse and we would be happy to teach you some great ways to get your daily dose of “m-vay-cay” (that’s what all the cool kids are calling mycobacterium vaccae).

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