(NaturalHealth365) Gardeners have always known that tending to the soil is good way to relieve stress. Getting the hands a little dirty while cultivating food or flowers has an uplifting effect, but now science is explaining the link between soil exposure and a reduction in depression.
Researchers from University College London and Bristol University found that a benign, naturally-occurring soil bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae has a proven mood-boosting, antidepressant effect. Mice treated directly with Mycobacterium vaccae had notably higher levels of serotonin in their brains.
Science is finding out why being in nature feels so good
Previous studies have shown this exact same bacteria helped to reduce pain and nausea while increasing vitality and cognitive function in cancer patients. It has also been shown to protect children against asthma and allergies. The British study has now linked Mycobacterium vaccae with the stimulation of the production of serotonin, the body’s natural mood elevator.
Low levels of serotonin is one of the causes of depression. Low serotonin is strongly associated with anxiety, depression, aggression, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and other mental illnesses. A serotonin shortage is also linked with fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome.
Serotonin crucial to 14 different brain and body processes
Serotonin, or 5-HT (5-hydroxytryptamine) is a multi-functional chemical messenger found in the brain, gut, blood and nerves. Fourteen different cell receptors can bind to serotonin to work with it in different ways.
Besides its mood boosting effects, serotonin helps brain cells to communicate, regulates digestive secretion, assists with food passage through the gut, and constricts blood vessels as needed.
The amount of serotonin needed throughout the body varies, with the brain’s mood-regulating hypothalamus needing a lot of it, while the cortex (involved in thinking, attention, memory, awareness and consciousness) requires a much smaller amount.
Serotonin is balanced in the brain and body via its release, followed by inactivation once received in synaptic spaces between nerve endings, and finally absorption, also known as “reuptake.”
A natural way to avoid depression
Antidepressant drugs raise serotonin levels by inhibiting the brain’s ability to initiate serotonin inactivation or reuptake. However, the Mycobacterium vaccae soil bacteria works differently; it has the effect of increasing the release of serotonin in the brain.
While the mice treated with Mycobacterium vaccae bacteria were found to have increased brain activity in the neurons that produce serotonin, the psychiatric concept of “microbe-gut-brain axis” was also involved. There is a known link between the gut flora and brain allowing microbes to assist in supporting optimal body chemistry. Mycobacterium vaccae is not naturally occurring in gut flora, but can be obtained through exposure through activities like gardening.
Most people have experienced the sense of well being that comes from being outdoors in wooded areas, gardening, playing touch football or picnicking on the grass. While nature, fresh air and sunshine relieve stress and have uplifting effects, part of the feel-good equation seems to be the friendly soil bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae.
Whatever the causes of depression, exposure to soil can help to relieve stress and boost mood. All the more reason to get out there and play in our natural surroundings!
Food & Nutrition
Natural Health 365
Natural Health 365 is a premium source of trending and popular health-related news, science, testimony & research articles on the most up to date and relevant natural health information. The Food & Nutrition articles found herein are meant to inform and advise our site visitors on eating healthy, nutritious foods and safely using supplements and vitamins to achieve optimal health.
Join thousands of daily visitors staying informed and involved on Natural Health 365! We seek out scientific solutions with proven results and it is our mission to keep you informed! Articles range in topic from the cancer fighting qualities of Olive Oil, to the remarkably high concentration of anti-oxidants found in blueberries, to how to make your own almond milk, to a nutritional comparison of organic vs conventional produce, to an analysis of the health benefits of tree nuts. You can find all of the Food News Articles here
Read Some of Our Most Popular Articles
Artichokes, Olive Oil, Almond Milk, Blueberries
More Food & Nutrition Articles
Fresh Organic Produce Fights Cancer, Susan G. Komen on Organic Foods, Hemp Seeds for Inflammation, Pau D’Arco For Improved Immunity
In addition to exploring health benefits of certain foods, vitamins and supplements, we also aim to connect healthy eating and balanced consumption of dietary supplements to long-lasting health and adding healthy, happy years to your life. For example, did you know that eating Granny Smith Apples on a regular basis can reduce your chance of building up unhealthy gut yeast? Or that ingesting ground hemp seeds can significantly reduce inflammation throughout the body? Perhaps you didn’t know that Fresh Organic Produce has been found to have higher concentrations of key, cancer-fighting anti-oxidants and vitamins than conventional produce? You can find all of that information and more right here on Natural Health 365.
We’d love to know what you’re thinking! Please join the conversation on Facebook, post comments here on the website and feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions.
Please use and share the articles you find here with your friends, family and peers.