I always like it when research confirms stuff I know already:
Treatment of mice with a ‘friendly’ bacteria, normally found in the soil, altered their behavior in a way similar to that produced by antidepressant drugs, reports research published in the latest issue of Neuroscience….. Dr Chris Lowry, lead author on the paper from Bristol University, said: “These studies help us understand how the body communicates with the brain and why a healthy immune system is important for maintaining mental health. They also leave us wondering if we shouldn’t all be spending more time playing in the dirt.”
Yes! Yes, we should!
I can’t tell you how much happier and better I feel after a day in the garden. It’s the best kind of therapy. I really do feel happier, and now I have an actual physical explanation for why.
If you haven’t read Last Child in the Woods yet, then here is yet another plug for the book. A wonderful read, and a great discussion of how we are “protecting” our children from a lot of things that are good for them–like the outdoors and nature.
I’d also like to point to this editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, entitled “Eat Dirt: The Hygiene Hypothesis.” They summarize a lot of research in highly technial jargon, but it boils down to this: the best way to avoid allergies is to have a pet, live on a farm, and go to day care.
In other words, be dirty early in life, challenge your immune system, and it’s less likely to go wonky on you later in life.
Yes, I am a very dirty girl. And proud of it!