Hands holding soil

Soil Microbes: Nature heals

Nature heals. This can sound like a poetic and sweet sentiment, that may leave some of us wanting more actionable statements. Although lacking in poetry, I’ve got one for you: The common soil microbe Mycobacterium vaccae has been shown to alleviate depression. Yes, dirt is an antidepressant.

This soilborne bacterium is transdermal, meaning it soaks through your skin when you’re gardening, wildcrafting, walking barefoot, composting, sunbathing on a nontoxic lawn, mudwrestling etc. It can also be successfully inhaled. Just laying on the Earth and grounding while breathing deeply will work. Try to do this often. Once M. vaccae is in your body, it activates the serotonergic systems, which transports the neurotransmitter serotonin. Healthy levels and metabolism of serotonin keep overactive fear responses, anxiety, depression, and pain reactions in check. This neurotransmitter also helps counter stress hormones.

If a person, population, or entire planet has been exposed to prolonged stressors, stress hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine rise and serotonin falls. This can lead to depression, anxiety, sleep problems, increased susceptibility to addictions, increased pain responses, and lack of motivation. Pharmaceutical antidepressants try to alleviate these symptoms by rebalancing these and other neurotransmitters. If one is not interested or does not have the financial means to pursue pharmaceutical remedies, dirt is a readily available and clinically researched alternative. Yes. Really. Dirt. I absolutely love the accessibility of this therapy.

The natural world is filled with these kinds of remedies. It is as though we were actually part of a larger whole, no? Our little bodies need contact with our mother. We become sick when we are separated, and heal when we reunite.

Read more: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17367941/

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