Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A gardening tip from the Curmudgeon

I have to be careful venturing into the realm of gardening advice: Regular visitors (and dedicated gardeners) like Fran of Where Fibers Meet Mud would know in a second that I'm no gardener. Weekend gardeners, occasional gardeners -- even window box gardeners would see through me.

Because, in my house, it's Long Suffering Spouse who handles the garden chores. She likes it. I could live in a highrise and get all the nature I need at the ballpark.

But, nevertheless, today I have a gardening tip for you.

Have I sufficiently lowered your expectations?

See, with all this staying inside, I read. As I recently read the latest issue of Discover Magazine. The current issue features a fascinating cover story on the relationship between science and Islam.

But the gardening tip I found was in the "Raw Data" column. And the tip is... are you still with me?... get dirty:

A common soil bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae "may be able to alleviate depression."

It turns out that gardening really can make you feel good. When injected into mice, the bacteria, M. vaccae, activates "a set of serotonin-releasing neurons in the brain - the same nerves targeted by Prozac." In another study, lung cancer patients injected with killed M. vaccae "reported better quality of life and less nausea and pain."

Discover reports that the study, with the riveting title, "Identification of an Immune-Responsive Mesolimbocortical Serotonergic System: Potential Role in Regulation of Emotional Behavior," by Christopher Lowry et al. was published online on March 28 in Neuroscience. But the bottom line is "that simply inhaling M. vaccae -- you get a dose just by taking a walk in the wild or rooting around in the garden -- could help elicit a jolly state of mind."


I'd provide a link to the Neuroscience article, but I couldn't find it this morning. There are, however, any number of articles about that article.

And it's a subject even I've written about before. A year ago I reported on another study that suggests that clean living has its downside -- or why you shouldn't panic when your toddler eats a little dirt: It's good for developing the immune system.

However sophisticated we are, however much we disguise our origins, we are still creatures of the earth. We forget this at our peril.


Barb said...

That explains why I get so happy when I'm potting plants. I love playing in dirt!

sari said...

Yet another reason to avoid antibacterial soaps. No wonder there are so many depressed people around.

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

you go first curmy! ha ha

smiles, bee


Where fibers meet mud said...

I love the garden. Puts you at peace and lets you spend your aggression. Very affirming and down right healthy. Your research does not surprise me at all. I represent them totally. No drug sold over the counter or in dark alley ways can make you feel like a day in the garden!

Shelby said...

I just started a garden so hopefully this will make me a happy person for a while :)