Saturday, November 21, 2009

Good Dirt on Dirt!


This is likely going to be old news for some of you, but for those who haven't yet heard the good word on dirt, listen up. It turns out that dirt is good for your mental health. I'm not going to tell you to flush the anti-depressants just yet, but it might be worth a try, depending on how down you are.

It's always been a belief of mine that God provides for "what ails ya" somewhere in nature. We may not have discovered the natural remedies just yet, but I'm convinced they're out there. Now lest you think I'm some sort of earth mother that doesn't believe in modern pharmaceuticals, I can assure you that is not the case. Those have been a godsend to many, including me. I just think that for minor illnesses that everyone is touched by, there are natural things out there that could be just the ticket.

So about this dirt thing...


Those of us that are gardeners, know that we receive benefits other than providing for Sunday's noon dinner when we till the soil. There is a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when we see the results of our labor. We appreciate the beauty that a garden brings. But guess what? There is a very tangible and direct benefit from playing in the dirt.


Soil contains a "friendly" bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae. When we dig in the dirt, it releases the bacteria into the air, which we then breathe in. Once in the body, the bacteria acts on the part of the brain affecting mood, by causing more seratonin to be released. Seratonin is what puts us in a good mood.

For years, all the way back to when I was a kid, I have extolled the wonderful aromatic scent of dirt. Before the days of no-till farming, you could ride your bike down a country road, go by a plowed field and breathe in the fragrance of earth. It always made me smile and it still does when we till the garden in the spring, turning the soil over and over, as we get it ready for planting, and later as we hoe the weeds and once again when we till the garden in the fall

So you see, a little dirt never hurt anyone. In fact, it could be good for you!

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* For the original article published by Medical News Today and a link to the abstract, click here.

16 comments:

Stevie said...

What a great post. It's very interesting to learn that there is bacteria in soil that affects mood. I personally have I have been using gardening to heal from physical challenges. I find the variety of movements it requires to garden to be great therapy. But now I know there is reason I also feel 'high' on gardening :).

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

My grandparents always said a little dirt was good for us anyway, to keep the bad bugs at bay. I totally agree both with them and with your post. In the words of Margaret Atwood, "in the spring, one should come in from outdoors smelling of dirt."
You might like to check my latest post on bloomingwriter, too. ;-)

Carolyn gail said...

I had Pica (craving dirt ) as a child and used to eat it quite often. Guess I knew early on that it was good for me :-) I was anemic and the dirt supplied iron.

No wonder I have seasonal disorder. I need some of that seratonin.

CiNdEe said...

I always feel better after digging in the dirt(-: My great aunt use to call it her therapy now I guess she was right(-:

garden girl said...

It's good for the immune system too, at least in healthy soil, that is. Soil-based organisms in our GI tracts help keep our digestive systems healthy, and our digestive tracts are very important, if little-known parts of our immune systems.

There are a number of companies who manufacture probiotics from soil-based organisms, supposedly alot better than yogurt (especially the sugary and high-fructose corn syrup varieties.)

MyMaracas said...

Fascinating post! I'm currently exploring natural healing, and I agree completely that nature offers valid alternatives to pharmaceutical chemicals.

Diana said...

I've always said that digging in the dirt was my therapy, and now I know why! Thank you for sharing that wonderful information with us. It's VERY nice to know I'm in good company. :) I wonder if bringing a bucket of dirt inside during the winter and digging around in it would produce the same results?

Katie said...

I love dirt. I think digging in it, even if it isn't mine, is exactly what I may need right now.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

This doesn't surprise me. I can always feel the affects of digging in the dirt.

Primary Work at Home said...

Great post! I learn a lot from you. This is a perfect post because I am planning of planting.

Jean said...

Soooo....thats why I am addicted to gardening?

Tyra in Vaxholm said...

I prefere to had both feet on the ground and my hands in...so I like to get dirty ;-)Great post Kylee

Louise said...

I remember my father, who was a farmer, telling about stopping the tractor, laying on the ground in the shade of the tractor, and grabbing a few winks. The smell of the earth gave him a quick time of relaxation. louise

Rose said...

I always knew that digging in the dirt was good for you, Kylee, but I didn't know this scientific explanation for it. Thanks for the interesting information! And I learned something from the commenters as well. No wonder I rarely get the blues during gardening season.

I see you have a little companion while digging, too--what a cutie!

Patsi 'Garden Endeavors' said...

Didn't know about the bacteria that gets into the air.
Do know... it feels good to dig in the dirt.

Kathleen said...

Funny to read your post today Kylee. I was just listening to our local news and they were talking about the increased number of kids with allergies. One of the reasons given was they aren't spending enough time playing in the dirt! (and using too many antibacterial products) So you are definitely on to something. I always thought gardening was a healthy hobby but now I know it is in more ways than one. :-)
Thanks for the e-mail about Twitter too. I signed up then haven't done anything more with it. When I get back there I will definitely add you on ~ and hopefully vice versa.

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