Immersing in nature though gardening has been proven in various studies to be an effective way to de-stress and to increase happiness. But it turns out that touching healthy organic soil can also be a form of antidepressant through the microbes living on it. It has been found that mycobacterium vaccae, a non-pathogenic microbe present in soil, can make one happier and relaxed when they come in contact with it. These microbes stimulate cytokine levels that results in producing more serotonin in our body, making us happier.
In contrast, scarcity in serotonin may lead to health issues like depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Studies show that cancer patients have less stress and have improved quality of life when they are given mycobacterium vaccae.
Tests on the said microbes were also conducted by scientists on rats via injection and ingestion. Results show that benefits include cognitive ability, lower stress, and better concentration that lasted for three weeks.
In the case of farmers and gardeners, contact with this bacterium can happen either when they work on their growing spaces, if they inhale it through air, or by the small cuts in their body that can lead for the bacterium to get into their system when they touch the soil.
Gardening and farming entails lots of physical and psychological benefits to humans. While cultivating food or ornamentals does help in reducing stress, exposing oneself to organic soil also provides psychological gain as it can lessen the risks of depression. Besides making gardening a hobby, we can grow safe, healthy food, too. It’s a win-win case for us and for the environment.