Microbes rule the world, quietly and behind the scenes and their power to combat depression is gaining attention in the medical field, thanks to a particular microbe in the soil called Mycobacterium vaccae. With this exciting discovery, science can finally explain one of the main reasons why gardening can improve your mood and mental health. (1)
Researchers believe the microbes can mirror the effects of some of the most commonly used antidepressants, such as Prozac. And the best part? Unlike conventional drugs, this one appears to offer all of the benefits without any side effects.
Why Serotonin Matters
Most of us have heard the term “feel-good hormones.” Serotonin is a hormone that belongs to this group and helps keep us feeling positive, productive, and happy.
Other than mood regulation serotonin also helps with social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function. At night, when we are exposed to lower light levels, remaining serotonin is converted into melatonin, the hormone that’s responsible for a good night’s sleep.
Do You Have A Serotonin Deficiency?
A deficiency in serotonin can result in depression, lower energy levels and a weakened immune system. While there are medical treatments available to help increase serotonin levels, nature offers a unique solution in the form of microbes called mycobacterium vaccae.
Microbes Could Revolutionize Medicine
Mycobacterium vaccae, one of the common bacterium found in soil, has recently gained widespread attention in the medical industry. There’s significant research being done into this, following the discovery that it may alleviate depression, OCD, and anxiety. The benefits of Mycobacterium vaccae are even being studied as a possible treatment for Crohn’s disease, improved cognitive function, and even rheumatoid arthritis. (2, 3)
Is it any surprise that those who spend time planting flowers and gardening often refer to their hobby as their “happy place”? Of course, gardening combats mental illnesses in more than one way; it’s also a good form of exercise. In addition, moderate exposure to sunlight helps to increase vitamin D production and regulate the thyroid, which are both important for good health.
Microbes Affect Our Gut Health, Which Affects Our Mental Health
There’s no denying the link between gut health and brain health. Researchers already know that research indicates the bacteria in our gut is responsible for many mental disorders, alongside physical ones too: “Based on evidence, the gut microbiota is associated with metabolic disorders such as obesity, diabetes mellitus and neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, autistic disorders, anxiety disorders, and major depressive disorders.” (4)
Could Your Depression Be A ‘Gut Feeling’? Science Says Yes
While depression is indeed a disease with physiological origins (meaning it is a physical disease), rather than a “mindset” problem, it also leads to questions around treatment options. Research indicates that inflammation in the gut, which is often caused by bacteria imbalances, such as candida overgrowth, can cause depression.
ADHD sufferers all have one thing in common; their gut seems to have trouble absorbing essential fatty acids, which are crucial for certain brain functions.
How To Use Soil Microbes To Feel Happier
Gardening exposes our skin to mycobacterium vaccae and this is often all it takes to benefit from its antidepressant properties. Alongside this beneficial exposure, gardening has also been known to bring about a great sense of achievement, satisfaction, and heightened states of joy.
It is also an important activity to counteract symptoms such as abulia, in which people who have suffered trauma often feel as though taking action in their own lives is difficult. The exposure to the bacteria in question, mycobacterium vaccae, naturally offers a Prozac-like effect on the brain, helping neurons to communicate more effectively and bring about a sense of happiness and well-being.