Why farming is rejuvenating?

Every time I visit my farm I feel rejuvenated: charged up for the coming week. Working with soil, collecting leaf litter, watering the plants, pruning the plants, plucking the fruits, checking the moisture content of the vermicompost pit, mulching the plant’s roots…. there is so much to do. The tasks are endless, it seems visiting the farm after a whole week.
Having worked for nearly four hours in the sun I take a breather under the bamboo walled-asbestos roofed hut. Ever since I dry grass and coconut leaves on the roof, it’s quite cool here. Moment after I have taken the chair I generally doze off in the company of the occasional twitter of the birds and swoosh swoosh of the swaying of the golden-yellow bamboo palms.
By the time I wake the sun is on the head. I resume my activity for another hour. Mangal, by now has collected the weekly produce, stuffed them in the bags and we rush for the bus which we see approaching from the other end.
I’ve always wondered why one gets a kick out, feel rejuvenated after having worked with the soil or indulged in gardening activities.
It’s due to Mycobacterium vaccae.
Studies show 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.
According to Wikipedia M.vaccae is a nonpathogenic species of the Mycobacteriaceae family of bacteria that lives naturally in soil. Its name originates from the Latin word, vacca (cow), since it was first cultured from cow dung in Austria. Research areas being pursued with regard to killed M.vaccae vaccine include immunotherapy for allergic asthma, cancer, depression, leprosy, psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and tuberculosis.
There are scientists who believe that exposure to M.vaccae may work as an antidepressant because it stimulates the generation of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. More specifically, it induces the neurogenesis of neurons that produce those two compounds.
Previous research studies on M. vaccae showed that heat-killed bacteria injected into mice stimulated growth of some neurons in the brain that resulted in increased levels of serotonin and decreased anxiety. Now a team of neuroscientists and immunologists may have figured out why this works. The bacteria, when injected into mice, activate a set of serotonin-releasing neurons in the brain—the same nerves targeted by Prozac.
Graham Rook, an immunologist at University College London and a co-author of the paper, adds that depression itself may be in part an inflammatory disorder. By triggering the production of immune cells that curb the inflammatory reaction typical of allergies, M. vaccae may ease that inflammation and hence depression. Therapy with M. vaccae—or with drugs based on the bacterium’s molecular components—might someday be used to treat depression.
So, now you know where to head for if you want to encounter and be infected by the ‘happy’ bacteria. Everyone’s invited.
Is Dirt the New Prozac? Injections of soil bacteria produce serotonin—and happiness—in mice. Discover, July 2007 and others


3 thoughts on “Why farming is rejuvenating?

  1. Reblogged this on The Garden at 8505 and commented:
    Another good explanation of why we weren’t designed to sit on our rumps all day everyday indoors. Or maybe just another good excuse to get out and get your hands dirty on a regular basis. Try it today!

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