Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dirt Cheap Drug

Yet another benefit of gardening.

From Yahoo...
Even if you don't love gardening, digging in the dirt may be good for your health -- and it has nothing to do with a love of nature or the wonder of watching things grow. The secret may be in the dirt itself: A bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae that acts like an antidepressant once it gets into your system.

That's right. A living organism that acts like a mood-booster on the human brain, increasing serotonin and norepinephrine levels and making people feel happier. It was accidentally discovered about 10 years ago when an oncologist in London tried an experimental treatment for lung cancer. She inoculated patients with killed M. vaccae, expecting the bacteria -- which is related to ones that cause tuberculosis and leprosy -- to boost their immune system. It did that, but it also improved her patients' "emotional health, vitality, and general cognitive function." Later experiments with mice confirmed the bacteria's effects; the study was published in a 2007 edition of the journal "Neuroscience."

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