Sunday, March 13, 2011

Happiness comes from the dirt!

Bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae, found naturally in the soil, can stimulate the cells in our brain that make serotonin, the molecule responsible for elevating mood and decreasing anxiety. The blog at the website Therapeutic Landscapes Network recently wrote about the various research studies that are looking into these connections and therapeutic benefits of contact with Mycobacterium vaccae, including increased quality of life (less nausea, less vomiting) when an IV preparation was given to patients with very advanced lung cancer.

I have highlighted the Therapeutic Landscapes Network website in a past posting on my blog as it has a section where it is trying to list all health care facilities that have gardens of some kind (most are more like sanctuaries or healing gardens, i.e., a place "to be", not necessarily vegetable gardens or gardens for more active involvement). Currently the list is alphabetical by name (not even by state), but they are in the process of reorganizing this information into a map, so you can search for healthcare gardens in a particular geographic region much more easily.

I believe this connection between soil and health is truly old knowledge, for which science is beginning to develop a fraction of understanding.

The old people came literally to love the soil and they
sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close
to a mothering power.  It was good for the skin to touch
the earth and the old people liked to remove their moccasins
and walk with bare feet on the sacred earth.  Their tipis were
built upon the earth and their altars were made of earth.  The
birds that flew into the air came to rest upon the earth and it
was the final abiding place of all things that lived and grew.
The soil was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing.

~~ Chief Luther Standing Bear, 1868-1939
Lakota Sioux Chief

Yes, the soil is soothing, strengthening, cleansing, and healing. It is good to touch the earth. I hope you find or create the opportunity to do so for both health and happiness!

Cultivating health through a garden's nourishment of both body and soul,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

1 comment:

Naomi Sachs, ASLA said...

Belated thanks for blogging about the Therapeutic Landscapes Network and our blog post about good dirt. Regarding the list of healing gardens (in healthcare and elsewhere) I wish that we had the funding already to develop and provide a map. But it's a major undertaking requiring lots of programming, probably a database, and many human hours of data entry. Still, it is definitely in our long-range plan! Best, Naomi Sachs, Founder and Director, Therapeutic Landscapes Netowrk