I am a farmer’s daughter; therefore, I have “farmer’s blood” running through my veins. At least, this is my term for it. I created the term farmer’s blood to describe the reason why I enjoy working in the soil. I did not know that I had it until I moved to Alaska.
My husband and I, along with our two little girls, moved to Alaska 45 years ago. We drove up the Alaska Highway and arrived in Anchorage the first of September. We lived with some friends until my husband found work, and then moved into an apartment. We were in the apartment for only one winter before purchasing our first home sometime in the spring.
The next winter must have been cold and dark – they all are – because I was more than ready to get outside to work in the yard. The snow was still three feet deep across the backyard when I ventured outside on that early spring day. I rejoiced when I noticed a spot of soil along the back of the house. It was in the corner where the deck met the house and was about two feet or so square. It was obviously the warmest place in the yard! Even though I knew that it was far too early to plant anything or to even dig in the dirt, I felt much better after simply seeing the bare soil and touching it for a few minutes. It was that day when I realized that I have farmer’s blood. Today I learned that farmer’s blood is a real thing.
I came upon an article today with this title: “Antidepressant Microbes In Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy.” I was immediately drawn to the article written by Bonnie L. Grant, a Certified Urban Agriculturist! I was hooked by her first two sentences: “Prozac may not be the only way to get rid of your serious blues. Soil microbes have been found to have similar effects on the brain and are without side effects and chemical dependency potential.” She then invites her readers to continue reading in order to learn why working in the soil makes one happy. I certainly wanted to learn more!
Natural remedies have been around for untold centuries. These natural remedies included cures for almost any physical ailment as well as mental and emotional afflictions. Ancient healers may not have known why something worked but simply that it did. Modern scientists have unraveled the why of many medicinal plants and practices but only recently are they finding remedies that were previously unknown and yet, still a part of the natural life cycle. Soil microbes and human health now have a positive link which has been studied and found to be verifiable.
Did you know that there’s a natural antidepressant in soil? It’s true. Mycobacterium vaccae is the substance under study and has indeed been found to mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide. The bacterium is found in soil and may stimulate serotonin production, which makes you relaxed and happier….
Science has proven that working the soil - or playing in the dirt – relaxes us and makes us happy. Now we know that “farmer’s blood” is a real thing and involves something called Mycobacterium vaccae. Grant says that one breathes in the bacteria, or it comes into the body through a cut. I wonder if it can be passed from parent to child biologically. Did I gain a love for the soil in my genes or simply by experience in working in it? Maybe scientists will discover the answer to that question sometime in the future. Meanwhile, I will find happiness and relaxation from digging in my gardens!
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