Those of us who love growing green things and getting dirt under our nails already know that the simple act of getting our hands in the soil is an uplifting, even spiritual experience. It just feels good for several reasons: it's a great way to relieve tension by pulling and squeezing the soil and plant matter in your hands. There's a certain pride to be taken in growing one's own food and medicine and there's the wonder of the blessings of Mother Earth. Gardeners, witches and pagans have known these things for years. But it turns out that science may finally be catching on; a new study suggests there's a certain bacteria that may help boost serotonin, a naturally occurring "feel good" brain chemical.
A lack of serotonin is linked with depression in people. The scientists say more work is now needed to determine if the bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae has antidepressant properties through activation of serotonin neurons.
So maybe there really is something to all this "gardening makes me feel good" talk. The gifts of Mother Earth not only feed us and enrich our lives; they can actually make us feel better.