Dirt is the New Prozac

Just think dirt is the new Prozac! Yes, creating a garden in your city lot can help with depression and anxiety. There is scientific proof that it heals our mind! It is evident to those of us that grow plants or spend time outdoors that we feel better, but now we have scientific evidence that it really does happen! It is not a figment of our imagination.

I grow it as an annual in our urban potager to attract pollinators and it is very drought tolerant

Before I was diagnosed with cancer in 2000, I started suffering from panic attacks about 4 months before my official diagnosis. My first attack was when my husband and I were grocery shopping at a local store with our kids. I had never suffered an attack before that first attack. It started with this terrible feeling I was going to die right there if I did not get out of that store. It was not a general frustration with hating shopping, which I do, but a feeling I was going to die right there in the store!. I left the store immediately and waited for my family in the car.

 Where did this come from was my first thought! It was a terrifying experience, and if you have never had one, then you can’t possibly understand how crippling it makes you feel and how it affects everything you do in life; from that point on since you live in fear that you might have one again. It is depressing. It is a vicious cycle because you start avoiding the places you have attacks. I remember hearing about this happening to friends.I never gave it much thought to our discussion since it was not an issue in m life. I felt genuine compassion for them, but I never knew what they were going through. I do now! It is real to them, they are not faking it.

Echinacea purpurea " coneflower" are all over our urban potager

Over the years,  I have tried many things to deal with stress/anxiety, but the best medicine for me was when I started my urban potager 10 years ago. It made me happy to be digging in the dirt while spending time out in nature. My urban oasis keeps evolving each year.I have found that it heals my body, but this winter has been a challenge. We started an early winter in October and it does not seem to be letting us get our cole crops out in the soil. 

The past few months I have been feeling a bit stressed inside, but as I started growing many of my annuals and perennials from seed; I noticed my mood was changing! It got me thinking about the research that I have read about how working with soil will “lift your spirits”. My hands are in the soil daily which explains my mood change. Also, seeing green instead of white is pretty uplifting! The first day of spring for our zone 5 area is March 20th just when I will be putting out all my spring cole crop annuals + perennials. If you are feeling a bit down get some soil and start your own annuals inside. It will lift your spirits!

Here is the article from Discover Magazine – Give it a read it will change your life

FROM THE JULY 2007 ISSUE

Is Dirt the New Prozac?

Injections of soil bacteria produce serotonin—and happiness—in mice.

By Josie Glausiusz|Thursday, June 14, 2007RELATED TAGS: DEPRESSION & HAPPINESSUNUSUAL ORGANISMS

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In a stained mouse brain section, blue indicates serotonin-releasing neurons activated by soil bacteria.Image courtesy of Christopher Lowry

THE STUDY  “Identification of an Immune-Responsive Mesolimbocortical Serotonergic System: Potential Role in Regulation of Emotional Behavior,” by Christopher Lowry et al., published online on March 28 in Neuroscience.

THE MOTIVE  Some researchers have proposed that the sharp rise in asthma and allergy cases over the past century stems, unexpectedly, from living too clean. The idea is that routine exposure to harmless microorganisms in the environment—soil bacteria, for instance—trains our immune systems to ignore benign molecules like pollen or the dandruff on a neighbor’s dog. Taking this “hygiene hypothesis” in an even more surprising direction, recent studies indicate (read article here)