Prozac in the Garden by Mary Jo Hudson, Regular Contributor

My husband jokes with the children that someday, I will expire and it will likely be in the garden.  He knows it is my happy place.  One day, recently, my plans for the day were delayed because there was some equipment repair needed before the lawn mowing process could begin.  I needed to cover another several hours with Matt instead of visiting the garden.  I had a little self-talk to avoid being irritated.  The truth was that I DID want the lawn to be mowed and I WAS willing to take part of a shift for that to happen. The delay meant I didn’t get time in the garden.
I could argue that based on science, there was a reason I was irritated.  Missing some hours in the garden is akin to missing anti-depression medication.  I was delighted to read there is scientific reason behind this malady.  It is more than just the yearning to have my hands in the dirt.  I’ve known for some time that I do not garden well wearing gloves.  I have never been able to articulate why until I read this article.
Bonnie Grant, an urban agriculturalist writes in her article that mycobacterium vaccae 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.

Gardeners inhale the bacteria, have topical contact with it and get it into their bloodstreams when there is a cut or other pathway for infection. The natural effects of the soil bacteria antidepressant can be felt for up to 3 weeks if the experiments with rats are any indication. So get out and play in the dirt and improve your mood and your life.
Most avid gardeners will tell you that their landscape is their “happy place” and the actual physical act of gardening is a stress reducer and mood lifter. The fact that there is some science behind it adds additional credibility to these garden addicts’ claims. The presence of an antidepressant is not a surprise to many of us who have experienced the phenomenon ourselves. Backing it up with science is fascinating, but not shocking, to the happy gardener.

Not only the dirt under my fingernails, but the beauty and cycle of God’s creation brings a spiritual connection to my soul.  His principles of sowing and reaping; multiplication and fruit bearing; of eliminating weeds to improve productivity; of mulching to keep disease away remind me to tend to the environment and friendships I create in my life.  I’m always learning; always being reminded; always thankful for this piece of heaven He has given me.

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