Not only does digging in the dirt make gardeners happier, but it might also make us smarter. Soil contains a friendly bacteria named Mycobacterium vaccae and separate studies have found that mice treated with the bacterium had increased levels of serotonin the “happy hormone.” When inoculated with the M. vaccae bacteria the mice used in the studies navigated a maze twice as quickly as they did when they didn’t have the bacteria in their system. Researchers hypothesize that the increase in serotonin derived from the bacteria lessened their anxiety resulting in less stress and a greater learning ability.
The lesson to be learned here is to never feel guilty about the time you spend working in your garden. Not only are you making the world a more beautiful place, but you may also be insuring your future mental health and even adding a few points to your IQ.
For more information on how Mycobacterium vaccae effects gardening and gardeners, see the Science Daily article.