Dirty Hands—Happy Face
by Debbie Teashon
Take off your work gloves, because exposure to soil just might make you happy, according to a conclusion of current studies. Recent experiments show there could actually be a physical connection; exposure to the bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae, found in soil, may be responsible for an increase of the chemical serotonin in our bodies.
Bristol University conducted experiments that show mice exposed to the bacteria produced more of the "happy" chemical. Dr. Chris Lowry, lead researcher at the university, said, "These studies help us understand how the body communicates with the brain and why a healthy immune system is important for maintaining mental health. They also leave us wondering if we shouldn't all be spending more time playing in the dirt." Just ask gardeners and children, they already know.