Year of the Soil

Monica Daubon


The US Department of Agriculture has officially dubbed 2015 as the International Year of the Soils (USDA). Tom Vilsack, and agricultural secretary, said, “Healthy soil is the foundation that ensures working farms and ranches become more productive, resilient to climate change and better prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century.” Although soil provides plants with the nutrients it needs to survive, soil is much more that just nutrients; it is also microbes.

You may hear the word microbes and shutter. Microbes are the world’s oldest single cell organisms. Although some microbes can make you ill, others can actually improve your health and well being. One type of these (good) microbes is called Mycobacterium vaccae. You might be a little concerned with the fact that a type of bacteria can improve your health, but indeed these bacteria have been found to imitate the effects of antidepressant drugs on neurons.

Depression, anxiety and other compulsive disorders have been linked to a lack of serotonin (“happiness” neurotransmitter). When antidepressant drugs enter a body, it causes the body to increase cytokine levels which in turn increased serotonin production. This exact process has been identified by the bacteria is inhaled from a pile of dirt. Additionally, antidepressant drugs have to be taken once, twice, or even three times daily. When inhaled once, the effects of these microbes stay in the body for up to three weeks. This study has been tested on mice but not yet for humans. The mice were injected with the microbe and they ingested the microbe. After the injection or ingestion, scientists noted an “increased cognitive ability, lower stress and better concentration to tasks than a control group (GardeningKnow).” So, get down and dirty and take of sniff of the good microbes that Mother Earth has to offer.