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I faithfully read "Ask The Landscape Professional" every week and I want to thank you for taking the time to write it. I am excited and so happy to be working in my garden again with all of this new-found knowledge. Amy

Answer

I faithfully read You are very welcome. You may be amazed to find out that there is actually a scientific explanation for why you are especially happy when you work outside in the garden! Back in 2008, researchers in UK were studying treatments for lung cancer and discovered when lung cancer patients were injected with a dead version of a common harmless bacterium, not only were their cancer symptoms reduced, their general mood improved and their stress levels and anxiety went down. More recent studies in 2010 concluded that this same bacterium caused improvement in learning ability in laboratory animals. The bacterium being studied is Mycobacterium vaccae, which is commonly found in soil. By just walking through your garden or digging in the dirt, you naturally breathe in this harmless bacterium and your body produces increased levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter associated with the feelings of happiness. Some experiments on animals have shown that the feeling of happiness can last as long as three weeks.

All of us have felt true happiness when we are outside in our gardens. Who knew that there was scientific research to back up those feelings of joy! So there you have it, playing in the dirt exposes you to Mother Nature's own antidepressant that can make you smarter too! Time to go back outside and get those hands dirty!!

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About Linda Lillie

Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.

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