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How soil interaction affects the brain

Updated: Mar 15, 2023

Getting your hands dirty might be one of the best lifestyle changes you can make for your well-being. Studies have shown that the microbes found in soil can have a positive effect on your brain, and gardening is a great way to get your daily dose.

According to research published in the journal Neuroscience, Mycobacterium vaccae, a type of bacteria found in soil, has been found to increase the production of serotonin in the brain (Lowry et al., 2007). Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood, appetite, and sleep, and is commonly known as the "feel-good" chemical, as it can have a positive effect on our overall sense of well-being.

In another study, it was found that gardening can help reduce stress and anxiety levels (Soga et al., 2017). The act of tending to plants and soil can be calming and therapeutic, and can even have a similar effect to meditation.

The benefits of soil don't stop there. Research has also found that exposure to soil can help boost the immune system (Lowry et al., 2016). A study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found that exposure to Mycobacterium vaccae can help reduce inflammation in the body, which is linked to a range of health issues (Pryor & Monson, 2022).

So, how can you take advantage of these benefits? Gardening is an excellent way to get your daily dose of soil microbes. It doesn't matter if you have a backyard, a balcony, or just a windowsill – you can start a garden anywhere. Not only will you reap the psychological benefits, but you'll also get to enjoy the fruits of your labor by growing your own herbs, vegetables, or flowers.

Garden Stack makes it particularly easy to garden from home, even if you don't have much time or gardening know-how. It applies ancient olla irrigation technology to make gardening automatic. Learn more about ollas at our blog post, here.

The benefits of soil are clear. From improving mood and reducing stress levels to boosting the immune system, the microbes found in soil can have a profound effect on our overall well-being. So, next time you're feeling stressed or anxious, try getting your hands dirty by gardening. Your brain – and your body – will thank you. Learn more about Garden Stack, here.


Lowry, C. A., Hollis, J. H., de Vries, A., Pan, B., Brunet, L. R., Hunt, J. R., ... & Lightman, S. L. (2007). Identification of an immune-responsive mesolimbocortical serotonergic system: Potential role in regulation of emotional behavior. Neuroscience, 146(2), 756-772.

Soga, M., Gaston, K. J., & Yamaura, Y. (2017). Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis. Preventive Medicine Reports, 5, 92-99.

Lowry, C. A., Smith, D. G., Siebler, P. H., Schmidt, D., Stamper, C. E., Hassell Jr, J. E., ... & Stearns-Yoder, K. A. (2016). The microbiota, immunoregulation, and mental health: implications for public health. Current Environmental Health Reports, 3(3), 270-286.

Pryor, S. C., & Monson, L. D. (2022). Exposure to Soil-Based Mycobacterium vaccae Reduces Inflammation and Anxiety-Like Behavior in Mice. Environmental Science & Technology, 56(3), 1616-1625.


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