. Vite Vinifera De Vino's Blog: The Good Bacteria

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Good Bacteria

Or better yet if you spend time in the dirt you'll be happier and more energetic.
I've started to read a magazine called Discover, after my my friend Bob Guccione Jr. gave me some copies last time I delivered wines to his office.
Now, to tell the truth I thought to myself, "when am I going to read a science magazine filled with numbers and incomprehensible words?" Then I thought, hey, what better place than the bathroom? So, that's where I opened up the July issue and I was surprised to see familiar words, very cool pictures and down to earth (literally) articles.
The one I want to talk about is on page 18, and is called "Is dirt the new Prozac?".
The article underlines the effect of a bacteria that lives in the dirt called Mycobacterium Vaccae, which activates a set of serotonin-releasing neurons, the same neurons targeted by Prozac. The study made a very compelling argument for the idea that the bacteria is something of an antidepressant, that can also improve energy levels, help deal with pain, and for those who are terminally ill, it can heighten the quality of life. How do we assimilate this harmless bacteria?
Simply by breathing it, evidently. The M. Vaccae is present in the soil, and you can get a healthy (literally) dose of it just by walking through a field or hanging out in a garden, or by ingesting it through water or plants, like carrots or lettuce.
I wonder if any shrinks are aware of this, and if they'd be comfortable exchanging Prozac for long walks in the dirt.
Where my personal experience is concerned: walking the vineyards always gave me a sense of euphoria and happiness that I thought was connected to the scenario - breathtaking views, surrounded by rows and rows of grapes. I'm sure those things were a substantial part of my experience, but that friendly and happy bacteria was playing a meaningful role as well. So next time you feel a little blue, see if a walk in the park will make you feel better - you don't really have anything to lose - other than a little time.
Buona Bevuta a Tutti

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