Today I am honored to have a guest post by my holistic doctor, Dr. Robin Mayfield. Dr. Robin has helped me in numerous ways to get my health back on track after going through breast cancer treatment, successfully helping me to address mood issues, foggy brain, nerve damage, menopause symptoms and lymphedema. Whew, that made me tired just listing that! Thank you, Dr. Robin, for writing about the health benefits of gardening for us!
Gardening Health Benefits
Breast Cancer and Health Awareness Month Guest Blogpost
by Dr. Robin Mayfield, DC
Thank you to Jenny for inviting me to participate in Breast Cancer Awareness Month as a guest blogger.
The garden has much to offer us in the way of health benefits. More than you might know!
As a holistic practitioner of more than two decades and a gardener in my spare time, I am constantly reminded of the value of high quality foundations. In the body, your GI tract is the foundation that must be healthy to support all life. In the garden, the soil plays that same role for the life of plants. And fortunately for all of us, those two areas overlap.
Healthy soil is teeming with life – earthworms, fungi, bacteria, beneficial insects, trace minerals and more. One recently discovered bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae (M. vaccae), is particularly fascinating. M. vaccae is especially abundant in soils rich in moist, organic matter. For Texas Gardeners, this is soil that you have amended over the years naturally with compost.
When you work in the soil, this wonderful Mycobacterium is stirred up. You breathe it in. You ingest it when you eat freshly harvested produce. You absorb it when you get the dirt on your skin. M. vaccae then does something marvelous. It triggers the release of serotonin in your brain. Mood lifts and anxiety is squelched at the end of many a gardening session. Part of the reason is that you are doing something pleasurable (most of the time), but another big part of the reason lies in the brain chemical called serotonin.
Why is serotonin so important? Low levels of serotonin have been associated with chronic clinical depression, persistent anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings, hormonal imbalances and hot flashes, aggression, bipolar disorder, irritable bowel, fibromyalgia, and more. And on top of that, this little bacterium has been found to improve mental function and possibly even treat cancer.
Serotonin boosts chemicals in our natural immune systems as well. Not only does your mood improve, but your immune system is strengthened; even learning and mental clarity is boosted.
Raising levels of serotonin by exposing you and your family to soil bacteria goes a long way in building health. Children should be playing outdoors and getting dirty. Dr. Mary Ruebush, immunologist and author of Why Dirt is Good says, “If your child isn’t coming in dirty every day, they’re not doing their job.”
Getting dirty is less common in the United States for many people who work all day in offices, walk on paved surfaces to their cars, and drive home into their garages. You can go weeks without ever touching the earth’s natural surface. For many of my patients, one of the first recommendations I make to them is that they walk barefoot on the earth, grass or dirt, daily for 20 minutes. Some can’t remember the last time they did such a thing.
You can read more about treating depression naturally with neurotransmitter testing and natural treatments on my website.
So go get dirty for the Pink Month of October!
Dr. Robin Mayfield, DC, ACN