Have you heard about Mycobacterium vaccae yet? It is a type of good bacteria that you breathe in when you spend time in nature or dig in your garden. M. vaccae was discovered on accident during an experiment to find a cure for lung cancer, after boosting the immune system it was also observed that patients “emotional health, vitality, and cognitive function” had improved.
Christopher Lowry, a neuroscientist at the University of Bristol in England, had a hunch about how this process might work. “What we think happens is that the bacteria activate immune cells, which release chemicals called cytokines that then act on receptors on the sensory nerves to increase their activity,” he says.
Current studies are using this bacteria to shorten treatment for MDR-TB (multi-drug resistant tuberculosis) which will revolutionize TB care and control.
Within the last 10 years M. vaccae has been shown to:
– increase activity of serotonin-producing neurons in the brain (which regulates mood, metabolism, aggression, and sleep)
– sharpen mental skills
– relieve stress and reduce anxiety
So, cleanliness is good, but it is still healthy to get out there and get your hands dirty. Or just take some deep breaths in the outdoors and relax a little.