Exposure to Beneficial Microbes in Soil Benefits Mental Health–So Let’s Make a New Drug

The theory explained in this article is that as humans moved away from hunter/gatherer and agrarian lifestyles, they lost contact with beneficial organisms that helped to regulate immune systems and suppress inflammation. That, according to Integrative Physiology Professor Christopher Lowry, “has put us at higher risk for inflammatory disease and stress-related psychiatric disorders.”

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have now identified an anti-inflammatory fat in a soil-dwelling bacterium that suppresses stress-related disorders. The fatty acid, dubbed 10(Z)-hexadecenoic acid, is found in the soil-based bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae.

So, the logical conclusion is that we should spend more time getting our hands dirty in nature and soaking in that naturally occurring good bacteria, right? Nah. Instead, “Researchers say the findings could bring us one step closer to developing a microbe-based ‘stress vaccine.'”


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