Thursday, September 1, 2016
In between the rush hour traffic and the never ending train of compulsive thought, lies the disconnection from the giant magnet on which we reside. Thrusting forth through space, we are more interested in our mammalian hunger pains than the mere fact that we are electrified meat bags that have more connection to the earth than we know. When was the last time that you stepped outside in grass without your shows on? When was the last time you got yourself dirty “on purpose”? Remember playing in dirt? The sheer joy of feeling that warm soil in between your juvenile phalanges. The exhilaration of smelling that sweet intoxicating smell that arises from rolling around in oxygen giving phyto-nutrient plant structures. There is more to it than meets the eye.
There is a modern trend of “grounding” or “earthing” that focuses on consciously allowing yourself to experience the energy and authenticity of the unmitigated ground beneath your feet. Before you cast your dirty hippie, Burning Man judgment, let’s simply take in this concept and absorb it as if we were absorbing dirty nutrients in between the toes of our bare feet.
Gaétan Chevalier, Ph.D. from the Earthing Institute makes a pretty good case for Earthing.
"Modern lifestyle has disconnected us from this primordial charge. Earthing, also known as grounding, is the landmark discovery that the disconnect may make us more vulnerable to inflammation, pain, stress, poor sleep, and illness. Ongoing research is demonstrating clearly that reconnecting with the Earth upholds the electrical stability of our bodies and serves as a foundation for vitality, health, and healing. In an age of rampant chronic inflammation and disease, “grounding” ourselves provides a natural, simple yet powerful path to better health."
Chevalier makes a great correlation between the “electrical stability” of our bodies and the healing properties of the ecosystem around us. When we can understand our divisive thought processes, we can understand that we are doing a great disservice by not allowing us to truly experience what the earth has to offer us. Especially the main provider of abundance that we call soil. From soil arises, more specifically the top soil, the growth of food from seed. The nutrients play a vital part in fostering the growth and abundance of plants that nourish us and the animals that we choose to eat. The health of humanity begins with the health of the soil. When we see this, we can make more conscious choices on how we want to preserve the soil for generations onward.
Let us dig deeper ( pun intended ) into the values and qualities of soil.
SoilQuality.org provides a wonderful explanation of the inherent importance of soil and how it affects us in this modern industrialized age.
“ People tend to emphasize benefits with the most direct, private economic value. In rural areas, this is usually plant growth especially as crops and rangeland, but also as recreation areas. In urban/suburban areas, the most direct economic benefits of soil relate to structural support for buildings, roads, and parking. Landscaping, gardening and parklands may also be valued economically.
Those are all on-site, short-term benefits. That is, the landowner who decides how to manage the soil also reaps the benefits (and costs) of those management decisions. In contrast, many important benefits are long-term or go beyond the land being managed. The landholders who make the management choices and pay the costs of managing land may not be the same people who are affected by the landholders decisions. Society should discuss the value of these off-site benefits and to what extent the land owner or society should pay to maintain these soil functions.”
Being aware of the soil and the treatment of the soil around us will open our eyes to the greater economic, moral and environmental impact we have on the world. The quality of our food affects the quality of our life. The quality of our environment and food also affects our relationships with other. Our relationship to the earth and the soil is vital in understanding relationships to other people. We have a great responsibility in looking out for what we put in our bodies and the people we interact and care about around us. How are we treating the soil now and how will it affect the quality of the soil in the future? Are we consciously trying to preserve the integrity of the soil or are we merely raping the land with modern agribusiness for the sake of profit and feeding the masses at a low cost?
How are we treating ourselves now? Are you consciously making choices that will benefit the well being of the “future you”? Can you see how treating yourself correlates directly to the environment around you? The inner reflects the outer.
When we see the connection of the mental health of our environment, we can see how the earth can have the possibility to heal and rejuvenate diseases like depression, anxiety and internal pain. Consciousness of our inner environment will lead to the improvement of our outer environment.
So how can the earth help us deal with depression and other ailments?
Ker Than from Live Science makes a great case for how the earth can heal us.
“Exposure to friendly soil bacteria could improve mood by boosting the immune system just as effectively as antidepressant drugs, a new study suggests.
Researchers exposed mice to a harmless soil microbe called Mycobacterium vaccae and had the rodents perform a behavioral task commonly used to test the efficacy of antidepressant drugs.
The mice were placed in a large beaker of water for five minutes and watched to see how long they continued swimming and searching for an exit before giving up. The researchers found that the bacteria-exposed mice continued paddling around much longer than the control mice.”
Oh, how quick we are to forget the benefits of bacteria! We lived in an overly sanitized society that views germs as demonic plague without understanding the benefits of what bacteria can actually do. From scientific research, we can finally accurately point that earthing has some pretty vital benefits to human beings. It almost feels like we were meant to connect with the earth on a daily basis. Our lack of awareness is what keeps us from having fulfilling lives. Throw away that hand sanitizer and expose yourself to that helpful bacteria that will enhance your mood and boost your immune system. Who would have thought that by getting dirty, we could make ourselves more resilient to the bad bacteria that we so fear.
How does exposure to M.Vaccae affect the chemistry of our brains? What is happening that is is changing our overall physiology and chemical make up? Ker Than from LiveScience elaborates more on this information.
Results from the new study are similar to those from a medical trial a few years ago in which human cancer patients treated with the bacteriareported significant increases in their quality of life.
"M. vaccae is no longer being pursued as a treatment for cancer, because it didn't prolong life, but patients did report increases in things like vitality and cognitive function and decreases in pain," Lowry told LiveScience. Scientists still don't know how M. vaccae improves mood. "We don't know the mechanism. That's something that we would desperately like to know," Lowry said.
The researchers suspect, however, that the microbes are affecting the brain indirectly by causing immune cells to release chemicals called cytokines.
"We know that some of these cytokines can activate the nerves that relay signals from the body to the brain," Lowry said in a telephone interview.
The stimulated nerves cause certain neurons in the brain to release a chemical called serotonin into the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain known to be involved in mood regulation, among other things.
"Only a very small number of neurons in the brain make serotonin, but they have massive branching projections to every part of the brain," Lowry said.
Scientists think the lack of serotonin in the brain is thought to cause depression in people.
Previous studies have linked early childhood exposure to bacteria to protection against allergies and asthma in adulthood. The new finding take this idea, called the "hygiene hypothesis," a step further, and suggests bacteria-exposure not only boosts our immune systems, but alters our vulnerability to conditions such as depression as well....
"These studies help us understand how the body communicates with the brain and why a healthy immune system is important for maintaining mental health," Lowry said. "They also leave us wondering if we shouldn't all be spending more time playing in the dirt."
From this research we can see that “dirt” can have a significant affect on our serotonin levels. In return, we actually elevate our moods and improve the overall being in the mind and body. This study also reinstates the the importance of exposing oneself to the necessary bacteria for thriving in the modern world.
Ideally, with the rising Opioid epidemic happening in the United States, should start seeking alternatives that stray away from prescriptions and pharmaceuticals. It may take many uncomfortable and inconvenient realizations to come to the conclusion that we may need more nature and interaction in our lives. It will take prioritization in order to have it make a significant impact in daily life. Your health, when taken as a primary priority in your life will dramatically influence your perception, energy and the ability to relax and thrive within the present moment.
Dirt can be the new drug.
John A. Jaksich from Decoded Science, delves deeper into the drug like influence of the microbial ecosystem of dirt.
“However, biochemical evidence seemed to be lacking. For example, we may ask the questions: Where is the agent (or molecule) that acts upon the serotonin receptors or GABA-receptors (gamma-amino butyric acid receptors) in the brain to produce this effect? Or, was physical exercise the reason for the better mental health in those who experience improvement in mood?
Well, intriguing evidence has now surfaced that indicates certain soil microbes help relieve stress and combat depression. It is the ingestion of the microbes that promote well-being, and the microbes are viewed as possible adjuvants, substances that enhance the body’s immune response.
What can be said of the chemistry involved is that mycobacterium alters gut chemistry. In essence, the bacterium aids in the production of any one of the following bio-active molecules: butyric acid, propionic acid and acetic acid.
The molecules are not known to be primary neuro-active agents but affect the way the gut communicates with the brain. The augmented gut tells the brain to produce more gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) or serotonin (the agents affecting anxiety or depression).
When compensating for a lack of GABA or serotonin, the bacterium acts like a typical ‘anti-depressant.’ Researchers have compared the bacterium to the anti-depressant imipramine.”
So there is a natural alternative. It may not cure the most severe of depressions, but there is some awesomely accurate science to back up the claim."
Jaksich brings up some good evidence that correlates gut health with the bio-active molecules of soil. The current science has been buzzing about the importance of gut health and how it impacts cognitive function, mood and simply how we feel based on what we choose to put into our bodies. We may get some benefit from physically surrounding ourselves with soil, but how can it relate to what we eat? Should we being eating more things that come directly from the dirt? Like I have stated above, the food that we grow, which comprises of mostly all the “real food” we eat, is heavily influenced from the quality of the soil it is grown from? The tomato you choose to eat contains all the micro nutrients and bacteria from the dirt it was grown. This affects the overall quality of the tomato. When we can see things from a micro level and how it affects us on the same level, we will open our eyes to what needs to happen next. The blossoming of awareness will thrust us in control of our own future and physiology as multifaceted and malleable species we call the human race.
Soiling Our Diet
So we have analyzed what dirt can do to our bodies and minds and how it can influence the way we behave, but let’s take a short look into how we can make proactive change through the food we eat.
Fact: The soil holds so many nutrients necessary for us to function at our most healthy and optimal.
That steak you eat is heavily influenced by what it ate before it came a steak.
The quality of the grass is what determines the quality of that steak.
The quality of the grass is determined by the nutritive quality of the topsoil it was grown from.
That soil is influenced by the microbial atmosphere that thrives to keep the soil healthy, active and full of life!
It all depends on how we choose to take care of it.
Are we planting cover crops that restore nitrogen into the soil that allows the soil to still be teeming with life?
Or are we simply disregarding the topsoil importance and moving onto the next piece of vulnerably fertile land?
If we see the soil as our gut health and how big of an influence it has on our physiology, we can make big strides in consciously taking better care of the stuff that we so often and flippantly call “dirt”.
It is the circle of life. The cycle that is perpetuated by reproduction and decay. Our ancestors have set this world up for what we experience today. Dead animals and natural matter influence the micro-biome of the soil. Nature uses its magical efficiency to create more life from death. To perpetuate the existence of life as we know it. We tend to forget that we live in an astounding ecosystem that we participate in from the moment we are born and generations after we die. It is the transfer of energy and the miracle of biodiversity.
So, we know what nature eats. Now, What are we eating?
Dr. Axe, the author of Eat Dirt goes into the importance of “dirt” in our diet and health.
“Is eating dirt part of your diet? Before you get a bad taste in your mouth, consider this: If you were to take away the water in our bodies, you’d be left with mostly dirt. It’s true.
We’re made of 60 of the most abundant elements in the Earth’s crust, an amalgam of its elements, including oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus, with traces of potassium, sulfur, sodium, iron and magnesium. All of these elements come together to make a living, breathing human being.
Now, when I say “eat dirt,” I’m not ordering you to actually scoop up a handful of soil and eat it. (Well, not exactly.) True, ensuring you get daily micro-exposures to soil-based organisms in dirt and other plant life is important for your health. But I urge you to embrace the idea of “eating dirt” as a broader philosophy, an overarching principle I teach my patients when I talk to them about how to heal leaky gut syndrome and feel better again.”
Now you can see our place in this wonderful and awe-inspiring circle of life that we participate every day we wake up. As humans, we have the amazing ability to be conscious of what we put in our body. We can take in all this information and use it for the betterment of ourselves. When we choose to better ourselves and our “gut”, we are choosing to live as an example for the people around us. The people we love and care about. The people we think are strangers and the people we have written off as “bad”.
If we are so concerned on changing the social consciousness, we must start on a micro level and see how we are affecting the environment around us. With this gift of knowledge, we can take off our shoes and put our hands into dirt. We can go out of our way to drive out of town and run out into an open pasture. Feel the leaves of wild plants. Stick your fingers in wet mud and dry soil. Look at the seedlings and flowers that pop up from the plants we usually ignore. Smell the intoxicating smell of wet dirt and confidently appreciate the real dirt that nestles under our fingernails.
We now know that is is good for you.
So take a moment to breathe in.
Smell what is around you. The grass. The soil and all the pungent aromas from flowers and weeds. Take it all in and realize that you are part of it and not divorce from it. Reconnect. Feel the immense gratitude from the nature vibrations. So go do it.