UK scientists suggest that a type of friendly bacteria found in soil may affect the brain in a similar way to antidepressants.
Their findings are published in the early online edition of the journal Neuroscience.
Researchers from Bristol University and University College London discovered using laboratory mice, that a “friendly” bacteria commonly found in soil activated brain cells to produce the brain chemical serotonin and altered the mice’s behaviour in a similar way to antidepressants.
They are suggesting this could explain why immune system imbalance could make some people vulnerable to mood disorders like depression.
Lead author, Dr Chris Lowry from Bristol University said, “These studies help us understand how the body communicates with the brain and why a healthy immune system is important for maintaining mental health”.
“They also leave us wondering if we shouldn’t all be spending more time playing in the dirt,” he added.