UCL News


Press cutting: 'Getting dirty' may help depressed

1 April 2007

People who suffer from depression could benefit from getting "dirty", according to new research.

A "friendly" bacteria found in soil has the same uplifting effects as those produced by anti-depressant drugs, the study, published in 'Neuroscience', found.

Mice altered their behaviour and appeared more relaxed after being treated with the Mycobacterium vaccae.

Scientists at Bristol University and UCL found the bacteria stimulated the immune system and activated a group of neurons in the brain which produce the mood enhancing chemical seratonin. …

The study appears to support the "hygiene hypothesis" which argues a rise in conditions like asthma and allergies could be linked to a lack of exposure to various micro-organisms.

The emphasis on cleaning and hygiene, particularly in urban Western environments, could be affecting people's immune systems, according to the theory.

Channel Four News