Let’s get dirty: the benefits of dirt.

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I want you to get dirty, like mud between your toes dirty. Recently there has been a posh trend going around called ‘earthing’. Earthing is all about putting your bare feet on dirt and reconnecting with our earth. As the actress explained the practice, I chuckled at the idea because this is an activity that my children literally do everyday and is nowhere near posh. But still, I love the idea of being with the earth and gaining the benefits of dirt. I do feel that we remove ourselves from the earth with all our concrete and plastic/rubber.  

The Director of Gastroenterology & Hepatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Dr. Joel V. Weinstock said in an interview that the immune system at birth “is like an unprogrammed computer. It needs instruction.” Even as adults, it has been shown to to be important to ‘test the system’ and build immunities.

Studies I found mainly focused on ‘Soil-based organisms’ which varied from region to region but still held some definite. Here are some of the categories that held significant medical benefits:

  • allergies
  • asthma
  • Depression/anxiety symptoms
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • ulcerative colitis
  • flatulence
  • nausea
  • indigestion
  • malabsorption
  • nutrient deficiencies
  • autoimmune and inflammatory diseases
  • bacterial, fungal and viral infections

All the research I found discussed eating dirt in a variety of forms, which you can do with medical supervision. However, if you are looking for a more organic way to get dirt in your system, try these:

  • Don’t wash your food to the point of being completely sanitized.  
  • Eat peppers, broccoli, and kale raw.
  • Eat probiotic foods like yogurt and sauerkraut.
  • Consume honey and bee pollen (local if possible).
  • Get a dog.
  • Swim in the ocean/lakes.
  • Go barefoot as much as possible.
  • Have a garden.
  • Be outside (hiking, camping, walking the new dog you got, etc)

If you want more information:

Eat Dirt. By: Dr. Josh Axe

https://www.amazon.com/Eat-Dirt-Health-Problems-Surprising/dp/0062433644

Babies Know: A little dirt is good for you. By: Jane E. Brody

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/health/27brod.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1426907280-1gdxnMvnA3pCD5Qul+96sw

Antidepressant Microbes in Soil. By: Bonnie L. Grant

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/antidepressant-microbes-soil.htm

Health Benefits of dirt. By: Heather Neal

https://www.babble.com/body-mind/7-surprising-health-benefits-of-eating-dirt/

My Challenge to you: Go get dirty! Get the whole family involved. In fact, have your kids teach you about how to play in the dirt- it will be good for your immune system and will build on the relationship.

Happy earthing friends!

– Jessie the Therapist

Jessie Shepherd is a Mental Health Counselor and owner of Blue Clover Therapy in Utah. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health Counseling from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelors degree in Psychology from the University of Utah. Her focus is treating trauma, eating disorders and adjustment issues in adults, adolescents, children and their families. She utilizes Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Play Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Neurological Feedback.

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