The Place


Why you should give yourself permission to "get dirty"

Posted at 1:32 PM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 15:32:53-04

Therapist Jesse Shepherd says studies have found that there are mycobacteria in dirt that stimulates the production of seratonin, similarly affecting neurons the way medications like Prozac do. This is not a replacement for medications, rather an excellent support, Jessie says.

Dirt excites our brain and releases dopamine in our reward center. It is believed that it is a relic from our hunter/gatherer ancestors when getting life saving food was heavily layered with interacting with dirt.

This paired with the sights and smells of food (for example a strawberry) creates a state of bliss and mild euphoria according to Jessie.

She also says there are organisms in the dirt that serve to regulate our immune system responses. When our bodies are interacting with these, it is better able to appropriately activate and reduce ineffective inflammation. This specifically applies to the brain which is very sensitive to inflammation. With our bodies experiencing chronic inflammation it can lead to heart disease, asthma, fatigue, body pain, 'foggy' thought processes, and many psychiatric disorders.

Jessie recommends these dirty activities for mental health:
- Gardening
- Trail running
- Mountain Biking
- Outdoor rock climbing
- Water sports: kayaking, paddleboarding, wakeboarding, surfing

You can find Jessie online at