Eating Dirt Makes You Smart

While it’s always wise to read journalistic accounts of medical studies with a healthy grain of salt, as the parent of a toddler who loves the outdoors, I hope this is right:

Exposure to a natural soil bacterium, which people likely ingest or breathe in when they spend time in nature, could increase learning behaviour, claim researchers.

The finding will be presented at the 110th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in San Diego.

“Mycobacterium vaccae is a natural soil bacterium which people likely ingest or breath in when they spend time in nature,” says Dorothy Matthews of The Sage Colleges in Troy, New York, who conducted the research with her colleague Susan Jenks.

Previous research studies on M. vaccae showed that heat-killed bacteria injected into mice stimulated growth of some neurons in the brain that resulted in increased levels of serotonin and decreased anxiety.

via Stewart Baker

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Franklin says:

    … not to mention that exposure to bacteria helps your immune system, so stop buying that ridiculous anti-bacterial soap.

  2. john personna says:

    I got bit by a tick while stream fishing and so they gave me a week’s antibiotics to ward off Lyme disease. Kind of sad. I’d built up a pretty good internal ecosystem, I think. 30 years work down the drain.

  3. Drew says:

    Finally an explanation. Those smothering liberal mothers never let little dearest eat some dirt.