It seems that everyone in the healthcare industry has a basic understanding of the aesthetic role that garden-filled atriums and well-placed live greenery in the healing environment provide, but have you ever really considered how these areas go about doing all the great things we naturally associate with these interventions? And more importantly, how andwhy does the human body and brain utilize these areas in the actual healing process? After all, what is so special about dirt-filled areas anyway?

It turns out that the answer is more than you think, as evidenced by two recent investigations into that dark, loamy, natural stuff that everyone loves to hate. It seems that researchers in London have uncovered the health-enhancing benefits of friendly microbes hidden within common garden soil, and with this discovery, could come a greater emphasis on incorporating dirt-rich environments in the healthcare setting. Their landmark study has shown that lung cancer patients coming in contact with the soil- borne “Mycobacterium” have reported an increase in their overall mood and quality of life, two necessary ingredients in any recovering process. Additionally the researchers suspect that the dirt-loving bacteria play an indirect role in health-promoting neurophysiology by stimulating specific nerve cells that release serotonin in the prefrontal cortex, an area known to be involved with mood. And if that is not too much information on dirt, consider this: Given the high use of necessary toxic chemicals and metal compounds used throughout the healthcare setting, what would you think if dirt could actually help dissipate or totally eliminate any airborne traces of these toxins?

Thanks to researchers in Ohio, we now have yet another reason to incorporate indoor natural garden areas within the healthcare setting, because they found that the common soil bacteria, Shewanella, has been shown to actively transform and render harmless airborne toxic metals by seeking out and “inhaling” this nasty stuff, thus converting them to a benign byproduct of plant respiration; AKA oxygen.
gheeee … and you thought dirt was plain dirty in the healthcare setting.