Bacteria found in soil can decrease anxiety and increase intelligence.

Mycobacterium vaccae bacteria are already known to decrease anxiety, but it might have even more dramatic properties. Recent studies on mice suggest the bacteria, commonly found in the soils of people’s gardens, also increases intelligence and the ability to learn.


Dorothy Matthews and Susan Jenks, both of The Sage Colleges in Troy, New York, sought to build on previous experiments in which dead strains of the bacteria were injected into mice, spurring the neurons of the mice to greatly increase serotonin production. The more immediate effect of all this extra serotonin, of course, was decreased anxiety levels, leading the earlier researchers to conclude M. vaccae has antidepressant qualities.

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