Click on the link below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Veterans Day and Healing through Nature
Today is Veterans Day and I want to honor all those who have served our Country, those gave their lives and for those who have come back from war with injuries that include PTSD, I use that term simply because most folks understand it. I will say, however, that there are many that disagree with the Disorder piece of it, and would prefer to call it simply Post Traumatic Stress.
The stress of combat and then a return to civilian life isn’t easy but experts are going back to lessons from long ago about the role nature has in healing. I talked with Stephanie Westlund, author of Field Exercises in another show I had called “15 with the Author”. It’s a much needed look at the healing properties of being in nature, such as in gardening, for our veterans.
What’s so interesting is how going back to the land, farming or gardening, being it vegetables or flowers or forests, can reduce the feelings of anxiety and stress so often accompanied with traumatic events in a persons life. Being with animals, horses in particular, also has that effect.
Researchers studying mycobacterium vaccae in soil say that it acts like serotonin. Gardeners inhale the bacteria, have topical contact with it and get it into their bloodstreams when there is a cut or other pathway for infection. Early indicators of tests on rats are finding the natural effects of the soil bacteria antidepressant can be felt for up to 3 weeks. This isn’t pseudo science, these are University based researchers discovering what ancestors may not have KNOWN but rather FELT as they worked and played outdoors. In the book, Field Exercises, returning soldiers often don’t feel safe but as they walk through gardens, stroll paths through parks or work the soil, a sense of security often settles on them. Westlund has a wealth of resources in her book.