This scientist might be a step closer to developing a “stress vaccine” that could reduce stressful reactions and heal Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
According to a recent study, it has been revealed that, hopefully, one day we’ll be able to access stress vaccines. This study was concluded after researchers found that there exists a link between exposure to dirt and our mental health.
And now, a researcher and professor of integrative physiology at University of Colorado-Boulder, Christopher Lowry, who studies the link between our exposure to soil and our mental health, hopes he’s on the right track into finding a “stress vaccine.”
Lowry is exploring why Mycobacterium vaccae (M. vaccae) is shown to reduce body inflammation associated with stress.
In his latest study, published in the “Psychopharmacology” journal, he found that there’s a fatty acid bond with a receptor to block pathways that create inflammation.
He explained in his research:
“We think there is a special sauce driving the protective effects in this bacterium and this fat is one of the main ingredients in that special sauce.”
This latest study endorses his previous research where he had discovered that when M. Vaccae was injected in rodents, it affected the behaviors of the animals. And the reactions were similar to the effects of anti-depressant.
The study is also backed by the hygiene hypothesis. This theory suggests that when children are exposed to the germs via dirt, they’ll get stronger immune systems.
Researchers believe there’s quite a bit of truth in the notion that there are beneficial microbes in the dirt that keep us healthy.
Lowry explained in a statement about the research:
“The idea is that as humans have moved away from farms and an agricultural or hunter-gatherer existence into cities, we have lost contact with organisms that served to regulate our immune system and suppress inappropriate inflammation.”
“That has put us at higher risk for inflammatory disease and stress-related psychiatric disorders.”
Lowry believes that if more research is done, the vaccine can be helpful to soldiers returning from war as well as other trauma victims.
He also said that the study might take 10 to 15 years to complete, and the vaccine will be available for humans.
“This is just one strain of one species of one type of bacterium that is found in the soil, but there are millions of other strains in the soils.”
“We are just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg in terms of identifying the mechanisms through which they have evolved to keep us healthy. It should inspire awe in all of us.”
Some stress can be helpful, according to WebMD. It can be a form of challenge that keeps us motivated, alert, and ready to avoid danger.
However, too much stress can lead to adverse effects such as depression, anxiety, or even cause diseases.
If you’re continually under stress, you can experience physical symptoms, including headaches, high blood pressure, upset stomach, and chest pain, among others.
So, perhaps it’s time we start exposing ourselves to more dirt to improve our mental health.