Gardening as A Means of Therapy.

The earth beneath our feet is a wondrous source of healing on many levels. When we work or play in the soil, we connect with this rich source of potency, and it enriches our existence and heals us. When we live separate from the ground, our disconnect reveals itself in many ways- headaches, body pains, digestive disorders, depression, and anxiety are all related. Alternative medicine practitioners such as chiropractors and acupuncturists understand this need we have as human beings to live connected lives to be healthy. They and others increasingly recommend that people reconsider their habits to include more of the outdoors to improve their mental and physical health. Gardening or `horticulture therapy` is one way to achieve this goal.

Gardening and other activities that involve interacting with soil are beneficial for lots of reasons. We get Vitamin D from outdoor sun exposure which helps to elevate the mood and build bones and assist in hormone production. Additionally, being near the sun- outside or in a sheltered greenhouse, helps with sleep. Morning sunlight increases the creation of the neurotransmitter serotonin;  this precursor to melatonin helps us sleep at night. 

The soil contains microbes- living organisms that we need inside of us to help us digest food in our stomachs. They help us produce energizing B vitamins, regulate our immune systems, and provide Vitamin K for blood coagulation.  Additionally, playing in the dirt enhances the diversity of our internal milieu, our microbiome in our stomach and intestines. There is a direct vagal connection between our brains, and our bellies and studies show that increased microbiome diversity improves mood and reduces depression and anxiety. Your acupuncturist can help explain how the earth-stomach connection relates to this task and how outdoor gardening affects the mind and body.

The physical act of gardening is akin to exercise in that it involves a lot of bending, pulling, lifting, and twisting. Unlike chair tasks that are quite sedentary, horticulture work requires one to exert herself in many ways. Digging in the ground, positioning seedlings and covering them with soil can be an aerobic activity that exercises the muscles and moves the joints. Before starting the task be sure to ask your chiropractor for stretches you can do to prepare for the job.

Working to plant herbs and other crops or flowers brings us closer to the foods we eat and which nourish us. This activity brings awareness of different foods and can stimulate the appetite for healthier foods. When we work with the plants we consume, we take more pride in our food choices, and we can enjoy a more varied palette at a lower cost. Also, it is comforting and reassuring to be able to grow a garden and make one’s food in a sense. 

If you would like to know how to improve your health naturally, call a chiropractor in Chapel Hill, NC to learn more.  

Thanks to Acupractic Natural Healing Center and Acupuncture for their insight into acupuncture and gardening for therapy.