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By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on May 27, 2010

The tonic of nature for relieving stress and helping to sharpen mental skills may have a scientific basis — research on mice discovers a natural bacterium reduces anxiety and improves mental abilities.

Mycobacterium vaccae is a natural soil bacterium which people likely ingest or breathe in when they spend time in nature,” says Dorothy Matthews of The Sage Colleges in Troy, N.Y.

Previous research studies on M. vaccae showed that heat-killed bacteria injected into mice stimulated growth of some neurons in the brain that resulted in increased levels of serotonin and decreased anxiety.

“Since serotonin plays a role in learning we wondered if live M. vaccae could improve learning in mice,” says Matthews.

Matthews and Jenks fed live bacteria to mice and assessed their ability to navigate a maze compared to control mice that were not fed the bacteria.

“We found that mice that were fed live M. vaccae navigated the maze twice as fast and with less demonstrated anxiety behaviors as control mice,” says Matthews.

Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/05/26/nature-reduces-anxiety-and-sharpens-mental-skills/14088.html



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