The recent issue of The Horticulturalist, the journal of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture, waxed eloquently on the festivals and flower shows that are highlighting the benefits of gardening for mental and physical health. One quite surprising idea was that manual work is important for the . the lymph system, which is vital for waste clearance. This system has no pumping mechanism of its own, so upper body movement functions as a power source for lymph. Gardening is a gentle way of getting the exercise needed.This adds to the well-known physical benefits of gardening as a form of gentle, sustained exercise ideal for older people, though for younger ones as well.
In his presidential editorial Dr Owen Doyle addressed the human need for exposure to germs and pointed out that without exposure to germs in the natural environment immunity does not develop, and that children need to be exposed from early on in life. This point is made by Robin Jacobs, writing in the online article The Health Benefits of Gardening, who states that exposure to the beneficial microbe Mycobacterium vaccae found in soil generates resistance to psoriasis, allergies and asthma, the latter being a disease of modern societies. This bacterium, she states, may well be a counter to depression, which arises from physical conditions in the brain.Some of her points are reinforced by Doctor Doyle, who suggests that blood cancer [acute lymphoblastic leukaemia]] in children is becoming increasingly known, and he believes that modern sanitised lifestyles are to blame,a point that can also be made about asthma. Dr Doyle believes that exposure to gardens would be a therapeutic aid that might obviate the increasing prevalence of this and certain other kinds of cancer. He cites Professor Mel Greaves, who believes that the human immune system may become susceptible to cancer if it does not encounter enough bugs in early life. Gardening, Doyle believes, is an ideal way to encounter the bugs that we need.But so, says Dr Doyle, is outdoor play, which should be encouraged.
Speaking for myself, I am completely allergy-free, and this benison cannot have been hindered by the fact that from early years I played in parks several days a week and later, when we got a garden I played in it very often. My first gardening experience was at the age of five, helping my father to plant flowers. Lots of bugs,mucky hands, and no allergies! Nor have I ever had asthma.