Remember, the answer lies in the soil….

by Carolyn Matthews

When we first moved to Dallas, we had an English gardener, Patrick Butterworth, who ended every letter, birthday card, and bill with the above phrase. Over time I have come to appreciate how incredibly apt this phrase describes so many systems, from the human body and how well it heals, to the garden, to the pasture and the animals on it.

Diversity has been shown to be an important part of any ecosystem, whether one is looking at the boardroom, the gut flora, or the soil. For our gut flora, we want a diverse population of bacteria, archaea, viruses, and fungi that together shape our physiology, guide our immune system, and help with digestion. In our soil we want a diversity of microbes that will support dense foliage of a number of different plants and strong root systems.

Repeatedly growing the same crop in the same patch of ground will thwart diversity. Having a variety of grasses, plants, brassicas will help, as will having our pastured animals trodding the recycled nutrients back into the soil. 1 tsp of dung contains more microbes than stars in the universe!

Carolyn M. Matthews, MD
Director of Integrative and Functional Medicine, Baylor University Medical Center