The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1037: What Is the Dirt Cure?

Children develop healthier immune systems when they grow up with the dirt cure: eating real food, playing in the dirt, living in nature.
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What Is the Dirt Cure?

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More children than ever suffer with allergies, asthma, ADHD or eczema. Sometimes these allergies can affect their ability to focus in school or get along with friends. It might be hard to see what is causing these problems. Could it be something they are eating? Do they need the dirt cure?

A pediatric neurologist who is also a mother began looking into this question when her own year-old son began suffering with rashes and wheezing. When she discovered that he was allergic to soy, she found that avoiding processed foods helped a great deal. In addition, she determined that kids’ immune systems need exposure to dirt for healthy development.

Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klein Explains the Dirt Cure:

Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klein is enthusiastic about feeding our children nutrient-dense food grown in healthy soil and making sure that they have a chance to get their hands dirty.

Spending time in nature has physiological as well as spiritual benefits for children as well as adults. Find out what Dr. Shetreat-Klein means by “the dirt cure” and how you can put it to work for you.

This Week’s Guest:

Maya Shetreat-Klein, MD, is an integrative pediatric neurologist who treats children with neurological, cognitive or behavioral problems. Her book is The Dirt Cure: Growing Healthy Kids with food Straight from Soil. She is also founder of the Terrain Institute, training people to use nature as an ally rather than treating it as an enemy to be overcome. The photograph of Dr. Shetreat-Klein is by Tanya Malott.

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The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I agree with the comments of growing up the 60’s with no antibiotic soap, cleaners, etc – sure our Mom’s were careful with meat/chicken handling but I know my Mom didn’t disinfect every surface with Lysol! I played outside went to our summer cottage and caught frogs and bugs and had turtles as pets – I don’t have never did have asthma or allegergies. My own kids grew up with dogs and were allowed to get dirty- I beleive that our over use of antibiotics is part of the cause of all the allergey problems we now have.

I was raised on a farm, my mother told me when I was very young, have to eat certain amount of dirt before we die. Taking that seriously, tried eating small amount, didn’t eat much, didn’t like taste. Not until I was older did I realize, she meant didn’t have to clean everything so well. Have always worked in soil, yards, plants, it is “therapeutic.”, have recommended this for years. Not until I was treated with drugs, epidurals for spinal stenosis, other spine issues, too much stress responsibilities, did I develop immune disorder; polymyalgia, that’s a terrible disease, felt I was going to die. No amount outside activities could help solve the inflammation, only steroids, again causing more immune disorder. Did have back surgery, should have had it years before, now am back to working outside, growing plants, digging in the dirt, walking, no more drugs, getting strength back. Still have back issues, deal with them when unable to walk, exercise, “play” in yard again.

My mother (1930 on a farm) always said “a little good clean dirt never hurt anybody” —- which I took to heart when raising my own kids. It worked out well. they’re both happy, health adults who aren’t germphobic and love to get outdoors.

I think we need to stop using all the anti-biotic wipes and cleansers on the market, have small kitchen gardens, where there is room, and encourage our children to work in those gardens and eat from them. Plants should be brought into houses where they can clean our air and children should be allowed to touch them. The closer you can bring yourself and your family to nature, the more you invite better health into your lives.

Listening to the program at the point of milk and cow topic, besides corn and soy, feeds also include chicken waste. Doesn’t that sound yummy?!

My mom told me that my pediatrician was all for kids getting dirty, and to let me get dirty. I didn’t like to get my hands dirty, that I would fall and the backs of my hands. She would polish the bottoms of my shoes.

Sounds much like Daphne Miller M.D. and Farmacology. US soil needs a lot of work and a lot less chemical tinkering.

Dirt may be useful. However, so many chemicals are being sprayed on that dirt that we need to choose when to get dirty.

What do I think?, this is not only a child problem. It would be interesting for all to watch: poisoned fields-glyphosate, the underrated risk?
Were you aware that ghyphosate is an antibiotic? I read that over 90 percent of the people tested for ghyphosate had it in their bodies. As the digestive system is also related to our over all health, in my opinion, ingesting this has caused more problems then people are aware of.
I have become more aware of what, ‘we are what we eat’, really means. We ARE what we eat. We need to eat real food and remember that USDA organic is NOT organic.

As a child of the 60’s I got the polio and smallpox vaccines. I also remember getting a tetanus shot when I broke the skin on a rusty piece of metal. When I think of playing outside, in the dirt, in sandboxes, playing ball, etc. and then not being particular about washing my hands I can’t imagine how many germs, bacteria and bugs I must have been exposed to and ingested. Yet here I am with relatively few ailments after all these years. I just never heard of all the problems and allergies that kids are having today and it doesn’t make sense that they are living in a much more sterile environment today than kids of yesteryear. I see people using the antibacterial wipes when they use a shopping cart at the grocery store. We are paranoid and yet it seems that our paranoia makes us sicker. The old adage, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ really does seem to have some truth to it.

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