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your brain on plants


Today’s episode is about exactly what the title says… our brains… on plants. And what happens in our brains, when we become Plant People. When I was starting to move from plant killer to crazy plant lady, I noticed, there were a few months in the beginning of my plant collection where I feel like the love for plants kind of took over my life. I was constantly buying new plants, going to plant shops, researching plants on the internet. I was having so much fun with this new hobby, but for a moment, it felt like I couldn’t stop. Billy actually had to have a little intervention with me to slow me down and make sure we had the space and knowledge of the plants we already had. With his help (or maybe insistence) I put myself on a plant pause which helped snap me out of that obsessive moment. But I’ve always thought about that particular phase in my life when I couldn’t stop.

Enter Dr Caitlin Vander Weele, the answer to my “plant-iest” and “expert-iest” of dreams. Caitlin is not only an awesome listener of BAGR but a neuroscientist and author with over 10 years of expertise in understanding how emotions and brain chemistry influence decision making. She is also the founder of Interstellate, a movement that blends science and art with visual imagery to promote science education. Plant friends… Caitlin is like…. really really really smart. And she is also a crazy plant lady, and this conversation blew my mind.

I’m so excited that I get to make this show and help encourage you to bring green indoors and connect with nature. However, I also feel like if I’m going to encourage this hobby, I also have the responsibility of asking the tough questions- like “is this a hobby or an addiction” and making sure we all bloom and grow in a healthy and happy way.

Two quick notes on today’s conversation:

1) Caitlin and I talk about some grown up topics in this episode- I know lots of you listen with your children (which makes me so happy) but I might give this a listen on your own before you enjoy it with your kids. Let’s say while all my other episodes are pretty much G rated, we will call this one PG-13.

2) We are not licensed psychologists, just two plant friends talking neuroscience. If you think you have a compulsive spending problem, please consult a professional.


In this episode we learn:

  • How Caitlin became a crazy plant lady
  • Maria gets real with Caitlin and explains the addictive behaviors she experienced when she began her journey into plant parenthood. Caitlin breaks down what exactly was happening in Maria’s brain in those first few months of buying as many plants as possible
  • What causes our brain to release dopamine and what it is
  • What a compulsive behavior is
  • What our brain on dopamine does
  • What neurotransmitters, synapses and receptors are
  • The difference between endorphins and dopamine
  • Why we feel bonded to our plants: enter oxytocin
  • How these things are measured in our brains
  • 4 phases of compulsive behaviors to look out for
  • How to cope with compulsive urges when growing your urban jungle



Thank you Modern Sprout for sponsoring today's episode! For more information on Modern Sprout's amazing line of indoor grow lights (that Maria personally uses) and hydroponic grow kits, visit and use code “BLOOM” at checkout for 15% off.


Follow Dr Caitlin Vander Weele:

Personal Twitter and Instagram

Insterstellate Instagram


Follow Bloom and Grow Radio:

Instagram and Facebook: @BloomandGrowRadio


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