It’s a phenomenon that many of us have experienced throughout our lives, however, few stop to acknowledge that it’s really happening. When you spend time in a group setting, do you find yourself exhausted and burnt out? New research shows that this may be the result of having your energy drained by another person in the vicinity.
The concept was first brought to the attention of researchers and scientists across the country by a biological research team at the University of Bielefeld. The team, led by Professor Dr Olaf Bruse, was focusing their study on the existence of alternative energy sources for plant life, specifically studying the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. While flowers required both light and water to grow, the team discovered that photosynthesis was not the only source of energy that the plants were drawing upon.
At times when the plants were faced with an energy shortage and were unable to rely upon photosynthesis to meet their needs, they were able to obtain the necessary energy through drawing energy from other plants, specifically from the cellulose. The small green alga being studied released enzymes that were able to break down the cellulose into smaller sugar components which were then converted into energy to allow the alga to grow.
Professor Kruse explained, “This is the first time that such a behavior has been confirmed in a vegetable organism. That algae can digest cellulose contradicts every previous textbook. To a certain extent, what we are seeing is plants eating plants.”
How does this research relate to the human population? Physician and therapist Olivia Bader-Lee followed the details of the investigation, explaining that our human bodies, similar to the plants, are like sponges absorbing the energy of those around us. She states, “This is exactly why there are people who feel uncomfortable when they are in a certain group with a mixture of energy and emotions.”
Much like the alga in the experiment, we require energy in order to maintain our mental and emotional state just as we do physically. While our diets take care of our physical energy needs, they are unable to provide for our emotional needs. Bader-Lee went on to explain, “The human body is very similar to a plant that sucks, absorbs the energy needed to feed your emotional state, and can energize the cells and increase the amount of cortisol and catabolize, feed the cells depending on the emotional need.”
Bader-Lee explains that our ancestors were able to draw this energy from nature, however, over time we have lost that connection, distancing ourselves from the natural world. Despite no longer having our emotional energy source, our needs have remained the same, if not increased as we have worked to navigate the cold, stressful, face-paced world we live in. She encourages all of us to reconnect with the natural environment wherever possible, saying, “Humans can absorb and heal through other humans, animals, and any part of nature. That’s why being around nature is often uplifting and energizing for so many people.”