When I'm digging in my garden, I feel happy. I love the smell of freshly turned compost and the sight of rich, dark soil teeming with worms. Something about all that life in the earth makes me feel alive. I've always known that gardening is therapeutic, but I never knew that it could also be...pharmaceutic? Is dirt the new drug?Turns out, there is a microbe in your compost pile called M. vaccae that acts like a mind-altering drug once it enters the human body. This soil bacteria works like an antidepressant, boosting the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine circulating through your system. You can dose yourself with this natural happy pill simply by breathing in the smell of fresh dirt.
Known as geosmin, this distinctive smell is released by microbes as they break down plant matter. It is the same smell that everyone loves after a good rain, and the smell that lends an earthy flavor to beets and carrots.
Linda runs the award-winning blog Garden Betty, which chronicles her adventures in the dirt and on the road. She lives on a modern homestead by the sea where she raises backyard chickens, makes farm-to-fork meals, and surfs secret spots with her husband.
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