The Medicinal Effects of Nature

It’s deep summer, have you taken the time to truly reap the medicinal benefits of the sun, sea, sand and great outdoors? The latest research is giving us even more of a compelling reason to get outside, not only because it’s enjoyable but truly necessary! Read on to see the specific ways nature positively affects our brain.

It’s no mystery as to why spending time in nature makes us feel wonderful and is good for our health, and now there are cutting-edge studies to prove it. Scientists are measuring the physical benefits such as how time spent “forest bathing” (the chosen research lingo) effects stress hormones in the body. In Japan, researcher’s found that blood pressure, resting heart rate and cortisol (the well known stress hormone) were all lower after a 15 minute nature walk versus a city walk of the same duration. And another study found the cells that work to support the immune system were 37 percent higher in women who spent several hours in the woods.

With all the multitasking that occurring in the modern world, our brains are overwhelmed and overtaxed. This type of activity suppresses creative thinking and the development of a strong sense of self explains David Strayer, Ph.D., a neural scientist at the University of Utah. He proposed that peaceful time in nature has a restorative and replenishing effect on the parts of the brain that work to hard to accomplish all day, including texting, typing, driving, care-taking,working and talking to name a few. So a few hours spent in nature if not a day or two straight or a full on vacation in nature or by the sea might not just be a pleasurable escape, it might just be an actual prescription for health. And this is exactly what is happening. MD’s are finding the research so compelling, they are writing “nature prescriptions” as preventative medicine to help treat patients with depression, diabetes and even heart disease. One doctor in San Francisco gives her patients park maps with specific instructions as to what trails to take. She asserts that “nature therapy” can be a powerful intervention for many medical and emotional challenges. So finding your way into the woods is definitely a good idea and might just be the most powerful medicine yet.

Marin Nomad will be leading healing nature excursions this fall…stay tuned! In the meantime, get outside – watch the sunset, get your feet into the earth, take a walk and instead of being wrapped up in thought, just listen and observe the nature around you even if you are in the middle of the city.


As a photographer, writer, psychotherapist and nature lover, I am passionate about living in Marin County, CA. The perfect home base, Fairfax, CA is where I get out daily on the miles and miles of open space and find inspiration and plot my next journey out of Marin into the world. More about Mary... Mary is a New York Native who has been living in Northern CA for the past 20 years. She is a "Creative Image Photographer" infusing digital images with innovative techniques. Her favorite spot to take photos is muddled amidst the trees of Marin County CA, or in an exotic urban environment near the ocean, under the sky, and completely in awe. Mary's goal is to capture this scenery, to reach into the mystery of life, into the everyday magic, use the light and the dark as guides, delve into the chaos or the quiet and capture and whittle away at these snapshots, without disrupting their original essence, until they come alive and rich with depth and mood. Her mission is to create unique works of art that bring this depth, mystery, upheaval or serenity to people's walls and homes and ultimately that her work becomes a catalyst to help shift onlookers mood and outlook even if for a moment in time. Her work has been described as dreamy, ethereal, mysterious and mythical and yet also simple and straightforward. Currently her photos are on display at Google Headquarters in California.

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