The Medicinal Effects of Nature

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.

Take some time to watch the sunset, get your feet into the earth, take a walk, let go of the to-do list and just listen and observe the natural beauty around you even for just a moment….

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