It’s what Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods”, and “The Nature Principle” , refers to as the therapeutic agent we call Nature. It’s a clever idea, as is his diagnosis of “Nature-deficit Disorder” which he claims is widespread in our urbanised societies.
He writes about how exposure to nature is healing and mentions that in Japan “Forest Medicine” and “Forest Bathing” are becoming recognised medical treatments.
He even has his own definition of nature – “ human beings exist in nature anywhere they experience meaningful kinship with other species”
A 2008 study published in American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that the greener the neighborhood, the lower the body mass index of children. “Our new study of over 3,800 inner-city children revealed that living in areas with green space has a long-term positive impact on children’s weight and thus health,” according to senior author Gilbert C. Liu, MD
A study of 260 people in twenty-four sites across Japan found that among people who gazed on forest scenery for twenty minutes, the average concentration of salivary cortisol, a stress hormone, was 13.4 percent lower than that of people in urban settings.6 “Humans . . . lived in nature for 5 million years. We were made to fit a natural environment. . . . When we are exposed to nature, our bodies go back to how they should be,” explained Yoshifumi Miyazaki, who conducted the study that reported the salivary cortisol connection. Miyazaki is director of the Center for Environment Health and Field Sciences at Chiba University and Japan’s leading scholar on “forest medicine,” an accepted health care concept in Japan, where it is sometimes called “forest bathing.” In other research, Li Qing, a senior assistant professor of forest medicine at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, found green exercise—physical movement in a natural setting—can increase the activity of natural killer (NK) cells. This effect can be maintained for as long as thirty days.7 “When NK activity increases, immune strength is enhanced, which boosts resistance against stress,”
Our hospital, the NHS Centre for Integrative Care at Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital, is built around a beautiful garden, and patients frequently comment about the increase in well-being they feel gazing out into, or wandering around in, the garden.
My recent trip up to Crarae Gardens gave me a similar experience. Don’t you feel better after spending some time in natural environments? Which ones are especially good for you?