Read the transcript HERE.
“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery – air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy”.– Sylvia Plath
Everything we consume, everything we utilise, everything we depend on for basic survival is of natural origin. Our food, clothes, fuels etc. are derived from natural sources, provisions that are essential for everyone. However, little value has been given to the importance of the healing properties of nature, whether of medicinal or mental wellbeing importance.
The direct and indirect benefits of immersion into nature and increasing contact with nature is very underrated, largely attributable to how much these “free services/products” have been taken for granted. Many believe that nature-based medicine (although more than half of current medicine are of natural origin) and practices are weak alternatives to conventional medicine, are short-term solutions and are “romanticised” versions of therapy.
This episode aims to challenge the notion that nature is not as powerful as conventional medical practices, through discussing the various benefits nature brings us, backed with case studies and science to prove that the healing power of nature is stronger than we understand it to be.
- Medicinal benefits of nature:
- Examples of common medicine from nature
- Ability for natural medicine to cure emerging diseases
- Exceptional medicinal opportunities within the world’s rainforests, with examples
- Discussion of the practice of Ayurved (the Hindu system of science and living) and the benefits of Ayurvedic treatment
- Importance of indigenous peoples in discovering new medicine for diseases such as cancers
- Mental wellbeing:
- Direct benefits to mental state
- Discussion of concern for deprived areas suffering from environmental injustices i.e. poor access to nature, and its affect on mental health
- Ability of better access to green/blue spaces to reduce crime rates
- Significance of exposure to nature for early child development
- History of ecotherapy and the “forgotten” discipline of ecopsychology, with an emphasis on this form of therapy being a legitimate practice and many licensed ecotherapists available to guide patients
- Forms and types of ecotherapy
- Exploring “forest bathing”, through its history in Japan and where it currently stands, with scientific studies showing the long-term positive effects on immune system function
- Tips to effectively forest bathe and various examples of areas to forest bathe across the world
*A strong emphasis has been made throughout the episode on the importance of protecting all natural environments, for the protection of patient lives and the health of ecosystems aka Earth*
- Digoxin facts: https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/digoxin/
- Natural medicines: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mother-natures-medicine-c/
- Rainforest medicines: https://www.rainforesttrust.org/owed-to-nature-medicines-from-tropical-forests/
- Ayurved facts: https://www.livescience.com/42153-ayurveda.html
- Study to show turmeric being as effective as Trexall: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21617554/
- Ayurvedic Practitioners Association (UK): https://apa.uk.com (locate nearby Ayurvedic CERTIFIED practitioners)
- Conservation International: https://www.conservation.org
- Study showing mental health benefits to higher vegetation cover and bird abundances: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/313649935_Doses_of_Neighborhood_Nature_The_Benefits_for_Mental_Health_of_Living_with_Nature
- WHO mental health stats: https://www.who.int/whr/2001/media_centre/press_release/en/
- COVID-19 park closures in UK affects BAME communities the most: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/apr/10/coronavirus-park-closures-hit-bame-and-poor-londoners-most
- Soundscapes and improved acoustic ecology of blue spaces: https://core.ac.uk/reader/82427874
- Lowering of prefrontal cortex activity when in a natural setting: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/sour-mood-getting-you-down-get-back-to-nature
- Study showing a minimum of 120 minutes of nature contact per week boosts mental wellbeing: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44097-3
- Reduction in crime rates with access to nature study: https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/65/12/1141/223866
- Rapid reduction in children spending time outdoors/in nature: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3162362/#R19
- Contact with nature granting children autonomy and building self-esteem: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2444866416301234
- Mind UK ecotherapy facts: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/nature-and-mental-health/about-ecotherapy-programmes/
- Mind UK ecotherapy contacts: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/nature-and-mental-health/useful-contacts/
- The Wilderness Foundation (UK): https://wildernessfoundation.org.uk
- Forest bathing boosting immune system function: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20074458/
- Japanese forest bathing: https://qz.com/804022/health-benefits-japanese-forest-bathing/
- National Trust forest bathing guide and recommended places: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/a-beginners-guide-to-forest-bathing
- National Geographic recommend forest bathing sites: https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/environment-and-conservation/2019/10/what-forest-bathing-and-how-does-it-help
- Dangers of losing important service of ecotherapy due to mass habitat destruction and degradation of natural environments: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6085576/
Thanks for listening!
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