Nature is the original medicine cabinet! When you step into a raw, natural space, something shifts—emotionally, physically, and mentally. Nature inspires a sense of empowerment and tranquillity, igniting an electrifying paradox of sensations.
Humankind has long understood the healing powers in nature. The ancient Greeks were pioneers in this field. Hippocrates, the godfather of western medicine, famously said “sickness is not sent by the gods or taken away by them. It has a natural basis. If we can find the cause, we can find the cure.”
Imagine going to your doctor and, instead of a prescription for some named or generic pharmaceutical, you instead receive a prescription for a 30-minute walk in nature. This is not actually that far-fetched.
Paracelsus, the 16th-century German-Swiss physician, wrote: “The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician.” He could not have imagined the advent of the Smartphone, nor a 24/7, digitally enhanced, Instagram-able world. Much has been written about the evils (and glories) of technology, but the resulting dissociation from our natural surroundings leaves us emotionally and physically worse off. We are bereft of nature. Our bodies—and our minds—need nature. And there is hard science to prove it.
In fact, there is enough science about the health benefits of nature to get the attention of the medical profession. Nature as medicine. Just don’t tell big Pharma.
One contributing factor to this is the shifting demographics—people are living in urban areas, often with little or no nature. In 1950, around 30 percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas. By 2018, that number was 55 percent, and, by 2050, it will be 68 percent. With this spread unevenly around the world (for example Northern America has 82 percent of its population living in urban areas already today!), it is clear that more people are living in settings with little—and sometimes no--nature. Not only has this resulted in a decrease in experiencing the joys of nature, but it has also meant that the healing power of nature is not readily available for most people in the world.
At his office in Washington, D.C., Dr. Robert Zarr, a pediatrician, writes prescriptions for parks. He pulls out a prescription pad and scribbles instructions—which park his obese, diabetic, anxious or depressed patient should visit, on which days, and for how long—just as though he were prescribing medication.
Learn more about the healing powers of nature in our current issue - or stay tuned for more blogs about this very important topic!
Take a park over.a pill today!
Source: 2019 Wellness Trends, from the Global Wellness Summit.