Nature Therapy

Because of technology, nature is something that we often take for granted. The products of nature are occasionally the things we need to survive, but one thing that is sometimes overlooked is the naturally occurring therapy it can provide many patients. Nature therapy, otherwise known as ecotherapy, is a therapeutic approach that combines personal wellness, community improvement, and sustainability. Nature therapy is a new way of treating or helping mental health through the environment.

Nature therapy has so many benefits to improving mental health, and spending time outdoors is an important step in this. By being able to immerse a patient in the fresh air, the patient can start to feel the improved effects of the exercise and productivity. Doctor John La Puma is a certified internist and organic farmer who sincerely believes that doctors should be writing prescriptions for patients who suffer from a “nature deficit” and does studies on the growing field of nature therapy. Nature Deficient Disorder, or NDD, is a true clinical problem Dr. La Puma says. Nature Deficiency Disorder has plenty of related conditions, which can include obesity, cardiovascular illnesses, attention-deficient disorder (ADD), anxiety, and burnout syndrome.

Dr. La Puma believes that one day, nature therapy will be just as important of a lifestyle intervention as studies with nurtirion and exercise, having both healthy long term and short term affects.

As proven by many studies, walking in a typically urban setting compared to walking in a forest or a park has been linked to improved short term memory, better concentration, stable cortisol levels, natural killer cell number and activity to improve the immune system, and healthier heart rate and blood pressure. Along with this, additional benefits can include better postoperative recovery and health, birth outcomes for pregnant women, and control in the levels of pain some individuals feel. According to studies done of several community gardeners, the gardeners are less likely to develop dementia than those who do not garden.

So what is nature therapy at its core? Nature therapy is an evidence-based field that uses natural settings and nature-based interventions, such as gardening, to help patients. This type of theapy helps patients improve the signs, symptoms and conditions of patients as well as their general well-being. The current research in green medicine comes from a variety of different fields of study, such as horticulture, architecture, forestry, auditory and color science, and botanical medicine. There are several subcategories of nature therapy, such as: adventure therapy, animal-assisted therapy, blue care, care farms, ecotherapy, forest bathing, green exercise, nature meditation, gardening, and wilderness immersion. Nature therapy in the United States is way different than in many other countries. In the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Korea, and many more countries, have very advance research dedicated to the topic of ecotherapy and green medicine. Some countries even have traditions and customs in the field of nature therapy, however much of that same research has not yet been translated. There is an unknown amount of physicians practicing nature therapy, however the amount of people being prescribed the therapy is increasing. Care farms, pet therapy, and therapeutic horiculture (otherwise known as gardening), is often given to patients that are guided by recreational therapists. Physicians, typically in emergency medicine, often lead forest and adventure groups, green exercise, and wilderness immersion groups. Psychologists and therapists occasionally take extra courses and trainings to be able to practice as an ecotherapist.

The typical types of medical conditions that benefit heavily from nature therapy are ADD/ADHD, anxiety, insomnia, hypertension (high blood pressure), and myopia (nearsightedness/eyestrain). When studies were conducted on people who had anxiety, a nature walk revealed that there were reduced symptoms is those with anxiety compared to the symptoms of anxiety from those who walked through a shopping center. Not only that, but the effects of na