I’m a big proponent of nature as a prescription — for mood, for stress, for immune resilience. It’s one of the core principles of both my practice and my profession.
(Here’s the replay video of a Vitamin N podcast I did in 2020.)
Below is a big list of resources supporting this prescription, which I will continue to update.
- This article from Environmental Health Perspectives offers a comprehensive scientific overview of nature’s effects on health.
- This Vice article on greenspace and health disparities is a must read.
- Journalist Florence Williams wrote this great and accessible overview of the science. And the headline writers at Outside Online did a great job: the piece is called “Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning.” This doctor agrees. (I highly recommend her book The Nature Fix.)
- Here’s my short take, 5 Ways Nature Heals — And How to Dose Up During Lockdown, which includes citations (several duplicated below.)
- If you’re not tired of my voice by now, here’s an hour-long podcast I did about Vitamin N with my colleague Dr. Kierstin DeWitt. It’s geared toward other doctors, but I think it’s accessible without a medical degree.
Nature is medicine
- Nature lowers immune-depleting stress and improves mood. Here’s one study, here’s another and here’s a third.
- Hospital studies show that folks recovering in a room with flowers or a view of trees get better faster. Bonus: Nature sights and sound help reduce acute and chronic pain. Here’s one study, and another and a third.
- Nature has been shown to have direct impacts on immunity and immune resilience — getting your body to respond robustly in a crisis and calm down when the crisis is over. One study, a second and a third.
- Her’s a classic study on forest bathing and immunity.
- Forest bathing, natural killer cells and and anticancer proteins.
- Nature exposure and sugar consumption review article. The review is one of many by my colleague Dr. Kurt Biel. If you’re interested in this topic, you’ll gobble up everything he writes.
- Health and well-being benefits of plants.
- This study looked at indoor plants and stress reduction.
- A 2017 review of nature’s benefits beyond the visual.
- The sun is more than just a vitamin! Here’s a blog post with a short video and research link about the benefits of sun exposure, with and without Vitamin D.
- Must-read Vice article on greenspace and health disparities.
- The Influence of Urban Natural and Built Environments on Physiological and Psychological Measures of Stress— A Pilot Study.
- Green spaces and mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies, from The Lancet.
- Well-planned Green Spaces Improve Medical Outcomes, based on a hospital case study.
- A Review of the Health Benefits of Greenness.
- A Review of Epidemiologic Studies on Greenness and Health, updated through 2017.
- The benefits of trees for sustainable communities.
Gardening as connection
- From The Conversation, this article talks about the deep roots of gardening in hard times.
- From the Lexington (Ky) Herald Leader, this op-ed describes the value of gardening and the importance of community garden access.
- CNN asks if the return to gardening actually a longing for the wild.
- “Rebel botanists” are chalking sidewalks to ID plants.
Looking at Nature counts
- Just viewing Nature can help you recover from stress. Here’s a review article and the original scientific publication.
- Researchers have found this effective even in prison settings — for both inmates and staffers. Read more about the Nature Imagery in Prisons Project here and here and the press release here.
More ideas about getting your nature fix during quarantine
- Here’s my tip sheet, 5 Ways Nature Heals — And How to Dose Up During Lockdown. It includes more citations!
- From the Christian Science Monitor.
- From The Oregonian.
- From The Seattle Times.
- The Iceland Review recommends tree hugging when human hugging is unavailable (or otherwise unwise.)
- When in doubt, garden. From the Lexington (Ky) Herald Leader.
- The Nature Fix by journalist Florence Williams is filled with stories, easy to read and comprehensive in its review of the science. Highly recommended.
- What is forest bathing and how do you do it? My colleague Dr. Cyndi Gilbert explains in Forest Bathing: Discovering Health and Happiness Through the Japanese Practice of Shinrin Yoku (a Start Here Guide).
- Park Rx America lets doctors literally write prescriptions for parks. Talk to yours about whether parks are right for you.
- Walk with a Doc.