February 16, 2013

Healthy Nature - Healthy Humans

The view from our home is all nature all the time

I would die if I didn't have my daily dose of nature. Exaggeration? Or are the benefits of nature more important than we realize? 

A growing line of research is revealing "the entanglement of our health with the health of nature", as Lindsay Abram writes in When Trees Die, People Die.

"A line of modern thought suggests that trees and other elements of natural environments might affect our health in more nuanced ways as well. Roger Ulrich demonstrated the power of having a connection with nature, however tenuous, in his classic 1984 study with patients recovering from gall bladder removal surgery in a suburban Pennsylvania hospital.  

He manipulated the view from the convalescents' windows so that half were able to gaze at nature while the others saw only a brick wall. Those with trees outside their window recovered faster, and requested fewer pain medications, than those with a "built" view. They even had slightly fewer surgical complications. 

Environmental psychologists Rachel and Stephen Kaplan attributed nature's apparent restorative ability to something they termed "soft fascination": Natural scenes, they theorized, are almost effortlessly able to capture people's attention and lull them into a sort of hypnotic state where negative thoughts and emotions are overtaken by a positive sense of well-being.  

Indeed, an analysis of numerous studies in BMC Public Health found evidence for natural environments having "direct and positive impacts on well-being," in the form of reduced anger and sadness."

It shouldn't surprise us that nature is a requirement for overall planetary health, including our own. After all, as Henry David Thoreau's pointed out, we are all partly leaves and vegetable mold ourselves.

We need healthy, fully functional nature to have healthy, fully functional humans.


  1. Anonymous2/17/2013

    Wow! What a beautiful dose of scenery! This is indeed fact as there is a chapter about the healing power of nature in my book. Many studies, done all over the world (USA, Japan,Sweden) confirm this. Interesting too is that when there lacks nature, humans conform to the behavior of animals when they are kept in cages and artificial stone habitats by violating their habitat or home with graffiti and trash. The lack of nature actually leads to unhealthy minds.

    1. I am not surprised to hear about the caged animal thing. Nature deprivation is a nasty thing that probably explains a lot of the violence and unhappiness that plagues our society.


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