The science of nature’s influence on your health, happiness and vitality by Eva M. Selhub MD & Alan Logan ND

Jane Sanders writes: The first time I saw a substantial piece of research about the benefits of nature I felt both dismayed and reassured. Dismayed that us humans have got so disconnected that we need research to tell us walking in a wood is more beneficial than walking through a shopping centre – and reassured because in this crazy world we live in- the reality is that the research gives people like doctors the evidence base to prescribe ‘Vitamin G (greenspace)’ and organisationslike Mind and Wisdom Tree the possibility of setting up eco-therapy events & projects.

This book presents a fascinating review of a huge variety of scientific studies –for example just to name a few-  the Japanese ‘forest bathers’ increasing NK cells (hugely beneficial for the immune system) by 40% after just three days of morning and afternoon walks, - the benefits of human interaction with dogs in raising oxytocin levels (a hormone like peptide linked to promoting empathy and enhancing a sense of security and trust),  – and the effects of windows on post-operative patients who needed 22% less pain medication if they were in a room with a window giving natural light.

This collaboration between a medical doctor and a naturopath has created a holistic and well- rounded offering. It’s pretty comprehensive – covering horticultural and wilderness therapy, the effect of animals on humans (and humans on animals) light (why the East Japan Railway installed $200,000 worth of blue LED lights in train stations to curb suicides), smell (physiological effects of the mix of smells in the forest) , green gym and even nutri-ecopsychology (e.g the effects on our brain of  de-natured foods which produce oxidative stress and inflammation).  

One of the chapters which really caught my attention was also about the use of nature to mitigate the effects that our growing technology driven existence is having on our brains. It explained the way our brains are changing in response to technology, why screens are so addictive & what we can do about that. This book is essentially very practical in terms of applied ecopsychology and how we can all build in very simple and effective strategies for lowering stress and increasing wellbeing, some as simple as having a plant on your desk.

Have you had your vitamin G today?