Nature prescriptions can cure

FOOTSTEPS IN FAITH

Our city Dumaguete is right in the center of a lot of natural environments – the trees and  mountains, the sea and the beaches, fields of rice and other crops, rivers and waterfalls.  Wow, we have it all!

Recent articles on health are one in agreeing that the body can benefit from time spent enjoying a natural environment.  In fact since last year doctors in Scotland have begun to issue nature prescriptions.  They prescribe trips into a natural environment, such as hiking, bird-watching, looking for seashells on the beach, and meandering through the woodlands.

General practitioners believe these outdoor activities are beneficial to cases of mental illness, diabetes, heart disease, and stress, among other conditions.  Doctors emphasize that such nature walks should be designed to supplement standard medical treatments.

I was interested in their findings since I had experienced this kind of treatment several years ago.  For several months I had had a very persistent deep hacking cough that did not respond to prescription cough remedies.  X-rays showed that my lungs were clear.  Finally after undergoing hospitalization and various testing, my doctor said that they could find nothing wrong.

He then prescribed for me to spend a week or so in the sea air, walking on the beach, swimming, and deep breathing in the sea air. Wonder of all wonders!  In 3 or 4 days after relaxing and enjoying the beach at a resort in Subic, my cough disappeared and my energy returned.

The natural world can have an immediate and noticeable effect on the body, which in turn can positively influence our mental health as well, according to Dr. Razani, of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, Oakland.  After simply stepping under some trees, she has found that our breath rate is lower, our heart rate is slower, and our blood pressure decreases.  “Your concentration is restored or reset.  Stress hormones are reduced, inflammatory markers are reduced, and glucose levels go down,” she says.

This is certainly good news for the residents and visitors to our province.  Let us rejoice!  Although lately it seems the pace of life, although slower than in the bigger cities, is gaining speed instead of slowing down.  We need to be aware that it is the slowing down in the natural environment that cures. This means nourishing our natural surroundings and encouraging environmental development.

Yes, modernization may increase the quality of life in some instances.  But, to me, one’s quality of life improves even more so when we take a deep breath, and become consciously aware of God’s natural creation embracing us.  This is why a few moments each morning watching the sunrise and listening to the birds singing in our mango tree help me start my day with God-given nature’s energy in each breath I take.  And this encounter with nature uplifts my spirits as the new day begins.  Thank You, Lord, for Your creation and beautiful nature.