Stories

A Return to the Healing Powers of Nature

Jun 24, 2022
“Into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul,” said the father of the National Forest, John Muir.

An environmentalist, botanist, philosopher, zoologist, advocate and author, Muir inspired people to protect nature and its wildlife through his writing and advocacy for our Country’s mixed landscapes. Parks like Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest and Mount Rainer are a result of this one man’s feat to conserve. Upon Muir’s spearheaded efforts a trickle effect of the formation of the National Parks we know today remain preserved and managed by the National Park Services of the United States. 

However, it is not only Muir who innately understands the importance of Earth’s wild lands and waters. Many cultures globally believe that having a relationship with Mother Nature is to be a sacred one, one of equal give and take, in which gratitude is at the forefront. Just like in this article, these tribes and communities seek to promote, educate and protect the sacred relationship the human species has with Earth. Moreover, many indigenous tribes practice and teach herbal medicines as part of cultural preservation and the belief that nature is in fact medicine. Best said by cultural director of Puyallup Tribe, Connie Mccloud states, 

“We all have a responsibility to take care of this Mother Earth. . . . Because we knew and we understood our relationship with Mother Earth we must protect them [our salmon, berries, medicine, basket materials], but we also come with the intent of gratitude, to always remember to say, ‘Thank you. Thank you for giving their lives to become our food,  our spiritual food.’ When we take something from nature, we always say thank you.” — Connie McCloud (Puyallup), cultural director of the Puyallup Tribe

Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom on the east side of the Himalayan Mountains known for its dzongs(fortresses)  and monasteries has been called the “Happiest Country on Earth.” This isolated population has selectively chosen to politically restrict tourism and focus on preserving and protecting its ecosystem. Due to the universal efforts of its country men and women, Bhutan has virtually no environmental damage and can continue to practice gSo-ba Rig-pa, or traditional Bhutanese medicine. Consisting of behavioral modification, physiotherapy, herbal medicines, minor surgery and spiritual healing, this special country’s medicine is one of the oldest surviving medical traditions across the globe. 

Meanwhile, Japan adapted the practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, in response to the tech boom burnout of the 1980s. The prescription was both adapted in modern and western medicine practices to encourage Japanese to reconnect and preserve the country’s natural environment. By the 1990s, researchers sought to understand the benefits of forest bathing. By use of innumerable comprehensive studies, the Japanese found that this natural prescription decreased blood pressure, body weight, depression, stress and blood sugar, whilst it increased immunity, energy and cardiovascular health.  The benefits of forest bathing were bountiful Read more

Now today, with a massive shift to modern medicine, we can see a contribution to the longevity and health of the human race. However, the question remains in the balance. 

Is there a place for both modern and ancient practices to contribute to the longest living and healthiest beings on Earth, whilst honoring her mind, body and soul as much as our own?

 

Though the answer remains to be seen, many Countries continue to support and educate around these alternative and traditional practices of our forefathers and foremothers of Earth. Medical practitioners across the globe from Scotland to Canada to India closely work and prescribe by use of natural medicine. Even in the United States with the help of the US national park system, agencies are able to utilize ParkRX as a way of using mother nature for the health and wellbeing of its patrons. Environmental advocates like Swedish native and youth, Greta Thunberg,  inspires and empower masses to take action on the preservation of our planet. The netflix series, Down to Earth hosted by actor, Zac Efron and podcast host and author, Darin Olien, document their global travels to learn and teach about healthy and sustainable ways to live. So though the answer is in what is becoming, I leave you reader with this:

 

“No man is as wise as Mother Earth. She has witnessed every human day, every human struggle, every human pain, and every human joy. For maladies of both body and spirit, the wise ones of old pointed man to the hills. For man too is of the dust and Mother Earth stands ready to nurture and heal her children.” -  Anasazi Foundation, The Seven Paths: Changing One's Way of Walking in the World



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– Casey Edmonds, MPH, CHWC, CMS, CPT, CILC

Health Advisor | Email Casey

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