Can You Reduce Your Need for Medication with Time in Nature? Yes You Can!

Forest bathing is a  term from Japan since the 1980s to describe a physiological and psychological exercise called shinrin-yoku by spending time in forests, green spaces, and by bodies of water. The purported benefits of forest bathing are actions as an antidote to tech burnout and to reconnect with nature. Researchers began studying the benefits of forest bathing, providing the science to support the idea that time spent in nature is healing.

A new study examined visits to green spaces and the need for medication in urban dwellers.

STUDY METHODS 

The Helsinki Capital Region Environmental Health Survey in Finland was conducted in 2015−2016  and included 7321participants. Cross-sectional associations of the amounts of residential green and blue spaces within 1 km radius around the respondent’s home, green and blue views from home, and green space visits with self-reported use of psychotropic (anxiolytics, hypnotics and antidepressants), antihypertensive and asthma medication were examined.

RESULTS

Amounts of residential green and blue spaces or green and blue views from home were not associated with medications.

However, the frequency of green space visits was associated with lower odds of using psychotropic medication (30-40% reductions depending on the number of times/week) as well as similar reductions in  antihypertensive (blood pressure) and asthma medication use.

Socioeconomic status was examined and not a confounding factor. 

CONCLUSIONS

Frequent green space visits were associated with less frequent use of psychotropic, antihypertensive and asthma medication in urban environments. The number of visits was found to be a powerful predictor of less medication use so get outside in parks and forests as often as is possible and practical. Of course, do not change your medication without speaking to your medical team.

If you are not close to green spaces or are physically unable to partake in walking outside, it has been suggested to log on and view forest and water nature scenes as an alternative. 

Author
Dr. Joel Kahn

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