Nature therapy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nature therapy, sometimes referred to as ecotherapy, forest therapy, forest bathing, grounding, earthing, Shinrin-Yoku or Sami Lok, is a practice that describes a broad group of techniques or treatments using nature to improve mental or physical health.

Spending time in nature has various physiological benefits such as relaxation and stress reduction.[1][2]


In the 6th century BCE, Cyrus the Great planted a garden in the middle of a city to increase human health.[3] In the 16th century CE, Paracelsus wrote: "The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician."[4] Scientists in the 1950s looked into why people chose to spend time in nature.[5] The term Shinrin-yoku (森林浴) or forest bathing was coined by the head of the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Tomohide Akiyama, in 1982 to encourage more visitors to forests.[3][6][7][8][9]

Health effects[edit]


120 minutes in nature weekly could improve health and well-being.[10] As little as five minutes in a natural setting, improves mood, self-esteem, and motivation.[11] Nature therapy probably has a benefit in reducing stress and improving a person's mood.[12][13] People exposed to nature are also more cooperative and pleasant compared to those who are not.[14]

Forest therapy has been linked to some physiological benefits as indicated by neuroimaging and the Profile of mood states psychological test.[15]

Horticulture therapy has been linked to general well-being by boosting positive mood and escaping from daily life stressors.[13]

Stress and depression[edit]

Interaction with nature can decrease stress and depression.[1][13] [3][16] Forest therapy might help stress management for all age groups.[17]

Social horticulture could help with depression and other mental health problems of PTSD, abuse, lonely elderly people, drug or alcohol addicts, blind people, and other people with special needs.[18] Nature therapy could also improve self-management, self-esteem, social relations and skills, socio-political awareness and employability.[19] Nature therapy could reduce aggression and improve relationship skills.[20]

This is especially true due to the mental health damage COVID-19 brought. Nature therapy had significant results when it came to reducing stress, anxiety, and depression influenced by COVID-19.[21]

Other possible benefits[edit]

Nature therapy could help with general medical recovery, pain reduction, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, dementia, obesity, and vitamin D deficiency.[22] Interactions with nature environments enhance social connections, stewardship, sense of place, and increase environmental participation.[23] Connecting with nature also addresses needs such as intellectual capacity, emotional bonding, creativity, and imagination.[24] Overall, there seems to be benefits to time spent in nature including memory, cognitive flexibility, and attention control.[25]

Research also suggests that childhood experience in nature are crucial for children in their daily lives as it contributes to several developmental outcomes and various domains of their well-being. Essentially, these experiences also foster an intrinsic care for nature.[26]


A 2012 systematic review study showed inconclusive results related to the methodology used in studies.[27] Spending time in forests demonstrated positive health effects, but not enough to generate clinical practice guidelines or demonstrate causality.[28] Additionally, there are concerns from researchers expressing that time spent in nature as a form of regenerative therapy is highly personal and entirely unpredictable.[5] Nature can be harmed in the process of human interaction.[5]


Grounding, or earthing, is a pseudoscientific practice that involves people grounding themselves using devices by touching the earth or removing shoes.[29][30] People who ground themselves believe that they have been exposed to high levels of electromagnetic radiation.[31] Possible changes in mood could be due to a placebo effect.[32]

Governmental support[edit]

In Finland, researchers recommend five hours a month in nature to reduce depression, alcoholism, and suicide.[4] Forest therapy has state-backing in Japan.[17] South Korea has a nature therapy program for firefighters with post-traumatic stress disorder.[4] Canadian physicians can also "prescribe nature" to patients with mental and physical health problems encouraging them to get into nature more.[33]


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