Forests Heal Body and Soul

The beneficial effect of forests and nature has also been proven scientifically

Nature with its forests and other green environments can reduce stress, anger and aggressiveness, can improve moods and increase happiness. People feel better after spending time in a forest and this is also because of the positive effects on the body's immune system by multiplying the number and the activity of natural killer cells that destroy cancer cells.

Dr. Eeva Karjalainen, of the Finnish Forest Research Institute, Metla says: “Many people feel relaxed and good when they are out in nature. But not many of us know that there is also scientific evidence about the healing effects of nature.”

Studies showed that people recover faster and better after a stressful situation if they spend time in natural environments. These relaxing sites help lower the blood pressure, the heart rate, the level of “stress hormones” and muscle tension. Nature's green environments decrease anger, depression and aggressiveness and also ADHD symptoms in children.

ADHD is one of the most common child neurobehavioral disorders, that is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adult life. Children with ADHD have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), and in some cases, are overly active.

Besides the mental and emotional advantages presented by forests, it is worth mentioning that more than half of the mostly prescribed drugs contain compounds coming from nature. Taxol for example, is a drug used against ovarian and breast cancer and it is derived from yew trees; whereas Xylitol is a sugar replacement produced from hardwood bark that helps inhibit caries.

"Preserving green areas and trees in cities is very important to help people recover from stress, maintain health and cure diseases. There is also monetary value in improving people's working ability and reducing health care costs," Dr. Karjalainen says. She will take part at the 2010 IUFRO World Forestry Congress in Seoul, where she will coordinate a session on health benefits of forests, according to ScienceDaily.

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