World’s Finest Medicines

This is not a bulletin about a multivitamin brand or a supplement recommendation. No, it’s not that at all.

A friend just sent me a great book. Natures Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard by Douglas W Tallamy.

I have a lot to say about it and the important role native plants play in a thriving ecosystem (see the Garden for Wildlife program connected to the National Wildlife Federation for some awesome resources).

But first I want to share a passage from the book about nature’s ability to heal that I think you will find amazing!

“Brief exposure to the natural world produces measurable, medical and social benefits for humans.”


“Plant a tree outside a classroom window and test scores improve.

Plant a tree outside a hospital room window and patients in the facility heal faster.”

That’s all true! Studies are quoted in the text.

“Studies show that apartment buildings with treed courtyards house families that undergo fewer divorces, higher graduation rates, and less juvenile delinquency than nearby apartment complexes with no trees.”

C’mon! Can you believe that?!

“Spending just 15 minutes in a peaceful natural setting reduces our blood pressure, as well as the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in our blood. What, pray tell, is going on?”

Now we are talking medicine! Yes, pray tell!

“When we experience less stress, we do everything better from learning to healing to interacting with others. We know that the presence of trees, natural plantings, and the butterflies and birds they support reduce our stress levels. At this point, we can only speculate as to why. One key finding… is this: the extraordinary health and social benefits we derive from exposure to nature are short-lived and realized only from repeated exposures. A two-week visit to Yellowstone National Park during the summer will not reduce our stress levels for the rest of the year. The only way we can benefit… in a meaningful and sufficient way is to live or work within a natural setting, or to visit one on a regular basis.”

Being in nature is a “vitamin” in and of itself.

It stands at the top of the natural items I consider the world’s best medicines. Here’s a starter list:

  • Habitual exposure to nature ** as laid out above
  • Clean eating — plant-based, whole food 
  • Clean drinking water
  • Regular, healthy movement 
  • Good rhythms with sleep and eating
  • Natural light exposure
  • Minimize toxins: in the diet, household products, and otherwise
  • Intentionality with media and screen time
  • Quiet time. Meditation. Reflection.
  • Play a musical instrument, sing in a choir
  • Reading, learning, growing. 
  • Giving others (and yourself) the benefit of the doubt
  • Practicing Loving Kindness and selflessness

There will be no ‘recall’ on these universal medicines. If you partake in them regularly and habitually you will likely crowd out the need for other medicines.

“A short walk in the woods can restore our attention span, make us more hopeful, and compassionate, and improve our mood, while the presence of street trees can reduce the frequency of crime in an area and improve the cardiometabolic conditions reported by residents of those streets.”

It makes a pretty clear statement.

Maybe we should say “not so fast” to the plans for the dystopian, natureless, lab-derived future we have been considering.

Stay tuned and in a future bulletin, I will share the principles laid out in Tallamy’s book to turn your own block, your own yard into the solution to the population stress on the biosphere. Here’s to mother nature, to which we undoubtedly belong!