The great neurologist, Oliver Sacks, recognised the power of nature as therapy for those with chronic brain degenerative diseases including Tourette’s syndrome, Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
Many mechanisms, such as Phytonicides (substances emitted by plants), negative air ions and the direct sensory experiences of sight, touch, sound, smell and taste have been thought to be part of nature’s healing effect. The physiological pathways, as much as I love and explore these, are in my mind less important than the euphoria that comes from the feel of sun on the skin, ground beneath the feet and under the fingernails and air flowing across the face.
I do not believe that there is one single health condition that cannot be improved by the experience of nature.
Music, too, is now being found to be more than entertainment, being researched in everything from weight-gain in premature infants to social interaction in those with Autism and neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. It has been suggested that we developed our musical aptitude to enhance communication, bonding, teamwork and sexual attraction. Music may be a way of connecting with our fellow beings. Unfortunately, while we all have our own specific musical tastes, only listening to music through earphones, separating us from others, is unlikely to have provide the same benefits.
It is not a great leap to expect that if nature and music are healing for those with overt disease, it is healing and enhancing for those who want more.