Let us start our journey into the world of “Vitamin N” – where N does not stand for “Nothing”, but for “Nature”! Imagine receiving a prescription from your doctor not for a pill or a medicine, but for spending time outdoors, surrounded by the beauty of the natural world. This is Nature Healthcare: treatments that not only nourish our bodies, but also our minds. We will discover together how "Vitamin N" can become a valid ally for better health and lasting well-being.


We start from a phrase written by the American ecologist Stephen R. Kellert in 1993 which proclaims "a human dependence on nature that extends far beyond the simple issues of material and physical sustenance to encompass as well the human craving for aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive, and even spiritual meaning and satisfaction.”

This is the essence of the biophilia hypothesis formulated by Kellert together with the famous biologist Edward O. Wilson in the book of the same name. Nature is not only a source of inspiration and wonder, but also represents a crucial element for our psychophysical and cognitive well-being.


Numerous scientific researches have widely demonstrated that exposure to Nature has significant benefits on our mental health. Spending time outdoors can reduce stress, anxiety and depression, improving our overall mood. Furthermore, Nature allows us to regenerate our attention and reduce levels of tension and fatigue.

But the positive effects of Nature are not limited only to the mental sphere. Exposure to Nature can also have physical benefits, such as reducing blood pressure, decreasing cortisol (stress hormone) levels, strengthening the immune system and improving overall cardiovascular health. Spending time outdoors can encourage a more active lifestyle, promoting the number of steps you take each day, exercise and overall vitality.

In addition to the psychological and physical benefits, Nature also plays an important role in enhancing our cognitive abilities. Natural environments offer a variety of sensory stimuli that can improve concentration, creativity and problem solving.

As a logical consequence we should actively seek to spend as much time as possible in natural environments (wilderness) enjoying its benefits for our overall well-being.


This awareness has become of fundamental importance in the modern world, because more and more people spend most of their time in urban and indoor environments, between their home, office and locked in their cars, often with negative consequences. Urbanization and the sedentary lifestyle of populations have led to a significant increase in serious disorders such as anxiety, depression and obesity, especially among young people.


A key element in trying to mitigate or resolve these problems is the so-called “Nature prescription”, an innovative concept that is gaining more and more ground in the healthcare sector of many countries. This type of prescription consists of encouraging people to spend time outdoors, immersed in Nature. Initiatives, such as Park Rx America and Walk With a Doc in the United States and PaRx launched by physician Dr. Melissa Lem in Canada, are taking this idea forward, encouraging doctors to prescribe outdoor activities such as walks in national parks or bird watching to address a variety of physical and mental ailments. In Scotland, doctors have been able to prescribe a "dose of Nature" to make their patients feel better for several years. In the Shetland Islands, they are authorized to prescribe true Nature immersions and even outdoor activities. These programs are aimed at people who need to reduce blood pressure, fight disorders such as anxiety, diseases such as diabetes, stress, various heart diseases and other problems.


Forest therapy, forest bathing or "shinrin-yoku" in Japanese, is certainly one of the important precursors of Nature's beneficial prescriptions and has become a global phenomenon. This practice consists of consciously immersing yourself in the forest, embracing the quiet and beauty of the surrounding natural environment. Scientific studies have shown that forest therapy can lower cortisol, reduce blood pressure and improve sleep. In the 1980s, Japanese immunologist Qing Li and physician Yoshifumi Miyazaki conducted research that demonstrated how contact with Nature, particularly trees, is extremely effective in promoting health and boosting the immune system. Their studies have highlighted a number of beneficial effects, including calming, muscle relaxation, anti-inflammatory effect, pain relief, antibacterial, antiviral protection and more. These effects are attributed to volatile substances emitted by plants, called B-VOCs (volatile organic compounds of biogenic origin).

Doctors in New Zealand were among the first to prescribe "green prescriptions" in the late 1990s, and the practice has become an established part of this country's government healthcare provision.


Green prescriptions now exist in Italy too, but they are still little noted. Also known as ecological prescriptions or natural prescriptions, these therapies aim to encourage the individual's contact with Nature to improve his/her well-being without resorting to medicines. Green prescriptions also represent a crucial opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of healthcare, as well as protect and restore healthy natural environments.

Furthermore, they contribute to combating climate change and the loss of biodiversity, factors which in turn contribute to the chronic pathologies found in many patients.


For completeness of information, we have borrowed the term 'Vitamin N' from the great journalist and scientific communicator Richard Louv and from the title of his book published in 2016 “Vitamin N - 500 ways to enrich the health and happiness of your family and community”, a collection of Nature pills and actions aimed at (re)connecting individuals with the natural world to fight the ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder’ which he himself described in another, more well-known book dating back to 2005 entitled "Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder".


Obviously, we at Verde Profilo recommend taking lots of Vitamin N.


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