Three Important Discoveries from Nature’s Medicine for your Brain and Mood

Three Important Discoveries from Nature’s Medicine for your Brain and Mood

Ever since I immersed myself in the field of health sciences over 25 years ago, I’ve been passionate about understanding how regular day-to-day exposures and habits affect our mental and cognitive health.

With the closing of a decade, I thought I might mention 3 discoveries/areas of research in natural medicine, or actually nature’s medicine, that have the capacity to offer profound benefits to our health, if widely shared.   What are they?

1. The microbiome: We are more than just ourselves!

Your microbiome is part of nature's medicineFor the last 20 years, I had a vague understanding that there were some bacteria in our gut that were good for us, and that we needed to take probiotics to support them.  But the last decade has seen an explosion of research and discoveries regarding the benefits and importance of the microbiome.

We now know that microbes inhabit almost every area of our body.  They are on our skin,  our gut, and just about every orifice we can find.  We have so many bacteria that we have more bacteria occupying real estate on and in our bodies than our own cells!  In fact the ratio is 10:1 microbes to human cells!   The good news is that they are much smaller than our cells, so they make up about 6 Ibs of our total weight.  Nevertheless, they are integral to our survival!

Benefits of good bacteria

It turns out these microbes help us digest our food, they provide essential nutrients, they influence what we eat (yes, your microbes play a huge part in your food cravings!), and they can strengthen or weaken our immune systems.   Our susceptibility to autoimmune diseases has to do with our microbiome, and it seems that a healthy microbiome is essential to remission.

There is also a growing body of research showing a link between microbiomes and depression, our ability to respond to stress and anxiety, and our behavior!

So what should you do to have a healthy microbiome?   There are general guidelines, but what is optimal for each one of us varies according to our genetics, our history, our environment and our habits.  The general guidelines is that we want to have a probiotic with as many species and strains as possible.  Also, don’t forget the prebiotics (to feed the bacteria) as a well!  If you’d like a better idea of what to do for you, check out this article.  And remember, the research on this subject is still young, so these recommendations are likely to evolve.

2.  The benefits of nature

When I moved to Seattle, I was low in funds, and I had to make a little cash go a long way.  I ended up moving to a part of Seattle that was short on trees, and high on nerfarious night time activities.   I started hiking on the weekends and noticed that a hike was a wonderful escape from the daily stressors of day-to-day life. Furthermore, when I returned from a hike, I noticed an improvement in my ability to focus, my mood and my general well-being, and that this would last for a few days!  I started to call hiking, “a medical need”.   Little did I know then about the power of nature’s medicine!

Air quality

trees improve air qualityI remember the night I moved from that neighborhood to a new neighborhood in Shoreline which was only a few blocks away from a 80 acre forested park.  I felt the clearing of the air as I approached my new home, and when I finally tried to sleep, I was so excited about the fresh air, I had a hard time relaxing!  Judging my cat’s excitement, I think she was feeling it too!

I now know from this and other experiences that air quality has a huge effect on my mood, and research is finally beginning to show this link in larger populations!

Air quality also impacts our neurodevelopment and risk of dementia!   For a more detailed article on that subject check out my article on How Air Pollution Destroys Our Brain and What to Do About It.

In addition to the benefits of clean air, nature has other qualities to offer our brains and mood.

Benefits through our nose

We all know about the ability of smells to take us back to places like Grandma’s kitchen or your first love.   Our olfactory system is one of our most efficient delivery systems because it doesn’t bypass the thalamus.  Thus aroma therapy provided by nature can have powerful effects to set our mood, or even increase our ability to focus.

Fractals in nature

nature is full of fractalsThe benefits of nature also reach us through our visual systems as well.  if you look at a snowflake, you’ll notice that if you look at it closely, each part of the snowflake is a smaller version of the larger snowflake.   That is the essence of fractals, and nature is abundant with them.  Man-made materials are not.    Richard Taylor has shown that viewing fractals is calming to our nervous system.   And I would hypothesize that this one of mechanisms that contributes to the healing effects of crystals.

Negative ions

I always tell people I get high off of waterfalls.  Turns out waterfalls are a significant and wonderful source of negative ions.  Negative ions boost serotonin, reduce depression and anxiety and well-being.

The awe effect

Waterfalls also fill me with awe, and there are tons of mental health benefits from experiencing awe.  Learn more about the benefits of awe in my article “Why We Need to Aim for an Awe-Filled Life”.


gardening groundedAnother fantastic benefit that comes with nature is via earthing.   Whenever we have contact with dirt, or sand or swimming in nature’s waters, we are accessing with nature’s Qi.  The more exposure, the closer to your skin, and the longer the exposure, the greater the benefits.   Many ancient tribal cultures understand the importance of maintaining a connection with the earth, but those of us who live in more modern environments have increasingly become disconnected.   The creation of pavement, non-conducting shoes and our indoor lifestyle have shielded us from earth’s benefits.

Luckily, for those of us who can’t spend most of our time in nature, we can use a earthing mat to mimic many of the benefits we would get from being outside.

Earthing has a myriad of benefits.   Earthing at night is most effective way to reset our body clock, and it enhances our quality of sleep by decreasing night time cortisol levels.   This in turn decreases our stress and enhances our feelings of well being.  Earthing also improves our ability to fight infections, allergies, autoimmune diseases and wound healing.   Inflammation provides a considerable amount of oxidative stress, and the body forms a barricade to protect the rest of the body from it.  Unfortunately, this creates a long-term pocket of inflammation.  Earthing feeds the negative ions to neutralize the free radical damage.  Given that pain and inflammation affect our mood and cognitive functioning, I believe that future research will continue to show greater benefits for our brains.

3.  Electricity vs. ElecQicity

The dangers of EMF

I’ve been deeply concerned about the effects of WIFII, cell phones and cell phone towers for over a decade.  But research on its effects has been scarce.  Thankfully, the research has been growing, and Nick Pineault and a few others have made it their mission to summarize what is known and to share it with the rest of us.   I’ve summarized his work in my article Why You Must Protect Yourself from Electromagnetic Frequenencies (EMFs).

Nature’s Energy

meridiansThere is a growing awareness of a living matrix that operates through our collagenCollagen is a liquid-crystalline semiconductor, and because it penetrates the entire body, it can deliver electrons to cells, tissues and organs as needed.   Earthing is thought to benefit us from the use of the living matrix to transport electrons from the ground.   Acupuncture and energy medicine work with the points and meridians that follow the living matrix through collagen and thus effect our Qi.


What is Qi?  Qi is intelligent energy.  Dr. Daniel Keown calls it ElecQiCity.   Its energy fields that are in alignment with our optimal functioning.  The energy has such a low intensity that most of us can’t feel its direct effects, and thus it is called subtle energy.   It has numerous functions ranging from protection, warming, holding things in place, transforming and transportation effects.  For a great summary of Qi, check out this video.

Western Medicine uses Electricity

While Western medicine doesn’t yet recognize Qi, conventional medicine has turned to electricity as a means to jolt vitality back into an organism.   Much like Frankenstein, Dolly, the cloned sheep was derived from an older sheep’s cells.  The problem however was that an older cell doesn’t have the same way to clone itself in the way that young cells do during embryogenesis.  So a spark of electricity was used to get the ball rolling.  Similarly, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is still used to jolt life back into people with severe depression and catatonia, and the effects, when it works, can be fast.   And finally, the easiest way to bring someone back to life if they are having cardiac arrest, is to use the automated external defibrillator (AED) machine.

Western medicine uses the AEDAnd it appears that the use of electricity for therapies is increasing.  Methods used by Western medicine in Psychiatry include cranial electrical stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).  That being said, I have not found any adequate explanations from Western medical research to explain why they might work.   I believe the study of Qi, of the living matrix, and of the properties of resonance will help Western medicine better understand what they are doing, and help them further optimize treatments.  One personal concern I have, is that because they don’t yet recognize the dangers of EMFs, that  Western medicine could be exposing us to too much EMFs with their interventions.

The emergence of an integrative approach to medicine

Nevertheless, articles, books and studies by Charles Shang, M.D. by Christina Ross, Ph.D., BCPP, James L. Oschmann, Bruce Lipton, Ph,D., and Dr. Daniel Keown, M.B Ch.B, Lic Ac. (and many others) are on the forefront of helping us understand energy medicine (including acupuncture) through the eyes of Western medicine.  With the growing numbers of highly educated medical professionals showing an interest in energy medicine, my hope in this next decade, is that more Western practitioners will find the courage to receive the wisdom of this ancient practice.

Nature is medicine

What I love about these 3 discoveries is that they are about what nature inherently provides.   Nature has had 3.5 billion years to figure out how to optimize our healing, whereas humans have only been around for 200K years.  Western medicine is also hampered by its prevailing dogma, which prevents it from fresh perspectives that could accelerate its discovery.   But these discoveries that bring us back to our roots and ancient wisdom, show that nature’s medicine provides healing benefits that are far greater and safer than any healing method or drug developed by us.    We humans have been working so hard to develop the next big drug or intervention, but nature is showing us that some of the best things for our health are literally right underneath our feet!

Are you interested in how your environment and habits affect your health?  I’m passionate about understanding the root causes that affect our mental and cognitive health.   If you’d like to stay current with how your environment affects you, then be sure to subscribe above to get my Top 10 Tips for a Happy and Healthy Brain, and you’ll get updates from my blog on Hidden Barriers to Happiness.

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