by Peter Lesniak

There is mounting research which explores the influence trees have on our moods and wellbeing. All that’s needed is a soothing walk in the park to verify this. However, many people have long believed that there is also a connection between mental health and the immune system, but until recently we’ve known very little about what facilitates the relationship between them.

Leading research carried out by Dr Klæbo Reitan of NTNU’s Department of Mental Health, who specializing in psychiatry and holds a doctorate in immunology, revealed that the signal molecules used by the immune system and nervous system are, contrary to popular belief, one and the same thing. This means that the signal molecules in the immune system transmit directly to the nervous system, and vice versa. So, as there is a direct correlation between our mental wellbeing and our overall health, keeping our emotional life at balance may influence our immune system more then we previously understood.

As we can see this is a process, a chain of interconnections, and this is where our friends, the trees, come in. Dr Roger Ulrich of Chalmers University of Technology has found that as little as a view onto nature through a hospital window may influence patient recovery from surgery. In his research patients with windows looking out onto trees had on average 9% faster recovery times and expressed 3 times less distress.

Who would have thought that planting a tree can improve our immune system? It only makes sense to have more of them where they can impact our lives most, right? – in our cities, our neighbourhoods, and ideally as close to where we live as possible (if you are a landlord, you will be pleased to know they increase local house prices too!).

This is the 1st article related to the More Trees Campaign launched by three of our members. There is a relationship between creating a positive inner environment and having awareness of a healthy outer enviroment. .

Useful links:

1. Immune system and mental health are connected

2. NHS Forests’s benefits

3. View Through a Window May Influence Recovery from Surgery

4. Neighbourhood planning

Categories: Blog Posts