Special Issue "Evidence-Based Nature for Human Health"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Global Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Sin-Ae Park
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Health Science, Konkuk University, 120 Neungdong-ro, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Interests: physiological evaluation; preventive medical effects; horticultural therapy
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Choong Hwan Lee
Website
Co-Guest Editor
Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Konkuk University, 143-701 Seoul, Republic of Korea
Interests: metabolomics; natural product chemistry
Dr. Chorong Song
Website
Co-Guest Editor
Department of Forest Resources, Kongju National University, Chungnam, South Korea
Interests: Forest; Nature Therapy; Health Promotion; Physiological Evaluation; Individual Difference
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. For modern people, it is not easy to stay healthy because of many reasons such as stress, environmental pollution, urbanization. Complementary and alternative medicine is the term for medical products and practices that are not part of the standard medical care. Especially, nature-based complementary and alternative medicine is necessary for maintaining homeostasis, which is the ability or tendency of an organism to maintain internal stability, compensating for environmental changes. Also, nature-based complementary and alternative medicine improves or recovers health. Nature-based complementary and alternative medicine includes horticultural therapy, forest therapy, care farming, natural products with therapeutic effects, etc.

This Special Issue seeks papers about the health benefits of nature-based complementary and alternative medicine established by using scientific research methodology and evaluation. We also welcome high-quality systematic reviews or meta-analysis papers related to these matters. We would be very happy if this Special Issue serves as a trigger for considering more effective applications of nature-based complementary and alternative medicine in the future.

Prof. Sin-Ae Park
Prof. ChoongHwan Lee
Dr. Chorong Song
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Horticultural therapy
  • Therapeutic horticulture
  • Garden therapy
  • Forest therapy
  • Green care
  • Care farming
  • Nature-based intervention
  • Natural product
  • Preventive medicine
  • Rehabilitation
  • Complementary and alternative medicine

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Experiencing Nature to Satisfy Basic Psychological Needs in Parenting: A Quasi-Experiment in Family Shelters
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(22), 8657; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17228657 - 21 Nov 2020
Abstract
Finding fulfillment of basic psychological needs may be difficult for parents living in shelters after becoming homeless or after escaping violence. This study tested if experiencing nature was associated with the basic psychological needs of parents in shelters. Need satisfaction and need frustration [...] Read more.
Finding fulfillment of basic psychological needs may be difficult for parents living in shelters after becoming homeless or after escaping violence. This study tested if experiencing nature was associated with the basic psychological needs of parents in shelters. Need satisfaction and need frustration were measured among parents in shelters (N = 160), with one measurement in the standard indoor context of the shelter and one measurement while experiencing nature. Experiencing nature was associated with enhanced need satisfaction (d = 0.28) and reduced need frustration (d = −0.24). The effect was especially pronounced for parents with young children. Our findings suggest that the physical environment matters for parents’ basic psychological need fulfillment as they interact with their children in the context of sheltering. This finding opens a potential avenue for supporting parental functioning and resilience in the face of risk if these effects were to be replicated across settings using controlled experimental designs. At the very least, the findings may be discussed with practitioners and parents in the context of making shelter life and work more conducive to mental health and family functioning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evidence-Based Nature for Human Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Forest Therapy on Health Promotion among Middle-Aged Women: Focusing on Physiological Indicators
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(12), 4348; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124348 - 17 Jun 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Women experience more stress in middle age than in other life stages, and health in middle age is vital, because it influences the quality of life in old age. In this study, the effects of a forest therapy program on physiological changes in [...] Read more.
Women experience more stress in middle age than in other life stages, and health in middle age is vital, because it influences the quality of life in old age. In this study, the effects of a forest therapy program on physiological changes in 53 middle-aged women (divided into two groups) who lived in the city were examined. One group participated in a three-day program in the forest, followed by three days in the city; the other group participated in a three-day program in the city, followed by three days in the forest. Forest experiments were conducted in a “healing forest,” and urban experiments were conducted near a university campus. Blood tests were performed to evaluate the physiological effects of forest therapy. Differences in serotonin levels and vitamin D levels were verified before and after the forest (experimental group) and urban (control group) programs through paired t-tests. Statistically significant increases in serotonin levels were noted for participants in the forest program; vitamin D levels also increased, but not by statistically significant values. The findings of this study verify that forest therapy programs promote health among middle-aged women, and may prevent disease and improve quality of life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evidence-Based Nature for Human Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Benefits of a Three-Day Bamboo Forest Therapy Session on the Physiological Responses of University Students
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(9), 3238; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093238 - 06 May 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Studies have indicated that natural environments have the potential to improve the relationship between a stressful life and psychological well-being and physical health. Forest therapy has recently received widespread attention as a novel solution for stress recovery and health promotion. Bamboo is an [...] Read more.
Studies have indicated that natural environments have the potential to improve the relationship between a stressful life and psychological well-being and physical health. Forest therapy has recently received widespread attention as a novel solution for stress recovery and health promotion. Bamboo is an important forest type in many countries, especially in East and Southeast Asia and in African countries. Bamboo is widespread throughout southwestern China. Empirical field research on the physiological effects of bamboo forest therapy is currently lacking. To explore the benefits of bamboo forest therapy on the physiological responses of university students, 120 university volunteers between the ages of 19 and 24 participated in this study (60 males and 60 females) and were randomly divided into four groups of equal size (15 males and 15 females in each). Four sites were selected for the experiment, including two natural bamboo forests (YA and YB), a bamboo forest park (DJY), and an urban environment (CS). During the testing period, all participants were asked to view the landscape for 15 min in the morning and then walk in the testing area for 15 min in the afternoon. Blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR), and peripheral oxygen saturation (SpO2) were measured as the physiological indexes, and the semantic differential method (SDM) questionnaire was completed for the environmental satisfaction evaluation. The SDM for the subjective environmental evaluation differed significantly among the university students; they obtained a better environmental experience, in terms of sensory perception, atmosphere, climate, place, and space, in the bamboo forest sites. The three-day bamboo forest therapy session improved the physiological well-being of university students. First, the blood pressure and heart rate of the university students decreased, and the SpO2 increased, after the three-day viewing and walking activities of the three-day bamboo forest therapy session. The viewing activities had a more pronounced effect on decreased heart rate in university students. Additionally, three-day bamboo forest therapy had a positive impact on decreased systolic blood pressure and heart rate in the university students, and it was significantly decreased in females, while peripheral oxygen saturation (SpO2) remained relatively low. Finally, compared with the urban site (CS), the bamboo forest sites effectively improved the university students’ physiological state of health, decreased their physical pressure, and stabilized their physiological indicators. These findings provide scientific evidence that a three-day bamboo forest therapy session can increase positive physiological responses. The potential for a longer-term effect on human physiological health requires further investigation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evidence-Based Nature for Human Health)
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Open AccessArticle
A Horticultural Therapy Program Focused on Succulent Cultivation for the Vocational Rehabilitation Training of Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(4), 1303; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17041303 - 18 Feb 2020
Abstract
We aimed to develop a horticultural therapy program for the vocational rehabilitation of individuals with intellectual disabilities and examine its effects. Individuals with intellectual disabilities (n = 28, average age: 33.23 ± 4.9 years) were recruited from a welfare center in Jecheon, [...] Read more.
We aimed to develop a horticultural therapy program for the vocational rehabilitation of individuals with intellectual disabilities and examine its effects. Individuals with intellectual disabilities (n = 28, average age: 33.23 ± 4.9 years) were recruited from a welfare center in Jecheon, South Korea. They participated in eight weekly sessions of a horticultural therapy program consisting of common succulent cultivation techniques at a specialized succulent cultivation farm located in Jecheon, South Korea. Before and after the program, we assessed hand function (grip strength, pinch force, and hand dexterity, evaluated using a hand dynamometer, Jamar hydraulic pinch gauge, and grooved pegboard, respectively), emotional behavioral strategies (evaluated using the emotional behavioral checklist), and social skills (evaluated using the social skill rating system-teacher form). After participation in the horticultural therapy program, individuals with intellectual disabilities displayed significantly improved hand function, emotional behavior, and social skills (all p < 0.05). This study demonstrates the potential of horticultural therapy focused on succulent cultivation for the vocational training of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Future studies should investigate the effects of the program in a larger cohort. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evidence-Based Nature for Human Health)
Open AccessArticle
Garden-Based Integrated Intervention for Improving Children’s Eating Behavior for Vegetables
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(4), 1257; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17041257 - 15 Feb 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
This study was conducted to develop and verify the effects of a garden-based integrated intervention for improving children’s eating behavior for vegetables. A pre-post-test experimental design was employed. The participants were 202 elementary school students (average age: 11.6 ± 1.5 years). [...] Read more.
This study was conducted to develop and verify the effects of a garden-based integrated intervention for improving children’s eating behavior for vegetables. A pre-post-test experimental design was employed. The participants were 202 elementary school students (average age: 11.6 ± 1.5 years). The garden-based integrated intervention program was conducted during regular school hours for a total of 12 weeks. The program, based on a mediator model for improving children’s eating behavior, included gardening, nutritional education, and cooking activities utilizing harvests. In order to examine effects of the program, the mediating factors related to children’s eating behavior were evaluated using pre-post questionnaires. As a result of the program, dietary self-efficacy, outcome expectancies, gardening knowledge, nutrition knowledge, vegetable preference, and vegetable consumption were significantly increased, and food neophobia was significantly decreased. In addition, there were positive correlations between most mediating factors. Thus, the garden-based integrated intervention developed in this study was effective in improving children’s eating behavior for vegetables. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evidence-Based Nature for Human Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Metabolite Profiling Revealed That a Gardening Activity Program Improves Cognitive Ability Correlated with BDNF Levels and Serotonin Metabolism in the Elderly
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(2), 541; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17020541 - 15 Jan 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Metabolomics is useful for evaluating the fundamental mechanisms of improvements in the health functions of the elderly. Additionally, gardening intervention as a regular physical activity for the elderly maintained and improved physical, psychology, cognitive, and social health. This study was conducted to determine [...] Read more.
Metabolomics is useful for evaluating the fundamental mechanisms of improvements in the health functions of the elderly. Additionally, gardening intervention as a regular physical activity for the elderly maintained and improved physical, psychology, cognitive, and social health. This study was conducted to determine whether the cognitive ability of the elderly is affected by participating in a gardening activity program as a physical activity with a metabolomic potential biomarker. The gardening program was designed as a low to moderate intensity physical activity for the elderly. Serum metabolites resulting from gardening were subjected to metabolite profiling using gas chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry and ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-linear trap quadruple-orbitrap-mass spectrometry followed by multivariate analyses. The partial least squares-discriminant analysis showed distinct clustering patterns among the control, non-gardening, and gardening groups. According to the pathway analysis, tryptophan metabolism including tryptophan, kynurenine, and serotonin showed significantly distinctive metabolites in the gardening group. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels (BDNF) in the gardening group were significantly increased after the gardening program. Correlation map analysis showed that the relative levels of tryptophan metabolites were positively correlated with BDNF. Our results show that tryptophan, kynurenine, and serotonin may be useful as metabolic biomarkers for improved cognitive ability by the gardening intervention. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evidence-Based Nature for Human Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Care Farming Program for Family Health: A Pilot Study with Mothers and Children
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(1), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17010027 - 18 Dec 2019
Abstract
We designed a pilot study to develop a family interaction model-integrated a care farming program with mother-child pairs as the participants. In this pilot study, we aimed to assess the effects of the care farming program on communication skills and psychological health in [...] Read more.
We designed a pilot study to develop a family interaction model-integrated a care farming program with mother-child pairs as the participants. In this pilot study, we aimed to assess the effects of the care farming program on communication skills and psychological health in families. Sixteen mother-child pairs in Sejong, South Korea participated in this study. The families participated in a care farming program once a week for six weeks (90 min per session) between May and July 2018. The care farming program was developed based on parenting education skills, strengths-based cognitive behavioral therapy, and the emotional intelligence model; the result was a family interaction model intended to improve communication and psychological health among mothers and children. The program consisted of gardening activities such as making a garden plot, planting transplants, harvesting, and cooking the harvested crops. Upon completion of the six-session program, we evaluated communication with the Parent-Children Communication Inventory, depression with the Beck Depression Inventory, and resilience with the Connor–Davidson Resilience Scale among the mothers. We also evaluated emotional intelligence among the children with the Emotional Intelligence Scale. According to post-intervention results, mothers showed significantly increased resilience, improved communication skills with their child, and decreased depression, while children showed significantly improved emotional intelligence (p < 0.05). Despite the study’s limitation in establishing causality between the care farming program and the observed effects on family health, the care farming program clearly contributed to the observed improvements of mother-child communication skills, mothers’ psychological health, and children’s emotional intelligence, which in turn improved overall family health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evidence-Based Nature for Human Health)
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