On Saturday, April 15, Schmeekle Reserve’s Visitor Center was host to a program entitled The Healing Power of Forests.
Micah Hoger, a practicum student in the Environmental Education program at Schmeekle Reserve, presented to a full room about how nature can be used alongside traditional medical practices.
“Our forests and natural areas are not just habitat for animals and recreational areas, they can also provide effective therapy and treatment for people who have physical or mental illness that do not have the desired responses to traditional therapies,” Hoger said.
Hoger’s program was part of a series held at Schmeeckle this spring for the environmental education students in practicum.
There were two different ways in which nature can be a contributor to medicine that were discussed at the event.
The first was herbal medicine, which has been used in varying cultures since 3,000 BCE.
According to Hoger, historically, some cultures used herbs in conjunction with other practices, but others, like the ancient Chinese, used only herbs for their medicinal practices.
Hoger gave examples of plants that can be found locally and which are known to have medicinal value. Two of the plants described were Lady Fern, which can be used to treat burns, and Catnip, which can be made into a calming tea.
The event included volunteer-based demonstrations and a matching game that the entire audience was involved with.
In addition to educating the audience about herbal medicine, Hoger explained how spending time outdoors can have positive health impacts, citing two different studies done by the University of Maryland Medical Center.
“Many doctors are finding that it’s all a matter of balance,” Hoger said. “These methods of treatment can be used for people that don’t respond the way that the doctors want them to respond to traditional methods.”