Fresh air – an excellent cure

In 2005,  49% of the world’s population inhabited cities; in Poland ca. 61%. Concrete space and fumes are our reality now and we get accustomed to breathing  polluted air. We can see the difference only when we go to a park or forest. It is of extreme importance for the mankind to care for plants and clean air and to stay outdoors as often as possible .

 

Pamiętajcie o ogrodach   Remember about gardens

Przecież stamtąd przyszliście

W żar epoki użyczą wam chłodu

Tylko drzewa, tylko liście

 

Pamiętajcie o ogrodach

Czy tak trudno być poetą

W żar epoki nie użyczy wam chłodu

Żaden schron, żaden beton [1]

 

The lyrics of classic song by Jonasz Kofta  and Jan Pietrzak express our longing for gardens, parks, green squares –  enclaves of coolness and rest within cities. We feel better with plants around us – in gardens, parks, forests –than in the vicinity of concrete or steel buildings. Scientists emphasize that exercise in the open air, at best in forests or parks, is healthier than exercise in the  gymnastic hall. Why? Mostly because plants improve the quality of the air we breathe - its structure and ionization.

 

The tree as air conditioner

 

Beneficial influence of plants on the ecosystem is in part due to temperature. We can often observe that in the cities, in busy streets, the  temperature is  a few degrees higher than in the green areas. The reason is that trees bring lower temperature via  transpiration (evaporation of  water from upper parts of plants) and shadow. The cooling effect of just one tree can be compared to the work of 5 air-conditioners for 20 hours  daily [2]. In the forum gazeta.pl, one man who saw trees cut down in Warsaw Krasiński Garden states that  300 trees removed in the Park will cause a temperature rise in this place by 3 degrees [3].

Plants are also beneficial for the structure of air, for neutralizing pollution resulting from man’s activity. As we well know, in the process of photosynthesis  plants absorb CO2, and produce oxygen. It is so important because  factories and car  transportation increased the quantity of harmful substances in the air such as compounds of carbon, sulfur and nitrogen, ashes,  lead, copper, chromium, cadmium and other heavy metals, as well as viruses, bacteria, and  fungi [4]. Plants are a natural source of  oxygen and they absorb ashes and  toxins; forests are  natural „filters” protecting air, soil and waters from these harmful compounds [5].

 

Negative ions vs healthy air

 

Also of importance for the quality of air is its ionization. As research conducted by Dr Albert Kruger of Berkeley University proves, the rate of negative and positive ions in the air we breath can have serious consequences for our health and well-being.

We distinguish negative ions (anions, i.e. atoms with a negative electric potential) and positive (cations: atoms which lose their  electrons get a positive load of its nucleus). Negative ions regulate the level of serotonin (responsible for our mood) and bring  calmness; on the other hand, positive ions in excess are harmful for us. For humans, the best air is when the negative and positive ions are balanced; an ideal proportion is 5 to 4 with the dominance of negative ions. The air gets intensively ionized during rain, storm, snow falls. Many negative ions are present close to waterfalls  or fountains (city fountains serve not only as decoration! )

Only negatively ionized oxygen can be absorbed via lungs into blood; thanks to such oxygen  CO2 can be easily removed  from blood). Negative ions purify the air we inhale: in a indirect way, in the throat, they  stop dust and other harmful substances.

 

Unfortunately, we have to live in the air which lacks the above mentioned balance. Concrete, asphalt, exhaust gases, heating devices, tobacco fumes – all these substances as well as various devices generate positive ions. But the largest  „producers” of positive ions are electric devices: microwave ovens, machine washers, dish washers, electrical ovens, driers, fridges, radio sets, telephones, routers , computers. Additionally, in a closed space where there is a lot of electric devices we can observe the so-called  “Faraday’s cage” effect, resulting in an isolation of  the room and spread of positive ions in it (and  elimination of negative ions) [6]. In such a situation we suffer lower mood, apathy, headaches.

 

The following list shows negative ions per square centimeter of air in different milieus:

 

After storm           ca 2,000 of negative ions/cm3

In the mountains, at the seashore   ca 1,500 of negative ions/cm3

In a forest           ca 750  of negative ions/cm3

In a small town    ca 250 of negative ions/cm3

In a polluted city   ca 30 of negative ions/cm3

In a room              ca 10 of negative ions/cm3 [7].

 

As we can see, the best natural ionizer of air is storm; but we cannot always count on it. So how can we re-establish balance of ions in air? One possible solution is movable ionizer of air. Natural ionizators are salt lamps,  amber and... cats – 5 minutes  of petting of a cat is enough to get rid of a headache and apathy. As one experiment in America showed, in 10 hours the cat can time general half of the amount of ions produced by a  ionizator [8]. But the best way is to stay for some time in a garden or park as often as possible – plants are main producers of negative ions. Apart from ions they have  much more to offer to us.

 

Movement in open air

 

As scholarly research and sports experience prove exercise in fresh air is healthier than indoors. Not only it protects the organism against weather caprices but is better also because air in closed areas lacks in quality. Typically, it is too dry (optimal dryness should be  50-65%), with lots of carbon dioxide. It irritates delicate mucous membranes and exposes  to microbacteria i allergens [9]. As studies of the German scholars prove, the air in the closed spaces can be even  60% more polluted than outdoors!

Such poor quality air does not allow us to exercise well in a gymnastic hall or  fitness club; we feel bad, we lack oxygen and we experience over  perspiration. According to the latest data published  in  The New York Times, exercises in the open air bring more satisfaction than in closed space. The National Institutes of Health confirms that  jogging same distance in the open air we burn more calories than indoors [10]. Moreover, in the open air our muscles work more naturally, and react to diversity of the terrain.

 

The healing power of trees (and other plants)

 

We have mentioned that plants are main „producers” of negative ions.  They also have other advantages. Plants help protect from heart attack and help avoid health risks in people living close to nature [11]. Trees generate strong energy field; the  etheric oils that they excrete have a soothing effect , and they even can cure [12]. The German scientist Manfred Himmel,  who for over 20 years have been an advocate of the idea of tree therapy, claims that contact with trees can help in treatment of different psychic and physical disturbances: depression, headaches, circulatory and rheumatism. If you suffer from such maladies, you should go to the near test park or forest, find a proper tree  (your intuition will tell you what tree to select and embrace the tree, lean against it closely with your head and back, and touch the trunk with bare hands, or stand frontally to the trunk with your forehead and with bare hands , or lean beneath the tree with your bare feet touching it [13]. Among the trees regarded as particularly good for human heals are pines, maple tree, juniper us, birch. Their energy is most powerful during the day, and therefore it is a recommended time of the day for a therapy.

 

Also other plants can be beneficial for our health and our surroundings.  Among them the following pot plants can be named:

 

•         orange and lemon trees – exert a calming effect  improve concentration and stimulate to action; they reduce nervousness,

 

•         fig-tree - eliminates formaldehydes in window curtains, paints and painted wooden surfaces,

 

•         gardenia – helps in case of depression, brings optimism and joy of life,

 

•         orchid – reduces the level of dangerous  xylem, the substances present in TV sets and computer monitors

 

•        fern – neutralizes formaldehydes in toxic paints, floor covers or  gas ovens,

 

•         geraniums – are anti-depressants, and help in  case of changing emotional moods; are antiseptic in their qualities,

 

•         winged seed – helps neutralize benzene in curtains, carpets and paintings; provides natural humidity,

 

•         stephanotis  – helps co-operation,  should be kept in rooms where a lot of people work together [14].

 

Beneficial energy of the Sun

 

Staying in the open air has one more benefit – it provides contact with the sun light. The latest scholarly research proves  – despite past opinions about sun light being cancerogenous –  that insufficient sun light can be responsible as a cause of cancers [15]. As professor Michael Holick of  Boston University confirms, people shining from sun light are more prone to  osteoporosis and muscle pains [16]. He also believes that  skin cancer is not as harmful as some people think. But it affects also people who avoid sunlight in their entire life.

Sun is in fact the main source of vitamin D and plays a major role in absorption of calcium and phosphor from the digestive tract. To fulfill daily need for vitamin D we can expose our face to sun for 15 minutes – or eat 100 g of egg yolk. What is better, there can be  no doubt about it [17]. The active  form of  vitamin D protects uncontrolled cell division and thus prevents cancers.

Not everybody knows that only 15 minutes spent in the sun light can also help  decrease the level of cholesterol. Sun generates in our organism vitamin D  from cholesterol accumulating under the skin and from some sterols of plant origin. Thus it uses part of  cholesterol in our body. To reduce its level simply go out and reach the sun light!

Quote for today

Care for the present time The past does not hide anything interesting. Release yourself from it and live in the present time. (s. 304)
Your body weight depends on your mind The mind is a key to solving the problem of obesity (or anorexia). (...) You will not be able to control your diet, overeating  (or anorexia), unless you are able to control the state of your mind. (s. 294)
Power of the mind We are not aware of the power of our minds, of our capabilities and that it needs only little will power to use them. All you have to do is use principle of concentration of power, i.e. learn how to distinguish import ant matters from trivial ones and  do not seek  problems where they do not exist. (s. 72)
Consciousness and health The body without consciousness is healthy.  Healthy consciousness transfers the disease to the body. (s. 262)
Rationality in work Work is well done when you do not feel exhausted with it after its completion (s. 117)
Desires of the mind The mind always desires something it cannot achieve. The more we possess, the more we feel deprived. (s. 287)
Love Only someone  filled with love lives to the fullest of live. Mind you, those in love are usually healthy Or even symptoms of diseases in them vanish. Love is the main basis of health. (s. 182)
Happiness Happiness is the  state of consciousness that can occur only during the processing of complex information. Thus, you wahe to develop your spirit and your senses – in  this way we can earn more possibilities to feel happiness. (s. 39)
Eliminate stress (…) elimination of stress is equal to the process of recovery. (s. 50)
Diet and health (…) do not stick to a strict diet – instead eat well. This will suffice zn – both for the healthy body and soul. (s. 244)

Witold Bońkowski Foundation. The Power and Paradoxes of Our Minds.

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Unimaginable: The Power and Paradoxes of Our Minds deals with the unusual power of the mind. The fundamental motive of this book is trust in power and capabilities of the human mind in combating diseases, stress and worries.

Książka Niewyobrażalne. Potęga i paradoksy naszych umysłów