We’ve all heard the expression: “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” This is because many of our interactions with doctors result in pills and prescriptions.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, as these prescriptions all have proven track records of improving and even curing conditions, but pills aren’t necessarily the silver bullet they are advertised to be. Many prescriptions also have negative side effects such as weight gain, interrupted sleep, or an upset stomach, if not worse. Surely there must be better ways.

Additionally, traditional drug treatments often merely ameliorate the problem, or serve to only cure the symptoms, but not the underlying disease. This means that the majority of patients with chronic conditions will have to constantly come back to get their prescriptions renewed. This healthcare model makes the pharmaceutical industry billions of US dollars in revenue every year.

In recent times, as healthcare budgets have become tighter and disease prevalence has increased, physicians find themselves hard-pressed to find better and longer lasting pharmaceutical solutions. So, they have begun to turn to other options that treat the root cause, by largely recommending nontraditional treatments to their patients, such as taking a nature walk, exercising, or even just sitting in a bright room for half an hour.

From October 2018, Scottish doctors have been allowed to prescribe a ‘walk in nature’ as part of their treatment. This isn’t simple medical superstition, however; simply spending 90 minutes of one’s day in an outdoors area has been shown to decrease depressive activity in the brain, reduce blood pressure and anxiety, while increasing happiness. In fact, the list of benefits that have been scientifically proven from interacting with nature just keeps on growing.

Healthy Shetland nature calendar

Look no further than the Healthy Shetland nature prescriptions calendar, offering a monthly checklist of salubrious activities to tackle, such as building a bug hotel in April or talking to a bird in August.

Perhaps the most important of these new treatments is physical exercise. It is common knowledge that more exercise leads to a healthier life.

Coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, depression and Alzheimer’s can all be addressed through exercise. Each year these conditions attract huge sums of money in search of a cure, assuming that science even has an answer for them at all.

From a medical perspective, exercise can be seen as an effective medical cure-all super-drug from nature. However, physicians have rarely, if ever, required it as part of their treatments. This is done largely opportunistically as most doctors when polled, feel their advice would go unheeded. Maybe it falls on us, the patient population, to reap the effects of this miracle drug ourselves, without having to wait to be told to do so by a medical professional.