Nature and Your Immune System

Did you know that when you’re outside you’re not just breathing in oxygen?  There are tiny microbes in the soil called phytoncides (essential oils found in woody plants) that you also breathe in. Before you let out a “ewww!” in disgust, know that these little microbes can help boost your immune system.

They work with our own body’s ‘natural killer’ or NK cells (yes, we really do have cells with that name) which are white blood cells in our immune systems that help fight infections.

Trees and other plants produce phytoncides to help them fight disease and scientists believe that, when they are inhaled, they help boost our immune systems too.  Research on forest bathing in Japan indicates that people’s levels of NK cells and cell activity increases more when they were outside in forests than in urban spaces:

Forest bathing, or shinrinyoku as it’s known in Japan, is simply a walk in the woods.  Surrounding yourself with nature isn’t just good for your mental health but also your body’s ability to fight germs. We’re not suggesting you immerse your face in soil but next time you’re outside make sure you take a few good deep breaths and give your immune system a bit of a boost.

For more technical information on phytoncides here’s a link you might find useful:

Take a moment to read this current blog entitled Finding a Friend in Nature by Professor Miles Richardson in which he talks about how nature can support you when you’re practicing social distancing by staying at home:

Stay happy and healthy.


Empathy stones

We can all find it difficult at times to talk about feelings or thoughts, particularly if they are negative. This activity helps people to express those feelings without vocalising them. Writing words, drawing colours or images onto stones and then throwing them away can be a cathartic release of negative feelings and thoughts which, left undealt with, might otherwise create health problems. 

Continue reading


Humanitas: a home with a difference

st4 copy

Guest blog by Ellie Robinson Carter

Humanitas Deventer is a world-renowned care home in Holland where students live for free to support the older people who live there. Humanitas has been praised for its forward-thinking approach to finding innovative ways of supporting older people as well as its Adelbold project which supports younger people with additional needs to gain independence and self-confidence. Continue reading


Lets go nutting!

flowers in pot on windowsill

Earlier this year we supported Katherine Hathaway with her award-winning border at BBC Gardeners World Live Show. Katherine’s design, which centred around dementia and nature was inspired by her mother’s positive reaction to a vase of sweet peas.  This got Katherine thinking;  how could plants support people living with dementia by stimulating their senses and memories? Continue reading


The nature of sleep


In the 2017 State of Caring survey 7 in 10 unpaid carers said they found it difficult to get a good night’s sleep as a result of caring. 

Everyone occasionally has a bad night’s sleep, it becomes a real health issue however when lack of proper sleep occurs on a regular basis. It can lead to issues such as poor concentration, depression and high blood pressure.

What are the causes of poor sleep?

We all know that anxious thoughts can keep you awake. Depression and mood changes Continue reading