Wash Your Hands with Mud...Jun 22, 2021
Wash Your Hands with Mud AFTER Washing Them With Soap
Forest bathing or 'shinrin-yoku' was first developed in Japan in the 1980s, following scientific studies conducted by the government. The results showed that two hours of mindful exploration in a forest could reduce blood pressure and lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
But there is now new evidence that the healing properties of nature are not only metaphysical.
Skin disorders have been linked to an imbalance of skin microbiota; millions of microscopic "good" bacteria helping to keep the skin healthy. But in our modern world we live in sanitary bubbles often never coming into contact with these beneficial bacteria, even washing the few left off with soap! You can even buy moisturisers now containing live cultures, but improving the microbiome of your skin is far cheaper and easier than that.
Working alongside scientists from the Natural Resources Institute of Finland, a daycare centre added "forest undergrowth, lawn turf and planter boxes, in which children planted and tended crops... to paved, tiled and gravel-coated yard areas".
They found that "contact with nature repeated five times a week during one month increased microbial diversity in children’s skin... Increases in gammaproteobacteria, which strengthen the skin’s immune defense, increased the content of the multifunctional TGF-β1-cytokine in blood, and reduced the content of interleukin-17A, which is connected to immune-transmitted diseases."
“This supports the assumption that contact with nature prevents disorders in the immune system, such as autoimmune diseases and allergies”, Sinkkonen (research scientist who led the study) says.
“We also found that the intestinal microbiota of children who received greenery was similar to the intestinal microbiota of children visiting the forest every day,” says dissertation researcher Marja Roslund from the University of Helsinki.
in March 2019 Sinkkonen and the University of Helsinki conducted a much more rigorous study to prove these results. They were testing specifically the effect of short-term contact with the skin and it's improvement of the microbiome:
On volunteers they tested the contact of 16 different plant matters including moss, compost and soil, even putting plant matter in cloth bags before touching the skin to test the effectiveness of the bacteria. After touching the plant matter the volunteers washed their hands with water before the levels of bacteria were tested. They found that with daily exposure there was an increase in the total diversity of the microbiota.
They also suggest that to increase the beneficial bacterial diversity in your gut also is as simple as having a picnic, literally! Now more than ever we as a species need our gut health at an optimum level to fight Covid, but we are routinely sanitising our hands and homes, removing any good bacteria.
It has been found that children living on farms have far more active and healthy immune systems simply from the diversity of microbes found in the dust in their homes.
It sounds crazy but after washing your hands with soap, wash your hands with mud or plant matter. Grow your own organic veg, roll in the grass and go forest bathing as often as you can!
It stands to reason that eczema is becoming more and more prevalent in this day and age, not only because as Michelle says, conventional doctors strive to cure a disease rather than preventing it, but also because we are becoming so far removed from our ancestors.
Thousands of years ago we lived alongside nature everyday, sleeping on the ground, bathing in rivers. We ate a simple diet very similar to the one Michelle has suggested. And we weren't exposed to toxins or central heating.
I have had eczema for 20 years and am only just starting to understand it thanks to people like Michelle. I am also a gardener and definitely notice an improvement in my skin when I have been in the garden. This may also be due to the mindful nature of gardening but now I like to think that all the mud on my face is helping too! I started topical steroid withdrawal a month ago and I am hopeful that with all this in mind and Michelle's incredible knowledge it will not be long before I recover.
Now I'm off for some Forest Bathing.
University of Helsinki study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6436432/
An in depth look at the Paleo Diet: "The Paleo Way" by Pete Evans
An in depth look at human development and diet: "Catching Fire: How Cooking Made us Human": https://www.amazon.co.uk/Catching-Fire-Cooking-Made-Human/dp/184668286X