Alternatives A-Z – Part 6

Donna Easto, Traditional Herbalist,
Certified Herbal Educator


“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

Trees really do have healing powers, they release antimicrobial essential oils that not only protect the trees, but protect us as well. As children we instinctively understood that being in a forest, or in the company of a stately Red Cedar or a *solitary Oak made us feel better, healthier, more peaceful and somehow at one with the world. Tree medicine is not new, evolutionary biologist Edward Wilson maintained that people evolved to love all forms of life and the web of interconnectedness evident everywhere in nature. 

In 1982, the Japanese government urged its citizens to make use of the country’s woodlands for therapy, a concept known as shinrin yoku or forest bathing. Research into the medicine of trees blossomed after forest therapy began in Japan. A study done by Dr. Qing Li1 in 2005 took 12 healthy middle-age men from on a three day on a “forest-bathing trip.” The participants’ reported feeling better, sleeping longer, and enjoyed these and other positive effects for weeks. Being with trees had significant advantages. When Dr. Li measured the men’s heart rate, blood pressure, adrenaline and cortisol levels before, during and after the trip the results were encouraging.  Forest bathing had reduced stress hormone production, lowered blood pressure and heart rate, suppressed the sympathetic “fight or flight” system, and enhanced the parasympathetic “rest and recover” system. Interested in Forest bathing? Check out the Wildcraft Forest in Lumby

Zone Therapy

Zone therapy divides the body into ten zones—five on each side of the sagittal plane. 2The hands, arms, feet and legs were also divided into five zones each. From 1915 into the early thirties the subject of zone therapy was controversial but met with a certain amount of success from doctors and dentists as a form of pain relief or analgesia.

Dr. Joe Shelby Riley further developed zone therapy by adding eight horizontal divisions to the zones of the feet and hands. This was the beginning of reflexology as it is known today—that is, reflexes found on the feet and hands that follow the anatomy of the body.

 Eunice D. Ingham, who worked with Dr. Riley in the 1930s, continued to refine and improve his work. From her first book, Stories the Feet Can Tell (1938) she was encouraged to take her methods to the public and non-medical community. Ms. Ingram’s major contribution to working with reflexes was to prove that alternating pressure, rather than having a numbing effect, stimulated healing. She lectured and traveled back and forth across the United States for forty years, and is largely credited with developing Foot Reflexology as taught today in most massage schools.

*Each oak leaf absorbs CO2 and releases Oxygen. 240 pounds of Oxygen are released each year from one oak tree, enough for a family of four people. Carbon is retained in the tree structure as it grows, making oak a Carbon neutral crop. Oak roots bind soil together, preventing erosion and desertification. They draw water through the soil, keeping it moist and bound together, providing ideal conditions for other plants. A mature oak can draw 50 gallons of water each day, helping sustain the local water cycle.

  • 1Li, Qing, Penguin 2018. “Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness
  • 2The sagittal or longitudinal plane, is an anatomical plane which divides the body into right and left parts

I have been neglecting some personal writing projects of late, so this will be my last article for a while. If you’d like to get in touch with me, my email is  Have a healthy and safe summer!

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