nature is medicine: the science

I’m a big proponent of nature as a prescription — for mood, for stress, for immune resilience. It’s one of the core principles of both my practice and my profession.

(Here’s the the podcast I did about Vitamin N with my colleague Dr. Kierstin DeWitt of ND Inspo.)

Below is a big list of resources supporting this prescription, which I will continue to update.

Start here:

Nature is medicine


Gardening as connection

Looking at Nature counts

More ideas about getting your nature fix during quarantine

Great books

Physician resources

eat your flowers! here are my 5 favorites

My med-school bestie is starting her first(ish) garden this year. She’s mostly growing veggies in pots, mostly on the porch of her Seattle apartment. She’s found gardening to be a positive thing in her current pandemic reality, soothing and exciting and rewarding.

We’ve been talking about plants a lot, and as you might expect, I am overwhelming her with ideas.

During our call last night, we talked about flower power: specifically, which are edible and delicious and easy to grow. I promised her a short list, which I’m sharing now with you.

1. Roses:

My front-yard roses always look ragged because I take a nibble whenever I walk past. Some varieties are tastier than others, but the best can taste much like they smell. Rose petals give a great mood boost, with a fair bit of astringency to tighten and tone tissues. Just make sure you eat only unsprayed roses; those you’ve grown yourself are best. Preserve your harvest with rose petal honey, one of my favorite rites of spring. (Catch the video here.) 

2. Daylilies :

These are super hardy perennial plants with prolific, if short-lived blooms. They don’t have a ton of flavor in my experience, but they’re great for a solid, floral texture. You can eat these raw, but they hold up to cooking. Pick flowers or buds and add to soups for a spot of color and joy. If you plant them, they will spread — so you can share bulbs with your neighbors and lift up your neighborhood. (Pictured above.)

3. Calendula:

It’s hard to imagine any herbalist would leave Calendula off a top-plants list. This sunny plant is incredibly easy to grow, self seeds prolifically (but is easy to remove if, for some reason, you want to), shines in the garden for much of the year and offers great medicine for acute and chronic conditions. Its mild flavor makes for easy garnish on salads, or a sunny wintertime tea. Medicinally it’s used to heal wounds externally and internally, and helps keep the lymphatic system moving as it’s supposed to. (That’s important for immunity!) 

4. Lavender:

If you’ve been watching my (mostly) daily plant walks on Facebook and Instagram live, you know that lavender is my plant of the year for 2020. Look for an in-depth post about why coming soon. The short version: Lavender leaves and flowers are mood elevating, calm inducing, digestion enhancing and overall microbe busting. A perfect plant for these times. 

5. Nasturtiums:

Unlike many edible flowers with unremarkable flavors, Nasturtiums carry considerable kick. All part of the plant are significantly peppery. Add flowers to spice up salads or garnish other dishes. Toss in some leaves where you’d otherwise add mustard greens — a close cousin. Pickle the green seeds (shaped like little brains) for a homemade alternative to capers. The flowers and leaves are high in Vitamin C and offer antimicrobial benefits as well.

 Honorable mention: Violets were my 2019 plant of the year, and they deserve a spot on these kinds of lists. The only reason I’m leaving them off the list is that they’re mostly done flowering for the year. Note that there are many kinds of Viola going by different names: pansies and Johnny Jump Ups are different species of the same plant.
If you’re able to get outside this weekend (or better still, get into a garden), I hope you’ll look at the flowers around you with slightly different eyes. Remember, it’s not cool to take other folks’ plants without permission. But if you’ve got a pot or a plot with some flowers in it, consider whether they’d make an edible addition to your weekend meal plans.
This is just a quick list, and is by no means an exhaustive one. Did I miss your favorites? Shoot me an email and let me know.
—Dr. Orna
P.S. I’m still doing my online plant walks most weekdays. I generally go out on Facebook at 3pm PDT and jump over to Instagram at 3:30pm. This changes sometimes based on my patient schedule, and I note the times on both platforms each morning. The walks are recorded if you can’t make it live, but it’s more fun if you join!
P.P.S. If you’d like to talk about how plants and I can help you with your personal health questions, just drop me a line. If you’re in Oregon, click here to book your appointment.

nature is medicine. science says.

I’m a big proponent of Nature as a therapeutic agent. It’s right there in my job title.

As much as I love nature — and prescribing it as Vitamin N — this isn’t just an emotional thing or a spiritual belief. The power of Nature exposure to heal humans physically, mentally and emotionally is a well described scientific phenomenon.

I recently talked with my colleague Dr. Kierstin DeWitt about Vitamin N on her podcast. The discussion is geared toward other medical professionals, but I believe it’s accessible enough that everyone can get the gist of it.

Want to learn more about the ways Nature heals — and how to dose up during lockdown? Click here or on the image below to get my free guide.

5 ways nature heals — and how to dose up during lockdown | dr. orna izakson


—Dr. Orna

P.S. Did you find the interview too technical — or just too long? Check out this one on my Instagram TV channel. Please give it a like, share with interested friends and consider following me there. All of those things help get the information to more people!

P.P.S. Want to dig deeper into this topic? Here’s a great roundup of the science from Environmental Health Perspectives. For more links, click here.