Front Psychiatry. 2019 ;10:256. Epub 2019 Apr 24. PMID: 31105604
Harnessing the Four Elements for Mental Health.
Humans are intimately connected to nature, and our physical and mental health is influenced strongly by our environment. The"elements,"classically described in humoral theory as Fire, Water, Earth, and Air, all may impact our mental health. In a contemporary sense, these elements reflect a range of modifiable factors: UV light or heat therapy (Fire); sauna, hydrotherapy, and balneotherapy (Water); nature-based exposure therapy and horticulture (Earth); oxygen-rich/clean air exposure; and breathing techniques (Air). This theoretical scoping review paper details the emerging evidence for a range of these elements, covering epidemiological and interventional data, and provides information on how we can engage in"biophilic"activities to harness their potential benefits. Interventional examples with emerging evidentiary support include"forest-bathing,"heat therapy, sauna, light therapy,"greenspace"and"bluespace"exercise, horticulture, clay art therapy activities, and pranayamic yoga breathing exercises. Further robust research is however required to firmly validate many of these interventions, and to establish their therapeutic applications for the benefit of specific mental health disorders.