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December 17, 2019

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Nature-assisted Therapy and Brain Development

Dr. Lorraine Freedle Travels to Taiwan

Pacific Quest’s Clinical Director, Dr. Lorraine Freedle was recently invited to speak for the Taiwanese Society of Wilderness in Taipei.  Dr. Chun-lin Cheng, a Psychiatrist, Jungian Analyst and officer of the Taiwanese Society of Wilderness (SOW) learned that Dr. Freedle was visiting Taiwan to teach sandplay therapy workshops and thought it would be an ideal opportunity to collaborate.  

Dr. Lorraine Freedle in Taipei

Dr. Cheng is the Medical Director of the Psychiatric Unit of the Far Eastern Hospital in Taipei.  Dr. Freedle had the privilege of touring the hospital and seeing first hand the incredible gardens of their Horticultural Therapy program, where patients have the opportunity to spend time in the garden in the large courtyard.

The main goal of the SOW is to connect people with nature for preservation. Dr. Freedle’s lecture, entitled, “Nature-assisted Therapy and Brain Development” emphasized how to use a growth-focused approach, environmental design, and nature-based activities to target brain development and assist young people to connect more meaningfully to themselves, others and the natural world.   

The audience was made up of  Horticultural Therapists, mental health professionals, and conservationists.  Dr. Lorraine took them on a “virtual visit” to Pacific Quest, where they learned about our program and how students acquire coping skills to manage stress.  Dr. Freedle notes, “We had a great response! People were very excited to learn more about Pacific Quest and nature-assisted therapy. The group had a lot of questions and were very interested in our new property and how we utilize our gardens therapeutically.”

Dr. Freedle with the Society of Wilderness in Taiwan

The SOW motto is ‘Wilderness is where life begins’ and it was evident the efforts being made to connect people with nature and the importance of utilizing nature in the healing process.  Dr. Freedle continues, “It was an amazing experience to be an international ambassador and to collaborate with a group that shares our values in connecting kids to the environment. All of our lives depend on protecting and sustaining our environment, and fostering that connection locally and globally.” 

October 13, 2009

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Healthy diet may decrease depression risk

Spanish scientists revealed research findings today that suggest a healthy diet lowers risk of suffering from depression.  The research results are aligned with a trend in recent years, associating nutrition with improved mental health.

New York Times article “Nutrition: Lower Depression Risk Linked to Mediterranean Diet” highlights aspects of the Mediterranean diet that are play a role in staving off depression.  Included in the list of essential components of the diet are “fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, olive oil and fish.” Scientists emphasize the role that healthy fats play in neurotransmitter funtioning, noting that the membranes of neurons are essentially fat, and thus depend directly on a diet with a high ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fats.

As with all research results, looking at methods with a critical eye is important.  This particular study does not prove a correllation per se, but rather an association between nutrition and lower risk of depression.  It is virtually impossible to create an empirical study that eliminates outside variables.  With this in mind, this study provides yet another association between nutrition and well being, consistent with research being done gloabally.

This article drew my attention for several reasons.  First and foremost, nutrition is a cornerstone at Pacific Quest.  We recognize the importance that diet plays in well being, as we have observed this first hand (with the students and ourselves!).  Secondly, the aspects of the Mediterranean diet noted in the research results is remarkably similar to the diet our naturopath created for PQ students.  In fact, PQ students rely on fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, and fish as a major part of their diet.  They eat olive oil too, however, coconut oil is the primary source of oil – and it is local too!