by Julio Gonzalez, M.D., J.D.
If you’re looking for a doctor to prescribe medical marijuana, you might find one in Florida. But if you want a doctor to prescribe a calming walk in the woods, or a visit to the beach to touch the sea and feel the cool salt water, then your government-run doc is in Scotland.
Yes, Scottish physicians have now been authorized to prescribe nature!
Of course, the benefits of “nature” on mental and physical health have long been known and espoused. Conditions such as hypertension, depression, pain control, and immune disorders have been found to benefit from outdoor explorations and attempts at relaxation.
So, how can you possibly prescribe nature? You can’t take it. You can’t swallow it. (Or probably shouldn’t.) You definitely can’t administer it rectally (or again, really shouldn’t!) So then: How can you prescribe it?
The fact is you can’t. You can only recommend that a patient undergo outdoor activities for all of its benefits. I suppose you can make recommendations for particular activities at certain locations and seasons, but requiring those recommendations in the form of a prescription, one that is in need of being authorized by government, goes to both the danger and the absurdity of bureaucrats running medical care.
So here’s the overarching question and the point that really struck me about this story: If you can’t take it home with you, if you can’t buy it, if you can’t possess it, then why would a health care provider need authorization to prescribe it? The concept defies credulity, doesn’t it?
Well that’s exactly what has happened in Scotland, another European country where one-payer and provider government healthcare has taken hold. The Health Board for Shetland, Scotland, just authorized its doctors to be able to prescribe nature.
One must wonder what preceded this that required government intervention in the form of authorization, and why it would be needed. Were doctors irresponsibly telling their patients to take a walk in the woods or enjoy a babbling brook or ocean waves? Were doctors actually not doing it because when government bureaucrats run the show, no one feels safe or motivated to do anything beyond what is required and covered in “the book.”
Sure, this is sort of funny. But it’s also an eye-opening object lesson.
If it doesn’t alarm you that a governmental organization would have such overwhelming control of your health care that it can decide when your doctor may or may not prescribe something as all pervasive as nature, then I don’t know what will.
I’m a practicing physician and I am sure of this: Whatever you do this November, fight for your healthcare. Don’t let your government take control of it. It just might decide that you need authorization just to access nature.
Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopaedic surgeon and lawyer living in Venice, Florida. He is the author of The Federalist Pages and cohost of Right Talk America With Julio and Rod. Dr. Gonzalez is presently serving in the Florida House of Representatives. He can be reached through www.thefederalistpages.com to arrange a lecture or book signing.