After about 20 years of fighting against the stereotypes of prejudice and discrediting attempts from wood and chemical industries, Dr. Thoma succeeded - as he says - in accomplishing technically everything. However, throughout the 20 years, he failed to scientifically explain and prove the positive impacts of wood on the wellbeing of people. As he says: “Intuition doesn’t lie, and the human body doesn’t lie either. Why, then, do I feel so great in the old, wooden house, whereas in a modern building my eyes tear up and my throat becomes scratchy?”. There must be a way to prove the positive impact of wood on people by using academic and scientific methods.
He tried with doctors and with medicine-related professionals, but he didn't get anywhere. A few years ago, he was invited to a wood industry symposium. Many scientists and well-known people participated in the symposium. Dr. Thoma noticed one strange, older man, with Einstein-like hair. It turned out to be Professor Max Moser, who was the department chair at the medical university in Graz. At a meal, Dr. Thoma jokingly asked him what he was doing at such a symposium full of tree huggers. The professor replied that he had participated in the AUSTROMIR program a few years earlier and together with his team, had created the medical research equipment for the Mir international space station. Max Moser is one of the most renowned scientists in Austria, and he was selected for the space program. “But what does this have to do with wood?”, asked Dr. Thoma.
The task of the professor, when it came to the space station, was to study all semiochemical substances that would affect the health or wellbeing of the cosmonauts. The space station has a closed air circuit and ventilation is impossible; hence, the effect of semiochemistry on humans is particularly strong. Semiochemical substances are chemical compounds, such as pheromones, produced by animals and plants that are used to carry information and exert a certain determined influence on the environment. However, the fumes of certain substances and plastics also affect humans. For this purpose, the professor developed a unique apparatus that can measure the effect of secreted substances on the autonomic nervous system of people. Dr. Thoma dropped his spoon from his hand and cried out, “professor, I have been looking for you for 20 years! If you can measure such impacts on humans, we must carry out a joint research project”. The professor replied that if he managed to fund such a project it wouldn’t be a problem, but - for a project like this - a six-digit sum might not be enough. Dr. Thoma had a lot of experience in organizing funding for research projects, and after a year he had a confirmation of the seven-digit sum for the research sitting on his table. Therefore, a large-scale research project was organized, and its results left no doubt whatsoever.
Two identical rooms were built for the project. One was constructed of solid wood, while the other was constructed of laminated particle boards. The result of the experiment was somewhat of a surprise. It turned out that 10 minutes after a man walked from the laminated particleboard to the solid wood room, his biological functions would completely change. His heart would relax, stabilize and slow down. The semiochemical substances released by the wood immediately informed the body that it could feel safe and was out of danger.
Ninety percent of Western Europeans die from three main causes: cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia or Alzheimer's disease. These three risks are exactly the ones minimized by wood. During sleep, the heart rate slows down so that a person saves 1 hour of heartbeat overnight or 3000 strokes. As the number of heartbeats in one’s lifetime is limited to about 2 billion, one can say that in a wooden room people live 1 hour longer per day, and the sleep is deeper and more regenerating. People who suffer from sleep problems all the time, suddenly fall asleep easily in a wooden room. A walk in the forest has a similar effect on people.
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