by John Hughes
Many scientific studies have proven the great benefits of ancient “forest bathing” therapy in Japan for the human health. Those benefits include strengthening our resistance, preventing cancer, etc. Therefore, they came to a conclusion that forest bathing could help us find peace in our soul. Everyone is aware of the healing power of nature, but this is the first time that the great benefits of forest bathing have been recognized by scientists. This article will help you understand more about forest bathing and its incredible benefits.
What Is Forest Bathing?
Forest bathing is literally “Shinrin-yoku”, a phrase created by the Japanese government in 1982 to encourage urban residents to immerse themselves in nature. Of course, you do not need to “jump into the bathtub”. Forest bathing means you blend yourself with the forest, slow down and enjoy the nature’s wonderful beauty.
In association with forest bathing, oriental therapies such as yoga, meditation, and tai chi have become very popular throughout the world for recent decades. Although the practice of these methods is different, they have the same goal of helping us to practice mindfulness. As a result, we can relax and reach for peace of mind.
Here are the steps to practice this therapy:
- Look at plants carefully. Pay attention to their colour and shape.
- Listen to the wind, the birds singing, and the rustling.
- Feel the ground under your feet, the strength of the trunk and the softness of the leaves.
- Breathe fresh air and plants’ smell.
- Taste the pine needles’ leaves or the leaves of another plant that you know.
Some research results have concluded that Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing can bring positive effects on mood and health. In Japan, Shinrin-yoku plays an important role as a preventative measure and curative treatment. It is gradually becoming a new form of “yoga” in Western countries. In the US, guided Shinrin-yoku tours are becoming more popular. Of course, you can still practice Shinrin-yoku yourself. Natural therapy is a gift. Respect nature and you will be bestowed a good health.
Top 4 Incredible Benefits Of Forest Bathing – Reasons to Practice It
- Relieve Stress
This may be the most appreciated benefit of forest bathing. Basically, stress is an emotional state caused by mental instability. When you are stressed, your body reacts as if you were in danger by releasing hormones that provide powerful energy to your muscles and increase your heart rate, making you breathe faster. Forest bathing is a very effective remedy for relieving stress. It helps lower blood pressure, anxiety and stress hormones, which have a positive effect on our mood.
When we feel relaxed, our body will activate the sympathetic nervous system. Then, we will “turn off” parts of the brain that involve functions such as organization, planning, and problem-solving, and “turn on” the brain parts related to happiness and sympathy. It is wonderful that we can touch the nature’s healing power.
Throughout evolutionary history, humans spent 99% of their time in natural environments. Today, people in big cities around the world spend very little time in nature. Living in the city, we are highly isolated from nature. Thus, more than ever, we need to bring nature to the city and bring us to nature. Being in nature will help us connect with the healing power of nature so that “microbiome” (microorganisms living in the human body) can breathe oxygen-rich air and maintain a good health.
- Prevent Cancer
Speaking of benefits of forest bathing, an incredible benefit is preventing cancer. In essence, cancer is a diseased group of cells. It causes thousands of deaths each year.
Researchers are constantly researching and experimenting to find ways to prevent and treat it. From 2004 to 2012, Japan spent about $ 4 million to study the physiological and psychological effects of “forest bathing” therapy on human health.
Qing Li, a professor at the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, measured the activity of natural killer cells in the immune system before and after exposure to the forest. Natural killer cells are a type of lymphocyte. They perform important tasks in the immune system: detecting and destroying tumour cells, bacteria, and viruses before they spawn and spread. Thus, they protect the body from chronic diseases, degeneration, and tumours. The results showed that thanks to the effects of forest bathing, natural killer cells responded more rapidly to infected cells and tumour formation. This helps the body prevent cancer.
Another study from 2009 by Qing also confirmed that the activity of natural killer cells increases significantly if people maintain forest bathing therapy for about a month.
- Boost The Immune System
Now you have more reasons to immerse yourself in a forest. It gives a boost to your immunity. The immune system is an overall system of cells, tissues and organs. Its function is to protect the body and prevent the attack of bacteria and viruses. A healthy immune system will maintain a healthy body. Forest bathing is one of the most effective therapies to naturally boost the immune system.
According to scientists, many essential oils, commonly called phytoncides, are found in wood, plants, some fruits and vegetables. Plants emit phytoncides to protect themselves from germs and insects. These essential oils will bring great benefits to our immune system.
Fresh air in the forest and the phytoncides inhaled by humans when they come in contact with the plant will significantly improve functions of the immune system.
- Lower Blood Pressure And Stabilize Heart Rate
Among benefits of forest bathing, this may be the least known. Blood pressure is the pressure produced by the circulation of blood in blood vessels. It is one of the main signs that the body is alive. Heart rate is the number of times the heart beats for a minute. To stay healthy, you need to take measures to stabilize your blood pressure and heart rate.
In 2010, researchers from the Center for Environment, Health and Field Science of Chiba University of Japan conducted a number of experiments to measure the physiological effects of forest bathing. They measured the levels of cortisol, blood pressure, and heart rate when one person was in the city and when he was in the forest for 30 minutes. Finally, they came to the conclusion that the forest environment made the cortisol levels, blood pressure and heart rate drop significantly.
There you have discovered 4 incredible benefits of forest bathing. Health professionals and psychologists always encourage people to apply this therapy to improve the quality of life. So do not hesitate, try it today.
About the author:
John Hughes is a Health and Beauty expert who has more than 5 years of experience in Health Care industry. For more health care tips on healthy living, visit him at the website TrueRemedies.com. There, you will find posts on natural treatments, recipes, healthy foods, and so much more.