Can exposure to forests and greenery reduce stress and strengthen Immunity?
“Shinrin-yoku” or Forest Bathing” has become an increasingly popular way for people in Japan to relax and get healthy. Shrnrin-yoko is basically a relaxed stroll through the forest and it is thought of as natural aromatherapy.
Since 2004, researchers in Japan have been studying physiological effects of forest bathing known as the “Therapeutic Effects of Forests” project. What they have found is that individuals who spend 2-3 hours visiting a forested area are able to reduce their cortisol levels, blood pressure and pulse.
Similar studies have shown that a three day forest bathing trip can spike anti-cancer proteins called natural killer cells (NK cells), as well as increase white blood cells; an effect that lasted at least 7 days after the excursion.
What Causes the Effect?
Scientists report that the interaction with the natural environment has a positive effect. For example, exposure to the natural light, the scenery, the aroma of the earth and trees, and the sounds of wind and running water can cause a measureable physiological response in the central nervous system and the autonomic nervous system, which in turn reduces stress and has a calming effect on the senses.
Along with the fresh air and the colorful sights, it’s fun to turn my family and friends on to touching nature. When’s the last time you touched a tree or stuck your nose in a flower? If you haven’t done this lately, we highly recommend that you do. This is the original aromatherapy, the kind that you can’t find in a bottle!