Article 122 : Forest Bathing


by Lyn Chimera

This is not about taking a bath in the forest although it sounds like fun. Forest Bathing refers to the relaxing effect you might experience from a nice long bath. The form of relaxation therapy began in Japan about 30 years ago. It is called shinrin-yoku. Shrinrin in Japanese. It means “forest” and “bath”. It has become part of preventative health care and healing in Japanese medicine. It has spread around the world. The U.S. has developed a Certified Forest Therapy Guide to help people understand the process. (See references below)

Forest bathing is different from taking walk in the woods. It is done for relaxation and its health benefits, not exercise, so anyone can do it regardless of fitness level. The idea is to be in a forest or other natural environment to connect with nature. People have always realized this is relaxing. Now there is science to prove it.

Studies in Japan and the US show that forest bathing improves immunity by strengthening and increasing NK cells. These cells target infections, viruses and cancer cells. Other benefits include the reduction of blood pressure, stress levels and pulse rate. This form of relaxation reduces dopamine and cortisol levels which in turn reduce stress leading to improved sleep.

One notices the difference in the air in a forest. So many trees carrying on photosynthesis reduces carbon dioxide and raises the level of oxygen. Organic compounds that support our immune systems (NK cells) are also given off. The cooler forest and the purified moist, cool air also contribute to the health benefits. There are clinics that charge people money to breathe in high oxygen moist air but forest bathing is FREE!

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Last updated October 16, 2019