The Japanese practice of forst bathing is scientifically proven to be good for you. Until now we did not know just how good. Northern Minnesota is still in pristine condition with 100's of native tree species including Balsam fir. Black spruce. Eastern hemlock. Eastern red cedar (juniper) Eastern white pine. Jack pine.
Northern white cedar. Red pine (Norway pine) and many more. We know trees help humans and other living things in many ways.
Among them, they:
- remove carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) and other pollutants from the air
- produce oxygen
- provide food and shelter for wildlife
- provide wood products
- add beauty to the landscape
- provide a pleasant environment for recreation
- help reduce residential energy consumption by shading homes in summer and sheltering them from wind in winter
- help protect streams and lakes by reducing runoff
- reduce noise pollution by absorbing sound
From 2004 to 2012, Japanese officials spent about $4 million dollars studying the physiological and psychological effects of forest bathing, designating 48 therapy trails based on the results. Qing Li, a professor at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, measured the activity of human natural killer (NK) cells in the immune system before and after exposure to the woods. These cells provide rapid responses to viral-infected cells and respond to tumor formation, and are associated with immune system health and cancer prevention. In a 2009 study Li’s subjects showed significant increases in NK cell activity in the week after a forest visit, and positive effects lasted a month following each weekend in the woods.
This is due to various essential oils, generally called phytoncide, found in wood, plants, and some fruit and vegetables, which trees emit to protect themselves from germs and insects. Forest air doesn’t just feel fresher and better—inhaling phytoncide seems to actually improve immune system function.
Experiments on forest bathing conducted by the Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences in Japan’s Chiba University measured its physiological effects on 280 subjects in their early 20s. The team measured the subjects’ salivary cortisol (which increases with stress), blood pressure, pulse rate,
and heart rate variability during a day in the city and compared those to the same biometrics taken during a day with a 30-minute forest visit. “Forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments,” the study concluded.
In other words, being in nature made subjects, physiologically, less amped. The parasympathetic nerve system controls the body’s rest-and-digest system while the sympathetic nerve system governs fight-or-flight responses. Subjects were more rested and less inclined to stress after a forest bath.
Trees soothe the spirit too. A study on forest bathing’s psychological effects surveyed 498 healthy volunteers, twice i
n a forest and twice in control environments. The subjects showed significantly reduced hostility and depression scores, coupled with increased liveliness, after exposure to trees. “Accordingly,” the researchers wrote, “forest environments can be viewed as therapeutic landscapes.”
City dwellers can benefit from the effects of trees with just a visit to the park. Brief exposure to greenery in urban environments can relieve stress levels, and experts have recommended “doses of nature” as part of treatment of attention disorders in children. What all of this evidence suggests is we don’t seem to need a lot of exposure to gain from nature—but regular contact appears to improve our immune system function and our wellbeing.
Read the entire article here:https://qz.com/804022/health-benefits-japanese-forest-bathing/