Forest Bathing or Shinrin-Yoku
Dr. David Vojtisek, ND
The fact that spending time “out in the sticks” has a calming and relaxing effect is something most of us have either experienced for ourselves or at least heard mentioned. It has, however, now been put to the test in many scientific studies, many of them in Japan.
The practice of forest bathing (really just spending quiet time in a forest) has been proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, improve overall feelings of well-being and improve symptoms in children with attention disorders.
Studies have shown significant increases in NK cell activity (Natural Killer cells are part of the immune system and provide rapid response to virus-infected cells and respond to any attempt at tumor formation and are associated with immune system health and cancer prevention) lasting for up to a week after each forest visit.
Forest bathing also significantly lowers cortisol levels, this is one of the main stress hormones in the body and when at excessively high levels, interferes with a balanced immune response.
With many of us spending more time at home perhaps this is a good opportunity to give this practice a go, 30-45 minutes is optimal and incidentally, in an urban environment, a city park offers many of the same benefits, the more trees and the larger the variety of tree species, the greater the benefit. When you decide to go out for your “forest bath”, of course, do so safely!!