Many people escape to the forest to be saturated in its quiet and clean fresh air, however, little to people realize the profound effects it has on the health of their bodies.
It’s called forest bathing.
“When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and honey locusts,
equally the beeches, the oaks, and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily…”
— Mary Oliver
You feel relaxed when leisurely strolling through the big trees and greenery and the pristine visuals, yet it is not just the sights that play a role in your relaxation, it’s the aromatherapy, the volatile substances you are inhaling.
These substances as are called, phytoncides and terpenes are the main components. When the terpene molecules are inhaled or absorbed through the skin, they travel in the bloodstream and to the brain to bring on relaxation and stimulate and support the immune system.
This is what I love: trees, pines & conifers, and the surrounding greens release their phytoncides into the air to suppress surrounding bacterial and fungi microorganisms, to protect themselves yet, it is also supporting humans. We are all working together, we are intertwined, so lean in!
And there is research
Ongoing research demonstrates that phytoncides:
1. increase natural killer immune cell levels (part of the white blood cell fighting team)
2. aid in relaxing our parasympathetic nervous system, thus reducing stress hormones and allowing us to feel less fatigued
3. may have anti-inflammatory effects
How long are the effects? Research indicates the effects on the immune system are up to 7 days thus a weekly escape to the woods, is healthy smart. However, if you miss a week or two, and you are in a moment of stress or even feeling a cold coming on, take a deep breath and visualize yourself there: see the trees, feel the air and smell the aromas, it just may help.
Make forest bathing a part of your weekly routine. Perhaps, on a Saturday morning? A walk in the woods followed by a trip to the local farmers market? It doesn’t have to be long, yet getting into a routine of doing and being, is key to feeling strong & healthy in your everyday life.
Effects of Forest Bathing on the Immune System.
Terpenes from Forests and Human Health