The Magical Healing Properties of Trees

The Magical Healing Properties of Trees

Ever wonder why going on a walk in nature surrounded by luscious greenery feels so good? 

 

Sure, it may be the fresh crisp air that fills our lungs and offers a release to polluted air that invades our living spaces from big cities to small towns all around the world. 

 

But why do we feel that way? Is there more to it than meets the senses?

 

New scientific research is starting to emerge backing the restorative and healing benefits of being in nature. 

 

In Japan, a walk in the forest is commonly prescribed as preventative health care. “Shinrinyoku” as it is referred to in Japanese literally translates as “forest bathing” or “taking in the atmosphere of the forest.” This practice promotes walking and spending time in the forest as a way to improve overall health and has been embraced as a nature therapy in other cultures as well. It is said to have numerous physiological (1) and psychological (2) benefits.

 

A forest’s capacity to exhibit healing properties comes from the evergreen trees ability to release phytoncides(3), or naturally produced allelochemic substances, that act like pheromones.  Pheromones present as external hormones capable of impacting the behaviour of individuals on the receiving end. In nature, these chemicals repel insects and slow the growth of bacteria and fungi. However, human exposure to phytoncides are scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, relieve stress, and boost anti-cancer white blood cell count. These phytoncides are commonly found in potent aromatic plants like garlic, onion, oak, pine, and tea tree. 

 

Benefits:

 

 

Reduces Stress

 

Forest bathing seems to be beneficial as it reduces, stress, the root cause of a variety of physical ailments including but not limited to: high blood pressure, headaches, diabetes, asthma, and arthritis. This is because the practice of forest bathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system which prompts rest and energy conservation. It also reduces cortisol levels (4) and other stress hormones associated with anxiety, heart disease, weight gain and memory impairment. 

 

A study found that forest walks (5) compared to urban walks showed a 12.4% decrease in cortisol, a 7% decrease in sympathetic nerve activity, and a 1.4% decrease in blood pressure.

 

Boosts immune system

 

Stress compromises the immune system by supressing the naturally produced antiviral killer (NK) cells in the body. However, since forest bathing reduces stress hormone levels it consequently impacts the immune system in a positive manner by increasing the natural killer cell (6) count and expresses anti-cancer proteins. 

 

Improves overall sense of well being

 

            Being in nature provides increased awareness and grounding qualities that can lead to a state of relaxation. This has proven to be most helpful for those suffering from anxiety or depression (7) .  “Forest bathing” can also increase concentration, creativity, liveliness, and vigour. 

 

 

 

How to: 

 

 

  • Get to your nearest forest or park
  • Turn off your phone
  • Wander at a slow pace, without direction for around 2 hours (but don’t get lost)
  • Stop and take in the atmosphere and aromas of the forest
  • Touch the trees, streams and soil
  • Allow for silence
  • Be present
  • ***Watch out for poisonous plants, berries, and herbs

 

 

Maybe even try taking off your shoes and walking barefoot. This process is known as “earthing” (8)and is said to transmit earth’s electrons to the body. It is said to improve numerous ailments such as sleep disturbances, hypertension, chronic muscle and joint pain, and fasting glucose levels among people with diabetes. 

 

 

Shinrinyoku is open- ended, one should not expect an experience or benefits but rather a deeper connection with mother earth on the basis of reciprocity and oneness as it

bridges the gap between humans and the natural world. Time in nature is essential in maintaining balance in both body and mind and will help you thrive even when in an urban setting. So, the next time you are not feeling well or simply need a new perspective try basking in the forest and feel the healing properties of the earth. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

 

(1)   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2793346/

(2)   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5580555/

(3)   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2793341/

(4)   https://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/forest-bathing-can-significantly-influence-cortisol-levels-short-term-such-way

(5)   https://www.natureandforesttherapy.org/about/science

(6)   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17903349

(7)   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5369157/

(8)   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/

 Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Facebook Comments
No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.