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Some of the science of Forest Bathing

"Between every two Pines is a doorway to a new world" -   John Muir


We are increasingly becoming an indoor species, with the average person in most countries spending between 90 - 93% of their time indoors, of which 6% is spent in cars. That means only one half of a day spent outdoors in one week. Most of that time is spent looking at screens and the more time we spend with technology, the more likely we are to suffer because of it. 

The term "Technostress" refers to unhealthy behaviours which develop as a result of everyday use of technology, which can include symptoms ranging from anxiety, headaches, depression, mental fatigue, and eye and neck strain, to insomnia, frustration, irritability, and lack of control of one’s temper.

The World Health Organisation calls stress the health epidemic of the 21st century. Finding ways to manage stress - not just for our own health but for the health of our communities - is the most significant health challenge for the future.

The good news is that even a small amount of time in nature can have an impact on our health.


A two-hour forest bath will help you to unplug from technology and slow down. It will place you mindfully into your present moment, de-stress, and relax you. When you connect with nature through all five of your senses through a guided forest bath, you begin to draw on the vast array of benefits the natural world can provide you with. This has been scientifically proven and there is a wealth of data that proves that shinrin-yoku can:

  • reduce blood pressure

  • lower stress

  • improve cardiovascular health

  • lower blood-sugar levels

  • improve concentration and memory

  • lift depression

  • improve pain thresholds

  • increase energy levels

  • boost the immune system, with an increase in the count of the body's natural killer cells

  • increase anti-carcinogenic protein production

  • help assist weight loss


Based on the results of the scientific forest medicine studies in Japan, there are now 62 forest therapy bases and around 500 000 people that are practising forest bathing every year.


Forest bathing has been shown to improve sleep - this is because the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline are lowered, which enhances the rest and recovery system. Test scores have shown that, while walking anywhere can improve well-being, only walking in forest environments have such an extreme positive effect on the body. Plus, the effects last considerably longer.

It has been scientifically determined that forest bathing improves sleep and mood, making you less aggressive and hostile. It lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, improves your cardiovascular and metabolic health and, very importantly, boosts your immune system.

It is well known that the immune system plays a vital role in building our defences against bacteria, viruses and tumours. It is also universally recognised that stress inhibits the immune function. One of the ways that the health of the immune system is tested is by looking at the activity of the natural killer (NK) cells. 

Natural killer cells are a type of white blood cell and are so called because they are able to attack and kill unwanted cells; for example, those infected by a virus or tumour cells. They do this with the help of anti-cancer proteins. These protein cells drill holes in cell membranes, causing the target cells to die. People with higher NK activity show a lower incidence of disease and cancer. In the first forest bathing studies, NK cell activity went up by 53.2%. It was further determined that a forest bathing trip once a month is enough to maintain high levels of natural killer cell activity. 

Studies showed that our five senses play a critical role in forest-bathing's healing effects - all the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the forest have a powerful impact on our well-being. Trees are, of course, oxygen producers so forests naturally have a higher concentration of oxygen, but it has also been found that the air in the forest is full of phytoncides. Phytoncides are the natural oils within a plant and are part of a tree’s defence system. Trees release phytoncides to protect them from insects, bacteria and fungi. Phytoncides are also a communication pathway between trees: the way trees talk to each other. The concentration of phytoncides depends on temperature and other changes that take place throughout the year.

Results of testing showed that exposure to these phytoncides:

  • Significantly increased the number of NK cells and NK activity in humans

  • Enhanced the activity of anti-cancer proteins

  • Significantly decreased the levels of stress hormones

  • Increased hours of sleep

  • Decreased tension, anxiety, anger, hostility, fatigue and confusion


  • Stimulate pleasant moods

  • Significantly lower blood pressure and heart rate

  • Increase heart-rate variability

  • Suppress sympathetic nervous activity and increase parasympathetic nervous activity, bringing your nervous system into balance and making you feel comfortable and relaxed.


Once you've discovered the healing power of trees, you can lose yourself in the beauty of your surroundings, leave everyday stress behind, and reach a state of greater calm and wellness.

We all know how good being in nature can make us feel. We have known it for millennia. The sounds of the forest, the scent of the trees, the sunlight playing through the leaves, the fresh, clean air - these things give us a sense of comfort. They ease our stress and worry, help us to relax, and create clarity of mind. Being in nature restores our mood, gives us back our energy and vitality, and rejuvenates us. We know this; it is like an intuition, a feeling that offers us a profound sense of the beauty and mystery of the universe. 

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