Forest Bathing

When I am among the trees, especially the willows and the honey locust, equally the beech, the oaks and the pines, they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself, in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say, “and you too have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.”

-Mary Oliver

Have you ever noticed how good you feel after spending time in the forest surrounded by trees?

Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and  is a recognized relaxation and/or stress management activity in Japan.

There have been numerous studies on the positive effects and benefits of forest bathing and there is a really incredible aromatherapy connection.

This scientific study concluded that 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.

This is not a big surprise to any of us who spend time in nature.

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Another scientific study concluded that forest bathing actually boosts the immune system function….and aromatherapy plays a role. 

In this study, the scientist concluded that breathing in the tree essential oils that are present in the forest area can actually boost our immune system. These tree essential oils contain  antimicrobial volatile organic compounds known as phytoncides.

When we breath in phytoncides, like a-pinene and limonene, our bodies respond by increasing the number and activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells (NK). These cells kill tumor and virus-infected cells in our body.

In the above mentioned study, increased NK activity from a three day, two night forest bathing trip lasted for more than 30 days.

Forest Bathing at Home

While it’s not the same thing as physically being in a forest, we can create a forest bathing experience at home using some tree essential oils. I like to diffuse  organic coniferous tree oils that come from Canada when I do this.

Black spruce (Picea mariana), Balsam fir (Abies balsamea), and White pine (Pinus strobus linnaeus) are all botanical beauties. They are anti-microbial essential oils and the scent makes you feel uplifted and peaceful at the same time.

Try diffusing them separately or combine them together:

  • 2 drops black spruce
  • 2 drops white pine
  • 3 drops balsam fir

Do you have plans to spend some time forest bathing?

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