The Healing Power of Forest Bathing
When the forest is allowed its place within you, it supports your body’s natural capacity for wellness and healing.
Most of the guided forest bathing walks in Japan begin and end with measurements of blood pressure and salivary analysis, which are indicators of stress and relaxation. Each forest bather is given a card to write their pre- and post-walk results on. At the end of a walk you can see how your blood pressure and salivary analysis numbers have changed.
In fact, after just 15 minutes of forest bathing blood pressure drops, glucose levels in the blood decrease, stress levels are reduced, and concentration and mental clarity improve.
Every study has demonstrated reductions in stress, anger, anxiety, depression and sleeplessness amongst the participants.
The study concluded that forest bathing promotes:
- Lower concentration of cortisol (which is responsible for regulating stressful situations in our body)
- Lower pulse rate
- Lower blood pressure
- Improves cardiac function (this is responsible for keeping the heart pumping blood throughout the body.)
Forest bathing is also found to boost the activity of natural killer cells, which help fight off infections and cancer.
NK Natural Killer cells are critical to the immune system. The role of NK cells is to provide a rapid response to virus-infected cells, acting at around 3 days after infection, and respond to tumour formation.
Studies concluded that a forest-bathing trip can increase NK activity and that the increased NK (natural killer cells) activity continued for over 30 days after the trip to the forest; this suggested that taking a forest-bathing once a month would enable us to maintain a higher level of natural killer cells in our body which is crucial for our function of immune system.
Forest Bathing also positively creates calming neuro-psychological effects through changes in the nervous system, reducing the stress hormone cortisol and boosting the immune system. It has been shown that those who suffered from psychological stress recovered quicker.
All these studies made show us that several medical symptoms related to lifestyle stress can be treated by encouraging us to interact with nature.
The Invitation into the forest.
Using a guide is a great way to have a full experience and gain a proper understanding of how to forest bathe. Guides will facilitate sharing circles, create thresholds and host tea ceremonies at the end of a forest bathing trip. On the other hand the Forest is the therapist so everyone can do this simple practice while walking in any natural environment and consciously connecting with what’s around them with open senses to hear, to see, to smell, to taste, to feel…