Il Forest Bathing (literally "bath in the forest") is an immersion protocol in specific woods, based on studies that have shown the effect that certain plants have on immune system.
The extraordinary effect this practice produces is araising of the immune defenses also of + 50% (and the effect lasts up to a month) with a few hours of immersion in the woods.
The effects of forest bathing practice are:
- Increase in the number and activity of different immune cells
- Increased concentration of specific anticancer proteins
- Reduction of stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline)
Above all, there is a direct relationship between immersion in the forest and the activity of the immune system.
… And as you well know, when the immune system is in excellent shape (strong, reactive, strengthened) numerous risks of diseases are reduced inversely.
When the physiological activity of the immune system is maximum, the body's defenses are guaranteed, e the tumor and the infectious risk are thus weakened.
- 1 THE BIRTH OF THE BATHING FOREST
- 1.1 FOREST BATHING: WHAT ARE THE MECHANISMS OF THIS EXTRAORDINARY EFFECT?
- 1.2 THE (TRUE) FOREST BATHING IS DEFINED BY A PRECISE PROTOCOL
- 1.3 BENEFITS OF BATHING FOREST ALSO FROM A WALK OF SOME HOURS
- 1.4 THE TERPENS: A CONJUNCTION RING BETWEEN BREATHING IN THE WOODS AND EFFECT ON IMMUNITY
- 1.5 WHAT ARE THE IDEAL TREES TO MAKE AN EFFECTIVE BATHING FOREST?
- 1.6 THE 4 MOST POWERFUL PLANTS FOR FOREST BATHING
- 1.8 CONCLUSIONS
THE BIRTH OF THE BATHING FOREST
It all started in Japan ...
In the 80s the Japanese government promoted this practice of immersion in theatmosphere of the woods / forests as a tool to promote health, reduce stress and prevent disease.
This action of the Japanese government took place following promising studies by scientists, first of all the Dr. Qing Li of the Department of hygiene and public health of the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo.
These suggestive studies have immediately shown a hidden relationship between immersion in the woods and health enhancement (in particular activation of the immune system).
FOREST BATHING: WHAT ARE THE MECHANISMS OF THIS EXTRAORDINARY EFFECT?
What is theconjunction ring between immersion in the woods and activation of the immune system?
… Is it just a kind of anti-stress effect given by the pleasant and relaxing green landscape of a forest or is there more?
Although there is indeed a relaxing and anti-stress effect of the visual enjoyment of certain natural landscapes (which seems to reside in the deepest layers of human genetics), the specific effects of forest bathing on immunity have a specific cause based on the phytotherapy (which I will illustrate shortly).
In fact, the real forest bathing is NOT a simple random turn in the first forest that happens, on the contrary it is defined by a precise protocol.
THE (TRUE) FOREST BATHING IS DEFINED BY A PRECISE PROTOCOL
Il original protocol from forest bathing was born from those first studies carried out by Japanese scientists in the 80 years.
Scientists have noticed that i greater benefits of the forest bathing (based on scientific studies) are thus obtained:
- The forest bathing should be performed in woods or forests consisting mostly of at least one of the suggested plant species (in a moment I tell you what they are)
- The forest bathing must be scheduled for 2 days below
- Il first day you take a walk (with one or more rest stops) at least 2 hours
- Il second day you take a walk (with one or more rest stops) at least 4 hours (2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon)
Individuals undergoing this protocol have been shown to reap immunity boosting and stress hormone reduction benefits and to keep them exactly the same after one week. Only after 30 days from the initial forest bathing they began to shrink.
So the benefits of immersion in the woods are maintained, I would say extraordinarily long… in fact only after a month they begin to decrease!
This means a breathing dive in the woods too once a month could guarantee a permanent effect on the immune system.
BENEFITS OF BATHING FOREST ALSO FROM A WALK OF SOME HOURS
Fortunately it is not strictly necessary to follow the original forest bathing protocol given above.
Of course, the greatest benefits recorded in the studies are following the two-day protocol, but this does not mean that 1-2 hours of immersion in a forest you are not already benefiting.
The benefits of forest bathing are dose-dependent e time-dependent.
That is, these benefits tend to increase with the dose (quantity) of substances emitted by the plants and with the duration of exposure (the hours spent breathing the air of the forest).
But already after the first 1-2 hours spent breathing in a forest (with a good emission of essential oils and resins) they collect non-negligible benefits.
These benefits of forest bathing are associated with certain molecules emitted (especially by) certain plants: i terpenes.
THE TERPENS: A CONJUNCTION RING BETWEEN BREATHING IN THE WOODS AND EFFECT ON IMMUNITY
In a previous article on essential oils we have investigated the fantastic potential behind the essences of flowers and plants.
The phytochemical potency of essential oils is based on biologically active molecules that contain calls terpenes.
In practice, specific plants combined with specific environmental conditions (sun exposure, temperature, season) are like a kind of environmental diffuser natural giant of essential oils.
Several plants spread these healthy volatile molecules (terpenes of different types) in the atmosphere among trees within a wood.
A person walking in this wood inhale (without even realizing it) the healthy volatile molecules. These through different biochemical mechanisms will activate his immune system for a long time (days and weeks).
WHAT ARE THE IDEAL TREES TO MAKE AN EFFECTIVE BATHING FOREST?
Regarding forest bathing, there are some aspects to consider ...
As you saw before are i terpenes emitted by plants to produce the healthy effect on the body's defenses.
Well. Certain plant species such as le coniferous (such as pines and firs) characterized by needle-like leaves, have systems for accumulating and storing essential oils, therefore they tend to "retain them for themselves" and release less into the environment.
These plants, for this reason, are not the most suitable for forest bathing (unless they are 40 tall conifers, then the story changes, but in general the rule I gave you applies).
Unlike conifers, the deciduous (large leaves) do not have the same storage and storage systems typical of coniferous trees they tend to release terpenes into the atmosphere.
These are the plants that we must look for, especially in Europe, for the forest bathing.
THE 4 MOST POWERFUL PLANTS FOR FOREST BATHING
The 4 most interesting and powerful plants in the area of Mediterranean for the health effect mediated by terpenes, They are the following:
- CORK OAK
- SPINOSHY OAK
Let's see these extraordinary inhabitants of the forest one by one ...
The latter friend for example, the Beech tree, I find it not far from my house, in the splendid Casentino forests. An already magical place in itself, also perfect for forest bathing as it is rich in beech woods ...
The photos you see below I took them right there in the Casentino forests a few years ago.
I'm not Oliviero Toscani, but the splendor of the Casentino forest speaks for itself ...
Or one all Italian resource expressly created for Forest Bathing is theOasi Zegna in Piedmont.
On their official website you can learn more and plan your dive in one of the three circular routes designed to obtain the maximum health effects (http://www.oasizegna.com/).
Imagine how you could go out completely reinvigorated and renewed from a 2-3 day experience… wow.
We found that a simple forest bathing of a couple of hours once a week significantly and steadily increases the activity of the immune system, increases the presence of anticancer proteins in the body e reduces stress hormones.
Un deciduous forest it is not only a pleasant place to stay (and in line with our innate desire for nature), but ...
… It is above all an extraordinary therapeutic place.
Who wants to have more health should turn again to nature, which once again… heals ??.
And what do you think of the forest bathing? do you like walking in the woods? If you have any comments, suggestions or to report one your personal experience linked to this topic write at the bottom of the article in the space dedicated to comments. Thanks!
See you soon,
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Images: Google Images.
2. "Forest bathing enhances human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins"by Q. Li et al. (http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/03946320070200S202)
3. The secret therapy of trees by Marco Mencagli and Marco Nieri - ed. Sperling & Kupfer