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森の心・人の心
Journey Through Life With the Wisdom of the Forest

Forest Medicine and the Healing Power of Shinrin-Yoku

The modern world’s rapid pace and ever-increasing demands can lead to stress, burnout, and a disconnection from the natural world. However, there is a growing body of evidence pointing to the therapeutic benefits of reconnecting with nature. Central to this trend is a Japanese practice called Shinrin-Yoku or “forest bathing,” an integral aspect of what’s now known as Forest Medicine.

Shinrin-Yoku is the practice of immersing oneself in the forest environment, savoring the sights, sounds, and smells to absorb the calm and tranquility that nature offers (1). Unlike a hike or walk, Forest Medicine involves being in the forest with mindfulness, letting the environment guide the senses rather than focusing on reaching a particular destination.

A study published in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine highlighted how participants who partook in Shinrin-Yoku had significantly lower heart rates and reported better moods and less anxiety than those in urban settings (2). The research suggested that forest environments could be key to promoting relaxation and reducing stress.

Moreover, forests emit natural oils known as phytoncides, which have been shown to boost immune function (3). Phytoncides are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds produced by trees to protect themselves against bacteria and insects.

In a study conducted by Japan’s Chiba University, a three-day Shinrin-Yoku trip increased participants’ natural killer cell activity – a marker of immune system health – and the effects lasted for more than 30 days (4).

Forest Medicine also contributes to mental well-being. According to research from Stanford University, people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area, as opposed to an urban one, showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression (5).

Apart from the direct health benefits, Forest Medicine helps reestablish our connection with nature, a link that has been weakened in modern times. This reconnection can offer profound insights into our place within the broader ecosystem and remind us of nature’s intrinsic value.

Practicing Forest Medicine does not require access to vast, untouched forests. A small city park or a backyard can serve as a haven for Shinrin-Yoku. By taking the time to immerse ourselves in these green spaces, we can cultivate a deeper appreciation for the natural world and its restorative powers.

In an era of unprecedented stress and disconnection from nature, Forest Medicine, with Shinrin-Yoku at its heart, offers an accessible, cost-effective, and potent remedy. It is a potent reminder that our well-being is inherently tied to the health of our environment.

References:

  1. Park, B. J., Tsunetsugu, Y., Kasetani, T., Kagawa, T., & Miyazaki, Y. (2010). The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan. Environmental health and preventive medicine, 15(1), 18–26. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12199-009-0086-9
  2. Song, C., Ikei, H., & Miyazaki, Y. (2016). Physiological Effects of Nature Therapy: A Review of the Research in Japan. International journal of environmental research and public health, 13(8), 781. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13080781
  3. Li, Q. (2010). Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function. Environmental health and preventive medicine, 15(1), 9–17. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12199-008-0068-3
  4. Li, Q., Morimoto, K., Kobayashi, M., Inagaki, H., Katsumata, M., Hirata, Y., Hirata, K., Suzuki, H., Li, Y. J., Wakayama, Y., Kawada, T., Park, B. J., Ohira, T., Matsui, N., Kagawa, T., Miyazaki, Y., & Krensky, A. M. (2008). Visiting a forest, but not a city, increases human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins. International journal of immunopathology and pharmacology, 21(1), 117–127. https://doi.org/10.1177/039463200802100113
  5. Bratman, G. N., Hamilton, J. P., Hahn, K. S., Daily, G. C., & Gross, J. J. (2015). Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(28), 8567–8572. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1510459112

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Venture on a memorable path with our 10-week Shinrin Yoku Guide Training program accredited by Shinrin Yoku Association . This journey merges the accessibility of online learning with an enriching immersion in the serene forests of Japan. 🌳🇯🇵

Embark on your online adventure with flexible scheduling (GMT-3, Argentina Time) 🖥️🌐:
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🍂 October 2-6, 2023
🍂 October 9-13, 2023

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The Mindful Tourist
森の心・人の心
Journey Through Life With the Wisdom of the Forest

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森の心・人の心
Journey Through Life With the Wisdom of the Forest

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