The Aromatic Benefits of Forest Bathing

Posted on: January 29th, 2018 by
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The Aromatic Benefits of Forest Bathing

The Aromatic Benefits of Forest Bathing

You may have heard the term forest bathing bandied around and wondered what exactly does this mean? Upon more research into the area of forest bathing, I discovered that we, as aromatherapists, have probably been carrying out the practice subconsciously for years, and our ancestors most certainly did it without much thought! Here’s a little bit more information on this practice, how it benefits our health, and how it connects to aromatherapy.

What is Forest Bathing?

Forest bathing is exactly what it sounds like: Bathing in forests. That is, not literally bathing as you do in taking a bath at home, but walking amongst the trees within the forest, breathing in the air, and “bathing” in the benefits of your surroundings.

Japanese medicine has taken a particular interest in the benefits of forest bathing, and there are now several studies on the effects on health from the practice.1 The ritual has now been incorporated into Japanese health care. In Japan, forest bathing is called Shinrin-yoku and the practice started in the 1980s.2

Aromatic Chemical Components Associated with Forests

Before scientific studies began to examine the benefits of forest bathing, people have, for centuries, known that nature helps to heal the human pysche. Many plants and trees release aromatic molecules into the air, prompting a “feel good” factor. For example, consider the main chemical components of the following trees which may influence3 someone practicing forest bathing:

  • Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) – one of the main chemical components to be found in the essential oil of pine is the monoterpene of pinene. Pine trees contain essential oil in their needles which evaporates within a forest and creates a healing environment.3

  • cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) – also contains a high dominance of monoterpene chemcial components, especially pinene.

  • Atlas cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) – the main chemical component group to be found in the essential oil of Atlas cedarwood is sesquiterpene.

  • fir (Abies spp.) – contain the monoterpene chemical component group, including that of pinene.

Monoterpene and sesquiterpene chemical components are considered to be of particular benefit to the respiratory system, the nervous system, and the circulatory and immune systems.

Aromatic Benefits of Forest Bathing

Taking into consideration the above information, we can see that forest bathing has the potential to help with:

  • heart issues

  • stress and anxiety

  • respiratory problems

  • immune system disorders.

Indeed, forest bathing has been known to help with:

  • lowering blood pressure

  • boosting the functions of the immune system

  • lowering anxiety and stress levels

  • elevating mood and focus levels

  • better sleep.1

For those unable to experience forest bathing firsthand, aromatic blends may help. We will be looking at which essential oils may help as an alternative to forest bathing in the next article, followed by some suggested aromatic blends in the final article in this series.

The Study of Aromatherapy

To learn more about how aromatherapy blends are used in aromatherapy practice, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM program!

References:

  1. NCBI website, Shrinrin-yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review, accessed from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5580555/

  2. Shrinrin-yoku website, Shrinrin-yoku, accessed from: http://www.shinrin-yoku.org/shinrin-yoku.html

  3. Author’s own opinion based on her practice of aromatherapy and knowledge of chemical components found within these plants with regard to essential oil extraction.

  4. Caddy, Rosemary, 1997, Essential Oils in Colour, UK: Amberwood Publishing Ltd.

  • The author of this article has a combined 23 year history in the health care and aromatherapy industry. She is UK-certified aromatherapist and a NAHA Certified Professional Aromatherapist (R). She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She has taken the online Master Gardener short course series with the University of Oregon. Sharon works from her garden studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she is in the final stages of creating her own aromatic stillroom on her one acre homestead-in-progress, including an eighth of an acre of aromatic gardens.

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