Walking through the forest at least once in a lifetime, everyone enjoys the beauty of nature. This is why some people choose to live in or near forests and why other people travel thousands of miles to walk in the Redwood, Costa Rican, or Ecuadorian rainforests.
However, scientists in Japan have discovered that a tradition called Shinri-ioku or “bathing in the woods” is still strong, and why this is the case, the reasons are biochemical.
Specifically, researchers have found that staying in the forest improves natural immunity, which is important for preventing cancer, as well as other chronic diseases.
How does this happen?
When scientists tested humans before and after a two-hour walk in the woods, they found that all but one person had 50% or more T-grains. They had lower blood pressure, felt calmer, and clearer in their head.
Forest trees and plants emit “antimicrobial volatile organic compounds of plant derivatives, called phytoncides, to kill fungi and bacteria.” Fungi and bacteria can be a problem for our immune system. And it turns out that trees don’t like them either.
Forest trees are often hundreds, if not thousands, of years old. Trees and other plants have perfect protection, that is, compounds that can destroy fungi and bacteria. When you walk through the forest, your breath combines with these components. The effect lasts about 2 months.
Let’s say when we go into the woods we bathe in its natural immunity. We are immersed in the “phytochemical” immune system of the forest.
Professor King Lee of the Department of Hygiene and Public Health at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo told the story of American science writer Annie Lenny Phillips.
The article provides more detailed information on the effects on specific hormones, including the effects of norepinephrine and DHEA on stress and adiponectin. In particular, lower adiponectin levels are associated with type 2 diabetes and obesity.