Did you know there’s an easy natural therapy that has been clinically shown to -- get ready, it’s a long list! -- boost the immune system; lower high blood pressure and risk of heart attack; increase energy and sleep duration; reduce cortisol; increase production of the cells that target cancer cells, bacterial infections, and viruses; regulate fat metabolism and glucose levels; protect against anxiety, depression, and confusion; decrease lung inflammation, asthma, and COPD symptoms; reduce eczema and psoriasis flare-ups; reduce pain and inflammation in osteoarthritis and back pain as well as increase range of motion; and protect against inflammation of the liver and pancreas and against degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s?
Can there really exist a one-size-fits-all therapy that prevents and alleviates this wide range of maladies? Yes! It’s called forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, a therapy gaining popularity in Japan and increasingly recommended by physicians to patients suffering from ailments caused or aggravated by the rhythm and stress of urban and modern life. Forest bathing is the act of taking in the forest through the five senses: Looking through the thick woods at the sunrays that break through the canopy; smelling fresh buds, pine needles, or musky old leaves underfoot; hearing the call of songbirds; tasting the humid morning mist still among the tree trunks; and feeling the spongy moss underneath your feet.
TIME and ScienceDaily have both recently featured articles about the science behind the benefits of forest bathing. They show not only how forest bathing has benefits similar to meditation but also how exposure to the diverse variety of bacteria found in natural areas boosts the immune system, including the phytonales released by trees which have antibacterial properties and the D-limonene and terpenes found in forest air which reduce inflammation and have anti-tumor properties that protect against breast, colon, intestine, liver, and pancreatic cancers.
Inner Traditions offers a variety of books that prescribe forest bathing as well as emphasize the importance of spending time in nature for the health of not only the body but also the mind and spirit. One example is Women's Book of Holistic Health by Sebhia Dibra with Marc Micozzi, Ph.D., M.D., forthcoming in May 2019, which shares the benefits of forest bathing, mindfulness, heart-centered meditation, essential oils, herbs, energy medicine, sound healing, and Ayurveda specifically for women. Soul Breathing by Carrie L’Esperance, available now, reveals how we can cultivate higher frequencies of consciousness through many techniques and exercises, including spending time in nature away from EMFs. In Advanced Autogenic Training and Primal Awareness, available now, James Endredy offers techniques, including forest bathing, to influence the mind-body connection and the autonomic nervous system for wellness, stress relief, and higher consciousness. Speaking with Nature by Sandra Ingerman and Llyn Roberts, available now, shares practices that can be used anywhere—from the wilderness to a city park to your imagination—to communicate with and seek support from nature. And the bestselling Secret Medicines from Your Garden by Ellen Evert Hopman explores the many uses of flowers, trees, common weeds, and ornamental plants for food, medicine, spiritual growth, and magical rituals as well as the folklore and ancient myths surrounding these plant allies.