Benefits of Forest Therapy

In Japan, where forest therapy originated under the name shinrin-yoku, researchers have been studying its physiological impacts for many years. Their studies, which have now been confirmed independently across the globe, indicate that forest therapy does have measurable health benefits.

For example, the practice can lower levels of salivary cortisol, the hormone that rises when we are under stress. One Japanese study showed that gazing at forest scenery for as little as 20 minutes reduced salivary cortisol levels by 13.4 percent.

Forest therapy has also been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate and trigger a dramatic increase in the activity of natural killer (NK) cells produced by the immune system to ward off infection and fight cancer. Researchers have reported that spending three days in the forest increases NK activity by 50 percent, a beneficial effect that can last up to one month. It is believed that one mechanism of this benefit may be through inhalation of phytoncides, compounds released by trees and other plants to protect themselves from harmful insects and germs. (You probably recognize it as the aroma of the forest.)

So what does this all mean?

The bottom line is that based on the scientific evidence, benefits of forest therapy include:

  • Reduced stress
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Boosted immune system functioning
  • Improved mood
  • Increased ability to focus
  • Accelerated healing
  • Increased energy level
  • Improved sleep

Commonly reported experiences from those who practice forest therapy regularly include:

  • Deeper and clearer intuition
  • Overall increase in sense of happiness
  • Greater depth in one’s relationships
  • Deeper connection with the environment
  • Improved concentration and learning