Phytoncides; Forest Bathing Fitness trend has hit the USA

There is a persuasive theory about why the simple act of going outdoors near plants and trees for brief intervals, can impact your health so positively. Plants release a chemical called phytoncides and they use this important anti-microbial  chemical for protection from rot and decay. Research indicates that humans also benefit from these vital compounds.The Japanese recognize these effects, and have a popular practice called Shinrin-Yoku or "forest bathing" based on the therapeutic effects of being near nature, parks, trees, and plants. The Shinrin-Yoku practiced has recently become on-trend internationally, Oprah Winfrey helped popularize this practice, also called, "Forest Medicine"
 Phytoncides are widely used in holistic medicines in Russia and China and being near and around plants lowers blood pressure, lowers cortisol concentration, among other healthful benefits.

I find the Forest Medicine research to be absolutely fascinating, because it makes sense to me now, why it is--when I take a quick walk outside, or intentionally go sit or walk in a green space, or just sit out on a terrace for a cup of coffee and am drawn to a spot near trees and plants, why simply being near and around plants, makes me feel better.

Until I read up on "Forest Medicine" research, my mood boost and relaxed feeling that resulted from my breaks with nature were merely anecdotal. I understand and appreciate the positive effects. According to international research, the forest, and simple nature help us:
  • Boost the immune system
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve our moods
  • Increase energy levels
  • Improve focus (to include ADHD)
  • Decrease blood glucose levels 
The more I read about phytoncides and the physiological measurements on the nervous system and the more I read about the therapeutic effects of  these "volatile compounds" on humans, the more I've realized that I definitely need to use the "outdoors" to my benefit.

Now that I have researched Shinrin-Yoku, I have learned enough to know to make it a point to take a quick walk around my work place gardens and pathways; luckily we have trees, flowers, gardens and green spaces on the work place grounds. I especially walk under the trees to get in my "Forest Bath."  I have come to see these purposeful outdoor intervals in the same way I might view taking my daily supplements such as Vitamin C or a Calcium. I try to get in 3 Forest Baths per work week.


Leverage the Shinrin-Yoku around you. Go where there are trees, plants, flowers, even just to take a quick five-minutes. It's a satisfying accomplishment to at least do one wellness step during a day, and contact with trees and plants can be done for many of us, without too much effort.

I will write more details on this topic as Shinrin-Yoku is not only linked with phytoncides; the therapeutic effects are more complex than just looking at chemical compounds. I highly recommend reading about the research on "Forest Medicine"  and using proximity to nature in your tool kit for a healthier body.



  1. It looks interesting and seems that beneficial than other medication. Going to look for more information on it, thank you for sharing it with us

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