It has long been believed that a walk in nature has a healing touch, more so when you are surrounded by forest. In Japan scientific research has proved the correlation between trees and forests and human well being in a remarkable way and have shown how green spaces and trees affect the body and brain in a positive way through allowing nature to enter one’s body via the various senses. There people indulge in a stress reducing activity called Forest Bathing -Shinrin-yoku – where stressed executives exit the city to bathe and shower in forest greenery.
Japanese forest therapy can be attributed to a one man named Miyazaki, who is a physiological anthropologist and vice director of Chiba University’s Centre for Environment, Health, and Field Sciences, outside Tokyo. He believes that a feeling of comfort and release can be achieved in our daily life, if we are in synchrony with nature via our senses.
The science behind his theories is so convincing that in 2005, together with a colleague Qing Li who is an immunologist in the department of hygiene and public health at the Nippon Medical school in Tokyo and the chairman of the Society of Forest Medicine , he did a series of trials with a group of stressed out Tokyo businessmen who spent three days in the forest interested to see what effect nature would have on the human immune system. Afterwards, their blood tests showed a 12.4 % percent decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, a 7% decrease in sympathetic nerve activity, a 1.4 % decrease in blood pressure, and a 5.8% decrease in heart rate. They also found that the test subjects’ natural killer immune cells (NK cells for short) increased by 40%, and one month later, were still 15% higher than when they had originally entered the forest. NK cells can, like cortisol and haemoglobin, be accurately measured in a lab. A type of white blood cell, NK cells are handy to have around, since they send self-destruct messages to tumours and virus-infected cells. It’s been known for a long time that factors like stress, aging, and pesticides can reduce your NK count. The tests showed that nature can reduce stress, could it also increase your NK cells and thereby help you fight infections and cancer.
“The scientists began to suspect that trees specifically were crucial to this increase of NK levels - they wondered if NK cells are affected by “aromatic volatile substances,” otherwise known as scents, sometimes called phytoncides. These are the pinenes, limonenes, and other aerosols emitted by evergreens and many other trees. Scientists have identified 50 to 100 of these phytoncides in the Japanese countryside and virtually none in city air that’s not directly above a park. This wasn’t a totally left-field idea. Studies have attributed healthful properties to soil compounds like actinomycetes, which the human nose can detect at concentrations of 10 parts per trillion. And since the mid-1990s, researchers have been studying pinene for its antimicrobial properties and limonene, which is given off by citrus and other trees, as a possible tumour suppressor in cancer patients. To test the phytoncide theory, Li sequestered 12 subjects in hotel rooms. In some rooms, he rigged a humidifier to vaporize stem oil from common Hinoki cypress trees; other rooms got nothing. The cypress dwellers had a 20 percent increase in NK cells during their three-night stay and reported feeling less fatigued. The control group saw almost no changes.
At Rain we offer you the same benefits through our Tree mist range. African Tree Mists offer all the therapeutics of the Bach remedy type essences as well as deeply evocative aromas of the Cape Mountains, golden sunshine and African soil. They are sourced from the Platbos Forest at the southernmost edge of the African continent. Bring the power of healing nature into your workspace by using these mists to mist your face, your body, office or home. Inhale the essence of natural trees and wild vegetation to uplift your immune system and reduce your stress levels.