Biodiversity / Food / Water

February 15, 2005


Physiological Tests Confirm Therapeutic Effects of 'Forest Bathing'

Keywords: Ecosystems / Biodiversity Government University / Research institute Well-Being 

The Japanese language has a special term called 'shinrinyoku,' or 'forest bathing,' which conjures up positive images of 'bathing' in the refreshing environment of the forest. It is generally used in a rather of a poetic sense, but the actual forest bathing effect has recently been proven in a medical experiment, reported the National Land Afforestation Promotion Organization (or NLAPO, registered under Japan's Forestry Agency) on October 19, 2004. The Society for Forest Therapy, of which NLAPO is a member, conducted the experiment on the healing effects of forests.

In a two-day research project in Chiba Prefecture in July 2004, 12 male subjects in their early twenties were divided into two groups and tested for different physiological responses based on their surroundings. One group stayed in a forested area and the other in an urban area. Both groups used similar accommodations and ate similar meals. After activities such as walking outdoors, or sitting quietly for 20 minutes, the study team measured the subjects' physiological responses, using indicators such as saliva (which contains substances that indicate stress levels and immune system strength), brain activity, pulse and blood pressure. The results clearly indicated a relaxation effect in the forest group.

'Forest bathing' has been accepted as a form of natural therapy not only in Japan but also in Germany and other countries, and has attracted keen interest for its potential health and relaxation benefits, but physiological evidence has been sparse. This study was among the world's first medical experiments on the effects of this practice.

Based on the results of this study, the NLAPO plans to collaborate with other organizations to start seeking applications for, conduct assessments of, and issue certification for "Therapeutic Forest Centers" in Japan.

Posted: 2005/02/15 04:20:16 PM
Japanese version