The Japanese have been digging into the benefits of what they call "shinrinyoku" (forest bathing) for a fair while now and scientific research into the benefits of breathing in the essential oils that dense forests release into the air in particular continues to mount up.
Phytoncides are airborne anti-microbial substances that trees release as a way to fight off disease and harmful substances. If you've ever wandered through a remote pine forest you'll no doubt recall the distinct scent of that experience but there is a tangible, self-defence rationale behind it all too from the forest's perspective.
Studies have shown that breathing in phytoncides while walking in a forest has beneficial effects on human Natural Killer (NK) blood cells that help fight virus-infected cells, a tangible immune system boost that can last for up to 30 days.
Cedar, oak and pine are all examples of trees that give off plenty of this type of essential oil, the latter in particular has attracted our attention as we used pine wood for our balance beams and pull-up bars in the Biofit Calgary fitness studio. We now gently diffuse 100% natural pine oil during class as a way to borrow some of the plant's positive health benefits for our clients. Biophilia and natural health in action right there people!
Read the full research report from Japan online here.