what does the evidence say?

Forest Bathing Team

Courses, Dates & Events

Forest Bathing has been proven to have significant mental and physical health benefits for participants. We are undertaking our own research and so far our participants have seen an improvement in energy, concentration, as well as an increase in happiness and calmness.

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Forest bathing and nature therapy are proven areas of health benefit. Society as a whole is suffering from major disconnects, we would like to address the disconnect with nature and in so doing have a significantly positive impact upon physical and mental health.

The scientifically-proven benefits of Forest Bathing are:

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  • Lowering of stress and cortisol levels
  • Lowering of blood pressure
  • Elevated mood and reduction in anxiety and depression
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved energy levels
  • Improved immune system and recovery
  • It may also improve a number of aspects of your life in terms of relationships with yourself and others, reconnect you to your sense of self and purpose and help give a greater perspective on life and its challenges.

Much of the research that has taken place is conducted in Japan and South Korea where the significant health benefits of forest bathing are well established and accepted within society: ‘Forests provide enormous possibilities to improve human health conditions’ (Karjalainen E, 2010).

We are particularly interested in the restorative health benefits of forests, and the conclusions from research are clear: ‘The results of a vast amount of research show that forest visits promote both physical and mental health by reducing stress.’ (Karjalainene E, 2010). In particular the practice of forest bathing has a strong empirical grounding: ‘The results of the physiological measurements show that Shinrin-yoku can effectively relax both people’s body and spirit.’ (Park et al, 2007). Research shows that the positive effects go far beyond the psychological benefit, and can even improve the immune system (Li Q. 2010).

In society there is a need to improve mood and mental health in general. Spending longer in artificial environments using electronic devices has a negative effect on our general wellbeing. Depression and Anxiety are problems that are increasing significantly:

  • 2.6% (19,700) of the population experience depression and 4.7% (35,600) have anxiety problems, as many as 9.7% (73,500) suffer mixed depression and anxiety, making it the most prevalent mental health problem in the population as a whole.
  • About 1.2% (9,100) of the population experience panic disorders.
  • Around 1.9% of adults (12,000) experience a phobia of some description, and women are twice as likely to be affected by this problem as men.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects 2.6% of men (9,600) and 3.3% of women (12,800).
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD) affect around 2–3% (15,200-22,700) of the population.
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder affects between 2–5% of the population (15,200-37,900), yet accounts for as much as 30% of the mental health problems seen by GPs.

‘The number of antidepressants given to patients in England has doubled in a decade, official figures show. In 2015 there were 61m such drugs prescribed and dispensed outside of hospitals. They are used to treat clinical depression as well as other conditions such as generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and panic attacks.The total was 31.6m more than in 2005 and up 3.9m, or 6.8% on 2014, according to a report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). The net cost of ingredients of antidepressants …was nearly £285m last year.’ (Guardian 5th July 2016)

A small selection of other relevant research:

If you are interested in further reading, studies and research into this area please visit:

International Society of Forest and Nature Medicine

Mother Earth News

Institute for European Environmental Policy / Friends of the Earth Europe – Nature for Health and Equity

 

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