For years, studies have proven that forests have health benefits. From a boosted immune system, to improved mood, to lower blood pressure and increased focus — forest bathing is the real deal.
By “forest bathing” — or spending time in green spaces, you can experience all of these scientifically proven benefits. And it only takes as little as 20 minutes at a time.
But what’s the reason behind these forest bathing benefits? Well, it turns out a large part of it has to do with smell. And more specifically, phytoncides.
What Are Phytoncides?
Phytoncides are essential oils from trees that boast medicinal benefits. But what are the benefits of phytoncides specifically?
These oils have a scent, which when our noses pick up on it, causes our human minds to feel good. Call it evolution, or magic, or mysticism, but you certainly have to call it science, at a minimum.
Benefits of Phytoncides
Phytoncides promote our natural killer (NK) cells, which fight off viruses, cancers, and tumors in our body. That’s a good thing.
And what’s more, these volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — called “essential oils” in popular culture — have natural insecticidal qualities that fend off bugs and other pests in forests.
So, trees already emit this protective aura in nature, and we get to enjoy the second-hand benefits. Trees have this in common with many plants and vegetables too.
Types of Phytoncides Include:
Phytoncides & Forest Bathing
Remember that “forest bathing” we were talking about? Well, it turns out that a few hours in the forest ramps up your NK cells so much that the health benefits can last for days.
The essential oils in trees also lower glucose levels, aid sleep, enhance mood, reduce inflammation, and relax the nervous system.
Any one of those would be amazing in itself, but all of them combined make forest bathing one of the healthiest things you can possibly do — and it’s free!
So now you know, when someone asks you “what are phytoncides?” You can tell them they’re basically nature’s medicine. And no one has to prescribe them to you. You simply go outside.
Additional Benefits of Forest Bathing
The forest bathing benefits don’t stop at aromas. There are also other benefits like decreased distractions and visual stimulation via trees and sunlight.
That’s not to mention that the microbiome and contact with the ground help you improve your mood and health.
So next time you’re feeling down, go for a stroll in the forest. The sights, sounds, and smells are good for you — and that’s just science.