Objective: To provide scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of forest bathing as a natural therapy for human hypertension.
Methods: Twenty-four elderly patients with essential hypertension were randomly divided into two groups of 12. One group was sent to a broad-leaved evergreen forest to experience a 7-day/7-night trip, and the other was sent to a city area in Hangzhou for control. Blood pressure indicators, cardiovascular disease-related pathological factors including endothelin-1, homocysteine, renin, angiotensinogen, angiotensin II, angiotensin II type 1 receptor, angiotensin II type 2 receptor as well as inflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor α were detected. Meanwhile, profile of mood states (POMS) evaluation was used to assess the change of mood state of subjects. In addition, the air quality in the two experimental sites was monitored during the 7-day duration, simultaneously.
Results: The baselines of the indicators of the subjects were not significantly different. Little alteration in the detected indicators in the city group was observed after the experiment. While subjects exposed to the forest environment showed a significant reduction in blood pressure in comparison to that of the city group. The values for the bio-indicators in subjects exposed to the forest environment were also lower than those in the urban control group and the baseline levels of themselves. POMS evaluation showed that the scores in the negative subscales were lowered after exposure to the forest environment. Besides, the air quality in the forest environment was much better than that of the urban area evidenced by the quantitative detection of negative ions and PM10 (particulate matter < 10 μm in aerodynamic diameter).
Conclusion: Our results provided direct evidence that forest bathing has therapeutic effects on human hypertension and induces inhibition of the renin-angiotensin system and inflammation, and thus inspiring its preventive efficacy against cardiovascular disorders.
Copyright © 2012 Japanese College of Cardiology. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.