Benefits of A Three-Day Bamboo Forest Therapy Session on the Psychophysiology and Immune System Responses of Male College Students

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Dec 8;16(24):4991. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16244991.


Forest therapy is a fast-growing treatment approach, as it has the potential to alleviate stressful life events and to improve psychological well-being and physical health. Bamboo forests are widespread in southwestern China. Nevertheless, a knowledge gap on the specific health benefits of bamboo forest (BF) therapy still exists. To explore the psycho-physiologic responses of participants to the effects of BF therapy, 60 male adults aged between 19 and 24, with similar healthy conditions, were selected to participate in this study. A one-group pretest-posttest design was used for the BF sites and the city site (CS) to compare the difference in the psycho-physiologic responses of participants before and after the test. Participants at the BF sites participated in a three-day bamboo forest therapy session, and those at the CS participated in a three-day urban program. Blood pressure, heart rate, and peripheral oxygen saturation were measured as the physical signs, and the profile of mood state (POMS) questionnaire was completed by the participants for the psychological evaluation. Blood was sampled, and natural killer (NK) activity, the number of NK cells, and the levels of corticosterone, granulysin, perforin, and granzyme A/B in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) were measured. All the measurements mentioned above were performed at 08:00 on the first and fourth days within the test. Results indicated that the three-day BF therapy was capable of enhancing positive mood states and also reducing negative mood states in the male participants. The blood pressure and heart rates of the male participants decreased, while the peripheral oxygen saturation increased after the three-day BF therapy session. Furthermore, BF therapy significantly increased NK activity and the number of NK cells and perforin-, granulysin-, and granzyme A/B-expressing cells and significantly decreased the corticosterone level in PBLs in the male participants. The three-day BF therapy session improved the psychological and physiological well-being and enhanced the immune functions of the male college students.

Keywords: bamboo forest therapy; immune system; physiological responses; psychological responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Forests*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Male
  • Psychophysiology
  • Relaxation Therapy / methods*
  • Sasa*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult