Effects of forest environment (Shinrin-yoku/Forest bathing) on health promotion and disease prevention -the Establishment of "Forest Medicine"

Environ Health Prev Med. 2022:27:43. doi: 10.1265/ehpm.22-00160.


Humans have enjoyed forest environments for ages because of the quiet atmosphere, beautiful scenery, mild climate, pleasant aromas, and fresh, clean air. In Japan, since 2004, serial studies have been conducted to investigate the effects of forest environments (Forest bathing/Shinrin-yoku) on human health. My research team has established a new medical science called Forest Medicine. The Forest Medicine is a new interdisciplinary science, belonging to the categories of alternative medicine, environmental medicine and preventive medicine, which studies the effects of forest environments (Forest bathing/Shinrin-yoku) on human health. It has been reported that Forest bathing/Shinrin-yoku has the following beneficial effects on human health:1 Shinrin-yoku increases human natural killer (NK) activity, the number of NK cells, and the intracellular levels of anti-cancer proteins, suggesting a preventive effect on cancers. 2 Shinrin-yoku reduces blood pressure and heart rate showing preventive effect on hypertension and heart diseases. 3 Shinrin-yoku reduces stress hormones, such as urinary adrenaline and noradrenaline and salivary/serum cortisol contributing to stress management. 4 Shinrin-yoku increases the activity of parasympathetic nerves and reduces the activity of sympathetic nerves to stabilize the balance of autonomic nervous system. 5 Shinrin-yoku improve sleep. 6 Shinrin-yoku increases the levels of serum adiponectin and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate. 7 In the Profile of Mood States (POMS) test, Shinrin-yoku reduces the scores for anxiety, depression, anger, fatigue, and confusion, and increases the score for vigor, showing preventive effects on depression. 8 Shinrin-yoku may apply to rehabilitation medicine 9 Shinrin-yoku in city parks also has benefits on human health. 10 Shinrin-yoku may have preventive effect on COVID-19 by boosting immune function and by reducing mental stress.Taken together, these findings suggest that Shinrin-yoku may have potential preventive effects on non-communicable diseases.

Keywords: Blood pressure; Forest Medicine; Forest bathing; Immune function; NK; Nervous system; POMS; Phytoncide; Shinrin-yoku; Stress hormone.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Forests
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Walking*