Aromatherapy, the gateway to your indoor forest
Humans have lived in a natural environment for almost all of the 5 million years of their existence and there is no doubt that human physiological functioning is most suited to being in this natural environment most of the time.
Being in nature just feels good, our feet on the earth, the wind in our hair – this is a kind of pleasure that most humans can agree on and recent research has begun to uncover exactly why.
Forest Bathing or Shinrin Yoku has been exploding in Japan since the 1980’s and has recently made its way to the west. Numerous Japanese studies confirm that humans need to spend time in nature regularly for their health and well being. In the study, ‘Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function’ by Qing Li for example, groups taken out for a 3 day trip into nature, were compared with a group taken into an urban environment, both walked the same distances but in different environments. Natural Killer cell activity varied hugely between the two groups, with the nature walking group showing a large increase in both natural killer cell activity and the number of natural killer cells. T cells were lowered in those who did the nature walk, high levels of T cells are linked to high stress levels. These results lasted for more than 7 days after the trips ended.
The air quality was measured and phytoncides, such as alpha-pinene and beta-pinene, were detected in forest air but not in the city air.
And here my friends is how the magic of Aromatherapy links into Forest Bathing!
A phytoncide is a substance emitted by plants and trees to help to protect themselves from harmful insects and infections. “Phyton” means “plant” in Latin, and “cide” means to exterminate. They are volatile organic compounds that create the aroma plants give off and is what Aromatherapy has been based on for years.
Qing Li says, ‘The positive benefits of Forest Bathing is largely due to smelling the wide range of terpenes and other phytoncides’.
Consider the properties of the following essential oils from trees:
Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) – one of the main chemical components to be found in the essential oil of pine is the monoterpene of pinene. Pine trees contain essential oil in their needles which evaporates within a forest and creates a healing environment.
Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) – also contains a high dominance of monoterpene chemcial components, especially pinene.
Atlas cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) – the main chemical component group to be found in the essential oil of Atlas cedarwood is sesquiterpene.
Fir (Abies spp.) – contain the monoterpene chemical component group, including that of pinene.
Of course there are other aspects of a nature experience aside from phytoncides, such as increased oxygen, soothing sights and sounds and grounding through the body’s contact to the earth, that all play a role. So aromatherapy cannot fully substitute for an authentic nature experience, however by using pure essentials oils in your home and work, you can recreate some of the feel good affects of being in the forest! Blends of essential oils are recommended as they recreate the natural blend of the many different aromatic compounds found in nature.
Diffusing any tree essential oils such as those above or cedarwood, sandalwood, rosewood or Manuka with a citrus oil such as orange, bergamot or lemon and then a floral oil such as jasmine, yang ylang or geranium will create a delicious and well balanced blend to enhance you life on many levels.
Forest Bathing research and studies are amazingly showing us what Aromatherapists have been telling us for years, that the aromatic compounds in plants, when breathed in creating healing for the body and mind.
Get started with Aromatherapy today by signing up for a wholesale account here with the brand of essential oils I personally endorse for superior quality and aroma:
Let me know if you have any questions regarding the best starter pack for you – I’m here to help and answer all your questions!
Tree Mystic was started by New Zealander, Hannah McQuilkan a qualified Naturopath, Medical Herbalist, Aromatherapist and Certified Forest Bathing Guide. Please join the conversation by checking out our experiences on the ‘Wellness Adventures’ page and our blog.
Hannah is available to speak and lead experiences anywhere in the world, you can contact her here.