Natural Histamines: Serenity In The Woods
I think that I shall never see / A poem as lovely as a tree.
No doubt when the great poet Joyce Kilmer wrote this timeless poem, he had no idea that he was probably feeding on the phytoncides in the forest he beheld with such rhapsodic awe.
Phytoncides are natures antihistamines - okay, maybe thats a bit of a stretch, but the point is that these chemicals, which trees release into the air, actually protect the trees from root rot and insect infestation. The amazing thing is that whats good for the trees is also good for us!
True, a walk through a forest can reduce stress and increase your sense of wellbeing, but these phytoncides can also reportedly boost your immune system. Japanese scientists call it Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing. Their studies show that spending time in the woods can lower your blood pressure and your cortisol levels, as well as your heart rate.
A study closer to home in 1984 revealed that surgical patients who recovered in rooms with windows overlooking natural settings needed fewer pain meds, recovered more quickly, and went home a lot sooner.
While phytoncides protect trees from fungi and bacteria, they immunize people from the corrosive effects of stress, anxiety, and the daily tensions of life. The neuropsychological effects have been impressive. Levels of the hormone serum adiponectin increased in test subjects. People reported feeling calmer, even serene; their minds were sharper and more focused; and they felt more positive and productive. Depression diminished along with anxiety-induced insomnia.
The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs is leading the way into the woods by training guides in the therapeutic art of forest bathing for optimal wellness. Imagine that: being at one with nature really is good for your health. What sublime serendipity. Its like hugging a tree and having it hug you back.