Aroma of the Forest It’s Benefit on Human Health

Plants are emitted substance that is Phytoncides (aroma of the forest). It is organic antimicrobial allelochemic compound. “Phyton” means “plant” in Latin, and “cide” means to exterminate. Phytoncides are produced to help plants & trees protect themselves from harmful insects and germs. Phytoncides do not only exist in forests. They can be found in vegetables and fruit such as onion, garlic, tea tree etc,eg. 1 hectare (ha) of pine forest approximately 5 kg of volatile phytoncides are released inthe atmosphere in one day, while for 1 ha of juniper forest approximately 30 kg are released, reducing the number ofmicroflora in the air. According to studies, exposure to plants and trees to see how they benefit human health.

Reduced Stress:The benefits of forest may be difficult to fully explain with only phytoncides, but most likely, the green scenery, soothing sounds of streams and waterfalls, and natural aromas of wood, plants and flowers in these complex ecosystems all play a part of healing stress level. Forest therapy is a good example of how our own health is dependent on the health of our natural environment.A recent review of field experiments across Japan compared physical markers of stress in natural environments to those in city settings. 280 adults spent time in forest and urban areas on alternate days. Compared to city environments, forest settings were associated with lower levels of cortisol, slower heart rate, lower blood pressure, greater activity of parasympathetic nerves that promote relaxation, and reduced activity of sympathetic nerves associated with “fight or flight” reactions to stress.

Lower Blood Sugar: Forest therapy may also help control blood sugar. Japanese study followed 87 adults diagnosed with type-two diabetes for six years. During this time, participants walked in a forest for 3 or 6 kilometers (1.9 or 3.7 miles), depending on their physical ability, on nine different occasions. At the end of the study, researchers found that the forest walkers had lower blood glucose (synonymous with blood sugar), improved insulin sensitivity, and decreased levels of hemoglobin A1c, an indicator of how well blood glucose has been controlled over the past 3 months.

Better Concentration: Research in the United States has investigated the effects of outdoor green spaces on symptoms of attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. In a randomized controlled study, doctors specializing in environmental psychology at the University of Illinois studied 17 children diagnosed with ADHD who were exposed to three different environments. After 20-minute walks in a city park, children experienced substantially improved concentration compared to 20-minute walks in downtown and residential settings. Researchers concluded that the positive results were comparable to the effects of Ritalin.

Improved Immunity: Studies in Japan have examined markers of immunity in both men and women after three-day trips to the forest. Healthy volunteers participated in their two-hour sessions of walking in a forest. Before & during and after the experiences researchers measured the number and activity of natural killer cells, immune cells that destroy cancerous cells in the body; anti-cancer proteins including perforin, granulysin and granzymes A/B; and levels of stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline. forest walking significantly decreased levels of stress hormones, increased anti-cancer proteins, and increased the number and activity of natural killer cells. 30 days after the experience, natural killer cells were still more active; suggesting that monthly forest walks could be an important lifestyle factor in the prevention of cancer as well as helpful adjunctive therapy for people diagnosed with cancer. Researchers believed that the wood essential oils were at least partially responsible for the positive effects of forest air.

By:- Dr. Pallavi Chauhan
Department of EVS.
Uttaranchal (P.G.) College Of Bio-Medical Sciences & Hospital