Nature can be our ally, even when it doesn’t seem to be. We have often talked about the benefits of forests, and scientific studies that show that nature is not only pleasant to have but also essential for our physical health and our cognitive functions are more and more. And they tell us that nature also helps strengthen our immune system.
How forests improve the immune system
A research from Nippon Medical School in Japan of 2010 has shown that spending time in a forest brings a significant increase in the number of natural killer cells, or NK cells, a type of cytotoxic lymphocyte essential for the innate immune system. The study was conducted by dividing the participants into two groups: the first made a small trip through the forests, the second visited a city. In the participants of the first group, the scientists noted not only the increase in NK, but also in the intracellular anticancer proteins. The effect lasted for the whole week after the trip. The ability to strengthen the immune system would be attributable to terpenes, substances emitted by trees capable of stimulating when you breathe them the increase of antibodies and anti-cancer proteins.
So Shinrin-yoku, a Japanese term that indicates what we also know as “Forest Bathing”, is much more than a trend of the moment. It’s a therapy. It means benefiting from the atmosphere of forest. It means taking care of our health. A cure-all for our immune system, but not only. Walking in the woods also reduces stress and decreases heart rate and blood pressure.
This is just another example of the benefits of nature, we must remember that trees serve the entire planet. Each tree absorbs CO2, lowers temperatures, increases air quality, increases biodiversity. This is why we must protect forests and continue planting trees.