If you’ve taken a relaxing walk in the woods, then you’ve “dipped your toes” into the Forest Bathing phenomenon. But did you know its many benefits actually come from terpenes?
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Hopefully, by now you know that we’re obsessed with all things terpenes. We’ve isolated these hydrocarbons for purity and potency, but we don’t want people to forget that they’re completely natural and found in most plants. One of the easiest ways to benefit from terpenes is by actually spending time in nature. Specifically, by Forest Bathing.
You don’t actually have to take a bath out in nature (although that doesn’t sound half bad). Essentially, Forest Bathing is the practice of spending enough time in nature to soak up the naturally occurring terpenes from the plants around you.
We’re still discovering the many benefits that terpenes provide us, but some of the perks we already know about include being anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, providing temporary mood enhancement, an anxiolytic, and more.
Don’t live near a charming fairy tale forest? No worries! We’ve got some tricks to help you reap the benefits of Forest Bathing without actually setting foot outside.
What is forest bathing?
For the longest time, people thought being out in nature was healthy just because of all that gorgeous fresh air--and that’s not exactly wrong, it’s just not the whole picture.
But c’mon! Even just thinking about the rustling of wind through the leaves, the dappled sunlight painting the forest floor, maybe the quiet trickle of water from a stream...that’s pretty darn relaxing.
The term “Forest Bathing” originated in the 1980s from Japan. Originally called Shinrin-Yoku, the concept was that by experiencing the forest through your five senses it helped connect you back to the natural world.Now more than ever, we’re very disconnected from nature. In another article exploring Forest Bathing, The Guardian even said, “A 2001 Environmental Protection Agency-sponsored survey reported that Americans spend 87% of their time inside, plus another 6% in an enclosed vehicle.”
So yeah, we could all probably use a nice nature break.
Turns out, while experiencing nature with your five senses most definitely contributes to the overall sense of well-being people get from forest bathing, a large chunk of those benefits come from terpenes.
In several studies, forest bathing has been shown to be effective because of the “showering of forest aerosols.” In other words, the terpenes naturally emitted from many plants have a lot of benefits, and calmly walking around in the woods is a great way to get them in your system.
...and Forest Bathing just sounds more zen than Terpene Bathing.
What are the health benefits of forest bathing?
For a lot of us, stress is the natural state. So it’s no surprise that many people practice Forest Bathing purely for mental health benefits.
Jobs are competitive, family life can be hectic, friends can be dramatic, and even when we get a moment alone our smartphones are constantly dinging with notifications. Our poor nervous system is easily overloaded, but our busy lives force us to accept it as the new normal.
Stress has a way of wearing us down. That’s because it’s an emotional AND physical response. Stress causes our bodies to produce adrenaline, which affects cortisol levels, which can then affect the way we sleep and store body fat...seriously stress sucks.
But spending time in nature can have positive effects on our bodies and our minds. One study even said, “The results support the concept that forest bathing has positive effects on physical and mental health, indicating that it can be effective for health promotion.”
In that study they found that people in nature had higher parasympathetic nervous activity and lower sympathetic nervous activity. Cortisol levels and pulse rate were also lower when people were in nature.
But were people happier?
Yes! Through a separate psychological test of the same group, “positive feeling” scores were significantly higher and “negative feelings” were significantly lower. So it’s safe to say that Forest Bathing is great for mental health.
And that’s not all. While the mixture of terpenes found in nature do contribute to the mental health aspect of Forest Bathing, there are some tried-and-true benefits that specific terpenes possess.
Terpenes in the forest and their amazing benefits
Depending on where you live in the world, the plants in your area may be pretty diverse. Luckily, a lot of terpenes can be found in several different plants. So here’s a short list of terpenes, their benefits, and what plants you can find them in.
You might have guessed it from just the name, but this terpene is found in conifer trees like Pine. Surprisingly, you can also find it in rosemary, eucalyptus, and orange peels.
Alpha-Pinene has been used as an anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-ulcerogenic, a memory aid, it has some gastroprotective properties, AND there have been studies done on its ability to arrest cancer growth.
If you’re looking to benefit from D-Limonene, look for citrus fruits. It’s most easily found in oranges, limes, lemons, and grapefruits and has a wide array of benefits.
It’s most known benefits are its ability to reduce heartburn and acid-reflux, reduce inflammation, dissolve gallstones, promotes metabolic balance and weight loss, reduces anxiety and stress, and it’s a powerful antioxidant.
This is one of the most common terpenes, but it shows up in some surprising places! You can find myrcene in hops, wild thyme, cardamom, mango, bay leaves, lemongrass, and even eucalyptus. And it’s benefits are just as varied. This terpene has been used as a sleep-aid, analgesic, an anti-inflammatory, and an anti-mutagenic.
Also, because of this terpenes ability to affect the blood-brain barrier, it can improve the effectiveness of other terpenes too! This makes myrcene a great addition to any terpene blend.
Think black pepper! This is one of the more notably spicy terpenes and can also be found in black caraway, cloves, basil, rosemary, oregano, and cinnamon.
This is another analgesic that can slow the growth of bacteria, help relieve depression and anxiety, and reduce inflammation.
The woody overtones and hint of citric sweetness from Terpinolene can be found in tea tree, lilac, cumin, nutmeg, and apples.
This terpene is often used for its antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant, and sedative properties.
This terpene has a floral, slightly sweet scent. While it’s most often associated with lavender, you can also find this terpene in mints, laurels, cinnamon, rosewood, birch trees, and some citrus fruits.
Just some of its benefits include being an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-epileptic, a sedative, and anxiolytic.
How to Take a Forest Bath?
In some areas you can actually join whole communities dedicated to the art of Forest Bathing. If you’re more of a city-dweller and the idea of walking into the woods is a bit intimidating, then this is perfect.
Plus, if you don’t know the difference between plain ol’ oak leaves and poison oak leaves, having a guide can save you some major irritation.
If there aren’t any groups in your area then practicing solo is perfectly fine!
Generally, the idea is to spend at least 30 minutes out in nature without any technology. So leave your phone and smartwatch at home. You can gently walk or just find a comfy spot to chill out and tune in.
Do your best to tune in to your senses. Listen to the wind in the trees, feel the dirt beneath your feet, admire the beautiful forest around you, and inhale all those glorious terpene scents.
How to enjoy the same terpene benefits without nature>
But what if you don’t live anywhere near a forest?
What if the closest patch of nature is surrounded by a noisy highway?
Maybe you just don’t feel safe wandering into the forest all alone with no phone to contact anyone.
Honestly, that last one is pretty understandable.
Luckily, because we know that terpenes play such a huge role in the beneficial nature of Forest Bathing, you can recreate this scenario without even needing to leave your house. You can use terpenes the same way that people use aromatherapy to help them relax.
We like to call it Terpene Therapy! We’re still waiting for it to catch on though…
Basically, figure out which terpenes work the best for you and consider adding them to an oil diffuser.
Consider a blend of linalool and alpha-pinene for a soothing, meditative experience.
Need something a little more uplifting? Try D-Limonene and Myrcene. D-Limonene has been known to temporarily boost your mood and myrcene will make d-limonene that much more effective!
Once you’ve found your blend, feel free to use it at home, in your car, or even in your office.
While it’s not quite as technology free, consider using a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, closing your eyes, sitting near a sunny window, and listening to nature sounds. You may not actually be in the forest, but do whatever it takes to mimic it!
One of the many reasons we think terpenes are so exciting is because we’re still figuring out all the ways that we benefit from them. Forest Bathing is just one example of how we interact with terpenes everyday.
Health is the natural state, and the more research is done the more it seems like terpenes naturally play a part in our overall health and well-being.
If you’re ready to experiment with your own terpene blends for a new product--or even for your own office terpene bath--then contact us today! We love terpenes and can’t wait to support others who love them too.
Give us a shoutout on Instagram and tell us all about your Forest Bathing (*cough* Terpene Therapy *cough*) experience! And don’t forget to tag us in your posts or stories for a chance to be featured on our page.
Forest Bathing is fantastic for your overall health and wellness, and here’s why!
- Forest Bathing originated in Japan in the 1980s to promote wellness and help people connect to nature.
- A majority of its benefits come from the many terpenes naturally found in forest plants. Some benefits include less inflammation, elevated mood, better sleep, less stress, and memory aid.
- Leave any technology behind, walk calmly through nature, and focus on tuning in to your surroundings.
- If you’re stuck at home or the office, use terpenes in an oil diffuser, close your eyes, and listen to nature sounds to mimic the effect of being in nature while reaping the benefits of terpenes.