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Forest Bathing or Forest Walking is Therapeutic

Posted Jun 14 2012 4:33am

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”- John Muir

Our Forest Walk… the secluded spot was a surprise. The Singapore Quarry was our favorite spot the last 2 years. Now we have a new fave hint! hint! Hope it would stay secluded for a longer time.

Oxygen Therapy is said to be good for cancer patients. Well, we dont have enough funds for hyperbaric oxygen therapy or even just to go to local spa to get an oxygen facial. So, we went to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and was pleasantly surprised about one of the best kept secrets of this sanctuary.

One of the less troden paths, open up to an enclosure of rock formations and a grass patch, as well as a spring. It was really refreshing, it gave us an opportunity to forget all our cares for at least an hour or so. I guess this is going to be my favorite spot for prayer and meditation (its just about 10 minutes walk from my house – if we walk briskly). This area is a perfect spot for tai chi, qi gong.. am considering to take courses on breathing exercises.. but quite concerned about the religious undertones. Anyway, Nanay thought me how to breathe properly by taking in air and expanding the stomach/diaphragm and trying to hold the air in (as if trying to flood the tissues and cells with oxygen), before slowly exhaling everything out. She learned this from a qi gong teacher who used to visit us at home.

Giant ants and flora at Bukit Timah Hill

Phytoncides and Oxygen emitted by plants
It is also quite educational. My 6 year old daughter Zarah, was fascinated by the insects and the flora… though she was so uncomfortable and scared at the same time (her imaginations seems to be running wild. Do you wonder wheter plants can protect themselves from insects and animals? My daughter did ask this question while observing insects and plants. Well, aside from oxygen plants emit a substance called Phytoncides

According to wikipedia Phytoncides are antimicrobial allelochemic volatile organic compounds derived from plants. The word, which means “exterminated by the plant”, was coined in 1928 by Dr. Boris P. Tokin, a Russian biochemist from Leningrad University. He found that some plants give off very active substances which prevent them from rotting or being eaten by some insects and animals

Shinrin-yoku or Forest Bathing
Quote from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/06/health/06real.html?_r=1

One study published in January included data on 280 healthy people in Japan, where visiting nature parks for therapeutic effect has become a popular practice called “Shinrin-yoku,” or “forest bathing.” On one day, some people were instructed to walk through a forest or wooded area for a few hours, while others walked through a city area. On the second day, they traded places. The scientists found that being among plants produced “lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure,” among other things.

A number of other studies have shown that visiting parks and forests seems to raise levels of white blood cells, including one in 2007 in which men who took two-hour walks in a forest over two days had a 50-percent spike in levels of natural killer cells. And another found an increase in white blood cells that lasted a week in women exposed to phytoncides in forest air.

Hmmm, it seems like breathing exercises and forest walking fits well into the puzzle.. and can be rightly called Forest Bathing. Its like bathing your body up to the cellular level not only with pure clean oxygen and also phytoncides. There you go, a scientific explanation why a lot of qi qong masters claim that qi gong cures a lot of diseases from arthritis to cancer. it is perhaps because of the breathing techniques and the phytoncides, oxygen and probably other unknown natural substances (from the combination of the 4 elements, water, soil, air and fire). The 4 elements (water, soil, air and fire – from the sun, nourish plants and animals, and not surprisingly humans.

Dont just take my word for it, read on what the experts say about:

Forest bathing enhances human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins .

Abstract
In order to explore the effect of forest bathing on human immune function, we investigated natural killer (NK) activity; the number of NK cells, and perforin, granzymes and granulysin-expression in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) during a visit to forest fields. Twelve healthy male subjects, age 37-55 years, were selected with informed consent from three large companies in Tokyo, Japan. The subjects experienced a three-day/two-night trip in three different forest fields. On the first day, subjects walked for two hours in the afternoon in a forest field; and on the second day, they walked for two hours in the morning and afternoon, respectively, in two different forest fields. Blood was sampled on the second and third days, and NK activity; proportions of NK, T cells, granulysin, perforin, and granzymes A/B-expressing cells in PBL were measured. Similar measurements were made before the trip on a normal working day as the control. Almost all of the subjects (11/12) showed higher NK activity after the trip (about 50 percent increased) compared with before. There are significant differences both before and after the trip and between days 1 and 2 in NK activity. The forest bathing trip also significantly increased the numbers of NK, perforin, granulysin, and granzymes A/B-expressing cells. Taken together, these findings indicate that a forest bathing trip can increase NK activity, and that this effect at least partially mediated by increasing the number of NK cells and by the induction of intracellular anti-cancer proteins.

Just another reminder to be thankful to God for His provisions. This forest is just 10 minutes away from our rented semi-detached landed apartment. I remember 7 years ago, when I was still pregnant with Zarah, I was renting a small room in a rented walk-up apartment in the City – no fresh air, neighbourhood very unfriendly. I prayed for an apartment which I can afford, and in which I can raise Zarah in a friendly and healthy environment. She was practically born and raised in this environment. And now, Nanay also benefits from it (she used to ignore these gifts of nature so close to us). Sometimes it takes a “burning bush experience” like Cancer, to jolt us back to reality and be thankful for gifts that we usually take for granted. Thank You Lord! Help us to acknoweledge You more and more.


Other articles worth reading:

http://adifferentkindofdoctor.blogspot.sg/2010/10/forest-therapy.html
http://gailkirkpatrick.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/bathing-with-mushrooms%E2%80%93mt-doug-hiking/


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