The Art of Forest Bathing


“We need the tonic of the wilderness... We can never have enough of nature.” - Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods.

When you have been busy at work all week, it can be difficult to slow down. 

You may have been rushing around so much you no longer know how to sit still. The stress of a hectic life wears on more than our psyche. As we know, stress has a profound impact on our overall physical health, from decreasing our productivity at work to preventing us from getting a good night’s sleep - stress can even wreak destruction on our immune system, making it more likely to become sick. 

The origins of Forest Bathing

As Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden, and as we intuitively understand, nature offers a potent antidote to the daily stress of modern life. In Japan, shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing — defined as spending time amidst the trees — has been considered a form of preventive medicine since it was first studied in the 1980s. “Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” So shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses. It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world,” says Dr. Qing Li, MD, PhD, a physician and immunologist at Nippon Medical School hospital in Tokyo, and the world’s foremost expert in forest medicine.

Health benefits of Forest Bathing

Numerous studies have shown that shinrin-yoku has tangible health benefits. At the conclusion of the landmark 1980s Japanese studies, the researchers found that the practice of forest bathing significantly decreases stress, boosts immunity and lowers blood pressure. Subsequent studies showed that soaking up the forest environment — the smell of the woods, the verdant scenery, the gentle crunching of twigs underfoot — reduces cortisol (the body’s primary stress hormone) and activates the parasympathetic (self-healing) nervous system. These benefits are delivered in part through breathing in phytoncides, aromatic molecules released by trees which protect them from bacteria and fungus. Recent studies show that breathing in these aromas can increase the number of the body’s natural killer cells (a type of white blood cell crucial to the immune system that can limit the spread of microbial infections and tumors), and boosts the immune system. 

Forest Bathing in today's busy lifestyle

Getting into nature — even for a few hours, let alone days at a time — can be difficult for those of us with demanding schedules or a lack of access to green spaces. By 2050, 66% of the world’s population is projected to live in cities. According to a study sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American spends 93% of his or her time indoors

Fortunately, even if you are a city dweller hours away from a forest, or your schedule is too full to make it to the woods, getting the benefits of forest bathing is still possible within the confines of the great indoors. 

Forest Bathing candle from CandaScent Labs

When you cannot take a walk in the woods, the forest in a jar is the next best thing. We collaborated with Dr. Susan Trapp - renowned terpene expert - to formulate a candle that brings the benefits of forest bathing to your home: “Co-developing the forest bathing MOJO candle formulation with CandaScent Labs was a creative pleasure and endeavor. Publications reporting relevant aromatic molecules found in forests paired with literature of their therapeutic benefits enabled us to identify unique terpenes with incredible aromas backed by sound science.”  

MOJO’s crisp notes of fresh balsam, spruce and cypress will connect you to the clean and grounding scents of the forest - crushed balsam needles and the damp forest floor. Niaouli and bay laurel offer a sweet and cooling aroma, while a hint of patchouli and vetiver add deep woodsy notes.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself reaching the peak of the mountain. The forest is just a breath away.


For further listening, consider this episode of the thoughtful and informative podcast 'This Aromatic Life' with Frauke Galia.

Written by The CandaScent Labs Team