Nature therapy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nature therapy, sometimes referred to as ecotherapy, forest therapy, forest bathing, grounding, earthing, Shinrin-Yoku or Sami Lok, is a practice that describes a broad group of techniques or treatments using nature to improve mental or physical health.

Spending time in nature has various physiological benefits such as relaxation and stress reduction. Additionally, it can enhance cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure.[1][2]


Scientists in the 1950s looked into the reasons humans chose to spend time in nature.[3] There is relatively recent history of the term Shinrin-yoku (森林浴) or 'forest bathing' gaining momentum as a term and concept within American culture; the term 'forest bathing' and Shrinrin-yoku was first popularized in Japan by a man named Tomohide Akiyama, who was the head of the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries; this happened in 1982 to encourage more people to visit the forests.[4][5][6][7][8]

Health effects[edit]


Nature therapy has a benefit in reducing stress and improving a person's mood.[9][10]

Forest therapy has been linked to some physiological benefits as indicated by neuroimaging and the profile of mood states psychological test.[11]

Stress and depression[edit]

Interaction with nature can decrease stress and depression.[1][10] [4][12] Forest therapy might help stress management for all age groups.[13]

Social horticulture could help with depression and other mental health problems of PTSD, abuse, lonely elderly people, drug or alcohol addicts, blind people, and other people with special needs.[14] Nature therapy could also improve self-management, self-esteem, social relations and skills, socio-political awareness and employability.[15] Nature therapy could reduce aggression and improve relationship skills.[16]

Other possible benefits[edit]

Nature therapy could help with general medical recovery, pain reduction, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, dementia, obesity, and vitamin D deficiency.[17] Interactions with nature environments enhance social connections, stewardship, sense of place, and increase environmental participation.[18] Connecting with nature also addresses needs such as intellectual capacity, emotional bonding, creativity, and imagination.[19] Overall, there seems to be benefits to time spent in nature including memory, cognitive flexibility, and attention control.[20]

Research also suggests that childhood experience in nature are crucial for children in their daily lives as it contributes to several developmental outcomes and various domains of their well-being. Essentially, these experiences also foster an intrinsic care for nature.[21]


A 2012 systematic review study showed inconclusive results related to the methodology used in studies.[22] Spending time in forests demonstrated positive health effects, but not enough to generate clinical practice guidelines or demonstrate causality.[23] Additionally, there are concerns from researchers expressing that time spent in nature as a form of regenerative therapy is highly personal and entirely unpredictable.[3] Nature can be harmed in the process of human interaction.[3]

Governmental support and professionalization[edit]

In Finland, researchers recommend five hours a month in nature to reduce depression, alcoholism, and suicide.[24] Forest therapy has state-backing in Japan.[13] South Korea has a nature therapy program for firefighters with post-traumatic stress disorder.[24] Canadian physicians can also "prescribe nature" to patients with mental and physical health problems encouraging them to get into nature more.[25]


  1. ^ a b Schantz P. 2022. Can nature really affect our health? A short review of studies. I: Why Cities Need Large Parks – Large Parks in Large Cities, (ed. R. Murray), London: Routledge
  2. ^ Song, Chorong (August 2016). "Physiological Effects of Nature Therapy: A Review of the Research in Japan". International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 13 (8): 781. doi:10.3390/ijerph13080781. PMC 4997467. PMID 27527193 – via EBSCO.
  3. ^ a b c MacKinnon, J. B. (21 January 2016). "The Problem with Nature Therapy". Nautilus. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  4. ^ a b Hansen MM, Jones R, Tocchini K (July 2017). "Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review". International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 14 (8): 851. doi:10.3390/ijerph14080851. PMC 5580555. PMID 28788101.
  5. ^ Song, Chorong (August 2016). "Physiological Effects of Nature Therapy: A Review of the Research in Japan". International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 13 (8): 781. doi:10.3390/ijerph13080781. PMC 4997467. PMID 27527193.
  6. ^ O'Donoghue, J. J. (2 May 2018). "Stressed out? Bathing in the woods is just what the doctor ordered". The Japan Times.
  7. ^ Onken, Lisa Simon (1998). "Behavioral therapy development and psychological science: If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it...". Behavior Therapy. 29 (4): 539–543. doi:10.1016/S0005-7894(98)80049-X.
  8. ^ Plevin, Julia (2018). "From haiku to shinrin-yoku" (PDF). Forest History Today: 17, 18. Retrieved 7 August 2021.
  9. ^ Bratman, Gregory N.; Hamilton, J. Paul; Daily, Gretchen C. (February 2012). "The impacts of nature experience on human cognitive function and mental health". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1249 (1): 118–136. Bibcode:2012NYASA1249..118B. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.06400.x. PMID 22320203. S2CID 10902404.
  10. ^ a b Cutillo, A.; Rathore, N.; Reynolds, N.; Hilliard, L.; Haines, H.; Whelan, K.; Madan-Swain, A. (2015). "A Literature Review of Nature-Based Therapy and its Application in Cancer Care". Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture. 25 (1): 3–15. JSTOR 24865255.
  11. ^ Copeland CS. The Forest As Physician: Shinrin Yoku. Healthcare Journal of Baton Rouge. Nov-Dec 2017
  12. ^ Tester-Jones, Michelle; White, Mathew P.; Elliott, Lewis R.; Weinstein, Netta; Grellier, James; Economou, Theo; Bratman, Gregory N.; Cleary, Anne; Gascon, Mireia; Korpela, Kalevi M.; Nieuwenhuijsen, Mark (6 November 2020). "Results from an 18 country cross-sectional study examining experiences of nature for people with common mental health disorders". Scientific Reports. 10 (1): 19408. Bibcode:2020NatSR..1019408T. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-75825-9. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 7648621. PMID 33159132.
  13. ^ a b Rajoo, Keeren Sundara (June 2020). "The physiological and psychosocial effects of forest therapy: A systematic review". Urban For Urban Green. 1 (2): 64–74. doi:10.1016/j.ufug.2020.126744. S2CID 219966519.
  14. ^ Chalquist, Craig (June 2009). "A Look at the Ecotherapy Research Evidence". Ecopsychology. 1 (2): 64–74. doi:10.1089/eco.2009.0003.
  15. ^ Pedretti-Burls, Ambra (2007). "Ecotherapy: a therapeutic and educative model" (PDF). Journal of Mediterranean Ecology. 8: 19–25.
  16. ^ Phillips, Lindsey (May 2018). "Using Nature as a Therapeutic Partner". Counseling Today. 60 (11): 26–33.
  17. ^ Summers, James K.; Vivian, Deborah N. (3 August 2018). "Ecotherapy – A Forgotten Ecosystem Service: A Review". Frontiers in Psychology. 9: 1389. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01389. PMC 6085576. PMID 30123175.
  18. ^ Biedenweg, Kelly; Scott, Ryan P.; Scott, Tyler A. (1 June 2017). "How does engaging with nature relate to life satisfaction? Demonstrating the link between environment-specific social experiences and life satisfaction". Journal of Environmental Psychology. 50: 112–124. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2017.02.002. ISSN 0272-4944.
  19. ^ Humberstone, Barbara; Prince, Heather; Henderson, Karla A. (19 November 2015). Routledge International Handbook of Outdoor Studies. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-66652-3.
  20. ^ Schertz, Kathryn E.; Berman, Marc G. (October 2019). "Understanding Nature and Its Cognitive Benefits". Current Directions in Psychological Science. 28 (5): 496–502. doi:10.1177/0963721419854100. ISSN 0963-7214. S2CID 197722990.
  21. ^ Adams, Sabirah; Savahl, Shazly (20 October 2017). "Nature as children's space: A systematic review". The Journal of Environmental Education. 48 (5): 291–321. Bibcode:2017JEnEd..48..291A. doi:10.1080/00958964.2017.1366160. ISSN 0095-8964. S2CID 148964100.
  22. ^ Kamioka, Hiroharu; Tsutani, Kiichiro; Mutoh, Yoshiteru; Honda, Takuya; Shiozawa, Nobuyoshi; Okada, Shinpei; Park, Sang-Jun; Kitayuguchi, Jun; Kamada, Masamitsu; Okuizumi, Hiroyasu; Handa, Shuichi (26 July 2012). "A systematic review of randomized controlled trials on curative and health enhancement effects of forest therapy". Psychology Research and Behavior Management. 5: 85–95. doi:10.2147/PRBM.S32402. PMC 3414249. PMID 22888281.
  23. ^ Oh, Byeongsang; Lee, Kyung Ju; Zaslawski, Chris; Yeung, Albert; Rosenthal, David; Larkey, Linda; Back, Michael (18 October 2017). "Health and well-being benefits of spending time in forests: systematic review". Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine. 22 (1): 71. Bibcode:2017EHPM...22...71O. doi:10.1186/s12199-017-0677-9. PMC 5664422. PMID 29165173.
  24. ^ a b Williams, Florence (1 January 2016). "This Is Your Brain On Nature". National Geographic. 229 (1): 49, 54–58, 62–63, 66–67.
  25. ^ Forster, Victoria. "Canadian Physicians Can Now Prescribe Nature To Patients". Forbes. Retrieved 14 July 2022.