What's the Latest Development?
In studies on tree and plant essential oils -- also known as phytoncides -- scientists at Tokyo-based Nippon Medical School discovered that when they put test subjects in hotel rooms with and without cypress aromatherapy, those exposed to the aroma experienced the same positive physical effects as subjects documented in prior studies who walked through wooded areas. Their results led to the creation of the International Society of Nature and Forest Medicine, which held its first international symposium last year.
What's the Big Idea?
It's long been known that walks in nature work to reduce stress levels and improve immune functions, but the idea that forest therapy administered in a non-forest setting could achieve similar results was not made credible until recently. Evidence is also building around the health benefits of simply looking at photos of nature. Now, in addition to Japan, other countries are launching ambitious health projects around forest therapy: "[T]he Finnish Forest Research Institute is conducting a multi-year research program on forests and human well-being [and South Korea is] opening a new $140 million National Forest Therapy Center in 2014."
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