Forest Bathing

A New Phrase But It's Older Than the Hills

Acorn Lodge has both Pine and Deciduous Forests for Bathing

Guided Tours Available

What is forest bathing?

The term "forest bathing" might seem a bit trendy, but in fact it is an ages-old natural concept for good health. The human race was born into the outdoors, not into heated homes. The human race was born into an environment of clean air, scents coming from all different plants and flowers (some not noticeable), scents from all types of tree leaves and grasses, swamps, mud, warmth, and everything else to be found in nature. To put it bluntly, we are a product of what is around us. 

The native tribes of North America used literally every flower species for medicinal purposes. Some were boiled and drank while others rubbed on the skin. The juice from certain mushrooms can restore aging vision, as was recorded in a documentary by Professor Larry Lansburgh in an Amazon rain forest film. There are endless examples of forests being the providers of natural medicines. 

The term "forest bathing" emerged in Japan in the 1980s as a physiological and psychological exercise called shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere”). The purpose was twofold: to offer an eco-antidote to tech-boom burnout and to inspire residents to reconnect with and protect the country's forests.

The following notes explain a few of the natural health benefits in the woods at Acorn Lodge.

Here is a not-so-well-known fact: 

Lichen (on left) is a natural air quality indicator. If you see this on a tree you are in the purest air there is. 

Oxygen is nature's antibiotic. Literally every plant, flower, blossom, tree, pine needle, and more contribute to the antibiotic and natural healing qualities of being outside in the woods. Humanity was born into this environment. Over the eons the environment never changed, but humanity left everything outside and moved into concrete enclaves and warm houses. 

The cottonwood trees cover the trail with their little flowers known as "cottonwood puff." This puff is actually a powerful anti-microbial, that was used by the Indian tribes as an anti-fungal and arthritis soothing medicine. A white pine, growing among the cottonwoods, was snapped off by a rare tornado. 

Bloodroot, a plant native to North America with telltale reddish roots, has long been used in traditional medicine for its alleged anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. 

The Bottle Gentian has no fragrance, yet is one of the most powerful antioxidants among the flowers. It had many other medicinal uses among the tribes, especially the Ojibwa and Ottawa. 

The cardinal flower provides a source of nectar to hummingbird pollinators and to spicebush swallowtails. And yes, it was used by the tribes for medicinal purposes, too. 

The endangered yellow trout lily is an important pollen and food source for many types of insects such as bees, butterflies, flies, and ants. The Ottawa tribe also used them for medicinal purposes, especially as an anti-fungal and cold medicine.  

Yellow violets not only smell good, they also attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. They were also used by the Indian tribes for medicinal healing purposes. Women in the 1800s chewed them for breath mints. 

 Wild geraniums are known as a "super pollinator," extending far into spring after the others are gone. Again, the Ottawa and Ojibwa Indian tribes used these for medicinal purposes. 

Forest Bathing is Not a Fad. It works. Below you will find links to state and national agencies which promote forest bathing as a natural method of health. Oxygen is, actually, nature's antibiotic. Below is the Acorn Lodge sanctuary, photo taken from a satellite. 

This is a Google Earth photo of Acorn Lodge, visible at the high top right. The River House is on the far left center where the white line is. Those are 120 feet of boulders along the river bank. The log bridge, 110 feet long, is in the center. The dark spots in the middle are the old growth swamp, where a seasonal river passes through once or twice a year. As you can see, we are solid forest from lodge to river, about 1500 feet.

This area is filled with plants, leaves, and all kinds of oxygen and health producing flora.  We will explain this all on  the Trails page. 

The New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation has done extensive research into this topic. We include one short clip taken from their research article, "Forests Make Us Healthier." For the whole article click here

Health Benefits From Forests

The reference list at the bottom of this page has links to specific studies on these benefits.

Exposure to forests and trees:

New York's Central Park Was Designed as a Fresh Air Source for the City

Central Park was designed for the health of the City. Look at the picture. The designers wanted a place of nature to be readily available to the residents.  To see the entire article click here

Forest Bathing is International, Not Just a Fad

The Austrian Dept. of Travel has developed an extensive page about the benefits of being in forests. We'll list one short clip below. For the full site click here

Why Nature Is So Refreshing

Take a deep breath in and let go of everyday stresses... When you spend time in the forest, you will soon realize that being surrounded by trees seems to release the tension of deadlines and notifications with every breath you take. No wonder: Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, making for perfect natural air purifiers with additional healing properties.

Austrian Wood expert Erwin Thoma explains, 

"Humans still operate on the same software as in the Stone Age. That's how our bodies are able to mobilize from naught to sixty in dangerous situations - that's what the limbic system in our brains is for. It works completely subconsciously. And that's why spending time in nature is so refreshing – our subconscious recognizes nature as a source of deep relaxation." 

Phytoncides Are Created By Trees & Plants. You Should Be There. 

Fun Fact: Trees release chemicals called phytoncides that lower anxiety. 

(Source: Wikipedia) 

Forest Plants & Flowers Improve Immune System

The U.S. Forest Service publishes many articles about the benefits of being in the woods. We include one such article here, which is from Florida.  Below is a section taken from that article which covers the exposure to plants. To view the whole article click here

The secrets lie in the plants themselves. For one reason, forests contain a higher concentration of oxygen than urban spaces do. The next and perhaps most surprising reason comes from the chemicals plants produce called phytoncides. These chemicals are natural oils that plants use to defend themselves against unwanted pests such as insects, bacteria or fungi. 

Phytoncides improve the human immune system by increasing natural killer cell activity. These cells respond rapidly to virus-infected cells and tumor formation. Studies show that increased natural cell activity can last for more than 30 days after a trip to a forest, suggesting that a trip once a month would enable individuals to maintain a higher level of natural killer cell activity. Other benefits from phytoncides include an increase in anti-cancer proteins; a reduction in blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones; reduced test scores for anxiety, depression, anger, fatigue, and confusion; and increased scores for vigor. 

Time Magazine Publishes a Japanese Article About Forest Bathing 


MAY 1, 2018 10:51 AM EDT

We all know how good being in nature can make us feel. We have known it for centuries. The sounds of the forest, the scent of the trees, the sunlight playing through the leaves, the fresh, clean air — these things give us a sense of comfort. They ease our stress and worry, help us to relax and to think more clearly. Being in nature can restore our mood, give us back our energy and vitality, refresh and rejuvenate us.

But what exactly is this feeling that is so hard to put into words? I am a scientist, not a poet. And I have been investigating the science behind that feeling for many years.

In Japan, we practice something called forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku. 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.

To see the whole article click here

Scientific studies have found that forest air contains plant substances that have a positive effect on the human body. In Japan, "forest bathing" - spending mindful time in the forest - has even become a recognized form of therapy. People who love the forests know the feeling: Between forests and meadows, lakes and creeks, some worries seem to disappear into thin air, as nature replenishes our strength.

The Tree Council (from the U.K.) Has Studied Forest Bathing Benefits

This article is from a Tree Council publication in Britain.  We had to copy and paste the blurb above, hence its blurriness. But it was so stunning with its information that we wanted to share it with you. To read the whole article click here

Below Are Some of the Forest Bathing Sites of Acorn Lodge

There are many more sites and descriptions on the Trails page

Towering pines are creating oxygen all day and night.

 Winding trails take you into the pines. Breathe deep.

The Log Bridge

There are many benches and chairs along the 1.5 miles of trails at the lodge. Each has a unique view and attributes. 

Twin Benches on the River

Nature provides all kinds of seasonal balms, either coming from trees or flowers, or wafting air coming up from a pure river. 

The Beach Tree Rest provides both forest and water air. 

A woodlands bench at the bottom of Indian Mound.

A solitary bench overlooks the river. 

Submersed in greenery. 

The Red Chairs sitting area is back in the woods and pleasant. Notice the lichen on the tree to the right. You will see these all through the forest. Lichens are a sign of pure air. 

The Old Oak Tree Gets Some Special Attention 

(because it's so old)

Foresters tell us this oak tree is over 350 years old, which means it started growing from an acorn in the 1670s. The chairs are slanted back for easier gazing upwards into its majesty. 

Nature's tranquility. 

A towering giant.

A bench on top of Indian Mound is peaceful and restful.

Chairs on Indian Mound face the other way. There's more to see in all directions. 

A solitary bench at the Beech Tree Rest.

Forest bathers have been known to fall asleep out here. 

At the River Rest you can bring your picnic. 

You can even forest bathe right outside on the lawn. 

You can find our calendar of dates available and book Acorn Lodge on either the "Contact Us" or "Book Acorn Lodge" pages.

Thank you for reading! Please enjoy the other pages we have put up about Acorn Lodge.