Forest Medicine Salon

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Last Updated: December 24, 2010

Radio Broadcast:
"Heal Your Heart and Body with the Power of the Forest!!"

Breath Of Field
March 11, 2010 – "Heal Your Heart and Body with the Power of the Forest"
Guest:Dr. Qing Li

JFN - FM Radio Station - 13 Network Broadcast Schedule:

FM Aomori Saturday, March 13 11:00 – 11:30 FM Okayama Saturday, March 13 12:00 – 12:30
FM Iwate Saturday, March 13 9:30 – 9:55 Hiroshima FM Saturday, March 13 12:00 – 12:30
FM Nagano Friday,   March 12 20:00 – 20:30 FM Kagawa Saturday, March 13 12:00 – 12:30
FM Toyama Saturday, March 13 20:30 – 20:55 FM Tokushima Saturday, March 13 12:00 – 12:30
FM Ishikawa Sunday,  March 14 0:30 – 1:00 FM Saga Sunday,  March 14 9:30 – 10:00
Gifu FM Saturday, March 13 11:25 – 11:55 FM Okinawa Sunday,  March 14 9:30 – 10:00
Kiss-FM KOBE Saturday, March 13 12:00 – 12:30      

Tanahashi’s Breath  Of  Field

Tanahashi:
How is everybody doing? I am Mai Tanahashi, who feels her heart relaxing whenever she hugs a big forest tree! I wonder, just how many years have those big trees been here!? I'm sure that I'm not the only one who feels like I can forget my everyday stress and exhaustion, and feel completely refreshed when experiencing the immenseness and the aroma of these trees. The forests have a power within them that we cannot see with our eyes... And now, the benefits of this new "Forest Therapy" is gaining more and more attention. Advances in the benefits of the forests, as well as the official recognition of the potent healing effects of forests have come to be viewed more and more as everyday concepts, and they are considered the "foundations of Forest Therapy". But, just what in the world is this "forest therapy"? Have you heard about this? I heard about it for the first time today. So this time, we've called an expert doctor who is researching ‘forests’ and "woods" from a medical perspective. As our guest today, he will take us beyond simple "forest bathing trips" and further into the world of "forest therapy". Today's topic is "Healing your heart and body with the power of the forest!!"
Breath Of Field!
I am sure you will enjoy today's show.
Tanahashi:
This is "Breath of Field" brought to you by Mai Tanahashi. Today's theme is "Healing your heart and body with the power of the forest!!" Everyone, have you been to the forest recently? I grew up in rural Tochigi prefecture, and when I was young, I would often go to play in the nearby mountains on the way home from elementary school. When I got home, my clothes were always covered in leaves. Since I've been living in Tokyo, I've wanted to go visit the forest again, but sadly I haven't found the time to do so. As soon as I set foot into a forest like that, the green jumps into my eyes, and the scent of the trees and the soil--I can feel the life and energy exuding from the woods...And that energy relaxes us, and also heals us. The healing effects of the forest may have recently become well-known in the form of 'forest bathing trips', but the actual effects had not yet been thoroughly explained. Today, 'stress-related therapy and healing' are gaining popularity, and so many people are starting to view 'forest bathing trip' more and more as a method for reducing stress. So today, we will explain the effects of these 'forest bathing trips' scientifically, as well as how the reinvigoration of your heart and body through 'Forest Therapy' is the first step beyond these 'forest bathing trips'. Guest Speaker: Dr. Qing Li And now, in order to explain to us all the attractive merits of 'forest therapy', let's introduce today's guest! I'd like to welcome Dr. Qing Li, a senior assistant professor at Nippon Medical School, and the president of the Society of Forest Medicine within the Japanese Society for Hygiene. Hello!
Dr. Li:
Hello everyone! Thank you so much for your kind introduction. I am Dr. Li from the Nippon Medical School. I look forward to speaking with everyone today.
Tanahashi:
So, could you tell us about “forest therapy”?
Dr. Li:
Before I tell you about forest therapy, first, I would like to mention a little about 'forest bathing trips'. The idea of utilizing the healing effects of forest environments to promote better health in people was first devised and promoted by MAFF Secretary General Akimoto in 1982, from whence the term came. However, the effects of the forest environment were, at the time, only accounts of peoples' experience (such as 'this made me feel much better' etc.), and there was little medical data organized to support the claims. But nowadays, methods for measuring peoples' physiological reactions are being rapidly developed. The changes in numerous bodily reactions and processes, such as in blood composition, urine, stress hormones in salivary fluids, as well as fluctuations in heart rate, compounded with changes in the composition of anti-cancer proteins found in immune cells brought about by 'forest bathing trips' were evaluated, and it became possible to provide an explanation of the effects of exposure to forests. The anti-cancer proteins can also be used to treat cancerous cells. However, today's world is overrun with stress-causing elements. If we refer to the "Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry Investigation", the ratio of severely depressed, worried, and stressed workers since the 1980s has gone up over 50% percent. Also, the lifestyle condition known as 'metabolic syndrome' has recently become a big topic, and is becoming a serious societal problem. And what's more, in 2009 the number of reported suicide cases peaked at 32,753, making it the 12th year-in-a-row since 1998 where there were more than 30,000 annual suicides. In 2007, the leading cause for suicide reportedly was 'health problems' (14,684 people), followed by 'depression' (6,060 people). Under these conditions, human health is becoming a huge social issue, and effective measures for tackling these problems are being sought after. The 'forest bathing trips' are now being seen as a new way of promoting better health and preventing illness. It was against this backdrop, that the word 'forest therapy' was born.
Forest therapy aims for the promotion and encouragement of better health as well as the prevention of disease through the effects of the 'forest bathing trips', but with the backing of solid scientific medical evidence.
Tanahashi:
What sorts of things can be found in the forests? How can we enjoy forest bathing and the forest therapy programs?
Dr. Li:
When one goes to enjoy a 'forest bathing trip' or enjoys 'forest therapy', it is essential to stimulate your five senses to the fullest. That is to say, your senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. First is the sense of sight. In the forest environment, you should enjoy the view and the vibrant colors; for example, the bright green of new leaves, or the deep red of the autumn foliage, bird watching, or perhaps flower watching and so on. Next is the sense of smell. The scent of the forest, of the trees, the phytoncides, and the scent of the flowers and plants. The next sense is hearing. The sounds of babbling brooks, of the chirping of birds (and the songs of small birds), and the sound of leaves beneath your feet. Also, the sense of taste. Mountain berries (such as strawberries, etc.), the taste of leaves (a stimulating sensation), the fruit of trees, of mountain plants, river fish, and the taste of local dishes. Last is the sense of touch. Touching and feeling the wind, water, trees, rocks, and leaves will leave you feeling refreshed and healed.
Tanahashi:
What sorts of activities are there available here in Japan?
Dr. Li:
Actually, the healing properties of forests were evaluated and began to be recognized as the foundation and process of the forest therapy program in Japan in 2005, and now, the 'Forest Therapy Base' and 'Forest Therapy Road' have already been established in 42 locations nationwide.
Tanahashi:
Is it recommended to go on a forest therapy trip by oneself?
Dr. Li:
You are also welcome to go to the forest with a guide and a forest therapist. Actually, in 2009 we began a program for certifying forest therapists.
Those forest therapists nationwide who have completed their qualification examinations are standing by to help people promote and improve their health through forest therapy.
Tanahashi:
So, what do you need to know to be a forest therapist?
Dr. Li:
First, you have to be knowledgeable about the forest, of course. Then, you have to have a certain level of medical knowledge as well.
Tanahashi:
Coming up next, we will ask Dr. Li about the power of the forests!

-break-

Tanahashi:
We're back and this is 'BREATH OF FIELD' brought to you by Mai Tanahashi! Today's theme is "Heal Your Heart and Body with the Power of the Forest!!"Continuing on---we will again ask Dr. Li, a senior assistant professor at Nippon Medical School, and the president of the Society of Forest Medicine within the Japanese Society for Hygiene to explain to us about 'Forest Therapy'! Dr. Li, thank you for your time again!And so, what is it like to be in the forest with a forest therapist? Namely, how can we best enjoy forest bathing trips and forest therapy?
Dr. Li:
When you enjoy forest bathing trips or forest therapy, keep the following 10 points in mind:
  1. Make a plan based on your daily physical activity and do not get tired during the forest bathing.
  2. If you take whole day forest bathing, it is better to stay in forest for about 4 hours and walk about 5 kilometres. If you take a half day forest bathing, it is better to stay in forest for about 2 hours and walk about 2.5 kilometres.
  3. If you feel tired, you can take a rest anywhere and anytime you like.
  4. If you feel thirsty, you can drink water/tea anywhere and anytime you like.
  5. Please find a place in the forest you like. Then, you can sit for a while and read or enjoy the beautiful scenery.
  6. If it is possible, it is better to take a hot spring bath (a spa) after the forest bathing.
  7. You can select the forest bathing course based on your purpose.
  8. If you want to boost your immunity (natural killer activity), a three-day/two-night forest bathing trip would be recommended.
  9. If you just want to relax for reducing your stress, a day trip to a forest park near to your home would be recommended.
  10. Forest bathing is just a preventive measure for diseases; therefore, if you come down with an illness, I would recommend you to see a doctor - not visit a forest.
I believe that the 'Forest Therapy Guidebook' produced by the Forest Therapy Society NPO will be helpful to further your enjoyment. This book contains information concerning 35 locations where the healing effects of the forest have been proven as well as details about the 'therapy roads'. I recommend this book to everyone.
Tanahashi:
Is there any information about events you can share with us?
Dr. Li:
Yes, now I will share some information about international symposiums related to forest medicine:
  1. In April 2010, from the 11th to the 16th, the 'International Healthy Parks Healthy People Congress' international conference was held in Melbourne, Australia. There, I gave a presentation on the latest research results in forest medicine.
  2. In August, 2010, from the 23rd to the 28th, the(XXIII World Congress of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) was held in Seoul, South Korea. At this symposium, I gave a presentation on the latest forest medicine research results in the 'Forests and Human Health' section.
  3. Information about the meetings of the Society of Forest Medicine
    In May 2010, from the 9th to the 11th, the 80th annual meeting of the Japanese Society for Hygiene was held in Sendai, Japan. At this symposium, I gave a report on the latest forest therapy news. It was open to everyone.
Tanahashi:
And finally, may we ask what do the forests mean to you, Dr. Li?
Dr. Li:
The forests are like our mother, a sacred place, a gift given to us humans from the divine. It is a 'Paradise of Healing'. I strongly recommend that everyone definitely make a trip to the forest at some point.
Tanahashi:
"BREATH OF FIELD"---- Today, we discussed how to "Heal Your Heart and Body with the Power of the Forest!" with Dr. Qing Li of the Nippon Medical School, who is also the president of the Society of Forest Medicine within the Japanese Society for Hygiene. Dr. Li, thank you very much for your time.
Tanahashi:
This is "BREATH OF FIELD", and I am Mai Tanahashi! Today's theme was how to "Heal Your Heart and Body with the Power of the Forest!", so, everyone, please try to plan a trip to the forest on a weekend!
Tanahashi:
You can find more information about today's program on our homepage, so you should definitely go check it out!
The address is:
www.jfn.co.jp/field
See you next time!
This was Mai Tanahashi.

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