Therapeutic effect of forest bathing on human hypertension in the elderly
ABSTRACT OBJECTIVE: To provide scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of forest bathing as a natural therapy for human hypertension. METHODS: Twenty-four elderly patients with essential hypertension were randomly divided into two groups of 12. One group was sent to a broad-leaved evergreen forest to experience a 7-day/7-night trip, and the other was sent to a city area in Hangzhou for control. Blood pressure indicators, cardiovascular disease-related pathological factors including endothelin-1, homocysteine, renin, angiotensinogen, angiotensin II, angiotensin II type 1 receptor, angiotensin II type 2 receptor as well as inflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor α were detected. Meanwhile, profile of mood states (POMS) evaluation was used to assess the change of mood state of subjects. In addition, the air quality in the two experimental sites was monitored during the 7-day duration, simultaneously. RESULTS: The baselines of the indicators of the subjects were not significantly different. Little alteration in the detected indicators in the city group was observed after the experiment. While subjects exposed to the forest environment showed a significant reduction in blood pressure in comparison to that of the city group. The values for the bio-indicators in subjects exposed to the forest environment were also lower than those in the urban control group and the baseline levels of themselves. POMS evaluation showed that the scores in the negative subscales were lowered after exposure to the forest environment. Besides, the air quality in the forest environment was much better than that of the urban area evidenced by the quantitative detection of negative ions and PM10 (particulate matter <10μm in aerodynamic diameter). CONCLUSION: Our results provided direct evidence that forest bathing has therapeutic effects on human hypertension and induces inhibition of the renin-angiotensin system and inflammation, and thus inspiring its preventive efficacy against cardiovascular disorders.
SourceAvailable from: Vicent Balanzá Martínez[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Famed microbiologist René J. Dubos (1901–1982) was an early pioneer in the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) construct. In the 1960s, he conducted groundbreaking research concerning the ways in which early-life experience with nutrition, microbiota, stress, and other environmental variables could influence later-life health outcomes. He recognized the co-evolutionary relationship between microbiota and the human host. Almost 2 decades before the hygiene hypothesis, he suggested that children in developed nations were becoming too sanitized (vs. our ancestral past) and that scientists should determine whether the childhood environment should be “dirtied up in a controlled manner.” He also argued that oft-celebrated growth chart increases via changes in the global food supply and dietary patterns should not be equated to quality of life and mental health. Here in the second part of our review, we reflect the words of Dubos off contemporary research findings in the areas of diet, the gut-brain-axis (microbiota and anxiety and depression) and microbial ecology. Finally, we argue, as Dubos did 40 years ago, that researchers should more closely examine the relevancy of silo-sequestered, reductionist findings in the larger picture of human quality of life. In the context of global climate change and the epidemiological transition, an allergy epidemic and psychosocial stress, our review suggests that discussions of natural environments, urbanization, biodiversity, microbiota, nutrition, and mental health, are often one in the same.Journal of PHYSIOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY 03/2015; 34(1):9. DOI:10.1186/s40101-014-0040-4 · 1.16 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: There has been increasing attention on the therapeutic effects of the forest environment. However, evidence-based research that clarifies the physiological effects of the forest environment on hypertensive individuals is lacking. This study provides scientific evidence suggesting that a brief forest walk affects autonomic nervous system activity in middle-aged hypertensive individuals. Twenty participants (58.0 ± 10.6 years) were instructed to walk predetermined courses in forest and urban environments (as control). Course length (17-min walk), walking speed, and energy expenditure were equal between the forest and urban environments to clarify the effects of each environment. Heart rate variability (HRV) and heart rate were used to quantify physiological responses. The modified semantic differential method and Profile of Mood States were used to determine psychological responses. The natural logarithm of the high-frequency component of HRV was significantly higher and heart rate was significantly lower when participants walked in the forest than when they walked in the urban environment. The questionnaire results indicated that, compared with the urban environment, walking in the forest increased "comfortable", "relaxed", "natural" and "vigorous" feelings and decreased "tension-anxiety," "depression," "anxiety-hostility," "fatigue" and "confusion". A brief walk in the forest elicited physiological and psychological relaxation effects on middle-aged hypertensive individuals.International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 03/2015; 12(3):2687-99. DOI:10.3390/ijerph120302687 · 1.99 Impact Factor