For those unable to visit a natural forest setting every week, essential oils are a proven alternative for reaping important health benefits at home.
People have been using essential oils for centuries as natural remedies, and the last few decades have seen their efficacy backed up with scientific evidence.
Forest bathing is still most effective for those who can spend time in nature, walking among the trees. But studies have shown that essential woody oils deliver the same fragrant compounds found in the forest into an indoor setting.
So if you can’t get spend time in the wilderness as often as you like, you can supplement your forest bathing trips with essential oils.
The Best Essential Oils for Forest Bathing
The most effective essential oils containing forest bathing benefits are made from parts of the trees themselves. The most potent phytoncide compounds come from coniferous forests. The woody oils derived from these trees have been shown to boost the immune system and provide other health benefits just as a walk in the woods does.
The majestic Hinoki cypress trees are found in Japanese forests and release particularly potent phytoncide compounds. Essential oils from the Hinoki cypress contain terpenes and phytoncides for promoting relaxation and building the human immune system.
Hinoki oil can be diffused into the air using a commercial diffuser or adding a few drops to salt or cloth and placing it nearby. It can also be applied topically to the palms, feet, and chest. Other options are adding a few drops to bathwater or hardwood floor cleaner.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree oil comes from Australia, where its healing properties have been known and used by aboriginal tribes for centuries. The oil contains many healing compounds, including terpinen-4-ol, a powerful anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal.
Tea tree oil can be used as an ingredient in a natural, homemade hand sanitizer. Many homeopathic recipes also use this oil topically to treat small cuts and scrapes. It can even be used in mouthwash to fight plaque build-up. But don’t swallow it, as it can be toxic.
Pine tree oil contains many healing properties that affect skin health, metabolism, inflammation, and stress.
You can add pine oil to cleaning products or in a diffuser for use as an air freshener. Add fresh pine needles to a steam diffuser as aromatherapy. The pine tree essential oil is also a topical antiseptic for cuts and other injuries.
Please note: It is not safe to ingest pine oil. Read all directions and warnings that may come with any essential oil you purchase and follow healthful practices.
The distinctive odor of the Eucalyptus tree is familiar to most people. Originating from Australia, you can now find Eucalyptus in many other places around the world.
The essential oil is made from the tree’s leaves and used in commercial medicines and at home for aromatherapy and topical healing.
Eucalyptus oil is probably most commonly used to alleviate congestion and coughs associated with the common cold or other respiratory distress. It is one of the major ingredients in Vick’s VapoRub, and the essential oil can be similarly used as a steam diffusion or rubbed directly on the chest.
Eucalyptus oil is also a natural disinfectant and anti-inflammatory. It can help promote the healing of burns and other injuries. It can also help ease joint pain. And ongoing studies are exploring the possibility that this versatile oil may help regulate blood sugar levels.
Forest Bathing Blends
e3 Forest Blend
The Essential-3, or e3 Forest Blend, brings the aromas and health benefits of nature into your home. The oil blends the aromas of cypress, pine, douglas fir, cedarwood atlas, and black spruce into a healing fusion creating the relaxing aura of being among the trees.
Immune Illume is a powerful blend of tree and herb oils with antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral compounds to help fight seasonal colds and flu. The oil helps to build a strong immune system for the long run while preventing many fall illnesses from taking hold.
Deep Breath Essential Oil Blend
This oil combines specific tree oils and herbs that facilitate opening air passages for deeper, more relaxed breathing. Eden’s Garden Essential Oils carries one of several such blends. You may want to research and experiment to find which of the respiratory blends works best for you.
How do Essential Oils Work?
Essential oils are natural plant extracts that are absorbed into the body by several different methods. You can enjoy the benefits of essential oils in aromatherapy, through topical applications and some are even taken internally.
However, it is always a good idea to research any essential oil thoroughly to learn the safest ways to use it and any potential reactions, such as rashes. John’s Hopkins has a good article on the effectiveness of essential oils and how to use them safely.
The best way to use essential oils to simulate forest bathing is with a diffuser. This way they are absorbed as they would be among the trees themselves–as a fragrant aroma.
Initially, the chemicals in aromatic oils are transferred directly to the brain via olfactory nerves. These chemicals help to relax and soothe frayed nerves.
Wholistic practitioners report that essential oils have many other effects on the human body as they are absorbed into the bloodstream through surface detectors and the limbic system.
Some essential oils can be effective topically by applying during a massage or adding a few drops to a soothing bath. Again, always research any essential oil before use, and try applying it to a small area before using it on a large portion of your body.
There are also internal benefits for some essential oils. They may be added to tea or other foods to increase their effectiveness. But not all essential oils can be used in this way. Always look for label warnings, and if there’s any question, do not consume the product. Many tree oils are not edible.
How to Enhance Your At-Home Forest Bathing Experience
Along with the use of essential oils, you can bring the benefits of nature into your home in the following ways.
- Create a quiet resting place with houseplants near a sunny window.
- Open windows often to allow clean, fresh air in.
- Use artwork to depict trees and natural scenes.
- Incorporate a small water feature into a room or garden.
Essential oils can bring the aroma of the forest into your home, evoking memories of the relaxing atmosphere among the trees and providing healthful doses of the compounds found there. Essential oils are an organic, natural way to enjoy the benefits of the outdoors without the necessity of travel.
Everyone can benefit from nature’s healing remedies. With a bit of research, the elderly, disabled, even those with allergies can find essential oils that will complement and supplement traditional medications while offering a mental and emotional escape from everyday surroundings.