Friday, August 05, 2005

Shinrin-yoku

New Scientist (6 August) extracts from Joan Maloof's Teaching the Trees: Lessons from the forest. The essay doesn't seem to be available on the web, but is a must read:

"When we discuss what we miss about forest after they have been cut, we usually mention the sight or the shade or the species; but now I was breathing deeply of a forest gift I had forgotten: the air! Americans largely ignore this dimension of the forest's allure, but the Japanese recognise it and have a name for it: shinrin-yoku - wood-air bathing. Japanese researchers have discovered that when diabetic patients walk through the forest, their blood sugar drops to healthier levels...

What could be in forest air that makes us feel better? Researchers working in the Sierra Nevada of California found 120 chemical compounds in the mountain forest air, but they could identify only 70 of them! We are literally breathing things we don't understand. And when we lose our forests we don't know what we are losing...

...We know, instinctively, that our own health, both physical and spiritual, is a reflection of the health of the Earth - for better or worse. But we barely have words to discuss this connection, perhaps because we don't yet have all the tools needed to measure it. The strands connecting us are largely invisible.

...biologists, like poets, have a special role to play in helping us stay aware of the connections - and a special obligation to speak out when the web of life is abused and disrupted."

2 comments:

jacob schor said...

I couldn't find it on new scientist but did find it at:
http://www.terrain.org/articles/14/maloof.htm

drjacobschor1@msn.com

Caspar Henderson said...

Thanks, I also recently found it on the New Scientist site with a 31 Aug date:

http://www.newscientist.com/channel/life/dn7931-perspectives-take-a-deep-breath.htmlline