“Some people study medicine. Some people study forest. I study forest medicine”. Dr. Qing Li (MD, PhD) is a medical doctor at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo and the world’s leading expert in forest medicine and immunology. He studies all the ways in which walking in the forest can improve our well-being.
In 2018 he published “Shinrin-Yoku. The Art and Science of Forest Bathing – How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness”. This bestselling book had been translated into 25 languages and an increasing number of Forest Bathing centres and Forest Bathing coaches can be found all over the world.
His most important message to listeners: “Forest Bathing cures Covid-19”.
But what is Forest Bathing? How is this different from ‘just’ walking in the forest? What are the benefits? What kind of research and data is available (we talk for example about the effect of phytoncides) and how can we incorporate this insights to experience the positive effects on mindset, stress levels, immune system and sleep? Even if you can’t go outside?
I hope you enjoy this episode and feel free to leave a comment below or share this episode!
In this podcast
0:00 What is Forest Bathing?
2:57 What are the benefits?
7:44 How long should I go in the forest?
9:51 About the research data
13:08 What is a Forest Therapy base?
17:23 Do you need to do exercises while forest bathing?
19:11 What does a Forest Therapy guide do?
22:09 How did you get into this topic?
27:39 About Forest Medicine: science and future research
30:59 The effect of phytoncides on human health
49:39 Can it also be a spiritual experience?
51:24 What does Yügen mean?
57:03 Forest Bathing when you cannot go outside
1:00:25 Where to find more info
Dr. Qing Li
Video transcript: “Forest Bathing Cures Covid”. About Shinrin Yoku and Forest Medicine Research | #118 Dr Qing Li
Sjanett: Could you explain to my listeners what is forest bathing and how is it different from just walking in the forest?
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, in fact, forest bathing is from the Japanese Shinrin Yoku. Yeah, Shinrin in Japanese means the forest, Yoku means the bath. So Shinrin Yoku is to take forest atmosphere through our five senses: sense of smell, sense of the sight, sense of hearing, sense of the touch, and sense of taste. So you just being in nature, being in the forest, while you slow walk. It is very important that you enjoy the forest atmosphere by your 5 senses. So forest bathing is a total effect from the five senses. This is forest bathing.
Sjanett: So and it’s different from just walking that you engage all the senses. Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, so, yeah, there keyword, five senses is the keywords for forest bathing. If you just take a walk in the forest, but you don’t use the five senses, It’s not forest bathing, just walking in the forest. So because, yeah, when you stay in the forest, if you just take a walk, you may be miss anything from the forest, but if you take a stroll walk, enjoy the forest with your five senses, for example you can smell the scent from the trees. You also can put your whole body in the forest atmosphere, to enjoy all the forest atmosphere. You will also can see beautiful, beautiful colour for landscape. The green color, yellow color and other color, yeah, many, many, you can also see some what we call the commodity that the song from the live. So yeah, see the sky. Through the leaves of trees, You can see the beautiful, beautiful scenery we call komorebi,
Dr. Qing Li: Komorebi, yeah. it’s the sun filtered by the leaves of the tree. So you will (bath in) mild sunlight. It’s good for your eye. So it’s the total effect, five senses.
Sjanett: And what are the benefits? You did the research, what is the benefit?
Dr. Qing Li : In fact, from 2004 I have studied my research on forest bathing and Shinrin Yoku. So I have conducted about 20 researches, 20 studies so far. So forest bathing can reduce your blood pressure. Reduce your heart rate. And reduce your stress hormone due to stress cortison, adrenaline, noradrenaline. So forest bathing can boost your immune system. So we call them natural killer cells, So, natural killer cells can kill tumor cells also with the infected cells and also bacteria. Even it can cure the Covid-19.
Sjanett: It can cure covid?
Dr. Qing Li : Covid-19, yeah.
Sjanett: That was my question to you. We are in lockdown as well in the Netherlands.
Dr. Qing Li : Yeah, lockdown.
Sjanett: So we need to go to the forest?
Dr. Qing Li: So forest bathing also can improve your sleep. Reduce your negative feelings and improve your positive feelings. For example, forest bathing can reduce your negative feelings such as anxiety, depression, anger, fatigue, confusing. So so it’s a it’s a way of how to prevent the effect of the depression.
Sjanett: Depression. Dr. Qing Li: For example, during the epidemic of the covid-19, Many people will feel a lot of mental stress.
Sjanett: Yes. Dr. Qing Li: Because the lockdown, isolating keeps the social distance. you cannot drink out, you cannot eat out. You have to stay, stay in the home. So it will produce a lot of mental stress. But the forest bathing can reduce the mental stress. So forest bathing also can improve the immune function. The fact that people with lower immune function will show more mortality, higher mortality rates of the covid-19, For example, older people, and the people with some diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases. So those people, because those people have a lower immune function, In fact… Yeah, impaired immune function. So because forest bathing can boost your immune function, can reduce your stress hormone, can reduce your mental stress. So forest bathing also have some positive effect, preventive effect on the covid-19.
Sjanett: Are you doing research on covid and forest bathing as well? Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, in fact I conducted research with an Italian group Italian group. So this is a research from the Italia. I give the advice to the researcher in Italy and they publish a paper. Recently. So just to see the video, sees a DVD video, take the video of the forest landscape. So people just watching that, yeah, forest video.
Sjanett: Watch a video of the forest? Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, and the video will reduce the mental stress. This is recently new research.
Sjanett: So but then what about the smell and the sun, if you’re just watching a video? Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, very good question. In fact, forest bating is the total five senses, but if you just watch the DVD, this is just one sense, one sense, just a sense of sight. So but the sense of sight also have a positive effect. So you cannot get the all of the forest bathing effect, but you can get a part of the forest bathing effect.
Sjanett: And what is the protocol, the procedure like how long should I go into the forest? How long should I go? Dr. Qing Li: Ok. In fact, from the 20 minutes. it’s better to stay longer in the forest. But from 30 minutes, the effect will be start, so the effect is from the 30 minutes, but longer is better. Yeah, in fact, if you want to boosts your immune function, I suggest you stay in the forest for two nights, and three day. It’s a longer vacation for the weekend, because of the two nights, three day forest bathing can boost the immune function. And this, in fact can last for 30 days. So two nights, three days forest bathing can keep your immune function in higher level for 30 days. If you don’t have time, you also take a day trip of the forest bathing. A day trip is four to six hours. This also can increase your immune function, and this effect can last for one week. So six hour, four to six hours, can keep your immune function in higher level for one week, so four hours, one week, two nights, three days, for 30 days.
Sjanett: And all this is… Yeah, well, to get the relaxation, two hours, two hours, it’s enough. For the psychological effect, because you’re relaxing.
Sjanett: And what I love it is that it’s all backed up by scientific data. Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, we have the scientific scientific data. Yeah. And this is a scientific book, “forest medicine”. Can you see the title no?
Sjanett: It’s the background, it’s the trees.
Dr. Qing Li: Ah, background.
Sjanett: Maybe before your body. If you put it here, I can see the book Now.. Yeah, yeah.
Dr. Qing Li: You can see the book?
Dr. Qing Li: Forest Medicine. So this is a scientific book. We have a lot of data, a lot of figure. For example, a lot of figure, a lot of data, so in fact, in this book, this book is from this book. This is a public book. So there are no many data, just the description yeah, but this is a this is a scientific book. So many, many datas, for example, like this one.
Dr. Qing Li: OK, many many data.
Sjanett: I can see. Dr. Qing Li: You can see, OK. So, in fact, I have studied forest bathing from 2004 Almost 16 years.
Sjanett: Sixteen years of research.
Dr. Qing Li: One-six years, yeah.
Sjanett: And what I what I notice in the book,
Dr. Qing Li: in Japan, you have forest bathing centers, -..with check points and trails. -Yeah, centers. Yeah, this is not “centers”, we call them forest therapy “base”. So forest therapy base.
Sjanett: Ok. Dr. Qing Li: B, A, S, E.
Dr. Qing Li: Base. B, A, S, E. No, no, no, B, not the P, B. Base.
Sjanett: Base, yes.
Dr. Qing Li: Forest therapy base we call them. But you can also call it the forest therapy centre, it’s ok.
Sjanett: Yeah, and, um, can this be all over the world? Because Japan has a lot of forest. Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, in fact, about.. [Inaudible] Dr. Qing Li: In fact the forest reach cover of the region at about 70 percent.
Sjanett: 70 percent of Japan? Dr. Qing Li: In japan, yeah. Two third of the land is forest. So 70 percent of the land is forest in Japan. –
Sjanett: And the forest therapy base.. -Center Dr. Qing Li: Base, yeah.
Sjanett: Center? Base? Dr. Qing Li: Base is OK, Center and Base is similar.
Sjanett: People go there to you, and there is a doctor on the base for checkups, right?
Dr. Qing Li: I will explain forest therapy base. So there are a lot of forest in Japan, but the first base is scientifically proven. By the experiment. So if you visit that forest, you will get beneficial effect from the forest, so we have the data.
Sjanett: Ah is for doing research.
Dr. Qing Li: So we have the data. that’s the first. so after we conduct the research and confirm the effect of forest bathing, So that forest will be identified, identified as forest therapy base, or forest therapy center. So we have another.. we call them forest therapists. We have a lot of forest therapists in Japan. So those forest therapists will stay in the forest base. So they will guide you. To visit the forest therapy center. So this is only (in) Japan So for some forest base, there are also a doctor, a medical doctor stay there, but it just one forest therapy center, that is the birthplace of the forest bathing in Japan. I think maybe, you know, Akazawa. Decreasing forest, you don’t know?
Sjanett: Maybe I think on the map in the book, but no. Dr. Qing Li: It is in the book. It is the birthplace of the forest bathing in Japan.
Sjanett: Is it possible to start a clinic, for example, in the Netherlands, how big does the forest need to be? Or can everyone do this at home or how big (the forest need to be)? Dr. Qing Li: So how big for the forest?
Sjanett: Yeah. Dr. Qing Li: The forest are very big, but there are no houses. They just visit the forest for daytime. So during the stay, you just stay in a hotel near the forest. But you cannot stay a stay at the forest in the night, during the night. Because during the night, the atmosphere is not good for houses, because a lot of less oxygen, I think maybe, you know, during the daytime, the tree will produce the oxygen and will absorb the carbon dioxide we call the CO2.
Sjanett: Yeah. -Dr. Qing Li: You know, CO2? -Yes. During the night time, The forest, the tree will produce CO2. It will use that we will use the oxygen to produce CO2. So during that nighttime, the forest atmosphere is not good for human health. Because a large concentration of the oxygen.
Sjanett: I understand Dr. Qing Li: So you have to.. yeah.. From my research, you just visit the forest during the daytime, For example, from the 10:00 a.m. to the 4:00 p.m. From ten to four, yeah. Yeah, yeah. During the sunshine. And likewise you cannot visit the forest after sunset After sunset, you don’t visit the forest.
Sjanett: So you visit in the daytime when the sun is shining? Dr. Qing Li: Yes. Sun shining.
Sjanett: And do you take like, exercises with you? or you write? or… Dr. Qing Li: OK, so… In fact, during the forest bathing, you can take any take some activity like tai chi, do you know tai chi? You also can (do) yoga, yoga breathing. So in fact during the forest bathing, Usually I recommend people to take a deep breathing -Deep breathing -Breathing? And you also can take picnic with your friend or your family. Remember, you just use your five senses as much as possible.
Sjanett: So you just go use your senses as much as possible, maybe do some yoga, breathing.. Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, deep breathing or Tai chi.
Sjanett: Yeah, but you can also so you don’t have to go alone. You can go with your family as well together. Dr. Qing Li: So it’s a dependent, some people, maybe want to visit the forest alone, but some people want to visit with family or friends, some people also want to visit the forest with a guided like a forest therapist. So there is no one size for all solution.
Sjanett: There is no one size.
Dr. Qing Li: No one style, it depends on the preference.
Sjanett: And what do those forest bathing guide, the therapy, the therapist, what does he do?
Dr. Qing Li: So they will guide you to take a forest therapy use. To the trails. So they do the forest therapist know the forest very much so they know the story about the forest They know that, yeah.. The history about the forest therapy center also he knew.. I have some acknowledgement of that. Like a fight, with a fight. Fight, with a flower, with the trees either. So, yeah, They can give you advice, And that depending on the physical ability, So before the forest bathing, they will ask you some questions and give you a plan. That suit for you.
Sjanett: So it’s a guide?
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, it’s very similar to a nature guide. For example, if you visit to some places, maybe you can.. ..See some nature guide. This is very similar. Yeah. Many of forest therapist is from the nature guide. So they know nature very much. In fact that we have a training course for the forest therapist. So after they received the training course of the Forest therapy base, we will give them the certification,
Sjanett: Certified, yeah? Dr. Qing Li: Certificate. In fact in Japan. There are about 1000 forest therapists in Japan.
Sjanett: One hundred and forty therapist?
Dr. Qing Li: No no, one thousand.
Sjanett: One thousand?
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, one thousand. In whole Japan.
Sjanett: And it’s part of the health care in Japan?
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, health care. Like health care. It is very similar to health care. So maybe people some forest therapy with the background of the nurses, Also, some people, (has a background of) medical doctor, And in some people, like a health care worker. Also, some people from the nature, nature guide.
Sjanett: How did you get into this topic?
Dr. Qing Li: The topic? the forest bathing?
Sjanett: Yeah, for you.
Dr. Qing Li: It’s a long story, is it OK?
Sjanett: It’s OK.
Dr. Qing Li: I was born in a very small village in China. So In my village here are a lot of poplar, there is a poplar forest, Poplar forest, very high poplar forest. and also the apricot, apricot forest. -So poplar and..
Dr. Qing Li: So from childhood, I… yeah, living in the nature. So I love the nature, I love the forest and after I graduated from university, medical university, in China, I came to Japan, I’m chinese but, I came to Japan for over 30 years. So, in fact, during my study in Kagoshima university, when I was student, I visit the very famous island, maybe you know Yakushima. Sjanett: Yeah. Dr. Qing Li: In my book, I mention Yakushima. A very small island in south Japan.
Sjanett: Yeah, I know.. Dr. Qing Li: Very beautiful, beautiful forest. The Japanese, we call Japanese ceder, Japanese ceder. (There’s) a lot of Japanese ceder forest. Very famous. So when I visited there, I found the beneficial effect of forest bathing. Because my major is environmental medicine, environmental medicine. So I’m a medical doctor. So because my major is in environmental medicine, in fact forest, forest environment is also one kind of environment. in fact, some people study forest, some people studied medicine, I study forest medicine to find the beneficial effect of human health, the beneficial effect of forest bathing for human health. So it’s my background, Another background is, in fact, I studied at the Stanford University, in America, for 1 year. I studied the effect of the anti-cancer protein, You know, anti-cancer protein of human health.
Sjanett: Anti-cancer protein. Yeah, yeah. Dr. Qing Li: Anti-cancer protein, lack of granulation,perforing, grant anyway. And then, So I must.. I learned the measurement of.. of how to measure, I learned to measure of how to measure the anticancer protein in natural killercells. I have the technology, technology for measuring the anticancer protein. So after I returned to Japan, the Japanese government, The Japanese government wanted to explore the effect of forest bathing on human health. So they invited me to be a member of the this project. So the Congress gave me a lot of grant, Like research research grant, and it’s big like, about for three years, one point four million dollar,
Sjanett: One point four million dollars.
Dr. Qing Li: For three years.
Dr. Qing Li: So this is a big and yes, it’s a big money, big project. So that was 2004. About 16 years ago, So because I know medicine, I also know forest environment. So I can do this research very well, Because I have my background of the stress? of the forest environment, Also the immunology, Because I learned a lot of technique of the immunology, from the Stanford University. So I know all the background of the forest. So the government, yeah, give me a big project for this research, so I started my research from 2004, and I conduct experiment almost one or two every year. So total I have a conducted about 20, 20 experiment. On the topic of the forest bathing.
Sjanett: I love it.
Dr. Qing Li: In Fact, I.. this is forest medicine is a new science I established this new science. Forest medicine, It’s a new science, it’s a preventive medicine.
Sjanett: What is the next research going to be? The future of the forest bathing?
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, in fact in the future I will apply the forest therapy forest bathing in the rehabilitation medicine. You know rehabilitation medicine? For people, yeah, this is one. Another one is recently, I started a new research. I used the phytoncide, the smell, phytoncide aroma.
Sjanett: Aroma, yeah.
Dr. Qing Li: To older patients with dementia.
Sjanett: OK, Dr. Qing Li: Because I think in the world that are a lot of patient with dementia, but there are no treatment measure. So the provision is very important. Because the aroma will stimulate your olfactory nerve.
Dr. Qing Li: It will have some good effect on the memory. So aroma stimulates to the olfactory, which stimulate memory, Memory. So, memory, I think it will have some positive effect. But this is research. I just started this research from this year. It will take a long time, I think three or four years. So next step, I will, yeah, to this project.
Sjanett: And what kind of ailments, because this is dementia, What kind of ailments would you love to research as well? Maybe covid or? Dr. Qing Li: Oh yeah, yeah, There are a lot of work to do for the forest bathing because it’s a new science. So we have to… Yeah, I think you find that.. What.. which factor in the forest will produce the positive effect of human health. So maybe the phytoncide, is one kind of factor. But there are still a lot of factor we don’t know. So we have to continue the research on this topic to confirm. I think you find many factor of the forest environment of human health.
Sjanett: Yeah. Dr. Qing Li: it’s a long way, it’s a long way I think just the start of the forest medicine research.
Sjanett: Look, looking forward to it. I have a maybe strange question, but. Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, okay.
Sjanett: Is there are something like plant consciousness?
Dr. Qing Li: What consciousness?
Sjanett: Do you think the plants, the trees can maybe,communicate with each other?
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah. So some people think that tree can communicate with each other by using the phytoncide.
Sjanett: Yeah, phytoncide, so that’s smell, right?
Dr. Qing Li: Yes, smell, smell, it’s the smell, we call it phytoncide, but it’s the sense of smell. because the phytoncide is very, very interesting, because, for example, if you use the higher concentration of the phytoncide, it will be toxic. For example, I think you know, the aromatherapy.
Dr. Qing Li: So, when you use the aromatherapy, You cannot use the original of the essential oil. You have to yeah, you’ll have to dilute it. Yeah, dilute because of that, because carrier oil. -What kind of oil? -But it is yeah, yeah, carrier oil. Like, yeah, like olive oil.
Sjanett: I don’t know it.
Dr. Qing Li: Because I said essential oil you cannot use the original essential oil.
Sjanett: Yeah, because it’s so much, you have to dilute it.
Dr. Qing Li: Yes, because the concentration is too high. So you have to dilute it. Dilute it. Yeah, but we call it the carrier oil.
Sjanett: Carrier oil. Maybe you can email it to me, the name of it.
Dr. Qing Li: Ok, maybe later i can. Also For example, like the olive oil, You’re the aromatherapy to use the olive oil to. To single to single the essential oil, So it’s very important, In fact that.. so the phytoncide, if you put in the forest atmosphere, the concentration of the forest phytoncide is a very low. So it’s not toxic for human, because the concentration of the phytoncide, the error is very low. It’s not they don’t have the toxic effect on human health, but it just have the beneficial effect of human health. In fact why trees are the plants that produce the phytoncide, because it is protect system. so the plant produce the phytoncide, can protect from the other, like pest fungi and bacteria. So it’s the protect.. yeah, self protective system. So the different forest different trees produce a different phytoncide. So, different trees have a different smell. It’s because phytoncide, because different phytoncide. So, in fact, the plant and the trees can communicate with each other, by producing phytoncide, maybe we don’t believe that, but it’s true plants can communicate with each other. and they protect from the others by release phytoncide.
Sjanett: And these phytoncides are in big doses toxic for us, but in small doses helpful.
Dr. Qing Li: Phytoncide in higher doses will produce toxic effect. So, in fact, in my experiment I use the very low concentration of the phytoncide. I’m not sure even if you know, do you know the ppm and the ppb? PPM this is some concentration.. that’s the unit of the concentration, ppm. PPM is.. why muting? well, maybe you can check it later, because ppm.. ppm is a very low concentration you need. Yeah, so in my experiment, I use the very low concentration of the forest bathing, eh, the phytoncide. to incubate with the human immune cell for one week.
Sjanett: Uh-huh. Dr. Qing Li: So, for example, is a test tube, I use a test tube I put the phytoncide inside at a very low concentration. Low dose. And I also put the human immune cells, like a natural killer cells And I mix that yeah mix the CO with the phytoncide, then I incubate (them). Put the incubator with 70, eh, 37 degree very warm like the human body, because it’s 37 degrees. We put the incubator at 37 degree, and I incubate the CO with the phytoncide for one week. After one week incubation, I measure the CO effect, CO activity, we call it the NK activity, I found that phytoncide can increase human NK activity. With low, very low concentration. So it’s the effect of the phytoncide.
Sjanett: So it increased the cell activity.
Dr. Qing Li: So increased, boosted the immune function.
Sjanett: Ok, so phytoncides, boost the immune function.
Dr. Qing Li: Phytoncide boost the immune function, in the test tube.
Dr. Qing Li: I also conducted another research, not in the test tube, on the people in the.. So I took some people to stay in a hotel room. So I produced the phytoncide in the air of the room Use the.. yeah, I use some steam, like steam.
Sjanett: In a Hotel?
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, the room hotel, yeah, we use the.. do you know the Humidifier? Humidifier -Yeah. I use a humidifier to produce the smell Aroma of the phytoncide. I use the best quality of the essential oil which is produced from the birthplace of the forest bathing in Japan.
Dr. Qing Li: Maybe you know the hinoki, Japanese cypress.
Sjanett: I saw that in your book…
Dr. Qing Li: Japanese.. very good tree, from Japanese cypress. so that essential oil this is produced from the Japanese cypress. So I use that essential oil to produce the aroma. In the hotel room. And the subject, people stay in the hotel room for three nights, so for three nights and during the daytime they don’t take it, (they) usually work, they stay in the hotel during the nighttime. So before and after they stay in the hotel, I took the blood pressure, a bunch of sample. [Inaudible] sample, and also the urine sample. to measure the immune function, and the stress hormone. So I took that blood pressure and the urine sample, to measure the immune function, like NK activity, number of NK cells and anticancer protein. I also measure the stress hormone. Like cortisol, and also, adrenaline, noradrenaline, I also measured the sleep condition. So after three day, three day stay in the hotel room with the aroma, people will show the higher NK activity. So the forest bathing.. a phytoncide exposure will increase the NK activity
Sjanett: The natural killer cells.
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, natural killer cell activity. and the number of natural killer cells. Also, the anticancer protein in the cells. and it reduces the stress hormone. Such as cortison. Cortisone and adrenaline, noradrenaline, then improve the sleep quality. Yeah, also can reduce that negative feeling like such as, Anxiety, Depression, anger, fatigue, confusion. And improve the positive feeling, like vigor.
Sjanett: And was there a control group that had no..
Dr. Qing Li: Of course, we have a group of people just to stay in the hotel room, but without phytoncide. but there are no changes for that control group. No changes Yeah. After a three day three night stay in the hotel, without phytoncide.
Sjanett: And when you when you find this, you must go to all the hospitals and say, look, we need this in all hospitals right?
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah. In fact that was the end of the research. About 10 years ago, I finished that research.
Sjanett: Yeah, and did it do they use it now in like in hospitals or in..?
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, of course. In fact that I told you, I, I just did a study understanding that the effect of the findings on dementia. So that’s in the hospital, In my hospital. in fact, that I now I work at a small hospital. which is about 200 patients, With older people, older patients. so about half of the patients will show the symptoms of the dementia Dementia. So I studied the effect Phytoncide. on the patient with the dementia
Sjanett: and do you then adds also like a video, or it’s just the smell? Dr. Qing Li: Just smell, because this is research, You have to use the white factor. If you use a lot of factor, it will make it confusing.
Dr. Qing Li: So, but after the research, you can use the total effect. but before the research that you have to use a single, one factor. after you confirm the effect, you can, yeah, use two or three. At the research stage, you have to use one, to simplify it.
Sjanett: Yeah, of course. It’s better scientific method of course.
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, yeah.
Sjanett: And you also found effects on creativityand cognition. Is that correct? Dr. Qing Li: It’s not my research, it’s another researcher’s research. I already studied the effect on immune function. Effect on stress hormone, Effect on the depression, like the psychological effects. like depression, fatigue, yeah, anger, some of the psychological.
Sjanett: what is it exactly that makes going into the forest? How you with your anxiety or depression? What chemicals? -do you know? -Chemicals.
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, it’s the Phytoncide. The phytoncides are chemicals. a lot of chemicals, like a lot of opinion. [Inaudible chemical substances name] Many, many, about 100 kind of chemicals. So the fact is that it’s a total mixture of the amount of chemicals.
Sjanett: what kind of.. does it work on our hormones? or neurological? what does it do in the body? Oh.. to the body? yeah..
Dr. Qing Li: So.. I think they will produce a stimulation. Your sense of smell, from the nose. So this is.. it because it’s like a gas, a gas in the air. It will go into the body by the nose. Sjanett: Yeah. Dr. Qing Li: Also because.. if you smell the aroma from the nose, So it will go into your lungs. that will circulate, circulate to your whole body.
Sjanett: And does it affect hormone like serotonin? or..
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, serotonin, yeah… In fact, I thought that forest bathing can increase the level of serotonin in I think you know, the serotonin, has some relationship with the depression. Depression. people with the depression will show lower serotonin So I thought that forest bathing can increase the levels of the serotonin. Serotonin. so another one is the stress. because stress can induce a lot of diseases. For example, stress can induce the heart disease. It can induce the hypertension. Because it can increase the blood pressure, yeah. Also, yeah. it can induce panic disorder. Eating disorder, and sleeping disorder. so stress can induce almost the diseases, you can imagine. Yeah, a lot of diseases you can imagine. You can imagine that stress induce lot of diseases. Forest bathing can reduce stress. So forest bathing can (has a).. preventive effect For a lot of disease.
Sjanett: Preventive effects?
Dr. Qing Li: like a heart disease, it can prevent the heart disease, It can prevent the hypertension, prevent the depression. In fact, this effect is produced by reducing stress hormone. So stress and the hormone is the keyword to understand the effect of forest bathing.
Sjanett: And only two hours will last for one week?
Dr. Qing Li: No,no, no, 4 hours.
Sjanett: Four hours for one…
Dr. Qing Li: four hours, can keep the higher level for one week.
Dr. Qing Li: Two nights and three days can keep for 1 month.
Sjanett: Everyone should know.
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah.
Sjanett: Can I ask you if there was a relation to being spiritual, or having a spiritual experience? when you’re in the forest? Have you experienced that yourself? or..
Dr. Qing Li: I mean, I take the forest bathing for myself,
Sjanett: Yeah. or, is it for you also like a spiritual experience? like..
Dr. Qing Li: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah It’s a maybe is something. Because it’s a you know, emotion. Emotion is very important. The emotion is like.. Yes, it’s very similar to that.
Dr. Qing Li: The environment can affect the emotion. So emotion is from many many factors, factors that can influence your emotion, your feeling. So it’s like.. some people call it the sixth sense. -Yeah.. -Yeah, it is. [Inaudible]
Dr. Qing Li: For example, some forest that is good for you. But the others, maybe not good for you. -Ohh – Do you understand my meaning?
Sjanett: Yeah, yeah.
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, it’s like a sixth sense, you said. people will also call this sixth sense by happiness.
Dr. Qing Li: because yeah, maybe when you visit that forest, you will feel happiness. But when you visit another forest, maybe you don’t feel happy.
Dr. Qing Li: I think maybe you have the experience of all this.
Dr. Qing Li: It’s very difficult to explain this fact, but, yeah, it’s true. But, I don’t have the data. I just feeling.
Sjanett: Yeah I know. Talking about feeling, there’s one words in your book, It’s a Japanese word.
Dr. Qing Li: Japanese, yeah.
Sjanett: “Yuugen” ”幽玄”
Dr. Qing Li: Ah, Yuugen. It’s a japanese culture. It’s about the feeling. So.. in fact the Japanese have a special feeling, About the nature. The Japanese like the nature, like the forest from the old time, A very old time. because in Japan, there are two religion, two kind of religion, Buddhism and Shintoism,
Dr. Qing Li: so both of religion belief that the forest, the nature is the God. God of the human.
Sjanett: Both religions see the forest as God.
Dr. Qing Li: Believe that the forest.. there are a lot of God in the forest.
Sjanett: And that’s what “Yuugen” means?
Dr. Qing Li: It’s the “Yuugen”, “Yuugen” means the feelings. “Yuugen” means the feelings.. people feel very comfortable. When people in the nature. It’s very similar to the Biophilia theory.
Dr. Qing Li: so for the “Yuugen”, you just see the sun.. sunset, or the forest, or, yeah, the nature.
Sjanett: The feeling of..
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah. So you feel.. you will feel comfortable.
Dr. Qing Li: It’s very, very difficult to describe it. But you just use your feeling.
Sjanett: can I say it feels like your head, and your hearts. you’re like.. -Yeah -It just, make sense.
Dr. Qing Li: Makes sense. Yeah. I would say it makes sense in a piece. Whole peace, yeah. Total peace. Peaceful. It’s like a peaceful feeling.
Sjanett: I love it. I really hope to do research myself.
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah Including forest bathing.
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah. And maybe looking at new research on psychedelics.
Dr. Qing Li: Oh… Psychedelics make your… increase neuroplasticity. And if you increase neuroplasticity, maybe then also the effect of the mental well-being. and the depression, and the anxiety, it will make the effects of the forest bathing even bigger.
Dr. Qing Li: Oh yeah, yeah,
Sjanett : That’s what I’m hoping to work in the Netherlands, to look at those mixtures of therapy.
Dr. Qing Li: Mm hmm. So what is your background of science?
Sjanett : I’m a psychologists,
Dr. Qing Li: Psychology, ah ok.
Sjanett: Yes. and I did the research masters, so I did.. And I’m a scientific researcher in the psychological field.
Dr. Qing Li: OK. Oh it’s a good.. yeah.
Sjanett : And I studied personality, culture, um.. but I’m not practising now, and now I’m just an entrepreneur.
Dr. Qing Li: Oh, ok. it’s very important to do the research from the psychological aspect.
Sjanett : Yes, and very scientific, which, quantitative data, good measurements, control groups.
Dr. Qing Li: So, in the first place maybe you can try to use the performance test.
Sjanett: Yeah I know. Yeah.
Dr. Qing Li: It’s a very good questionnaire to evaluate the effect of forest bathing
Sjanett: Yes. And then scale the measure of emotion, right?
Dr. Qing Li: Emotion. Yes. Very good scale for the emotion.
Sjanett: So you would do it like, before they go into the forest, and then afterwards, and then maybe after..
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah. So you can do to two comparison. One is the before and after the forest bathing. and the other is the forest bathing and the city walk. So, for example, the same people, same group, visit the forest bathing, the forest. And also visit the city, in different day.
Sjanett: Yeah, and then compare,
Dr. Qing Li: Compare, yeah. So you might to either use the city walking, versus the forest bathing. with the same physical activity.
Dr. Qing Li: At the same distance, Eat the same meal. Everything is the same, only the environment is different.
Sjanett: Yeah. And then one factor is what you research. Can.. I live in the forest, I’m very grateful for that. But maybe a lot of people live in the city, or.. So can they get the effect of forest bathing, even if they’re locked inside, like houseplants or video? So what can people do when you’re at home and they cannot go outside?
Dr. Qing Li: Ok, so stay because of the covid-19. maybe a lot of people have to.. Yeah, To stay in the home. For the indoor, we call it the indoor forest bathing. so first, you can use the essential oil.
Dr. Qing Li: Essential oil, use the humidifier. use the humidifier to produce the essential oil. To produce the aroma.
Sjanett: And is there any essential oil in particular that’s used?
Dr. Qing Li: So, for me I suggest to use the Japanese cypress.. -Yeah -..essential oil. like Pine, the Pine tree. So the essential oil from the pine tree is very good.
Dr. Qing Li: Pine tree. maybe you don’t have the Japanese cypress, so. But you can get the Pine tree. Pine tree is good.
Dr. Qing Li: The essential oil from pine tree. Yeah, I recommend it. So, this is the sense of smell. You also can put some branch, flower, or something in your room, or workplace, office. Also, you also can watch some DVD. So from the YouTube, you can find that a lot of the.. yes, the.. ..Scenery, scenery from the forest So, DVD. Lot of DVD about the forest landscape. You also can listen to the sounds of the forest. There are a lot of DVD, the YouTube program. You can see the beautiful scenery. Also, you can enjoy the sound of the forest. recorded by the DVD. so maybe at least you use the three things, sense of the smell, sense of the sight, sense of the hearing. So this is the total effect. So maybe you can produce.. indoor forest atmosphere.
Sjanett: I’m going to do this at home.
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, in fact, in my office, I use the essential oil every day.
Dr. Qing Li: I use the humidifier through the winter,
Sjanett: To help, of course, If people want to learn more about you, or maybe get a degree, where do they need to look? They want more information.
Dr. Qing Li: Oh, from my homepage.
Sjanett: I will put it in the description.
Dr. Qing Li: you also can.. send the e-mail to me, you also can visit our homepage.
Dr. Qing Li: Do you know the society, the society of the Nature at the Fort Madison?
Sjanett: Umm… society of forest medicine? -We call it the.. -International society?
Dr. Qing Li: International society of the nature of forest medicine. –
Sjanett : Yes, that one. -Yes.
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, we updated some news and data on our homepage.
Sjanett: Ok, I will put the link in the description to this. -Yeah.
Dr. Qing Li: The best advice is to read my book. Read my book, yeah. Read my book.
Dr. Qing Li: This book, yeah.
Sjanett: it’s a great book and I love all the pretty… -Yeah.
Dr. Qing Li: A lot of pictures. -Yes. -So.. A lot of pictures, so.. This is the Japanese cypress, I think you know that. This one. This one is a Japanese cypress.
Dr. Qing Li: Beautiful, yes. OK.
Sjanett: What is behind you, what is the background? the trees as well?
Dr. Qing Li: Oh, this is a picture
Sjanett: in Zoom, yes, it’s a picture.
Dr. Qing Li: Yeah, I’ll put that picture, forest picture on my back, later. Later. It’s a good one.
Sjanett: I like it, it’s perfect. Can I ask you one final question?
Dr. Qing Li : OK.
Sjanett: Yeah? I always ask people if I can recommend books, that I like or love, What’s your favorite book to give to people? Not your book, but maybe another book.
Dr. Qing Li : Oh, you mean a book in English?
Dr. Qing Li : Oh.. “The forest”.
Sjanett: Only “Forest Bathing”?
Dr. Qing Li : Yes, “Forest Bathing”. Yeah. “Forest Bathing” or the “Forest Medicine”.
Sjanett: Oh the “Forest Medicine”, I will totally get that.
Dr. Qing Li : “Forest Medicine”. Yeah, it’s a very good book. It’s like a Bible for forest bathing.
Sjanett: It’s now on my wish list
Dr. Qing Li : OK,
Sjanett: I will buy it. Dr. Qing Li : It’s published in America, in New York. OK.
Dr. Qing Li : It’s very good, yeah. I recommend people to read this book.
Sjanett: Thank you.
Dr. Qing Li : OK, You’re welcome.
Sjanett: For me.. is there anything you would want to add, or you want to tell to the Dutch audience, before we close up?
Dr. Qing Li : Yeah, so let’s take the forest bathing to overcome the covid-19.
Sjanett: Take forest bathing to overcome covid-19.
Dr. Qing Li : Yeah, so, let’s go to the forest bathing to overcome the covid-19.
Sjanett: Great. Thank you, Dr. Li, for your time.
Dr. Qing Li : OK, You’re welcome. Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas.
Sjanett: Merry Christmas to you too, and happy new year. -Okay -Yeah.
Dr. Qing Li : After one week, After just one week.
Sjanett: Yeah. Dr. Qing Li : Merry Christmas.
Sjanett: Okay, Bye-bye.
Dr. Qing Li : Bye-bye.