Forest bathing is based on a Japanese practice called shinrin-yoku developed in 1982 by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Shinrin-yoku which translates to forest well or forest bathing in English is defined as making contact with and taking in the atmosphere of the forest. This is something you can do on your own, but the practice of forest therapy uses trained guides who set the pace and help you mindfully experience the forest using all of your senses.
A few references:
- The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan. Park, B. J., Tsunetsugu, Y., Kasetani, T., Kagawa, T., & Miyazaki, Y. (2010).
Environmental health and preventive medicine, 15(1), 18–26.
- Kim, J. G., & Shin, W. S. (2021). Forest Therapy Alone or with a Guide: Is There a Difference between Self-Guided Forest Therapy and Guided Forest Therapy Programs?. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(13), 6957.
- Yau, K. K., & Loke, A. Y. (2020). Effects of forest bathing on pre-hypertensive and hypertensive adults: a review of the literature. Environmental health and preventive medicine, 25(1), 23.
a separate study on trees' phytoncide and natural killer cell function: