Forest Medicine

The practice of immersing oneself in nature for improved physical and mental well-being.


Forest medicine, also known as forest therapy or forest bathing, is a nature-based practice that involves immersing oneself in the natural environment of a forest to improve physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This practice encourages individuals to engage their senses and connect with the natural world around them, leading to a range of health benefits. Forest medicine is rooted in the belief that spending time in nature can have a profound impact on one's overall well-being.

Did you know?

Well Me Right offers thousands of virtual and online health and wellness sessions from wellness experts, health coaches, and other holistic health and fitness professionals.

Browse and book a FREE discovery session with the world’s leading wellness experts & get advice over a video call.


Forest medicine has its roots in Japan, where it is known as 'Shinrin-yoku,' which translates to 'forest bathing.' The practice was developed in the 1980s by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries as a means to combat the high levels of stress and burnout experienced by the country's urban population. Since then, forest medicine has gained popularity worldwide, with research supporting its effectiveness in promoting health and well-being. The practice has evolved to include guided walks, meditation, and other activities that encourage a deeper connection with nature.


  1. Stress Reduction Spending time in forests can lower cortisol levels, the hormone associated with stress, leading to a more relaxed state of mind.
  2. Immune System Boost Exposure to phytoncides, natural compounds emitted by trees, can increase the activity of natural killer cells, enhancing the immune system.
  3. Improved Mood Forest environments have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
  4. Increased Focus and Creativity Immersion in nature can restore attention, improve cognitive function, and boost creativity.
  5. Cardiovascular Health Regular forest walks can lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate, and improve overall cardiovascular health.
  6. Better Sleep Quality Exposure to natural environments can help regulate the body's circadian rhythm, leading to improved sleep quality.
  7. Connection with Nature Forest medicine fosters a deeper appreciation and connection with the natural world, promoting environmental awareness and stewardship.

How It Works

Forest medicine, also known as forest bathing or shinrin-yoku, involves immersing oneself in nature to promote physical and mental well-being. The practice is based on the idea that spending time in a forest environment can reduce stress, improve mood, and boost immune function. When engaging in forest medicine, individuals typically walk slowly through the forest, taking in the sights, sounds, and scents of the natural surroundings. The experience is meant to be meditative and mindful, allowing participants to disconnect from the distractions of daily life and reconnect with nature. Research suggests that forest medicine can lead to measurable physiological changes, such as reduced blood pressure, lower cortisol levels, and increased activity of natural killer cells, which play a key role in the immune system.


While forest medicine is generally considered safe for most people, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. Individuals with mobility issues or certain health conditions may find it challenging to navigate uneven terrain or walk for extended periods. It is essential to wear appropriate footwear and clothing for the weather conditions and to stay hydrated throughout the experience. Those with allergies to plants or insects should take necessary precautions, such as carrying medication or wearing protective clothing. Additionally, it is crucial to respect the natural environment and follow Leave No Trace principles, minimizing one's impact on the forest ecosystem. Participants should also be aware of any potential hazards, such as wildlife or extreme weather conditions, and take appropriate safety measures.

How Much It Costs

The cost of forest medicine can vary depending on the location and type of experience. Some public parks and forests offer free access for individuals to practice forest bathing on their own. Guided forest therapy sessions, which are led by trained practitioners, typically range from $20 to $50 per person for a group session lasting 2-3 hours. Private sessions may cost more, ranging from $50 to $150 or more per hour. Multi-day forest medicine retreats can cost several hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the duration, location, and amenities included.

Virtual & Online Options

While the ideal way to experience forest medicine is by physically being in a forest environment, there are some virtual and online options available for those who may not have access to nearby forests or are unable to visit in person. Virtual forest therapy sessions, guided meditations, and nature sound recordings can provide a sense of connection to nature and help reduce stress and promote relaxation. However, these virtual experiences may not offer the same level of immersion and sensory input as an in-person forest bathing session. When possible, engaging with nature directly by visiting a local park, garden, or green space can provide many of the benefits associated with forest medicine.


While there is no universally recognized certification for forest medicine practitioners, several organizations offer training programs. The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs (ANFT) provides a certification program for forest therapy guides, which includes a seven-day immersive training, followed by a six-month practicum. The European Forest Therapy Institute (EFTI) also offers a certification program for forest therapy guides, which consists of theoretical and practical training. Other organizations, such as the Global Institute of Forest Therapy (GIFT) and the International Society of Nature and Forest Medicine (INFOM), provide various levels of training and certification for forest therapy practitioners. It is essential for individuals seeking forest medicine experiences to choose practitioners who have completed reputable training programs and adhere to ethical guidelines.

Complementary Practices

Other practices that complement forest medicine include nature therapy, ecotherapy, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, breathwork, aromatherapy with essential oils from forest plants, and incorporating herbs and natural remedies into one's wellness routine. Spending time in nature, even in urban parks or gardens, can provide some of the benefits of forest medicine. Engaging in creative pursuits inspired by nature, such as nature journaling or creating art with natural materials, can also be a complementary practice.

Practitioner Types

Practitioners who may incorporate forest medicine into their work include naturopathic doctors, holistic health coaches, ecotherapists, nature therapy guides, forest therapy guides, wilderness therapy guides, herbalists, aromatherapists, and some massage therapists, yoga teachers, and meditation instructors. In some cases, mental health professionals such as psychotherapists may recommend forest medicine as a complementary practice for reducing stress and improving well-being.

Are you an expert?

Turn your knowledge into impact & income and share your expertise, grow, and improve lives. Become a Wellness Expert on Well Me Right.

Offer paid wellness sessions for 1:1 virtual coaching and support and connect with wellness-seeking individuals on Well Me Right.


  • Q: What is forest medicine?

    • A: Forest medicine, also known as forest bathing or shinrin-yoku, is the practice of immersing oneself in nature, particularly in forests, for therapeutic benefits. It involves engaging the senses and being present in the natural environment to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being.
  • Q: What are the benefits of forest medicine?

    • A: Research suggests that practicing forest medicine can lead to reduced stress levels, improved mood, increased focus and creativity, boosted immune function, lowered blood pressure and cortisol levels, improved sleep quality, and a greater sense of connection with nature. Regular practice may contribute to better overall physical and mental health.
  • Q: How often should I practice forest medicine?

    • A: The frequency of forest medicine practice can vary depending on individual needs and preferences. Even a short walk in a natural setting once a week can provide benefits. Many people find that incorporating forest medicine into their routine 2-3 times per week, for a minimum of 20-30 minutes per session, can lead to noticeable improvements in well-being. More frequent practice may offer greater benefits.
  • Q: Can I practice forest medicine in an urban setting?

    • A: While the ideal setting for forest medicine is a lush, diverse forest, it is possible to gain some benefits in urban parks, gardens, or other green spaces with a variety of plants. The key is to engage your senses and be fully present in the natural environment available to you. Even small pockets of nature in cities can provide a space for mindful connection and stress reduction.
  • Q: Is forest medicine a substitute for medical treatment?

    • A: Forest medicine is a complementary practice and should not be considered a substitute for necessary medical treatment. While it can offer many health benefits and support overall well-being, it is essential to consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific health concerns or conditions. Forest medicine can be a valuable addition to a comprehensive healthcare plan, but it is not a replacement for professional medical care.


Forest medicine, with its focus on immersing oneself in nature for therapeutic benefits, offers a simple yet powerful way to support physical and mental well-being. By engaging the senses and being present in the natural world, individuals can reduce stress, improve mood, boost immune function, and cultivate a deeper connection with the environment. Incorporating forest medicine into a regular wellness routine, along with other complementary practices, can contribute to a more balanced, resilient, and fulfilling life. As research continues to reveal the health benefits of spending time in nature, more people may turn to forest medicine as a valuable tool for self-care and personal growth.