Forests are incredibly beautiful. Most people wouldn’t deny that some time in nature and away from home, work and cell phones is refreshing and relaxing, but why is this? Yes, obviously getting a break from nagging housework or emails is nice, but the healing effects of the forest go much deeper than a hiatus from modern life. Compelling studies support that many of the benefits of forest bathing, the meditative practice of experiencing nature with all five senses, actually come from terpenes. Simply put, forest bathing is a unique way to experience nature more wholly, which is said to have health and wellness benefits. Terpenes of all sorts are abundant in forests, and play an important role in the aforementioned health benefits.
The idea of forest bathing comes from the Japanese word shinrin-yoku which describes retreating into the forest and enjoying and connecting with nature using all five senses. In a sense, it is a hands on form of meditation. Dr. Qing Li, medical doctor and forest medicine specialist from Tokyo, wrote a book on the benefits of forest bathing. He found that the experience can help one find their happiness, and improve their mental and physical well-being. Of course, on a base level it does make sense that someone would benefit from this outdoor journey, when you take into account that 93% of the average American’s day is spent inside. We all know that going outside can feel good and that feeling good can often lead to positive health effects, but there actually is science to support this idea.
The roots of the benefits of forest bathing are tied to the smells that one experiences in the wilderness. Many of us have experienced walking into a place with dense pine trees and enjoying that refreshing pine scent, but what is causing that? Well, the answer is terpenes. Terpenes are incredibly aromatic, and are usually created by the plant to offer protection in nature. Along with their protective nature, many terpenes have been shown to have positive health benefits in humans. For example, studies have shown that the terpene myrcene has antibacterial and antifungal properties. These properties may help a plant survive, but they also have obvious positive implications for human use. Forest bathing is a way for humans to interact with, and benefit from, this terpene and others. In addition to myrcene, the forest also gives off many other terpenes, including pinene, limonene, and camphor. These each have their own unique properties, and according to the research on forest bathing’s terpene-related benefits, many of these terpenes also have anti-inflammatory properties.
Terpenes are found in more places than just forests and you don’t even need to go outside to experience their benefits. Cannabis plants contain many of the same terpenes that are found in forests. Terpenes like myrcene, pinene and limonene are common in hemp, and are often found in products made from whole-plant extracts. While not all CBD products have terpenes in them, many of the Active CBD Oil products do. Our broad spectrum and full spectrum products are made from whole-plant extracts and contain these terpenes. We also add naturally occurring terpenes to some of our products, such as our Shatter with Terpenes, pre-filled vape cartridges, and Real Terp Blend vape juice. Smokable CBD flower is also rich in terpenes, and the terpene profiles vary depending on strain. Terpenes are partially responsible for the “hempy” taste of certain products like broad spectrum gummies or full spectrum tinctures. Some people find this taste mildly unpleasant, but for most the taste is worth the added benefits associated with consuming a whole plant extract. This is due to the entourage effect, which comes from the combination of both terpenes and minor cannabinoids in a full or broad spectrum product. This often leads to better results compared to products made with isolated CBD, which lack these other important parts of the cannabis plant.
The next time you’re out for a hike, try making it a more sensory experience and consider the beautiful aromatic nature of the forest. If you’re not all that big on going outside, though, take solace in knowing there are other ways to still reap the benefits of terpenes. Stop by at a DiscoverCBD or order online to pick up some products containing terpenes, or come in on a Thursday at our Colorado locations to pick up a free sample!