The smell of nature is almost as good as the real thing...
...As far as our brains are concerned!
Researchers have been racking up evidence that when you can’t take a break and get into nature itself, looking at photos of it relaxes our brains in a similar way. Now, scientists in Tokyo are building a case that smelling nature — the bracing scent of forest pine or cypress, for instance — lowers our blood pressure dramatically and increases anti-cancer molecules in our bloodstreams.
For the past eight years, Qing Li, an immunologist in the department of hygiene and public health at Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School, has been studying phytoncides, the essential oils and aerosols emitted by plants and trees, and their salutary effects on the human body. Studies had shown that nature visits reduce stress on the nervous system, overloaded as it is in the modern urban environment with its dense living conditions, industrial-grade fumes, and honking horns. Li’s early work showed that walks in the woods boosted natural killer immune cells that helped fight infection and cancer.