People who have serious or terminal medical conditions will often look for ways outside of western medicine to help them cope with the effects of the illnesses. For people who are suffering from mesothelioma, news of the Japanese practice Shinrin-yoku might hold some interest. When translated, the term means “forest bathing.”
Proponents of forest bathing remark that the practice, which involves breathing in the forest air and enjoying the natural environment, brings humans back to their origins. The practice of living in cities and suburbs is fairly new when you think about the length of time people have been on the Earth and how long they’ve been in cities.
Why does Shinrin-yoku help mesothelioma patients?
People aren’t saying that Shinrin-yoku will cure mesothelioma. Instead, the practice is said to help with the symptoms of the conditions. Being out in nature can boost the immune system, which would support immunotherapy. This is one of the major mesothelioma treatments that doctors use to manage the condition.
On top of supporting the immune system, the clean air of the forest might irritate the lining of the lungs less than the polluted city air. This could help to ease the breathing difficulties that individuals with this condition can face.
Another benefit of forest bathing is that it can bring peace and relaxation. This can also help individuals cope with the emotional turmoil that comes with finding out you have a terminal condition.
Is there any proof that Shinrin-yoku helps?
While there aren’t definitive studies that tie forest therapy to a better outcome for patients with mesothelioma, a Korean study that was done in 2017 does provide insight into another way that Shinrin-yoku may help patients.
Pine forests are filled with terpenes, a phytoncide class that is found in the air. Some studies have indicated that terpenes have an anti-cancer property. There is also proof cited in the Korean study that shows terpenes have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Together, these benefits may help mesothelioma patients who are trying to use a comprehensive approach to their condition.
Forest bathing isn’t about exercising in the forest or doing anything strenuous. Instead, mesothelioma patients can relax and enjoy simply being outside and in the natural environment that promotes better health while they are going through more modern medical techniques to combat the effects of this terminal condition.