Forest Therapy

Discover the healing powers of the forest

Experience a return to nature

The overwhelming majority of people live in cities and work in offices. We rarely get the opportunity to return to nature and experience serene landscapes. As we find ourselves plagued with more and more modern illnesses that stem from our sedentary, urban lifestyles, research is looking for the answer to our problems in nature.

On this page you’ll find out what kind of exciting studies are being conducted in the field of forest therapy and the overwhelmingly positive results for our physical and mental well-being. You will also find out the best places to experience these benefits for yourself!

Alpine foothill forest therapy

What is forest therapy?

Forest therapy is a growing trend in Japan in which people actively seek out nature, especially forests, to help relieve various ailments and improve health. Doctors believe that there are unclaimed benefits from forests that could drastically improve our health, whether simply to facilitate relaxation and therewith reduce stress or even help fight or prevent cancer! Although there is still a lot of research to be done, scientists and doctors have already been busy trying to prove their results in this exciting field.

Although most of the research is conducted actual forests, some are even trying to replicate results indoors, through use of chunks of natural wood and pine aromatherapy oils, to simulate the forest experience in urban areas.

The science behind it

We all know that urban living is a very modern construct and that our bodies often fare better in natural settings. Cities try their best to improve our quality of life by including green spaces in our urban environments, but what is it about a forest retreat that helps us so much?

The key to forest therapy is a little compound, first discovered by a Russian scientist, called a phytoncide. It is emitted by plants that helps prevent plant rot. It is also known to fend off small organisms, such as bacteria, and keep the plant healthy.  Although phytoncides can be found outside of forests, the combination of scenery, plant variety, connection to nature, and more, helps build the foundation of forest therapy.



Alpine foothill forest therapy

Lake forest therapy

Proven Health Benefits

Although there is still much research that needs to be done in order to prove the anticarcinogenic advantages of forest therapy, scientists and doctors already have proof that forest therapy is able to help reduce stress and blood pressure, lower cortisol levels, as well as improve sleep, concentration, and overall immunity. The most commonly studied phytoncides are alpha and beta-pinenes, which, as the names suggest, are found primarily in pine trees, rosemary, and other coniferous trees.

The studies that have been conducted thus far have explored the effects of spending time in forests and they have led to the following conclusions:

Improved immune function

Researched found increased Natural Killer cell (NK cell) activity after people spent time in forests, including an overall increase in the number of NK cells as well as increased levels of intracellular anticancer proteins from a simple day trip to a forest, lasting up to a week. Other researchers found that this not only increased up to 56% on the 2nd day in the forest, but that there was still an increase of 23% a month after the visit. This shows that even a short retreat can have drastic and long-lasting effects on the body’s natural immune system. 
Some preliminary research also suggests that there were increased levels of intracellular anti-cancer proteins. Although research needs to continue, so far results suggest a positive outcome for disease prevention and improved quality of life through forest therapy. 

Mental health and stress benefits

Another study suggests that the reduction in stress hormones, such as adrenaline and noradrenaline found in urine, through forest therapy may also contribute to the increased NK cell activity. Alongside the reduction of stress, researchers also found a significant increase in serotonin, which contributes to healthy sleep patterns as well as regulating appetite, anxiety, mood, sexual desire, and more! Multiple studies show a significant decrease in negative feelings among subjects, such as a reduction in tension, anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, exhaustion, and confusion.      

Pain Relief

There are even studies that suggest that forest therapy and visits to green spaces could be used in pain management therapy. Scientists propose that exposure to nature – phytoncides, fresh air, sunshine, and even simply the green scenery – could provide positive outcomes when trying to manage pain. Although this requires further study, this could be a great, natural way to manage chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia. 



Lake forest therapy
Woman forest therapy spa

Forest therapy holiday

With the UN estimating that over 54% of the world’s population living in cities and urban areas, the best way to truly experience all of the natural benefits of the forest is to take a holiday. Although the science already suggests that a short forest walk would help, the more exposure time you get, the longer lasting the effects may be. And even though forest therapy is still a budding branch, the benefits of spending time in nature are undeniable.

Black Forest Holiday in Germany

Most of the research so far has been conducted in forests that contain pine or coniferous tree types. These types of trees are found in abundance in Germany, particularly the Black Forest. While you are not likely to find any gingerbread houses while out in the forest, you will be able to reconnect with nature and experience the beautiful hiking trails. Should you have forgotten to pack your breadcrumbs, our hotels know of all of the great hiking trails and most even have experienced guides on site.

Forest and spa relaxation packages

And what better way to relax after a long hike than with some spa relaxation, whether it’s soaking up the warmth in a sauna or being massaged from head to toe. Pampering also needs to include fantastic meals, prepared for you with the freshest ingredients. There is no better way to relax than to spend the day in nature and return to your hotel to be fully looked after.

Fasting & hiking: the full health and wellness experience

Maybe you are looking to not only relax, but to also fully take care of your health. Germany is renowned for its Buchinger fasting methods. Many hotels offer Buchinger together with hiking or nature walks, as they too have know of the great benefits of reconnecting to nature as well as giving your body a fasting reset. Why not combine one of our luxurious Buchinger holidays together with a nature retreat? Return home fully refreshed with lots of energy to take on life!



Woman forest therapy spa

Our most popular forest therapy offers







FAQ - Forest Therapy

What is forest therapy?

Forest therapy is the use of nature, particularly pine forests, to help alleviate symptoms or improve health. Although research shows that the most benefits come from actual forests, they have been able to replicate some results using aromatherapy.

What are the health benefits of forest therapy?

Forest therapy has had proven beneficial effects on:
  • lowering stress hormones like cortisol,
  • improving sleep and concentration,
  • lowering blood pressure,
  • strengthening the immune system, and
  • pain relief.

Which activities can be combined with forest therapy?

There are no limits to the activities you can combine with forest therapy. Many opt to combine it with guided hikes, biking, fasting, spa treatments, yoga, and more!