The Healing Forests of India
Directed by Nitin Das (2019)
An exquisitely beautiful documentary about the field of forest therapy – a form of healing is most practiced in India and Japan (which has 50 healing forests).
There are numerous studies demonstrating the calming effect of forests on children. Research from both India and Finland show that holding classes there makes children calmer, helps them focus better and reduces misbehavior and violence. It’s especially effective for kids diagnosed with ADHD.
Research in adults reveals that the forest environment can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, cortisol* levels, inflammation, depression, stress and anxiety. At the same time, it also improves serotonin** levels and immunity. Forest therapy has proved helpful in treating diabetes, hyperthyroidism and addictions. In young people, it helps alleviate depression and anxiety stemming from excessive social media exposure.
It makes perfect sense that people would find forests more inducive to health than overcrowded hyper-polluted cities. As one researcher reminds us, human beings co-evolved over hundreds of thousands of years with forest plants and animals. This means our bodies are programmed to thrive in the presence of other living beings.
The recommended dose of forest therapy is five hours a month.
*Cortisol is a steroid stress hormone.
**Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found in the brain and elsewhere that is believed to mediate mood.