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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(8), 781; doi:10.3390/ijerph13080781

Physiological Effects of Nature Therapy: A Review of the Research in Japan

Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences, Chiba University, 6-2-1 Kashiwa-no-ha, Kashiwa, Chiba 277-0882, Japan
Current Address: Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, 1 Matsunosato, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8687, Japan
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Received: 23 June 2016 / Revised: 21 July 2016 / Accepted: 29 July 2016 / Published: 3 August 2016
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Abstract

Humans have evolved into what they are today after the passage of 6–7 million years. If we define the beginning of urbanization as the rise of the industrial revolution, less than 0.01% of our species’ history has been spent in modern surroundings. Humans have spent over 99.99% of their time living in the natural environment. The gap between the natural setting, for which our physiological functions are adapted, and the highly urbanized and artificial setting that we inhabit is a contributing cause of the “stress state” in modern people. In recent years, scientific evidence supporting the physiological effects of relaxation caused by natural stimuli has accumulated. This review aimed to objectively demonstrate the physiological effects of nature therapy. We have reviewed research in Japan related to the following: (1) the physiological effects of nature therapy, including those of forests, urban green space, plants, and wooden material and (2) the analyses of individual differences that arise therein. The search was conducted in the PubMed database using various keywords. We applied our inclusion/exclusion criteria and reviewed 52 articles. Scientific data assessing physiological indicators, such as brain activity, autonomic nervous activity, endocrine activity, and immune activity, are accumulating from field and laboratory experiments. We believe that nature therapy will play an increasingly important role in preventive medicine in the future. View Full-Text
Keywords: natural environment; shinrin-yoku; forest bathing; urban green space; plant; wooden material; physiological relaxation; evidence-based medicine (EBM); preventive medicine; individual difference natural environment; shinrin-yoku; forest bathing; urban green space; plant; wooden material; physiological relaxation; evidence-based medicine (EBM); preventive medicine; individual difference
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Song, C.; Ikei, H.; Miyazaki, Y. Physiological Effects of Nature Therapy: A Review of the Research in Japan. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 781.

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