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Monday, March 5, 2012

The Shinrin-Yoku Therapy or I'm go'in hike'n in the woods

If you study the rock in this photo
the roots look like long fingers holding it
in place!    For some perspective,
the rock is about the size of a small desk!
Good morning, All!  This week I came across an article in the Spring 2012 Herb Quarterly magazine.  The little article written by Barbara MacPherson is titled Shinrin-Yoku.  Shinrin-Yoku is Japanese for the term "Forest Bathing".  Sounds odd, I know, but it literally means exercising such as walking in a forest.  Here in this part of Texas we would just refer to that as "I'm go'in hike'n in the woods" but please, stick with me because this is interest'in!

Have you ever had these experiences where you just know something, don't know why you know the something or sometimes you don't even know exactly what it is you know, but it is just that "gut feeling" that can't quite be put into words?  And when you come across an article, a conversation or a book that talks about the very thing you "knew instinctively", you think, "Oh My Good Gravy!", I really am not crazy!"  Well, this was how I reacted to the MacPherson article on Shinrin-Yoku.  Let me share with you some of the research I did this week!

This paper reviews previous research on the physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing), and presents new results from field experiments conducted in 24 forests across Japan.  The term Shinrin-yoku was coined by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in 1982, and can be defined as making contact with or taking in the atmosphere of the forest.  In order to clarify the physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku, we conducted field experiments in 24 forests across Japan.  In each experiment, 12 subjects (280 total; ages 21.7 +/-1.5 year) walked in and viewed a forest or city area.  On the first day, six subjects were sent to a forest area, and the others to a city area.  On the second day, each group was sent to the other area as a cross-check.  Salivary cortisol, blood pressure, pulse rate, and heart rate variability were used as indices.  These indices were measured in the morning at the accommodation facility before breakfast and also both before and after the walking (for 16 +/-5 min) and viewing (for 14 +/-2 min).  The R-R interval was also measured during the walking and viewing periods.  The results show that forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity that do city environments.  The results will contribute to the development of a research field dedicated to forest medicine, which may be used as a strategy for preventive medicine.

If you would like to read the paper this review has been take from please go to:
The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest....

Not only is Chi,Head of Ranch Security,
she is a Shinrin-yoku Master!
See another doggie devote at

For those who know me well, they know that my greatest love besides Chi, Cousin Sandra and L is to walk in the woods and look for wildflowers.  I need to be outside.....ask Cousin Sandra, who on many occasions when Cousin Susan has been grumpy, irritable, anxious or any number of negative emotions has said "Please, go for a walk or go work in the garden!"  knowing that I will come back in a much better frame of mind.  So, today, make an effort, for your health and sanity to spend some time in the woods, a park or a garden.  Walk awhile, sit quietly awhile.  Lean against a tree, breath deeply, find a wildflower.  Don't pick it, let it grow, remember where it is growing, and come back and visit again.  Now, don't you feel better?

I will leave you this week with a wildflower and a recipe.
White Dogtooth Violet Erythromium albidum

This White Dogtooth Violet
Erythromium albidum
at the end of life cycle
This plant is also called Trout Lily in reference to the spotted or mottled leaves resembling a trout.
Various eastern tribes made medicines from this plant, including a root poultice to reduce swelling, a leaf poultice for ulcers, and a root tea for fevers.  They also used both fresh and dried leaves as an expectorant. Wildflowers of Texas by Ajilvsgi  An expectorant herb makes you cough or spit.
This information is from www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net....and once again I shake my head in wonder at the following contradictions.  "All parts of the plant, but  especially the bulb and the fresh leaves, are strongly emetic and are not used internally.  (Emetic means it will most likely make you vomit violently. )  The fresh leaves are also antiscrofulatic (which means it counteracts scrofula, a tuberculous infection of the lymph nodes in the neck)  and emollient and are used as an infusion or stimulating poultice applied to swelling, tumours and scrofulous ulcers.  The juice from crushed leaves has been applied to wounds that are not healing.  A poultice of the crushed bulbs has been applied to swellings and to help remove splinters.  The raw plant, excluding the roots, has been used by native North American young girls to prevent conceptions.  Then this site goes on to say ... Bulb-raw or cooked.  Crisp, chewy and very pleasant taste.  The bulb is up to 25mm long and is buried quite deeply in the soil.  Leaves-raw or cooked.  Added to salads. (Probably not going to add this to the salad tonight!)  Eating the leaves will greatly reduce the vigour of the bulb, so can only be recommended in times of emergency.  Flowers, flower buds and flower stems-raw or cooked.  Honestly, there were other lovely plants growing in the woods that can be eaten quite safely...such as Chickweed.  So once again I will skip the Trout Lilly as a side dish until I learn more about this beautiful plant.
                                                                                    And now the recipe......
This was our supper last night.  A salad from the garden with fresh boiled Bantam chicken eggs and homemade Sourdough whole wheat bread. We didn't have a whole lot of lettuce in the garden, so I supplemented with:
Garlic Chives,
Violet leaves and flowers (not the Trout Lilly!)
Dandelions leaves and

I have been making my own salad dressings and it really is so easy.....

Sister Susan's Salad Dressing

1/8 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup jelly or jam (I used Blackberry Jam)
1/2 tsp. StarDragonfly Herbals Season Salt

That's it, now whirl it all up in the blender and viola, yummy homemade salad dressing or veggie dip.

March 10th  The Wood County Master Gardener Annual Spring Conference will be held at the Mineola Civic Center from 8AM until noon.  The theme of the conference this year will be "Today's Garden, Tomorrow's Food".   If you live in Northeast Texas and you love plants and gardening, I highly recommend you attend this conference.  There should be a lot of interesting speakers and information.  The Winnsboro Farmer's Market will have a booth and I will be sharing a booth with Nancy of Falster Farms.  Hope to see you there or if you read the blog and we have never met, please introduce yourself.  I will be the gal under the cowboy hat!  Herbally, Susan

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk.  Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness.  I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.

Soren Kierkegaard

I love how the Moon seems
to be sitting on the branch!

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