Get Outside for Your Tree Medicine this Spring!

Trees provide us with so many benefits.  They shade us, they clean the air, they hold water and carbon.  They can be a home to many wildlife creatures big and small supporting a complex ecology.  Heritage trees need to be valued and our urban forest canopy should be seen for the economic benefit it is.

Trees provide us with green.  That visual green stimulus calms our nervous system but there are other positive stimulus from being outside and under trees.  All of our senses are stimulated from the wind and fresh air, the wildlife and wood lots are more naturally humid and our skin can sense this.  There are colours and movements and textures and even the changes in walking surfaces and then there are the aromas and aerosols. These scents can not only affect our immune system in a positive way but they can also help with circulation and even improve our urban environments.

Think of the scent of pine or rose.  These can trigger positive mental stimulus as we might associate the aroma with a positive experience but these scents can also boost our health as can many other tree "aerosols" and plant organic compounds.  These tree oils (terepenes) are secreted for many reasons - to attract certain beneficial insects, to protect the tree from pests and even to regulate temperatures but we benefit also as these aerosols provide various health benefits such as being anti-viral or having anti-oxidant compounds or anti-inflammatory to name a few.

According to Diana Beresford-Kroeger (from a list of trees she recommended to Ecology Ottawa for replacing the dying Ash trees):

  • American Basswood which flowers in early summer can boost our health due to a lactone chemistry in its aerosol.
  • Black Walnut provides a service to urban environments by "neutralizing toxic benzene" from urban vehicle pollution with its chemical aerosols.
  • Eastern White Cedar has anti-viral aerosols that are released by glands in its leaves on humid days can "regulate the beating heart".
  • And two other evergreens: the Fir has antiseptic and antibiotic aerosols while the Spruce helps to lower blood pressure through its tree oil scent release.  Let me know of any others you have read about!

What a great reminder of the scientifically proven benefits of nearby nature and getting outdoors!

Where are some tree groves in your neighbourhood?  Some of the older suburbs in London, Ontario are lined with Basswood (Linden - Tilia) trees and Ottawa has a few old stands of conifer tree farms within city limits.  You can find Cedars in damp, lowlands of some greenspaces and Black Walnuts may be found along riverbanks where it is more temperate.

What tree scents give you that mental nature boost?

Do you have a favourite wood lot or tree-lined street to visit?


Call of the Forest - Diana Beresford-Kroeger - Forest Fragrance

Take A Deep Breath – What Makes Tree Scents?  Trees Atlanta 2017

The Japanese practice of ‘forest bathing’ is scientifically proven to improve your health, Ephrat Livni, Quartz 2016

Diana Beresford-Kroeger Ottawa Tree List, Ecology Ottawa 2013

The Healing Power of Pine, Sara Altshul, Health 2012

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