Forest Bathing (Literally)

Parents Pine for Pine

Pine trees help make winter bearable. Deep green branches covered in white snow turn the most extreme weather into high art. But pines are more than just pretty boughs. Could this common tree hold the key to immortality? Ancient Chinese alchemists thought so. They added pine needles, roots, and resin to an elixir they thought could make a person live forever. They also used pine for run of the mill health and longevity, as did traditional cultures all over the world from Japan to Egypt, to Europe and North America.

Today, scientists think they might have been on to something. Most of the oldest trees in the world are conifers, including the oldest—a bristlecone pine that’s about 5,000 years old. Scientists call bristlecones “biologically immortal” because they’ve been found not to deteriorate at the cellular level as a result of age.

And in Japan, the now-renowned practice of forest bathing—or, being in a forest to feel refreshed and renewed—is being studied by scientists for its affect on our health. Research shows that being in a forest can reduce stress, anxiety and depression, boost immunity, attack tumors, and lower blood pressure; most likely from breathing in the compounds that trees, especially conifers, emit called phytoncines.

The oil of conifers is also being studied for its antiaging and antioxidative properties. And beauty companies have responded, adding evergreen to everything from scents to skincare. See the slideshow above for the most refreshing and luxurious products that are natural, nontoxic, and great for men and women. Lucky for us, even if we can’t get out for a walk in the woods, we can immerse ourselves in pine and soak, slather, or breathe in the benefits.