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Episode 274: Introduction Shinrin-Yoku

In this episode we sit down with Dr. Brannick Riggs, Vice President of Essential Oil Education for doTERRA, to talk all about the Shinrin-Yoku blend. He'll discuss the inspiration behind creating the blend, some of his favorite ways to use it, as well as the number one thing to remember when it comes to Shinrin-Yoku.

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doTERRA: Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, is the mindful practice of absorbing the calming atmosphere of natural places like the forest. The contemplative practice of forest bathing is the inspiration for the transformative Shinrin-Yoku™ essential oil blend.

Welcome back to Essential Oil Solutions with doTERRA®, the podcast where you'll hear exciting, useful and simple everyday uses for essential oils from experts in the field.

Today's episode is brought to you by the doTERRA Healing Hands® Foundation. Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement. To honor it, we're partnering with the Maui community to raise $100,000 toward replanting 10,000 trees all over the island. You can join us in making a lasting impact by donating. Click the link in the episode description to donate. $10 plants a tree and your gift to Maui will echo for generations.

Today, we're excited to talk to Dr. Brannick Riggs, Vice President of Essential Oil Education for doTERRA, all about the Shinrin-Yoku blend.

Dr. Riggs, thank you so much for sitting down with us today.

Dr. Brannick Riggs: Of course. Happy to do it.

doTERRA: To start off, can you explain what the practice of shinrin-yoku is and the benefits that people can see from practicing this forest bathing?

Dr. Riggs: Yeah. You know, this really was born out of an idea that our body does different things when we're in nature. And so, the practice of shinrin-yoku actually started in 1982, in Japan, in which they took a bunch of individuals, took them out into the forest.

They spent two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. And it's not a hike, it's just being present in the forest. It's really looking at your environment like a child does, in which you look at insects moving on the ground. You may pick up and feel rocks that are there. You might lie down and watch the trees move and the breeze. It's really just experiencing—and you know, the term shinrin-yoku means "forest bathing—" just bathing yourself at a natural environment for a period of time. Now, recent research says that time can be as little as 20 minutes. We experience some of those changes in our body in 20 minutes. But ideally, it's a little bit longer. It's a little bit more of a completely surrounding yourself in some natural environment.

doTERRA: Absolutely. Now just hearing you describe that makes me feel more relaxed. So, I can imagine actually practicing it and intentionally being there feels incredible. Now, why was it that doTERRA was inspired to create a Shinrin-Yoku essential oil blend?

Dr. Riggs: So, that's a great question.

I was on a hike with some of our doTERRA employees. We were actually doing some education on physical activity. And so, as part of that education—why talk about physical activity in a classroom? Why not go do something and we'll talk about it while we're hiking.

So, we were out on a hike in the mountains of the Wasatch here. While we were there, I was having a conversation with John Gappmeyer, who's in charge of our Japan market, and was talking to him about this amazing research on shinrin-yoku and its practice. And he said, "You know, we ought to do something with this."

And so, John got very passionate about it. I was excited about it. And so, we went to Dr. Hill with this. What's interesting is that the research shows that, yes, we should be out in natural environments. Our bodies change when we're there, but there's also research indicating that a large percentage of that change that happens to us is due to the fight phytoncides, or chemicals that the trees are breathing out, that then we breathe in.

And those chemicals were familiar names to us in essential oils, right? Alphapinene, betapinene, linalool, limonene, 1.8-cineole, camphor. Those are all compounds that we get from our oils. And because there is some literature indicating that if you can't go out on the forest and you diffuse those oils overnight, that chemistry overnight and breathe it in, our bodies also change.

And so, as we approach Dr. Hill with this research, he got excited about it. He started formulating a blend that had this right type of chemistry with it. And then John and I took that base formulation, refined a few things, and it became Morino-To, in Japan. And then with a couple of changes here in the US, because of some oils that aren't available here, we created Shinrin-Yoku, here in the US.

And it's pretty exciting. So, I love this blend.

doTERRA: Can you go a little bit deeper into maybe the science and research that went into creating this perfect blend of oils for Shinrin-Yoku?

Dr. Riggs: Sure. So, we took a look at those natural environments, particularly conifer forests, where these phytoncides are breathed out. I also find that interesting. You know, we understand the symbiotic relationship between us and trees because we breathe out carbon dioxide. They require that to survive and they breathe that in and then produce oxygen, which we require. So, beautiful relationship between us and trees.

Now we're finding an even deeper relationship with these trees and these other chemical compounds are so important for our physiology as well. It turns out that we evolved or we have spent a number of eons in a natural environment. In the 1800s, 3% of the world population lived in cities. We're now at just a little over 50%.

doTERRA: Wow.

Dr. Riggs: And they estimate that by 2050 that 66% of the world population will live in a city. And so, while our environment has changed drastically in just 200 years, our body does not change that quickly at all. It takes thousands upon thousands of years for our bodies to change to an environment. And so, that being said, when we are in these natural environments, what we see is we actually return to homeostasis.

Homeostasis is a kind of a fancy word that means our blood pressure normalizes, right? Our pulse slows down and normalizes. And so many things in our system calm down and goes back to a state of normalcy that we don't really get to when we go walk around the city of New York, right? As you might imagine, everything's getting a little bit heightened when we're in a large city, as opposed to when we're in nature in which we just calm down and everything returns to normal.

doTERRA: Absolutely.

Now, this might be a difficult question because you are very passionate about this oil, but what is your favorite thing about this blend?

Dr. Riggs: Wow. It is. Let me share with you a trick that I've learned with the blend. This is what I think is fascinating about it.

I recently was in Hawaii last week with a group of Wellness Advocates, and we went out to this beautiful valley, beautiful river running through this valley. And it's Hawaii, so it's warm. So, everybody got in the river and then we passed around some Shinrin-Yoku. We'd been out in this environment for about a half hour. So, what happens in that time is that you start breathing in the chemistry that the trees are producing. Then when we pass around Shinrin-Yoku-- all of them had smelled it before—they all said, "This smells very different."

And I said, "Yeah, why is that? Let's see if we can figure out why that is." And there were some ideas around that. Finally, someone said, "I think I understand a little bit why." It's because it's like when we diffuse an oil--like let's say we're diffusing Lavender and we're in an office and we smell that Lavender as it diffuses first, and then after a little while, we don't smell Lavender anymore. All the receptors are filled, and no longer is our brain getting the message that that chemistry is in the air. It's called nose blindness. And so, what happens then is that we can leave the room and then those receptors get vacated, walk back in the room and we'll smell Lavender again.

Well, as we go out in this natural environment, we start breathing in the chemistry of the forest. That fills those receptors. We can smell the forest when we first arrived there, but after a little while, those receptors get filled. So now when I open up a bottle of Shinrin-Yoku, I'm going to smell different chemistry than the chemistry that already has all of its receptors filled. So, it smells very different in a natural environment than it does in a room.

And what's cool for me, now having experienced this in lots of different natural environments, it's almost different, every natural environment I go into. Because the chemistry is different based upon whether I'm at the beach or I'm in a rainforest or I'm in a conifer forest, right? It just changes based upon what is the natural. It's so fun.

doTERRA: That is so incredible. Now, Doctor, how or when do you find yourself using Shinrin-Yoku the most?

Dr. Riggs: So for me, it's every night. I'll just be honest with you. Having done the research, participated in the research project as a participant, I know of my own physiologic benefits that I receive when I diffuse it. And that study was done diffusing it for eight hours a night, every single night. So, there's a diffuser right by my bed. I diffuse that every single night—about six to eight drops a night—and that's how I use it.

I also, commonly, as you come into my office, you'll commonly smell Shenron yoku being diffused because it's my scent. I love it. Either that one or Morino-To that I get from Japan, but I just use it every single day.

I also have found people recently have been using it before going on stage. They've got some nerves, they're a little bit excited. Maybe that pulse is a little bit higher, maybe the blood pressure's a little bit higher. And they need those things to just like calm down. We know from the science that this beautiful blend can help us achieve homeostasis. So, therefore, they'll put some, you know, cup to nose and mouth, take some deep breaths, and, "Okay, now I'm ready to go on stage."

So, those are kind of some of the ways that I like to use it.

doTERRA: Well, they all sound amazing. I'm definitely putting it in my diffuser at night.

Are there any other products that you would recommend pairing with Shinrin-Yoku to kind of enhance the experience or create a personalized experience?

Dr. Riggs: Yeah, I was thinking about this question. I think that because the research shows diffusing it at night. And so you think, "Well, okay, but there's so many other things we could diffuse at night." And as I was thinking about this, there should be no reason that we couldn't harness the benefits of both types of chemistry.

If I'm wanting to support a good night's sleep and also get the benefits of Shinrin-Yoku, I could diffuse doTERRA Serenity® oil along with my Shinrin-Yoku blend in the same diffuser. So that would be a great pairing of those two.

I also find that if I want a little bit more pine or forest scent out of it, then I can reach for our Northern Escape®, right? Something like that to pair with it if I'm wanting to put it on my hands and deep breathe, because this one doesn't smell exactly like a forest like some of our other forest blends do. If we want a little bit more forest, we could use some of those others along with it.

doTERRA: Absolutely. Before we end, is there anything else that you think everyone needs to know about the Shinrin-Yoku blend?

Dr. Riggs: Well, I would just say, like most of our products, please make sure that we are pairing it with a lifestyle change. We, of course, can use products to gain great benefits, but I don't think that products are a reason to not do the lifestyle things.

For instance, you can't continue to eat fast food for every meal and just take doTERRA Lifelong Vitality®. It doesn't make sense, right? We also need to change our diets, making sure that we're eating cleanly, etcetera, and then take LLV. That's how we get the most benefit.

I think the same is true of the Shinrin-Yoku blend. I think we should take time out of our schedules to go spend some time in nature. To go and enjoy our natural surroundings. Whether we live near a beach, whether we live near the mountains, whether we live in the deserts of Arizona, some places, like those. Being in nature, our bodies do change. Our immune system benefits. Our adrenal glands benefit. There's so many things that change in us when we take the time to be in a natural environment.

And then when our busy schedules don't allow it for a day or two or week, then that's a fabulous time to be using our Shinrin-Yoku blend. But just making sure that we're in tune with the beauty around us and spending time out there, I think is really important. So, that's the recommendation that I would make.

doTERRA: I absolutely love that. Dr. Riggs, thank you for joining us today--for sharing so much about how incredible the Shinrin-Yoku blend is.

Dr. Riggs: Happy to do it. Thank you for inviting me.

doTERRA: Thanks for joining us and congratulations on living a healthier lifestyle with essential oils. If you want to try any of the products you learned about, click on the link in the episode description or find a Wellness Advocate near you to place an order today.

And remember, if you liked what you heard today, rate, review, and subscribe wherever you listen.

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