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Phytogenics are all around us: The power of trees - Part 2

Time for a bath in the forest. Kidding? Not at all! Going out to the forest and inhaling the aromatic cocktail of forest air may work true wonders. In part 2 of our “tree article” we give you an insight into how the terpenes, secondary plant extracts, may unfold their beneficial effects in humans. And maybe we can convince you to soon take a walk in the forest and experience the phytogenics “live”.


Take a deep breath, sense the unique smell… and relax

The secondary plant compounds are mainly absorbed through our olfactory system and our respiration, but also through our skin. Thus, our brain, which our olfactory sense is tightly linked to, reacts by releasing hormones and neurotransmitters that also have a positive effect on our well-being. Besides, terpenes enter our bloodstream, and finally reach our organs and cells, unfolding their beneficial effects.

Walking through the forest activates the "nerve of tranquility", the parasympathetic nervous system. Consequently, the release of stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline or noradrenaline decreases, and thus, a certain regeneration mode becomes apparent also at the cellular level.

Plants and immune system: communication is key

The world is in upheaval - humans are less viewed in isolation from their environment. Rather it becomes evident how much we are connected and in exchange with it and that immunology will probably substantially contribute to this upheaval.

The immune system is a kind of sensory organ too. It constantly "monitors" our environment to be able to react immediately if necessary. In this function it is capable of perceiving for example the signals sent by trees in form of terpenes. Envision this as different languages being understood between humans and plants. And although plant problems are not the same as those for humans, our immune system responds accordingly by strengthening its defense mechanisms.

“We are confronted with the surprising fact that the immune system is a sensory organ - capable of perceiving, communicating and acting.“

Joel Dimsdale, University of California, San Diego

Forest air to killer cells: please activate

The probable most important changes of our immune system due to terpenes apply to natural killer cells (NK cells). Those are a special form of leucocytes of our blood, whose task is to detect virus, infected blood or body cells and thus, eliminate them through cytotoxins. Consequently, and along with the host cell, the viruses then also die.


The NK cells do the same with degenerated cells that pose a possible cancer risk, as well as with already existing tumor cells, hence illustrating their essential function. Already an expanded walk in the forest increases the killer cell activity lasting for about 7 days. Furthermore, it has been shown that forest environments do not only activate NK cells but also increase their quantity. Moreover, the concentration of cancer inhibitory proteins (the “assistants” of NK cells), such as perforin, granulysin and granzymes, was also significantly increased as a result to longer stays in the forest area.

The message: off to the next forest


Apparently, the forest air with its phytogenic substances such as terpenes, can be seen as an additional measure to conventional medical treatment in certain diseases, as their supporting beneficial effects on the human psycho nervous system, endocrine system and immune system are scientifically proven.

The Delacon team is currently raising awareness for the importance of health and resilience – not only in animals but also in people at work. Taking a walk through our forests can provide an important contribution to this. Therefore: Off to the next forest to recharge your batteries, strengthen your immune system and simply experience phytogenics up close.

“Beneficial effects of “forest bathing” at a glance

  • Increase in human natural killer cell activity, NK cell number and intracellular concentration of cancer inhibitory proteins.
  • Lowering of blood pressure and heart rate and reduction of stress hormones such as urinary adrenaline and noradrenaline as well as salivary cortisol.
  • Increase in parasympathetic and decrease in sympathetic nervous activity.
  • Reduction of the values for stress, depressiveness, irritability, fatigue, and increase of the value for drive (according to Profile of Mood States Test, POMS)


 Elisabeth Rohrer

Elisabeth Rohrer

After her study in agriculture sciences at the university of natural resources and life sciences in Vienna, Elisabeth joined the Delacon team in December 2013 as Technical Communications Manager - a position, she always exerted with pleasure. Since 2021, her task areas have been extended and thus, she is also supporting colleagues in writing offside the technical focus as Content Manager. Elisabeth describes herself as a great animal and nature lover and prefers to spend her free time high up in the mountains with her little family, away from the hustle and bustle.

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