The rainforest is often referred to as the “lungs of the world." What many people may not realize is just how large a role trees play in the way that humans live. If trees are the lungs of the world, they can also be seen as the kidneys of the world, the heart of the world, and the skin of the world. MONQ has shown the vital role trees play in our health by creating terpene -packed personal aromatherapy diffusers.
The ability of trees to produce oxygen is just the tip of the iceberg. The thousands of different terpenes that trees produce are also helping humans breathe every day, although you may not notice it. The forest ecosystem makes up approximately one-third of the earth’s surface, and it works not only to purify our air but to purify the water and regulate Earth’s temperature, as well.
The Lungs of the World
The forest ecosystem helps purify the air humans breathe through photosynthesis. Trees take carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen back into the air. One tree can absorb approximately 48 pounds of carbon dioxide every single year. On average, one tree also releases about 260 pounds of oxygen in a year. 1
A single mature, leafy tree is thought to produce enough oxygen for 2 to 10 people every day. 2 More than 20 percent of earth’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon rainforest alone.
Absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen isn’t the only way that trees help humans breathe. In more urban areas, the leaves of trees help trap particles such as ash, dust, smoke, and pollen. When these particles are trapped by leaves, they do not end up in your lungs.
Additionally, carbon dioxide is not the only pollutant trees absorb. They are also able to absorb other harmful pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and ammonia, which all cause respiratory issues after repeated exposure.
This improves the air quality around the trees and contributes to an overall healthier environment. 3
The Kidneys, Skin, Heart, and Even Intestines of the World
A single mature tree can absorb and clean approximately 36 percent of the rain that falls on it, releasing it slowly into the ground. Plants can then absorb this water for use in photosynthesis.
Roger Leakey, Vice Chairman of the International Tree Foundation, claims that trees are much more than just the lungs of the earth. Trees act as the kidneys of the earth by helping regulate the flow and use of water. Furthermore, t he forest ecosystem’s ability to exchange gases and water between the atmosphere and vegetation allows it to act as the skin of the world.
The trees also act as the intestines of the earth when they exchange nutrients between the vegetation and the soil. Forests provide ecosystems where hundreds of thousands of organisms can thrive, recycle nutrients, build soil, and create complex food chains—earning them the title of the heart of the earth. 4
The forest ecosystem plays a very large role in the health of the environment. The health of the environment, in turn, plays a large role in what humans breathe and your overall health.
Trees and Terpenes
The practice of forest bathing has shown that taking a mindful stroll through a forest offers a wide range of physical and emotional benefits. A large part of these therapeutic properties of the forest are due to the presence of terpenes.
Terpenes, a type of secondary metabolite, are not essential for basic metabolic functions but do assist in the plant’s long-term survival. Trees and plants produce over 40,000 different types of terpenes and walking through the forest allow individuals to breathe in many of them.
These potent compounds are known for their ability to balance hormones, reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, and reduce feelings of stress. In a coniferous forest, A-pinene can be found in abundance. This particular terpene is known for its ability to improve respiratory function, boost memory, protect organ systems, and act as an antibacterial.
Another powerful terpene often found in forests is limonene. This terpene has a fresh, floral fragrance and can help improve sleep quality, ease congestion, reduce inflammation, and fight off bacteria and fungi.
A-pinene and limonene are just two of thousands of beneficial terpenes produced by forest plants. When you spend time in a forested area, you are breathing in all of these therapeutic terpenes without even realizing it. Not only do trees produce the oxygen that you breathe, but they also offer you a free health boost.
Walking through any type of forest can offer you these healing properties. However, if your busy schedule is preventing you from going out into nature, using essential oils made from these plants can also allow you to breathe in these terpenes in the comfort of your own home.
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