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Marijuana and forest bathing: Wildest new Wellness trends

Marijuana and forest bathing: Wildest new trends in the wellness world

By Laura Powell, for CNN

(CNN)Walking in the woods, cannabis day spas and rolling around in sand.

These are just a few of the hottest trends in wellness according to SpaFinder Wellness 365, which claims to be the world's largest spa media and marketing company.

But which trends will turn out to be fads and which will stick?

Strange as they sound, it's worth remembering that some pretty odd wellness practices have come and gone through the ages.

Cleopatra indulged in milk baths and mud treatments -- variations of which can still be enjoyed today.

For some reason, though, bloodletting and leeches didn't manage to survive the test of time.

Distinguishing a useful practice from snake oil is a far easier exercise in today's wellness world.

"Science is now able to analyze wellness practices to prove which can be helpful and which are not," says Dr. Mark Liponis, corporate medical director for Arizona-based Canyon Ranch.

"As a result, there will be a greater adoption of therapies when science confirms their value."

Marijuana day spas

Liponis points out that numerous studies are being conducted on the benefits of marijuana, such as its usefulness in stress management and symptom alleviation.

SpaFinder's 2015 Report on Global Spa and Wellness Trends notes that cannabis wellness is experiencing a high.

For decades, Amsterdam, with its "coffee shops," has been Cannabis tourism central.

A recent visitor survey noted that 16.5% of visitors admit that coffee shops/soft drugs is one of the main reasons for visiting, although marijuana use is a legal gray area in the Netherlands.

Given recent decriminalization laws in the United States, cannabis tourists may be trading out a Dutch treat for a Rocky Mountain high.

Colorado has been ahead of the pack in terms of legalizing recreational usage, to the point where "bud and breakfast" inns, luxury cannabis tours and the "the world's first cannabis day spa" have sprouted up.

Although state tourism officials deny the correlation, Colorado has been experiencing an increase in tourism since the law was enacted.

According to SpaFinder, a 2014 study discovered that out-of-state visitors account for 44% of marijuana sales in larger cities and up to 90% in mountain resorts.

Forest bathing

Forest bathing, an import from Japan, has nothing to do with water and you don't have to get naked to do it.

Basically, it's a wander through the woods, with all senses keenly open to the sights, sounds and smells therein.

The Japanese government coined the term in 1982 ... a translation of "shinrin-yoku," meaning "taking in the forest atmosphere."

Since then, the government has funded forest-therapy studies, showing impacts ranging from lowering blood pressure to alleviating depression.

Research like this has made forest bathing a pillar of preventive medicine in highly urbanized Japan.

But now, walking in the woods for wellness is taking root around the world.

According to the SpaFinder study, South Korea is developing a multimillion dollar National Forest Therapy Center.

In Canada, the Trout Point Lodge (189 Trout Point Road, East Kemptville, Nova Scotia; +1 902 482 8360) is a center for forest bathing, as is Armathwaite Hall in England (Bassenthwaite Lake, Keswick, Cumbria; +44 17687 76551).

Um, didn't this used to be called hiking?


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