Assoc. Prof. dr. mult. Aleksandar Racz, MD

Assoc. prof. Aleksandar Racz, MD is a physician specializing in health ecology, currently engaged in three scientific fields – biomedicine, health and social sciences and economics. He completed four post-graduate studies and obtained four doctorates from different universities, in the fields of social science, economics, social work and biomedical sciences.  His main foci of scientific interest are global public health, health ecology and environmental ethics, the application of KAM methods and techniques in medicine, and health and wellness tourism. In recent years, through the Power of the Forest Platform, he has taken up the promotion of the complementary Eastern method Shinrih – Yoku (eng Forest bath / Forest Therapy / Forest Medicine), which he tries to implement in the health and tourism sector respecting the scientific, evidence-based medicine.

Presentation title: “Forest bath” – a Bridge Between Man and Nature from the Perspective of KAM and Health Tourism

The concept of Shinrin-yoku (SY) or forest bath was developed by the Japanese Forestry Agency in 1982 as a method from the spectrum of KAM, which is based on the conscious engagement of slow, multisensory, immersive experiences during guided movement through certified forest trails with the aim of mitigating technologic stress and improving mental and physical balance. Fifty years ago, SY spread across Korea, Europe (primarily Germany, Great Britain, Slovenia and Italy), to the USA, and in some countries, it found its place through the so-called green and social prescriptions in different national health systems (Scotland, England, Australia, etc.). The presentation will present the theoretical foundations, historical development and current application of this approach in health tourism. The emphasis now is on Croatia, and its obvious potential for the development of SY. Discussions will be held on the possibility of applying “forest therapy” as an integral part of public health prevention. It is logical to see its place within the medical rehabilitation programmes, and related to health tourism.  This has already been recognized in the municipality of Radoboju, where in September 2023 the first certified forest path for SY was laid out. This initiative is already recognized within the health tourism offer of green Croatia.