Researchers found that rooms with plants have less dust and mold than rooms without any foliage. Leaves and other parts of the plants act as natural filters to catch allergens and other airborne particles. Common low-light houseplants like Chinese evergreen or the peace lily can do the job. Violets and other plants with textured leaves might be even better trappers. Avoid plants with pollen or spores.
Plants not only can brighten up your surroundings, but they can lift your mood. Employees who work in offices with plants tend to feel better about their jobs, worry less, and take fewer sick days. Flowers in particular are a good pick-me-up. So liven up your room with blooms, like a lipstick plant, or a fresh bouquet and see if your outlook improves.
Furnaces and air conditioners can sap humidity indoors, especially in the winter. That can raise your chances for catching a cold or the flu, or make your skin itch. Houseplants add moisture to the air. One study found a collection of spider plants boosted the relative humidity in a bedroom from 20% to a more comfortable 30%.
Carpets, paint, cleaners, printer toners and inks, and many other indoor objects give off pollutants called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They can build up in the air and irritate your eyes and skin, worsen your asthma, or make it hard for you to breathe. Houseplants can soak up VOCs. Some good air-scrubbers are English ivy, asparagus fern, and dragon tree.
Mint may help tamp down bloating, gas, and other problems after you eat. Common varieties you can grow in containers include peppermint and spearmint (essential in mint juleps). Basil, another herb for cooking, also can help calm your stomach. Try steeping the leaves in hot water.
This fragrant purple plant has been an important herbal medicine for centuries. You can inhale lavender oil or massage it on your scalp for aromatherapy. You can also boil the leaves for tea. Some studies suggest it may help calm you and help lower any anxiety. But more proof is needed.
Gel from this plant is a popular home remedy. It can treat sunburns and other minor burns. It can soothe your psoriasis and other skin conditions. Juice from the aloe plant can even help you poop if you're constipated.
Plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. It's how they turn sunlight into food, a process called photosynthesis. Some, like gerbera daisies, keep giving off oxygen even after the sun goes down. Put a few cheerful pots in your bedroom and the extra oxygen may help you sleep more soundly.
Feeling the weight of daily pressures? Try and add a heart-leaf philodendron or a snake plant to your decor. It may help you relax. Several studies have measured people's levels of blood pressure, heart rate, and the stress hormone cortisol while they handled a tough task or were under mental stress. Being around plants has a calming effect on people.
Plants may help raise your test scores, make it easier to concentrate on your tasks, and strengthen your memory. Students in classrooms with three potted plants performed better on math, spelling, reading, and science tests than kids in classrooms without any greens. Bring home a golden pothos or a bamboo palm and you just might clear that to-do list.
Taking a bouquet of flowers or potted foliage to a loved one in the hospital can be more than just a thoughtful gesture. It may actually help them recover more quickly. Researchers found that people who had surgery got better faster if they had plants in their room or even a view of the nature from their window. They also tolerated pain better and needed fewer medications when surrounded by greenery. Try an orchid or a peace lily.
Some therapists use gardening to help treat depression, schizophrenia, and other psychiatric conditions. Learning to nurture a living plant may help lower anxiety, improve attention, and lessen the severity of depression. Plants also might help people recovering from trauma, as well as those with dementia or who live in long-term care facilities.
IMAGES PROVIDED BY:
- joloei / Getty Images
- KrisCole / Getty Images
- itasun / Getty Images
- Studio Light and Shade / Getty Images
- La_vanda / Getty Images
- anskuw / Getty Images
- KatarzynaBialasiewicz / Getty Images
- bonnynord / Getty Images
- FeelPic / Getty Images
- FeelPic / Getty Images
- Aleksandra Baranova / Getty Images
- eggeeggjiew / Getty Images
- Mayo Clinic: "Aloe."
- Indiana Medical History Museum: "Guide to the Medicinal Plant Garden."
- Acta Horticulturae: "What are the benefits of plants indoors and why do we respond positively to them?"
- Texas A&M Agrilife Extension: "Health and well-being benefits of plants."
- Wageningen University and Research: "A plant a day keeps the doctor away."
- HortTechnology: "Physical Discomfort May Be Reduced in the Presence of Interior Plants," "Evapotranspiration from Spider and Jade Plants Can Improve Relative Humidity in an Interior Environment," "The Impact of Horticultural Responsibility on Health Indicators and Quality of Life in Assisted Living," "Effects of Flowering and Foliage Plants in Hospital Rooms on Patients Recovering from Abdominal Surgery," "The Effect of Interior Planting on Health and Discomfort among Workers and School Children."
- HortScience: "The Effect of Live Plants and Window Views of Green Spaces on Employees Perceptions of Job Satisfaction," "Screening Indoor Plants for Volatile Organic Pollutant Removal Efficiency," "Therapeutic Influences of Plants in Hospital Rooms on Surgical Recovery."
- Evolutionary Psychology: "An Environmental Approach to Positive Emotion: Flowers."
- Environmental Science and Pollution Research: "Can ornamental potted plants remove volatile organic compounds from indoor air? -- a review."
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration: "Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement."
- Journal of Environmental Horticulture: "Interior Plants May Improve Worker Productivity and Reduce Stress in a Windowless Environment."
- Preventive Medicine: "Stress-reducing effects of indoor plants in the built healthcare environment: The mediating role of perceived attractiveness."
- Journal of Physiological Anthropology: "Interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in young adults: a randomized crossover study."
- Journal of Health Psychology: Gardening promotes neuroendocrine and affective restoration from stress."
- PLOS One: "High Humidity Leads to Loss of Infectious Influenza Virus from Simulated Coughs."
- Atmospheric Environment: "Particulate matter accumulation on horizontal surfaces in interiors: Influence of foliage plants."
- Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied: "The Relative Benefits of Green Versus Lean Office Space: Three Field Experiments."
- Interior Plantscape Association: "Plants in the Classroom Can Improve Student Performance."
- Journal of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences: "Interior Plants: Their Influence on Airborne Microbes inside Energy-efficient Buildings."
- American Horticultural Therapy Association.
- Research and Theory for Nursing Practice: "Therapeutic horticulture in clinical depression: a prospective study."
- Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture: "Exploring the Use of Therapeutic Horticulture to Enhance the Psychological Well-Being of Female Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse," "The Relationship between Gardening and Depression among Individuals with Disabilities," "The Use of Horticulture in the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in a Private Practice Setting," "Horticultural Therapy and Post Traumatic Stress Recovery," "Effect of Horticultural Therapy on Preventing the Decline of Mental Abilities of Patients with Alzheimer's Type Dementia," "The Psychosocial Benefits of Exposure to Natural Settings in Long-term Care: An Evaluation of the Wellness Garden Program at Glacier Hills Retirement Community," "Horticultural Therapy for Institutionalized Older Adults and Persons with Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias: A Study and Practice."
- University of Helsinki: "The influence of a green environment and horticultural activities on the subjective well-being of the elderly living in long-term care."
- Science: "View Through a Window May Influence Recovery from Surgery."
- Essays in Biochemistry: "Photosynthesis."
- Asthma & Allergy Associates: "Health Benefits of Houseplants."
- Journal of Neurophysiology: "Hyperoxia enhances slow-wave forebrain states in urethane-anesthetized and naturally sleeping rats."
- Indoor and Built Environment: "The Effect of Indoor Foliage Plants on Health and Discomfort Symptoms among Office Workers."
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences: "Aloe vera."
- University of Vermont Department of Plant and Soil Science: "The Many Uses and Types of Basil."
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Lavender."