July 13, 2016

3 Health Benefits From Indoor Plants

photo credit: Phalaenopsis-Orchideen via photopin (license)

One of my readers recently commented on the therapeutic benefits of working with plants and congratulated me on choosing orchids as a hobby.  It got me thinking about the benefits of interacting with nature and more specifically, the health benefits of indoor plants.  Today, many of us live in small spaces within a large urban area.  Busy schedules prevent us from spending time in the great outdoors as much as we would like to.  The solution?  Bring a little bit of nature indoors with a few potted plants!  In researching this article I found a plethora of studies, scholarly articles and general information on the benefits of indoor gardening. Although the benefits are many and varied, here are 3 health benefits from indoor plants:


Breathe Easier

Indoor plants clean the air.  In a famous NASA Clean Air Study, some houseplants were shown to absorb toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde and ammonia from the air.  Plants also absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen which, of course, we need to breathe.  Most plants give off oxygen during the day, however some plants give off oxygen at night, making them a good choice for your bedroom.  Guess which plants are among the night-time oxygen producers?  Yes, you guessed it - phalaenopsis and dendrobium orchids!


Better Physical Health

In a study done by Tove Fjeld from the University of Agriculture in Norway, it was established that indoor plants have a positive effect on our physical health. This study saw a reduction of fatigue, headaches, sore dry throats, coughs and dry facial skin among office workers who had indoor plants in their work environment.


Lower Stress and Feel Happier

The Journal of Physiological Anthropology published a study done in Japan showing that people experience an unconscious calming reaction to touching a plant.  As great as having a study is, really, all we have to do is observe.  Last time you were touring a botanic garden, how many irritable, stressed-out people did you notice?  Have you noticed that when you encounter other hikers on a trail, everyone's exchanging a friendly greeting?  It seems that most of us are naturally drawn to plants and flowers.  Being in a place where we are surrounded by them helps lower our stress and makes us feel happier.  Yet another good reason to bring a few plants indoors!


References

As I was researching this topic I was amazed at how many blogs and websites say "studies show" or "research indicates" without citing even one reference!  Here's my reference list:

Pots of Health- http://plantsolutions.com/documents/PlantsForLifeReport.pdf
Journal of Physiological Anthropology - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3660240/
Plants Our Perfect Partners - http://www.efig.co.uk/images/research_synopsis2.pdf
Nasa Clean Air Study Results - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Clean_Air_Study
Psychological Benfits of Indoor Plants in Workplaces - http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/42/3/581.full.pdf+html
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/247731092_The_Effect_of_Indoor_Foliage_Plants_on_Health_and_Discomfort_Symptoms_among_Office_Workers