The Health Benefits of Indoor Plants
At Wiseman Family Practice, we often talk about diet and exercise as key components of preventive medicine, but there’s another element that is also beneficial to your health: plants in your home and workspace. The best part about bringing beautiful greenery indoors is that it’s an easy, natural strategy: one that adds great value to your overall well-being as well as improving the environment you live in. Below are five ways that indoor plants add value:
- Plants Increase Oxygen Plants create oxygen during photosynthesis. This natural process essentially helps us breathe in fresh oxygen released by plants. (Plants, in turn, use carbon dioxide—which we breathe out—and convert it into sugars that will help them grow.)
- Plants Remove Airborne Contaminates Indoor environments are filled with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are off-gassed chemicals from industrial cleaners, beauty products, and building materials such as carpet and paint. VOCs permeate the air, contributing to poor indoor air quality and serious health effects such as asthma and cancer. Most plants have a natural filtration system that removes air pollutants (e.g., ammonia, formaldehyde, and benzene) and produces cleaner air for us to breathe.
- Plants Release Water Vapor Through a process known as transpiration, plants release evaporated water from their leaves, helping to balance humidity levels indoors.
- Plants Promote Healing A recent study shows that plants do indeed have therapeutic value. By simply looking at decorative plants in their hospital rooms, patients recovering from surgery were reported to have lower blood pressure and less pain, anxiety, and distress.
- Plants Improve Mental and Physical Health Most of us experience a fast-paced life, leading to more demands, stress, and anxiety—and the workplace is no exception. Research shows a correlation between work environments with poor ventilation and lower work productivity (Sick Building Syndrome) as well as stress factors in the workplace and decreased productivity. The same research revealed a positive upswing in mood, creativity, memory retention, problem-solving, and improved health when indoor plants were introduced in an office space.
WFP’s Take-Home Advice
- We encourage you to learn more about the plants that are effective living air purifiers. NASA conducted extensive research to find 18 of the best air-filtering plants. Some of the top plants they recommend to help remove airborne toxins and irritants include: the dwarf date palm, Boston fern, spider plant, bamboo palm, weeping fig, variegated snake plant, and cornstalk dracaena. (If you have pets, be sure to check that these indoor plants are non-toxic to animals. Not all of these recommended plants are safe for curious pets.)
- Use at least one plant for every 100 square feet of your home or workspace. Think about the best location for each indoor plant (e.g., bedroom, living room, lobby, or waiting area) to maximize the benefits of these air purifiers.
- Utilize the expertise of a professional plant expert, specifically one who specializes in holistic plant care such as Austin’s own Nature Indoors.
- Taking care of and growing your plants also has therapeutic value. Doing so can create a sense of calm and relaxation. Don’t forget to take daily breaks outside to enjoy a garden, green space, or foliage.
Whether indoors or outside, we encourage you to enjoy the health benefits and beauty that nature provides!
Sources and References:
The NASA Guide to Air-Filtering House Plants (2015, May 18). Retrieved September 02, 2016 from http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/gardening/a32552/houseplants-that-purify-air/
Park SH, Mattson RH. (2009, September 15) Ornamental indoor plants in hospital rooms enhanced health outcomes of patients recovering from surgery. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved September 02, 2016 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19715461
Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants. www.aspca.org. Retrieved September 02, 2016 from http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants
Wolverton B.C., et al. (1989, September 15) Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement. Retrieved September 02, 2016 from http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19930073077.pdf.
Prove It: Plants in the Workplace Show Major Benefits. (2014, March 27) Retrieved September 02, 2016 from http://www.goodearthplants.com/prove-plants-workplace-show-major-benefits/
Fjeld, Tove. The Effect of Interior Planting on Health and Discomfort Among Workers and School Children. Retrieved September 02, 2016 from http://horttech.ashspublications.org/content/10/1/46.full.pdf