Health benefits of houseplants

by Cyna Mirzai-

Photo: Huy Phan

The spring season often marks the beginning of plant buying season, with plant lovers and newbies alike searching for new greenery to take home. While houseplants can certainly be used for decoration, there is much more to those green and leafy plants than simply embellishing a space.

Although eating well and exercising have a substantial impact on one’s health and wellness, the environment in which one lives also plays an important role. Integrating varying houseplants into one’s home can create positive changes in stress levels, breathing and overall wellness.

A number of studies show that inadequate access to nature can contribute to higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses. However, since houseplants are seen as an essential connection to nature, multiple studies prove that being in the presence of houseplants can improve cognitive, behavioral and health-related functions. 

Plants are notably beneficial for reducing stress. One study found that people feel less physiological and psychological stress after repotting a plant compared with doing a computer task. The study also found the subjects to have significantly lower diastolic blood pressure and a suppressed sympathetic nervous system after repotting their plants. 

Similarly, another study found that patients in hospital rooms with plants and flowers indicated significantly more positive physiologic responses evidenced by lower systolic blood pressure and lower ratings of pain, anxiety and fatigue. 

While reducing stress is an important factor for one’s mental health, houseplants can also aid in improving one’s physical health. According to the World Health Organization, 3.2 million people die prematurely from illnesses attributable to household air pollution each year. Although opening windows and naturally ventilating indoor spaces can work as a remedy, many plant species can also improve air quality by removing cancer-causing chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene from the air. One study also found that soil in potted plants could help clean indoor air.

There is a myriad of different houseplants to choose from when looking for new flora. If you are new to plants, many botanists recommend starting out with pothos and snake plants. On the other hand, if you have a natural green thumb, try incorporating orchids and Boston ferns into your home.

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