7 ways houseplants are good for your health

August 25, 2020

A collection of cute houseplants isn’t just a must for your next Instagram post, they’re a must-have around the home. Indoor plants have a host of healing powers, with real science behind them. Struggling with stress, allergies, skin irritations, or digestive upset? There’s a plant for that, and more.  If you’re not already en route to the nearest garden centre, read on to learn more about the connection between houseplants and good health.

7 ways houseplants are good for your health

Photo Credit: iStock.com/ FollowTheFlow

1.  Houseplants clean the air in your home

Many of the objects we live with every day give off pollutants that we breathe in. Known as VOCs (volatile organic compounds), these pollutants accumulate in the air and irritate skin, eyes and conditions like asthma. NASA’s Clean Air Study analyzed a variety of houseplants to understand their ability to absorb nasties like formaldehyde, benzene, ammonia, and trichloroethylene, all of which are found in everyday household products. They found several common houseplant varieties could remove these harmful chemicals. Dracaena, snake plant (also known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue) and chrysanthemums got top marks for their air filtering powers.

2.  Houseplants ease allergy symptoms

Contrary to what you might expect, studies have shown that rooms with plants have less dust and mold than rooms without. It turns out leaves and stems actually filter and trap airborne particles. The exception is if plants are overwatered, allowing fungus or mold to grow, or are heavy releasers of pollen. English ivy has been documented to help improve allergies and asthma symptoms, as well as the Peace lily.

3.  Houseplants help manage stress

Research has shown that plants can reduce tension by as much as 40 percent, by reminding us of the calming feeling of being outdoors in nature. The same holds true for plants in the workplace (which IS your home nowadays, right?) where studies have found anxiety, fatigue and hostility dropped when plants were introduced. Even the act of caring for plants has been shown to reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Just ask anyone who took up gardening during the pandemic.

Lavender is the king among plants that promote relaxation. Jasmine is another stress reliever, thanks to its white, fragrant blooms that some research has found to be as powerful at reducing anxiety as Valium.

4.  Houseplants heal skin irritations

 Aloe vera’s healing and moisturizing properties make it great for relieving skin irritations from sunburn to psoriasis. The gel from the aloe plant is also antibacterial, so consider it part of your first aid kit when treating minor wounds. A natural bug repellent, crushed basil leaves can also be applied to fresh bites to relieve itching or stinging.

5.  Houseplants help digestion

Nibble on some fresh mint leaves after a meal to control nausea, bloating, gas, and other digestive upset. Basil can also help settle your stomach, especially when the leaves are made into a tea for sipping. Juice from the aloe vera plant can be used to treat constipation.

6.  Houseplants improve mental focus

Want to increase your concentration, productivity, and memory? Some studies claim having a few plants nearby can do just that, by as much as 15 percent. Researchers found that students in classrooms with three potted plants scored better test results than children in classrooms without any greenery. Rosemary and sage plants have been shown to enhance memory in the young and old alike.

7.  Houseplants humidify the air

Heating and cooling systems can suck all the humidity out of indoor air, causing dry, itchy skin and sore throat. Houseplants can add all-important moisture to the air. Try a few spider plants or Boston ferns around your home to add much-needed moisture to dry indoor air.

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