Houseplants are pretty to look at and they brighten up our homes, but could they be good for our health too?
BBC Two’s “Trust Me I’m A Doctor” programme (13th Jan) recently highlighted a small collection of papers about the pollution-busting effects of houseplants. In laboratories, many plants have been shown to absorb particularly nasty chemicals, including formaldehyde, which is a known human carcinogen.
So which plants are the best absorbers? Ivy is apparently a good all-round absorber, while geraniums, lavender and many ferns are particularly good at absorbing formaldehyde.
Other health benefits of houseplants include:
- They assist our breathing – plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, making plants and people great partners. Plants help to increase oxygen levels, and our bodies appreciate that.
- They clean the air – NASA notes that “plants improve the quality of indoor air”
- They help deter illness – According to Bayer Advanced, studies at the Agricultural University of Norway document that using plants in interior spaces decreases the incidence of dry skin, colds, sore throats and dry coughs. Plants can also help to reduce headaches because they help eliminate stuffy air; homes with many indoor plants can even help reduce high blood pressure.
- They boost healing – why do we take plants and flowers to people in hospital? Because they make them feel good, and studies have shown that looking after plants can actually increase your healing time. Texas A&M University tasked patients with taking care of plants, and those who physically interacted with plants experienced a significantly reduced recovery time after medical procedures.
- They improve your memory – a number of studies show that working in the presence of plants improves your concentration, productivity & memory. Being “under the influence of plants” can increase memory retention up to 20%, according to a University of Michigan study.
- They increase workplace satisfaction – a recent report entitled “Green versus Lean” conducted by Exeter and Cardiff Universities revealed that introducing plants into the office increases workplace satisfaction by up to 40%.
- They make you feel needed – Having plants to love and nurture gives us something to take care of (that can’t talk back), which can enrich our lives. If you purchase a flowering plant that currently has no buds on it, you can make a goal of giving it care and attention with fertiliser and water so that it can grow flowers.
- They make you more cheerful and productive – scientists have proven that workers with greenery on their desks rate themselves more cheerful and productive, so head straight to the garden centre!
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