Many of you might not know this but your home actually harbors a lot of indoor air pollution. This could come from numerous things… including yourself! Indoor air pollution occurs when certain air pollutants from particles and gases contaminate the air of indoor areas. These air pollutants can cause respiratory diseases or even cancer. What are the major sources of indoor air pollution? Asbestos, biological pollutants, Carbon Monoxide (CO), Formaldehyde/Pressed Wood Products, Lead, Nitrogen Dioxide, Radon and indoor particulate matter. You might be thinking… I don’t know what half of the things you just listed are or where they come from. I can understand that, so basically, these come from dryer sheets, the cleaning products used, candles/wall plug ins, the carbon monoxide we emit when we breathe, gases from cooking and also the walls and floors. WHATTT?! That’s crazy, huh? So what do we do to correct this? Not only can we clean up what are allow into our homes and go “green,” but involving houseplants can balance it out more than anything. THIS is the reason I started gradually introducing plants into my home. I am not one that remembers to water plants so I searched for ones that require little to no sunlight and also not a lot of water!
There are numerous health benefits to having houseplants, let’s focus on five of them today.
- Houseplants help you breathe better. YES you heard that right. When you inhale, oxygen circulates into your body and when you exhale it releases carbon dioxide. Plants basically do the exact opposite. They absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the air. Plants increase the oxygen levels in the air which in turn helps us breathe better. But here’s something to know: When photosynthesis stops at night, most plants switch things up and absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide. However, a few special plants – like orchids, succulents and epiphytic bromeliads – flip that script and take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Meaning, use these plants in bedrooms to keep the oxygen flowing at night.
- Houseplants help keep away illness. When outside, plants continue to grow until they can tap into the groundwater table for water which then evaporates through its leaves in a process known as transpiration. Studies show that this accounts for about 10 percent of the moisture in the atmosphere! The same thing happens at home (minus the groundwater table part), which increases the humidity indoors. While this may sound unappealing during hot moist months, it’s a gift during drier months or if you live in an arid clime. 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. And other research reveals that higher absolute humidity is conducive for decreased survival and transmission of the flu virus.
- Houseplants clean the air. NASA has spent a lot of time researching air quality in sealed environments, which makes sense. Extensive research by the space agency discovered a then-new concept in indoor air quality improvement in which plants play a pivotal role: “Both plant leaves and roots are utilized in removing trace levels of toxic vapors from inside tightly sealed buildings. Low levels of chemicals such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde can be removed from indoor environments by plant leaves alone.” When talking about the relationship between plants and space travelers, NASA notes that plants, “provide nourishment for the body when eaten as food, and they improve the quality of indoor air. Plants take the carbon dioxide from air to produce oxygen that humans can breathe.”
- Houseplants boost healing. Bringing flowers or a plant while visiting a hospital patient is so effective helping them recover that one study recommends them as a “noninvasive, inexpensive, and effective complementary medicine for surgical patients.” Plants are medicine! The study, conducted at Kansas State University, found that viewing plants during recovery from surgery led to a significant improvement in physiologic responses as evidenced by lower systolic blood pressure, and lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue as compared to patients without plants in their rooms. Another technique to decrease recovery time, as noted by Texas A&M University, is horticulture therapy in which patients are tasked with taking care of plants. The patients who physically interact with plants experience a significantly reduced recovery time after medical procedures.
- Houseplants help you work better. What? A number of studies with both students and workers reveals that studying or working in the presence of plants can have a pretty dramatic effect. As with simply being in nature, being around plants improves concentration, memory and productivity. Being “under the influence of plants” can increase memory retention up to 20 percent, according to a University of Michigan study. Meanwhile, two Norwegian studies found that worker productivity is greatly enhanced by the presence of plants in the office. “Keeping ornamental plants in the home and in the workplace increases memory retention and concentration,” notes Texas A&M. “Work performed under the natural influence of ornamental plants is normally of higher quality and completed with a much higher accuracy rate than work done in environments devoid of nature.”
Those reasons alone, have me itching for another plant and I am SO excited to add another one into our home this weekend. I found a greenhouse that has Fiddle Leaf Trees for $29.99 so I am getting one for now…. maybe a few later on in the year. I also have a Elephant Ear tree, Snake Plant, English Ivy, Spider Plant, Palm tree and Succulants. Regardless which plants you decide to add into your home, know that they will vastly improve your overall wellbeing.