The Many Health Benefits of Houseplants

Houseplants Make You Happy

With the depressing news of opioid addictions and mass incarceration issues due to drug offenses and onward to debates over the Federal legalization of cannabis, we thought we’d point out that the houseplant hasn’t gotten enough of the positive attention it deserves in potentially helping to solve issues that are so hotly discussed. No doubt, criminals won’t be changing their ways by introducing a few nice orchids into their dwellings, but even if 1% of the U.S. population were to understand the effects of the houseplant – and why we have them – that’d potentially save over $700 million dollars a year and keep 500,000 people out of harm from developing opioid dependencies. Really, we’ve all known about this for a long time..

Houseplants in Early Civilization

There isn’t a significant biological difference between plants which are often found indoors than those that can be enjoyed outdoors.  So why do we call some plants house plants? That’s the easiest part of this topic. What is meant for indoors versus outdoors has vacillated through the ages. As more technologies have advanced our ability to live indoors (heat, electric lights, air conditioning, etc.), the term houseplant was coined to reflect that plants were being brought inside, around the time of the Industrial Revolution.

But the trend of having plants near where we live likely starts in the Middle East. New archeological evidence by Ioana-Iulia Olaru and others traces seed cultivation for crops and for indoor plants back to the Neolithic period approximately 10,000 years ago.  Closer to our present day but early along the lines of civilization, it’s reported that King Nebuchadnezzar II built for Queen Amytis the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, a wonder of the ancient world.. in fact, much has been written about the the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.  

Historians agree that the gardens were created by the King for the Queen because she missed her very lush green homeland.  It was known then that there was a power of plants to improve our mood in our living areas. Harvard’s esteemed antiquities department established that the the Babylonians largely spent their days outside, and they speculate that these gardens would have been an indoor sensory feast for Amytis had she had to relocate to a more northern climate once she wed the ruler.

Western & Eastern Medicine Agree

Modern medical practices now mix with ancient techniques and Ayurveda, an eastern approach to medicine, has proven positive results in the management of Parkinson’s using house plants . Re-discoveries of using plants in homes of cancer patients as anticancer agents has been used in Chinese Medicine for centuries. Even from a purely western approach, the National Institute of Health in the United States has undergone studies linking physiological relaxation with indoor flowering plants.

Improved Mood

Before the age of a biosynthetic class called MAOIs in the 1950s to treat depression, houseplants – and by extension aromatherapy – were sometimes prescribed in treating the blues.  Modern day scientists are re-reviewing the role of the flowering houseplant, and how they are bringing in significant gains in depression over synthetic anti-depressants. Anxiolytic effects are found in many flowering plants, and studies are exposing that that they can bring on effects similar to Valium.  

Positive psychology has embraced this idea as well, coupling people who live and work around plants, flowers and houseplants have a much higher degrees of happiness than those who don’t. Anecdotally, florists’ know that orchid plants are often sent as a “pick me up” to a friend or relative long before it was science.

Pain Management

While it’s been thoroughly researched that Aloe Vera is quite a useful houseplant to have on hand to reduce the pain on a papercut and small wounds, some plants also offer the benefits of holistic pain management.

Early 2000 numbers estimated that the population of Americans requiring narcotic help to ease their chronic pain symptoms at 50 million, and abusing those painkillers have cost the country at least $70 billion or more. Since then, the abuse of narcotics grown to a national epidemic with a few answers.  Compounds in Corydalis, which are cousins to our ranunculus flowers, are found incredibly promising to chronic pain sufferers without the downsides of addiction.  

Living houseplants catch indoor particulate matter, acting as nature’s air filter. They help in mitigating minor respiratory distress, as it’s is a cause of pain elevation.  A clean environment required for internal healing. Not coincidentally, if your cared-for houseplant isn’t healthy and you are feeling pain, there could likely be a correlation. In this way, houseplants have now become the new home health monitor.

Boosting Creativity and Productivity

Why spend $200 on noise cancelling headphones at work or for your home office when houseplants are natural noise reducers ?  Or if you are leading a group, idea generation can come from introducing new elements to the environment, like a one-of-a-kind flower arrangement or unique plant.  By doing right by your team in introducing a new plant into their cubicle, it’s introducing new heuristic ideas to minds which ultimately aids in the creative thinking process.

Houseplants clean your air

From sage to succulents, NASA has affirmed that the cheapest and most effective indoor clean air can be accomplished with plants.  The NASA Clean Air Study was created to clean the air in space stations.  The University of Hawai’i also contributes to affirming this through their Cooperative Extension Service with the U.S. Government.  Beyond extracting CO2 and other gases which can be harmful to the human physiology, houseplants can improve the lives for people, especially children or the elderly, living with Asthma or even a common cold.

Note About Pets

There are some plants, and some pets – which naturally don’t get along.  Some indoor plants are hazardous to pets ; but indoor animals are usually quite bio-aware of their surroundings and will generally not be harmed.  However, if you have a cat, dog, parakeet or other pet which is a little bit more of a troublemaker, it’s helpful to consult your florist before sending a plant to a friend or family member since they’ll be up-to-speed on the latest advisories for varying houseplants or cut flowers.

Benefits & The Future

There are so many benefits of having houseplants around that early societies – if you transport them into today’s time – would wonder why we don’t have more plants in our homes and workspaces.  But if you believe Star Trek’s futurism, this is remedied in the next century. Even Commander Sulu is shown having his own plant collection in case you are wondering what’s next for our civilization. Undoubtedly, they read this article.