My Houseplants Keep Me Healthy

My Houseplants Keep Me Healthy

Discover five ways plants can help keep you from getting sick. 

Around the office, I’m known to be a bit of a germaphobe. I wash my hands a fair amount. I don’t like to touch door handles unnecessarily. And I spritz on hand sanitizer (even though I know I shouldn’t) when I can’t get to the sink to wash up. I also have a lot of houseplants on my desk.

Surrounding myself with plants might seem like a fashion choice, but I’m convinced it’s also keeping me healthy. That might sound odd, but there’s a surprising amount of science backing up my belief. Here are five proven ways plants help.

1. Houseplants = Air Purification

Scientific research shows common houseplants can scrub small amounts of harmful pollutants from indoor air. If your home or office is especially energy-efficient, it’s quite possible the level of airborne contaminants is two to five times greater than outdoors. Houseplants like bromeliad (Guzmania) removed more than 80 percent of common chemicals in just 12 hours. Dracaena absorbed even more—94 percent. 
Learn more.

2. Houseplants Add Relative Humidity

Ever wonder why we’re sick more often in winter than summer? It might be because of relative humidity levels. Scientists have found that the drier the air is, the more viruses (like what cause a cold or the flu) spread. Heating our homes and offices in the winter drives down humidity. And that’s where plants come in. They release moisture into the air as a part of their breathing process. (Which can also help your skin!)

3. Houseplants Reduce Stress

One study from South Korea is especially interesting. It shows young men (20 to 25 years old) in a room with houseplants reported being more comfortable and relaxed, and less tense and anxious than in a room without plants. A Washington State University study revealed workers showed a 12 percent increase in reaction time (when doing computer-base tasks) when plants were around. And they experienced a 1- to 4-point drop in blood pressure.

4. Houseplants Help Us Heal

Other research in Norway revealed that having plants in the office reduced dry skin by 23 percent, hoarse throats by 23 percent, coughing by 30 percent, and fatigue by 37 percent.

5. Houseplants Improve Our Moods

There’s also research telling us how plants can help us when we’re feeling down—especially in winter. Perhaps it’s the way they add a touch of life to our sometimes sterile-feeling indoor spaces. Perhaps it’s knowing they depend on us for their health and survival, tapping into a nurturing element in our personalities.

Written by Justin Hancock