A little green (houseplants, not money) can give you a health boost in ways you don’t even realize. It turns out, houseplants improve our daily lives, from improving the environment to helping us heal faster. Here are eight ways a few succulents and vines can make you happier and healthier:
- Alleviate allergies. Research shows rooms with plants have less dust and mold than rooms without foliage. Leaves and other parts of the plants act as natural filters to catch airborne particles. Common low-light houseplants like a violet, Chinese evergreen or any plant with textured leaves can reduce your need to bust out the dust cloth.
- Promote sleep. Plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. It’s how they turn sunlight into food, through a process called photosynthesis. Some, like gerbera daisies, keep giving off oxygen even after the sun sets. Extra oxygen may help you sleep more soundly, so put some in your bedroom.
- Aid digestion. Mint may help ease bloating—and you can grow some common varieties (including peppermint and spearmint) in kitchen window containers. Basil can help calm an upset stomach.
- Treat minor injuries and ailments. Gel from the aloe plant can treat sunburns and other minor burns, as well as soothe skin conditions like psoriasis. Aloe plant juice can even help with constipation.
- Boost mental health. Plants not only brighten your surroundings, but they also can lift your mood. Studies show employees who work in offices with plants tend to feel better about their jobs, worry less and take fewer sick days. Fresh cut flowers are also a good pick-me-up. Try to improve a mildly blue day with a bright bouquet.
- Sharpen concentration. Plants may help raise test scores, make it easier to concentrate and give your memory a boost. Students in classrooms with three potted plants performed better on math, spelling, reading and science tests than kids in classrooms without any greenery. Put a bamboo palm on your desk to help you power through that to-do list.
- Speed healing. Taking flowers or a potted plant to a friend in the hospital is more than a thoughtful gesture. It may actually help them recover more quickly. Researchers found people who had surgery healed faster if they had plants in their room. They also appeared to tolerate pain better. Best options: orchids or peace lilies.
- Relieve stress. If daily pressures have overwhelmed you, a heart-leaf philodendron or a snake plant might help you relax. Studies that measured people’s levels of blood pressure, heart rate, and the stress hormone cortisol while they handled a tough task or were under mental stress found that simply being around plants has a calming effect.