Kelly Spencer - Happy Healthy YOU
(A wellness column by Kelly Spencer: writer, life coach, yoga & meditation teacher, holistic healer and a mindful life enthusiast!)
For thousands of years the human race has adorned the beauty of flowers and plants.
Walking through groomed gardens was a gift to the eye and heart. The wealthiest Romans built extensive villa gardens with water features, topiary and cultivated roses and shaded arcades.
As early as 1,000 B.C., ancient Chinese cultures were using Penjing trees and plants of different varieties in interior spaces as ornamental features. Back then, indoor plants weren’t just a sign of wealth, but also a way for inhabitants to practice their green thumb year around, regardless of outdoor temperature extremes. In 610 B.C., one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World, The Hanging Gardens of Babylon was another early example of domesticated plants. In Victorian England in the late 1800s, people grew plants inside during the cold and dreary months of the British winter, while their famously sumptuous gardens outdoors waited for their attention until springtime.
Perhaps the grandeur of the common house plant has lessened but the benefits of keeping the green indoors is still very present. In fact, houseplants can bring purification and balance into our homes and lives.
A study by NASA in 1989 revealed that houseplants act as a way to purify the air in our homes. They found several plants that filter out common volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Further to purifying, in a 2008 study, Dutch researchers found that hospital patients with indoor plants in their rooms reported lower stress levels than patients without them.
A Kansas State University, found that viewing plants during recovery from surgery led to a significant improvement in physiologic responses.
Patients responded with lower systolic blood pressure, and lower ratings of pain, lessened anxiety, and fatigue as compared to patients without plants in their rooms. Texas A&M University research showed decrease recovery time with horticulture therapy. Patients who took care of and physically interacted with plants, experienced a significantly reduced recovery time after medical procedures.
Not just for the home, the indoor plant at the office can have many benefits too. Having plants around you in your work space can improve concentration, memory and productivity and can increase memory retention up to 20 per cent, according to a University of Michigan study.
Here is a list of household plants that studies seem to agree hold benefit for placing in our homes.
English Ivy: NASA scientists listed the English Ivy as the number one best air-filtering houseplant, as it is the most effective plant when it comes to absorbing formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is an organic chemical that is very prevalent in our environment and in some cleaners and can affect our immune system.
Peace Lily: A low-maintenance aesthetically pleasing flower which can reduce the levels of a number of toxins in the air.
Bamboo Palm: The palm is an attractive plant that made NASA's list of top clean-air plants with a purifying score of 8.4, with particularly effectiveness at clearing out benzene and trichloroethylene.
Philodendron: A beautiful and long-lasting plant with heart-shaped leaves. Like the English Ivy, it’s particularly good at absorbing formaldehyde.
Spider Plant: One of the most common house plants, spider plants are decorative, easy to grow, and also make the NASA list of the best air-purifying plants. Spider plants are effective at fighting pollutants including benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene.
Rubber Trees: They are easy to grow and maintain and are a powerful toxin eliminator and air purifier.
Aloe Plant: The plant can be effective to purify the pollutants found in the air caused from chemical cleaning products. The plants’ leaves will actually get brown spots if the chemical toxins are excess. The gel of the aloe plant has a number of healing properties and can be used for cuts, burns and soothing skin irritations such as sun burn.
Plants that produce more oxygen at night such as the Gerber Daisy or the Snake Plants are wonderful plants to keep in the bedroom. The extra release of oxygen aids a restful night’s sleep.
Headaches caused by stuffy indoor air can be reduced by filling your indoor spaces with plants, as well the added foliage can contribute to a feelings of wellbeing, making you calmer and more optimistic.
Plants and humans have a wonderful reciprocal relationship. They release oxygen and require carbon dioxide; we release carbon dioxide and require oxygen. A perfect match, really.
Being in the outdoors in nature has a natural grounding, releasing and calming effect on our body, mind and heart, so why not bring nature indoors too?
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