The Many Therapeutic Benefits of Plants

Indoor plants, like the  Fiddle Leaf Fig Bush  pictured here, can help boost our moods.

Indoor plants, like the Fiddle Leaf Fig Bush pictured here, can help boost our moods.

The benefits of plants are many.

They not only clean our air, help us concentrate at work, and spark our sense of creativity, but they also have incredibly powerful benefits for the mind, body and soul. Wondering how? As it turns out, it’s pure science, and part of human nature.

They work as natural anti-stressors

Over the years, science has proven that working with plants lowers our cortisol levels: whether you are tending to your outdoor garden or your indoor greenery, contact with nature to any extent helps us feel more relaxed and at ease in our environment. Take this study, for example, which compared groups of people working with a computer versus working with (namely, repotting) indoor plants. Those tasked with the plants felt more comfortable, soothed, and natural feelings than those who worked on the computer.

They can relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression

Tending to plants reminds us of our connection to nature, and this connection can help us better see things in a “big picture” kind of way. Furthermore, there is a physiological link between nature and our cerebral activity— in one such study, participants who walked through the woods experienced lower levels of rumination and reduced activity in areas of the brain associated with mental illness. By mimicking the outdoors in our indoor spaces, we may achieve similar effects.

They literally make us feel good

Did you know that merely touching the soil of a plant can release serotonin in our brain? It’s true — plant soil contains a certain bacteria that acts in similar ways to many prescription anti-depressants — studies have shown that touching soil can release feel-good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine in the brain.

They reduce background noise

City life giving you the blues? It’s no wonder why. Background and traffic noise is one of the primary sources of stress for many urban dwellers, even though they may not even be aware of it. But the good news? Indoor plants can help. Plants, particularly those with large leaves, reduce background noise and make our urban homes just a little more pleasant.

They are beautiful

No one can argue against the beauty of nature, and perhaps this beauty is part of what we find so calming, nurturing, and fulfilling about it. Simply imagine yourself in a stark indoor setting versus one with lush indoor greenery? As human nature has it, we’d almost always go with the latter.

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