Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

How House Plants Keep You Healthy

Health + Wellness
How House Plants Keep You Healthy

Houseplants are nice to have around, and some people just seem to have a knack for them. If you're one of those who don't or have never bothered to try, you've still probably noticed how pleasurable it is and how good you feel when you visit a friend in a home filled with plants.

It's not your imagination. Houseplants actually are good for your health.

Houseplants remove toxins and carbon dioxide from the air, act as natural humidifiers and maybe even reduce stress.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

For a start, there's a theory called the "biophilia hypothesis," first posited by biologist/naturalist Edward O. Wilson in the ’80s. It suggests that since the human race grew up close to nature, using plants for food, shelter and fuel, we feel an innate pull toward nature. That affinity has been starved since people began moving to cities in large numbers at the start of industrial revolution in the early 19th century and began living in multi-unit buildings or small, crowded-together homes without land.

Whether it's an actual evolutionary need or not, indoor plants expand the scope of our four walls and make us feel closer to nature, offering a sense of relaxation and peace that many people have found reduces stress and improves their ability to sleep. And stress reduction is healing. It impacts blood pressure and the immune system and acts as a component in fighting off illnesses like colds and flu.

There's an even more concrete benefit to having plants in your home: there are many kinds that actually remove toxins from the environment and purify the air. A NASA study in the late ’80s that looked at ways to clean air in space stations suggested the value of common house plants in absorbing substances such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene and ammonia. These are some of the same toxins found near oil and gas drilling and fracking sites! In your home, they can come from such sources as paint, cleaning materials, carpets, insulation and adhesives, creating dust that can exacerbate health conditions, especially allergies and respiratory diseases such as asthma.

Among the plants the NASA study tested were some of the most common houseplants including philodendron, spider plants, rubber tree, Boston fern and English ivy. And when you get those chrysanthemums to plant in your garden for some fall color, get some extra ones to bring indoors; they filter all of the substances listed above. The study suggested having one plant per 100 feet of living space.

Plants also remove carbon dioxide from the air. Since carbon dioxide can cause drowsiness and headaches, that can make you feel more alert and energetic.

Finally, plants act as natural humidifiers. That humid indoor jungle raises the moisture level in your home to help to fight dry, cracked skin in the winter, even while reminding you of the warmer weather that's just around the corner.

A big caveat: many of these houseplants, including English ivy, spider plants and philodendron are toxic to pets, so check first and make sure your living room garden is pet-safe.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Hydroponic Planter Makes It Easy to Grow Your Own Indoor Edible Garden

Connecting Families to the Great Outdoors

You Might Be Allergic to Climate Change

A hiker looking up at a Redwood tree in Redwoods State Park. Rich Wheater / Getty Images
By Douglas Broom
  • Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
  • Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
  • Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
  • Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.

They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A female condor above the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in Ventura County, California. Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

One environmental downside to wind turbines is their impact on birds.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Kentucky received record-breaking rainfall and flooding this past weekend. Keith Getter / Getty Images

Kentucky is coping with historic flooding after a weekend of record-breaking rainfall, enduring water rescues, evacuations and emergency declarations.

Read More Show Less
The Forest Vixen's CC Photo Stream. Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Spring is coming. And soon, tree swallows will start building nests. But as the climate changes, the birds are nesting earlier in the spring.

Read More Show Less
An Exxon oil refinery is seen at night. Jim Sugar / Getty Images

Citigroup will strive to reach net-zero greenhouse gas pollution across its lending portfolio by 2050 and in its own operations by 2030, the investment group announced Monday.

Read More Show Less