In Hawaii, there is a saying "Live Pono," which roughly means living with respect for yourself, for your community, and for your planet. In
Asia, Taoists advocate living in harmony with the natural order of things. Native Americans practiced gratitude for everything Mother Earth provided for them. Throughout humankind's history, men and women lived in harmony with the environment, spending all of their time outside in contact with the earth and surrounded by plants. Nowadays our shelters are stronger and more secure - which obviously offers many advantages when it comes to safety - but we've lost our connection with the natural world. One easy way to bring it back inside is by keeping houseplants.
Plants can be as easy or as difficult to maintain as you'd like, and because there are so many varieties, you're sure to find at least one that fits your exact circumstances, i.e. snake plants can grow in shade if you live in an apartment with very little light. In additional to providing obvious benefits such as fresh food in the case of herbs and fresh remedies in the case of aloe, plants as a whole can impact your health for the better in a very distinct ways...
Plants Inhale Carbon Dioxide and Exhale Oxygen
As you know from The Lion King, everything is connected in the circle of life. There are many cycles that happen in nature, and when it comes to our air, plants complement us perfectly. We breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide...and plants breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. Put a potted plant in your home to promote this cycle in your own small living space.
Plants Absorb Toxic Chemicals
We live in a sea of chemicals - everything from synthetic fragrances in our personal care products and cleaners to the toxins off-gassed by our houses - but fortunately plants can take some of these carcinogens out of the air. if this is a big concern for you, do some research into which purifying plants will work best for your lifestyle - spider plants and aloe are usually cited as some of the best for this kind of work - and keep them in areas of your home that tend to have the most chemical exposure (i.e. near new furniture) or where you spend the most time (your bedroom is a great place to start!).
Plants Increase Ambient Humidity
When you think of remedies for issues like dry nasal passages and dry skin, you probably wouldn't even consider houseplants. However, plants add moisture to the air in a process called transpiration and can bring relief to conditions affected by dryness. If you know some parts of your home tend to be drier - for instance a sitting area near a heating vent in winter - keep a few potted plants there to make the space a little more comfortable.
Plants Can Lower Blood Pressure
Hypertension is often tied to physical and mental/emotional stress, and caring for plants has been shown to make people feel better to the point of lowering their blood pressure. Plant care can contain an element of meditation as you concentrate on tending to another creature, and touching the plant and its soil can be likened to earthing, both of which decrease inflammation in the body. Obviously, if you have serious issues with controlling your blood pressure, talk to your doctor about your options, but if you're already on medication and/or are looking for another natural way to calm your body, plants might be a great option.
Plants Decrease Stress
Whether it's the meditative element of gardening, the aroma given off by flowers and herbs, or simply the aesthetics of having natural beauty in your home, something about plants decreases the sensation of stress. A Japanese study showed that even looking at a plant can lower pulse rate, so even if you don't have a green thumb, simply keeping a plant that requires little care can impact your health in a positive way.
These are just a few of many benefits that indoor plants can bring to your health, and many amateur gardeners will tell you that once you've kept one plant alive for a bit, you'll want to get even more! Find plants that work with your routine and your space, and then get creative from there. Flowers, herbs, shrubs, succulents... The sky's the limit as far as the plant kingdom is concerned, and any plant in your home is better than no plant at all.
Kathleen Ellerie is a Licensed Acupuncturist and the owner of Beachside Community Acupuncture. She loves providing affordable acupuncture to the residents of Addison, Dallas, and Farmers Branch, Texas, and educating the general public on how acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat everything from pain to infertility to stress and beyond. Click "Book Now" at the top of this page to book an appointment or feel free to contact her at (214) 417-2260.