Plants are Good for Your Health: Four Ways to Use Them to Your Advantage

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May 08, 2004 | 36,808 views

By Dr. Joseph Mercola
     with Rachael Droege

Most people recognize the importance of spending some time in nature -- living closer to nature can actually help you to live longer -- but when it comes to bringing plants indoors, the importance is often overlooked. Plants do much more than just brighten up a room; they have real benefits to your health and living environment. Whether in the home or office, plants can be used strategically to improve air quality, ease asthma symptoms, increase your energy and more. Following are some of the best ways to use plants to your advantage.

Put a Plant on Your Desk

Adding greenery to your office is one of the easiest ways to become more productive and less fatigued at work. Studies have shown that people who work at computers for more than four hours a day feel better when they have a plant on their desk.

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Plus, modern office buildings are typically full of synthetic materials like carpeting, paint and furniture, which give of various toxic emissions. Plants are able to absorb pollutants from the air, making it cleaner and more pure. The following plants are particularly effective for air purification:

Hospital patients who have a view of nature recover from illness and surgery more quickly than those who don't. Even if you are facing an illness at home, surrounding yourself with plants is an excellent way to improve your mood and speed your recovery time. Generally speaking, the more plants you have and the healthier they are, the better the effects will be.

Indoor plants can also reduce your chances of getting sick. One study found that houseplants reduce fatigue, coughs, sore throats and other cold-related symptoms by more than 30 percent.

Cleanse Indoor Air

Indoor air can be up to 10 times more polluted than outdoor air, but adding plants can actually help to make the air cleaner. Just some of the potential toxic vapors that can contaminate indoor air include:

According to NASA scientists, houseplants can actually extract volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) from the air. According to one study, one six-inch houseplant per 100 square feet of indoor area acts as a decent filter for the air, and another U.S. government study found that 15 to 18 houseplants in six- to eight-inch containers helps to improve the air quality in an 1,800-square-foot house.

Some houseplants can be poisonous so be careful which varieties you choose, especially if you have small children or pets. One resource to use if you're interested in using plants for the functional purpose of cleaning the air is the book How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants That Purify Your Home or Office.

Request Plants in Your Work Environment

As mentioned above, putting a plant on your desk can make you feel better physically and mentally, improving your mood and reducing stress. Beyond this, companies that make an effort to include plants in their workspaces see significant increases in employee productivity and health.

In one case, when a company incorporated plants into its office space so that no employee was more than 45 feet from greenery, they reported that employees had greater creativity and productivity. So, if you've experienced the benefits of plants in your home and are looking for a reason to suggest plants in the office, consider that plants in your office building will benefit not only your health, but the health of the company as well. When you put it this way, requesting more plants is a very smart suggestion.

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