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Blog Post: Benefits of Indoor House Plants

Posted Jun 01, 2017

Have you ever heard of sick building syndrome or (SBS)? The term SBS was created in 1986 by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a way to classify a series of symptoms related to poor indoor environments. In the late 1970s, there were a variety of symptoms (headaches, nosebleeds, fatigue, depression, etc.) experienced by tenants of newly constructed buildings of that time. In 1986, when the term was coined, the WHO estimated that 10-30% of newly built office buildings in the American West had indoor air problems. Many decades of research ensued, comparing the materials of “sick” and “healthy” buildings. Ultimately SBS has never been validated as a diagnosable medical disease, but it has persisted in popular culture as a concept related to poor home or work environment.

It has long been believed that plants benefit the indoor environment, and science has since proven to support this widely held belief. In short, plants alter air quality, humidity and feelings of serenity within our being. So let us explore these concepts a bit deeper – perhaps it will inspire you to re-green your home and your thumb.

Breathe Easy

When we breathe in, we are absorbing oxygen into our lungs, and releasing carbon dioxide. In a complimentary fashion, when plants are photosynthesizing they absorb carbon dioxide through their leaves and release oxygen. At night when photosynthesis stops for the evening, plants reverse this process – and then resume during the daylight hours. A few plants however, will release oxygen during the night time… and can be great additions to the bedroom at night!

Plants are very effective air purifiers as well! Proven to remove up to 87% of the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) present in the air every 24/hours. Plants pull these toxins in through their leaves, down to their soil roots. Here, their microorganisms transform these compounds into nutrients for their growth! VOCs can come from many different sources: (rugs, couches, cigarette smoke, paint, grocery bags, etc.). So it brings peace of mine knowing that your plants are working hard to balance the air, and feed themselves in the process. Everyone benefits!

Stress Release and Connection with Nature

Have you ever heard of the “biophilia hypothesis”? First coined by Edward O. Wilson, the biophilia hypothesis suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. The term “biophilia” means “love of life or living systems.”[1] It suggests that humans have an innate and subconscious attraction and affection for other living beings. That we look to, and care for other living organisms as if they were friends.

As we spend increased time inside, separate from nature and the organisms we care for so readily, we can experience strong feelings of disconnect. This can manifest as loneliness, depression, anxiety and dissociation. Mostly, it leads people to experience strong urges to find this connection and feed their desire to care for other organisms or people. In caring for another living entity, it gives our life a different sense of purpose. This purpose can be extremely powerful to those experiencing mental illness, anxiety or dissonance in social settings. Gardening in general is a very individualistic creative expression, and is often seen as an extension of ourselves. By taking pride in the health, beauty and wellbeing of our plant friends, we can experience boosts in confidence and self-esteem related to our own capacities to give and receive.

The simple presence of plants have been shown to boost productivity by 12% in an office setting, and reduce stress (lowered blood pressure when performing a task).

Maintain Humidity

Plants love to collect water any way they can. Through the process of transpiration (water transfer through their leaves), they assess and regulate the water levels in their environment. This can be extremely helpful way to capitalize on a humid environment, and bring them back down to maintainable levels.

Have you ever found your bathroom to be a bit too steamy after a hot shower? Are you worried about the onset of mold in a particular area? Plants have been shown to create a humid environment matching the recommended comfort levels for humans. Another demonstration of our symbiotic relationship with our green friends. Place a succulent, like an [aloe plant] in your bathroom and watch it grow with little water!