Today’s Solutions: January 29, 2023

From making your home more aesthetically pleasing to generally improving your wellbeing, the benefits of houseplants are well documented. Here are five of the most important reasons for living with green companions.

Breathe easier

While we breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. During photosynthesis, plants do the opposite. This symbiotic relationship is what makes protecting our planet’s flora so important.

A good thing to know, though, is that most plants switch things up when photosynthesis stops at night and absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide. However, a few special plants — like orchids and succulents — flip that script and take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, even at night. So placing these plants in your bedroom can make for healthier air while you sleep.

Deter illness

After water circulates through the roots of plants, it then evaporates through their leaves in a process known as transpiration. When it comes to houseplants, this process increases the humidity indoors, which can be a blessing during drier months or if you live in regions with an arid climate.

More humidity indoors is also known to decrease the incidence of dry skin, colds, sore throats, and dry coughs. What’s more, higher humidity has also been linked to decreased survival and transmission of the flu virus.

Clean the air

As documented by a NASA study, plants play a pivotal role in improving indoor air quality: “Both plant leaves and roots are utilized in removing trace levels of toxic vapors from inside tightly sealed buildings. Low levels of chemicals such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde can be removed from indoor environments by plant leaves alone.”

Some of the best plants to remove indoor pollutants include the peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii), golden pothos (Scindapsus aureus), English ivy (Hedera helix), chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium), bamboo palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii), red-edge dracaena (Dracaena marginata), and spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum).

Boost healing

It’s common to bring plants or flowers to loved ones in the hospital, but did you know it’s actually one of the most useful things you can do to help their recovery? In fact, they can be so effective in helping surgery patients recover that one study recommends them as a “noninvasive, inexpensive, and effective complementary medicine for surgical patients.”

Work better

As with simply being in nature, being around plants improves concentration, memory, and productivity. And there are a number of studies to back these facts up. Research from the University of Michigan, for example, has found that being “under the influence of plants” can boost memory retention up to 20 percent.

Meanwhile, research from Norway found that the presence of plants in the office can significantly enhance worker productivity and attention span, as well as improve the accuracy and quality of their work.

From the archive: This popular healthy living story was originally published on The Optimist Daily October 16, 2020.

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