Indoor Plants: Nature’s Panacea for Mankind
Dr. Soma Patnaik, 18 April 2022
Panacea is a Greek word meaning “all-healing”, which has been derived from the name of the Goddess of healing as per Greek mythology. Nature is a magnificent healer to problems and keeps mesmerising mankind sporadically. One of its most fantastic gifts to us humans is its wide assortment of flora and fauna to our planet earth. Of the wide category of plants, the most accessible and easy to care for plants are the Indoor plants. For years scientists and researchers have been trying to study and find out various benefits and positive impacts of indoor plants for the human race. Studies have been done to understand whether these amazing green foliage just enhance the beauty of our decor by making it lively and alluring or do they add more value to our lives; if so then in what ways!!!
Indoor plants have a contradictory respiratory process as to that of humans. These plants breathe in carbon dioxide and other toxic gases and release oxygen. This helps in enhancing the oxygen content of the space furthermore, eliminating the toxins/ smells from the habitat.
Confinement at home has increased due to the uncertain & unsafe conditions outdoors, therefore we have to work, spend most of our time indoors because of the new norms/ restrictions due to the pandemic. This kind of precarious condition has created favourable conditions to bring about changes within the confined spaces. But this has given us a chance to bring nature and greenery closer to us into the concrete space and give the space a new lively vibe. Working on creating a green space for ourselves as per our choice and creativity can be a great DIY project in the present scenario. It will not only give our house and workspace a great makeover but will bring about happiness and help in elevating our mental and physical health in a positive way.
A study conducted by NASA in 1989, shows that the indoor air quality of spaces can be improved by adding plants. These indoor plants help in cleaning of air in some ways like the plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen while they conduct the process of photosynthesis; during the process of evapotranspiration and transpiration plants release moisture vapours and maintain the humidity. This helps in maintaining proper air quality and indoor humidity of space which if not regulated can give rise to various respiratory issues in humans. Pollution these days is not only present outdoors but we also get exposed to various microorganisms and pollutants indoors due to airborne toxins, chemical compounds, pollutant gases emitted from home appliances, mechanical machinery/equipment, construction supplies and various other regularly used products. Effects of toxic chemicals like Trichloroethylene, Formaldehyde, Benzene, Xylene, Ammonia released from these sources which have adverse effects on humans can be minimised by some of these indoor plants. The study listed some indoor air purifying plants that have been determined to be most effective at removing indoor air pollutants are:
- English ivy
- Pothos plant
- Peace lily
- Chinese Evergreen
- Areca Palm
- Snake plant
- Weeping fig
- Aloe vera
- Spider plant
- Rubber plant
Another study conducted by Virginia Tech researchers concluded that indoor plants can reduce indoor dust by about 20%. Other medical studies also prove the effect of plants on the psychological and physical health of patients. There are a number of health-related issues that indoor plants can be beneficial for; so let us dive into some of the health benefits of these green beauties.
Impact on Mental Health:
Research on human health and alternative medicines has considered moving outdoors in nature gives human pleasure, calms down our nerves, boosts our mood and can be an effective alternative to oral medication. But studies published in the Journal of Psychological Anthropology suggest that those individuals who are diligently in touch with indoor plants can reduce mental and physical stress related to strenuous work. This results in suppression of sympathetic nervous system functioning, normalised diastolic blood pressure, boosting of pleasant, delightful, instinctive emotions and behaviourism of individuals. The research exhibits results showing people reporting less stress when exposed to plants in their rooms, in comparison to rooms without plants. It is believed that indoor plants have a positive impact on individuals dealing with conditions like depression, anxiety, dementia and other mental stress-related issues.
Faster recovery after Surgery/Injury/ Illness:
The findings of a study conducted in 2009 and published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine confirm that the therapeutic value of Indoor plants in a hospital serves as a non-invasive, inexpensive and effective complementary medicine for surgical/ Ill patients. Reports of patients exposed to more indoor plants result in a faster recovery with good and positive results showing less pain, constant blood pressure levels, reduced post-surgery or stress and fatigue due to illness as compared to that of a patient who does not have plants in their rooms. Some of these indoor plants have medicinal properties which can be effective in giving a therapeutic home-remedial effect to the various ailments. According to Ayurveda plants like aloe vera, ginger, turmeric and various herbs like basil, mint, rosemary, oregano, and lemongrass are some of the indoor plants having medicinal properties effective for healing various ailments naturally at home.
Boosts Productivity & Concentration:
Multiple studies have found that indoor plants in place of study/ work environments boost the productivity of students/ employees at work. A study conducted in 1996 on students working in a campus computer lab with indoor plants showed faster and less stressed working and better performance of students as compared to their results earlier when the lab didn’t have plants. Another study in 2004 studied individuals’ creativity of word association when exposed to indoor plants in a room. A study in 2007 conducted at workspaces propounded that organisations having plants added to their interiors have better productivity, highly satisfied, dedicated and focused employees with lesser leaves related to sickness.
Curb Noise Levels:
Noise pollution is another addition to the list of pollution due to the increase in vehicles, transport mechanisms, and industrial advancements which has an adverse effect on human health and productivity in the long run. Indoor plants have been found to change the acoustics of space by compressing the reverberation time. Plants when placed along hard surfaces absorb the noise and vibrations caused due to various noise pollution causing agents. Indoor plants can reduce about 5 decibels of surrounding noise within an enclosed space which can be helpful in better concentration and focus which could otherwise be distracting and agitating at times.
Indoor plants don’t just have therapeutic impacts on our health but these lovely green foliage are also helpful in various other ways.
- Gives musing and calming effects on the mind, body and soul.
- Improves creativity of individuals.
- Enhances the visual effects, aesthetics and decor of the space.
- It gives a positive vibe to space and drives growth, success, and luck and connects us with nature and our roots as per architectural science.
- The vibrant shades and greenery are welcoming which give warmth and an inviting vibe to the space.
These beautiful indoor plant pets have been an indispensable part of our lives for aeons ago. These have been bestowing mankind with a calm and blissful habitat to survive in. So, creating a green corridor indoors to reside is a great idea to bring about good harmonious thoughts and vibrant space to dwell in with a healed and healthy mind, body and spirit.