How plants can change your state of mind Health

Plants look so different from animals, that it is easy for many people to think of them as aliens and separate them from us. Most people appreciate how beautiful flowers and trees look and know that photosynthesis is essential to life. But our mental and physical connection to plant life runs deeper than you might expect.

Several studies have shown that horticultural therapy can help some people manage their PTSD symptoms and improve their quality of life. (Pixabay)
Several studies have shown that horticultural therapy can help some people manage their PTSD symptoms and improve their quality of life. (Pixabay)

There is growing scientific evidence that plants play a fundamental role in shaping our mental state and reducing the risk of mental and physical illnesses.

They can reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and mood disorders in humans by reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lower heart rate and promote a better state of mind.

Several studies have shown that horticultural therapy can help some people manage their PTSD symptoms and improve their quality of life.

They can enhance your creativity by stimulating the brain with their vibrant, natural colors.

An increased sense of well-being

Even a small potplant on your desk can be more effective than you realize. The houseplants you buy to brighten up your home or workplace may be helping you think more clearly. Studies have shown that surrounding yourself with plants can improve your concentration by up to 20% and increase your ability to remember information by 15-20%. Plants do this by reducing CO₂ concentration and improving air quality.

According to UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines, CO₂ concentration in offices should not exceed 1,000 parts per million (ppm), as at this level it can cause headaches, fatigue and dizziness.

It can also lead to poor decision making. Research has shown that in some cases houseplants can reduce carbon dioxide concentration from 2,000ppm to 480ppm in less than an hour.

Popular houseplants that efficiently remove carbon dioxide include blue star fern (Phlebodium aureum), weeping figs (Ficus benjamina), spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) and anthurium species (such as flamingo flower).

Some plants, of course, can also alter our body chemistry—just think of the many species used as medicinal or recreational drugs. It’s ironic that some people think of plants as little more than good-looking green when people have been using them to explore different states of consciousness, relieve pain, and relax for thousands of years.

Horticultural culture

Plants have been central to human society since our beginnings, but the way we use and connect with plants has changed across generations and civilizations. From relying on plants for food and medicine in the Paleolithic Age (up to 11,000 years ago), modern society has in many ways lost its appreciation and awareness of plants.

The World Bank predicts that by 2050, seven out of ten people will live in cities and access to plants in the natural environment will become more challenging. We are more disconnected from nature. But even though 21st century technology provides us with all the options for comfort and leisure, we cannot stay away.

Humans have “biophilia,” meaning we are wired to seek a connection with nature and plants. Plants increase happy hormones like endorphins in humans. They are not only intertwined with the fate of the human species but are deeply rooted in who we are as individuals. The shape, color, smell, feel and taste of plants can uplift us as we momentarily interact with them and blossom into our memories.

From the velvety feel of flower petals against your fingertips, to the delicious aroma of essential oils they release to attract pollinators, to the unexpected sweet taste of chocolate, plants have captivated our senses throughout human history.

We all have different memories and experiences that connect us with plants. For example, the plant that makes me happiest and evokes the deepest feelings of love in me is crocus sativus, after which I named my first daughter (saffron).

Sales of plants in the UK increased by more than 30% during the Covid pandemic, as people rediscovered the importance of plants for their mental health. In 2021 the UK will spend more than £7.6 billion on plants, which is £1-2 billion more than the previous two years.

Plants are not a luxury. They are part of who we are. It is not surprising to find that the word “plant” translates to “our caretakers” in many native languages.

This story is published from the Wire Agency feed without modification to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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