Increasing our connection with nature contributes to our overall wellbeing and studies demonstrate a wide range of beneficial effects such as reduced mental fatigue, better concentration, a more positive outlook, reduced stress and faster recovery from illness and injury (1,2,3).

There is even evidence that house plants can reduce blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol secretion when we experience mental stressors (4). This finding has important implications because we understand that the body can be damaged by an overactivation of the sympathetic nervous system as a result of chronic stress (5,6). When plants are introduced into a hospital setting, there are fewer postoperative complications, shorter lengths of stay, and improved overall quality of care (5).
Houseplants can even purify the air from indoor pollutants released from carpets, paints and cleaners (8). These indoor pollutants can be irritating to the skin, cause headaches and exacerbate respiratory diseases, like asthma.
It is important to avoid toxic house plants if you have pets or young children but the health benefits associated with caring for houseplants is foundational to your wellbeing.
  1. Maller C, Townsend M, Pryor A, Brown P, St Leger L. Healthy nature healthy people: ‘contact with nature’ as an upstream health promotion intervention for populations. Health Promot Int 21(1):45-54 Mar, 2006
  2. Townsend M and Weerasuriya R. Beyond Blue to Green: The benefits of contact with nature for mental health and well-being Beyond Blue Limited: Melbourne, Australia. 2010
  3. Bowler DE, Buyung-Ali LM, Knight TM, Pullin AS. A systematic review of evidence for the added benefits to health of exposure to natural environments. BMC Public Health 10:456 2010
  4. Lee, M. S., Lee, J., Park, B. J., & Miyazaki, Y. (2015). Interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in young adults: a randomized crossover study. Journal of physiological anthropology, 34(1), 21.
  5. Boomershine CS, Wang T, Zwilling BS. Neuroendocrine regulation of macrophage and neutrophil function. In: Ader R, Chone D, Felten L, Cohen N, editors. Psychoneuroimmuology.New York: Academic Press; 2001.
  6. McEwen BS. Protective and damaging effects of stress mediators. N Engl J Med. 1998;338:171–9. doi: 10.1056/NEJM199801153380307.
  7. Ulrich RS. Health Benefits of Gardens in Hospitals.Proceedings of Plants for People: International Symposium. Florida, Netherlands; Ulrich RS. How design impacts wellness. Healthcare Forum Journal, 20:20-25; 1992. 2002.

Dr. Andrea Wilson MD