While the health benefits of plant-based diets are well documented, new research uncovers the lesser-known uses of the nature around us.
The UK’s leading online florist, Serenata Flowers, has identified 16 ‘healthy plants’ that are more than just a pretty face, as they possess qualities that can actually improve our wellbeing, health and happiness.
THE BENEFITS OF PLANTS
1. REDUCE ANXIETY
Mental health is a big topic of discussion at the moment and it’s important to take time for self-care. An easy way to improve your mood and help reduce anxiety is to fill your home with plants. Lavender is known for its stress-relieving qualities – it slows down the heart rate and lowers blood pressure to greatly reduce stress. This is why its scent can often be found in lotions and sprays. Snake Plant is also believed to reduce anxiety, improve respiratory problems and cure the symptoms of a headache.
2. HELP YOU SLEEP
Not getting enough sleep can have a huge impact on many aspects of life, from our health to our work abilities to our social lives. Whether you struggle to drift off or are easily disturbed in the night, keeping a potted Aloe Vera plant beside your bed could help you see the night through, as it produces oxygen at night to combat insomnia and improve overall sleep quality. Jasmine flower is also believed to reduce anxiety levels which in turn will help you drift off to sleep, and the gentle scent will keep you in a deep sleep throughout the night.
3. INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY
Having plants in the office has been found to increase worker productivity. Not only are they found to reduce stress and fatigue whilst aiding memory retention, they also regulate humidity and reduce carbon dioxide, both of which help employees remain energised. Bamboo Palm is known for its ability to fight indoor air pollution, promoting clear-thinking and easy breathing. Another top office plant is Golden Pothos which removes air toxins and absorbs unpleasant smells – the perfect plant to keep by the office fridge.
4. CLEAN THE AIR
Removing harmful toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene will keep both you and your home happy and healthy. Rubber Plant and Peace Lilies are both incredibly effective at purifying the air around you. Rubber Plants are great for removing harmful toxins, particularly formaldehyde, and these plants become more efficient at cleaning the air as time goes on. Peace Lilies are also believed to improve air quality by as much as 60 per cent and true to their name, bring with them a sense of peace and relaxation.
5. RESTORE FADING HAIR COLOUR
If your hair salon bills are getting on top of you, why not turn to a more natural and cheaper alternative? When those pesky greys begin to appear, Sage could be the answer – this common herb helps restore bright colour back to greying hair, when used in a paste or ointment. Alternatively, Black Tea provides an excellent natural rinse for darker hair that has started to fade, due to its staining abilities. Pop the kettle on and brew up a strong batch – but remember to let it cool before applying to your hair.
6. RELIEVE AN UPSET STOMACH
For fast relief of an upset stomach, a variety of mint leaf could be just the ticket. Loved by cats everywhere, Catnip (or Catmint) is also working wonders for humans too, as it can be used to help treat unwanted gas, stomach aches and migraines. Another plant that offers relief for an upset stomach is Korean Mint. The versatile plant also used to help fight colds and flu.
7. FIGHT INFECTION
Herbal remedies have been used to fight infection for centuries and still stand the test of time today. Before pharmacies were readily available, Red Clover was used in teas and ointments to treat coughs, colds and skin irritations. Meanwhile, Native Americans used Navajo Tea for centuries as a quick relief of urine infections and for a general health kick.
8. REPEL CRITTERS
Mint and Basil can be used to keep creepy crawlies at unwanted pests at bay. Mint is known to repel lots of insects including mosquitoes due to its strong smell – it can even keep mice away. Another great insect repellent is Basil, which can be planted around doors and windows to keep bugs from entering.
Lucia Polla, marketing manager at SerenataFlowers.com, comments: ‘Clearly, we should be bringing more plants into our homes and offices.
‘These days we tend to keep plants and flowers around as decoration or to take advantage of their lovely scent, but this research is a nice reminder of the wonderful ways in which plants can actually benefit our health and happiness. Perhaps when we’re feeling a bit run-down the garden should be our first port of call.’