The Proven Therapeutic Benefits of Plants in Healthcare

January 12, 2020

Symbolically, the benefits of plants relate to liveliness, harmony, and longevity. They are also associated with health and healing. This is just one reason why giving flowers to loved ones, especially when they are ill, has become common practice. Dating back to the Victorian times when flowers were used to deliver secret messages, plants have come to represent various values and emotions.

The association between thriving green plants and overall wellness is not just metaphorical, though. Studies have found clear correlation between the presence of interior plantscapes and their positive impact on recovering surgical patients. Researchers Seong-Hyun Park and Richard H. Mattson are especially prominent figures in the trials related to the health benefits of plants.

The benefits of indoor plants are mainly psychological, such as reduced anxiety and stress levels. However, researchers have found that the mental health benefits may also pave the way for physical health benefits, including quicker recovery, less reported pain, and increased positivity. Here is what the research has shown.

plants help surgical patients recover faster

A 2009 study published in the American Society for Horticultural Science studied the benefits of indoor plants. Researchers Seong-Hyun Park and Richard H. Mattson divided 80 post-surgery patients into two groups — a test group with plants and a control group. The patients in the plant group would recover from surgery in a hospital room with plenty of indoor plants, while the control group would recover in a standard hospital room.

As a result of the green environment, the test group with plants had a significantly shorter hospitalization. According to the data, the mean length of hospitalizations for the plant group was 6.08 days, though some left in as few as 5 days. This is compared to the control group whose mean length of hospitalization was 6.39 days.

An example wellness or tranquility room where healthcare providers like nurses and doctors recharge.during shifts.

Patients in the plant group also reported higher feelings of positivity and overall satisfaction with their experience. Some even believe the plants helped diminish their pain as they needed less medication during recovery. By the third day after surgery, researchers found a significant difference in pain intensity. Fatigue levels were also significantly different by the fifth day after surgery.

Another study conducted by Park and Mattson confirmed that ornamental indoor plants have an influence on the health outcomes of recovering surgery patients. Following a similar model as the earlier study, the research team concluded that the mere presence of interior plantscapes can complement patients’ other medicines as part of creating a healing environment.  Plus, another benefit of indoor plants is that they are non-invasive (and inexpensive).

benefits of plants for supporting healing of the healthcare professionals

A 2010 survey conducted by the National Recreation and Parks Association found that 79% of people feel calmer and more relaxed when around greenery, such as in a garden. They also found that green environments have a positive effect on stress and anxiety.

In the fast-paced and demanding environment of healthcare facilities like hospitals and emergency rooms, healthcare professionals face high stress levels. Incorporating an office plant service in staff break rooms can create a more relaxing space for nurses and doctors to recharge and recover, which can lead to better patient outcomes as well as higher staff retention.

The health and wellness of our healthcare professionals is critical to the on-going success of medical facilities.  An immersive environment filled with plants can mimic the effects of forest bathing and decrease heart rate in a shorter period of time. While indoor plants do not create the same chemicals as trees in a forest, indoor plants are much more accessible and the benefits add up over time.

Related: Beginner’s Guide on How to Water Plants

final thoughts on the benefits of plants in healthcare

Undergoing surgery and staying in an institutional hospital environment is not easy for all patients, especially after surgery. While health professionals spend all of their work hours in hospitals, some patients have a fear of hospitals. Whether it’s nerves or a full-blown phobia, being afraid of the hospital and all the associations that come with it (i.e. doctors, blood, surgery, etc.) can make recovery from surgery even more worrisome.

Understanding the therapeutic benefits of plants is important not only for patients, but also their care providers. Research has confirmed what we have all experienced — we feel better when we feel connected to nature.

Convinced? Contact us today to learn more about our interior plant services for both commercial and residential applications.

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