For centuries, humans have harnessed the power of plants with healing qualities. They may be medicinal or dietary, but healing plants and their uses are a time tested powerful cure and medicine for a host of ailments. The benefits of indoor plants in hospitals may be more than visual and stimulating in form, scent and color.
There are plants with healing energy through their herbal qualities and oils, but also using live plants in hospitals brings a promise of life and renewal of hope. They soften the sterile white corners and naturalize what is otherwise a very unnatural experience, creating a sense of calm in patients and reducing their stress. These effects are a winning combination from which any patient can benefit.
I remember being stuck indoors as a sick child, looking longingly out at the sky, trees, grass and world outside the window, feeling the healing power of nature. The outdoors brings with it a positive energy and recharging influence that enhances wellness and encourages health. Sick individuals who end up in the sterile, impersonal confines of the hospital may benefit greatly from plants with healing energy.
Not only do plants enhance oxygen levels but some studies indicate a plant nearby can lower blood pressure, reduce the need for painkillers and enhance the overall mood of a patient. Incorporating indoor and outdoor viewing gardens into hospital plans, has been undertaken for several years now, and the evidence is clear regarding healing plants and their uses.
The reasons are not clear but some scientists think they elevate mood and health because we recognize how essential plants are to our survival.
You may find potted houseplants in the doctor’s office, lobby, and common areas of hospitals. Atriums and large windows also feature an attractive planted landscape that is beautiful for visitors and patients alike.
Some of the new ways to harness the benefits of plants with healing qualities are through roof gardens and special landscape efforts just outside patient windows. Restful courtyards, protected by ornamental trees and attractive to interesting critters like birds and squirrels, offer an oasis of interest and interaction for the patient with cabin fever.
Even the simplicity of providing a potted plant as a bedside companion has been shown to elevate mood and enhance the recuperative system.
If you are providing a loved one or friend in the hospital with a plant, choose a live, potted specimen. The studies didn’t include cut flowers, although who doesn’t love receiving such a gift. A potted plant can be brought home after the hospital stay for future enjoyment, while cut flowers are just added to compost.
Additionally, choose an organic plant if possible. Many commercially available plants were grown using pesticides, hormones and herbicides. Exposure to chemical run off gases from the plant could be dangerous for a seriously ill patient. Source an organic grower, if possible, to minimize any threat the plant might pose.
Plants with healing qualities are often enhanced when they are accompanied by unique form, flowering and scent. Scent is an especially appealing aspect when bed ridden but be cautious of any allergies or asthma the patient might experience. The last thing you want is to make their condition any worse but, fortunately, there are numerous plants with healing energy from which to choose.
I’m really getting into my groove with nature lately. I can’t stop remarking over beautiful flowers and the changing of the seasons, and anyone who has walked around Portland, L.A. or New York with me recently can attest to the fact that I am constantly stopping to take pictures of it all!
It’s well-known that having plants in your home is as good for your health as your happiness, but up until recently, I’ve mostly bought cut flowers for my desk. I decided I wanted to upgrade and buy some plants to put in my office, but when I walked into my local garden centre, I was completely overwhelmed. I didn’t know what was what, I didn’t know how to take care of anything, and I didn’t know if they would be suitable for a novice gardener like me!
Rather than buy something that I might immediately kill, I decided to come home and do a little research on great, easy-to-care-for plants that thrive indoors (since if you’re anything like me, you live in an apartment with absolutely no outdoor space!). I’ve also chosen to focus on plants which bring good energy into your space. Why not kill two birds with one stone?!
Additionally, to help save you time and grief, I’ve supplied links to the plants on Amazon. I know this might sound bizarre, but I have bought several potted flowers through Amazon with fantastic results… So if you’re nowhere near a garden centre, these links will help you out!
Bamboo is known for attracting joy and wealth. It offers protection and luck, can break hexes and grants wishes! Bamboo is said to help increase mental flexibility, aid in spiritual growth, help people to develop artistic talents, and encourages good health. If you’re depressed, bamboo is a great plant to have in your home, as it can help you to feel less stuck.
P.S. Mystic Medusa wrote about bamboo yesterday!
Buy: This is a pretty and simple arrangement of Dracaena Sanderana. If you’d prefer a spiral display, this one comes in a circular vase, and is very popular (check out those reviews!).
Basil brings love, passion, wealth, luck and beauty to your home, and we could all use a little of that! If you grow your own basil and use it to flavour your food, it’s said that you’ll awaken passion in anyone who eats it. Ooh la la! Basil is known for being an antidepressant, antiseptic and antibacterial, too.
There is a lot to learn about the magical properties of basil!
Buy: You can get Profuma di Genova basil in a 3″ pot. You can also buy organic basil seeds if you’d prefer to do it yourself!
Honeysuckle brings money into your home and offers protection. Some people believe that crushing the flowers and placing them next to your forehead can boost psychic powers. The smell of honeysuckle sharpens your intuition, too. In addition to smelling absolutely incredible, honeysuckle also has a delicious edible nectar. When I was about 5 years old, it grew on a trellis up the side of my school. I remember eating it all the time!
If you’re keen to know more, here is some additional info on honeysuckle’s many uses!
Buy: This Hardy Favorite Hall’s Honeysuckle Lonceria Japonica has a super-strong fragrance and is easy to grow. It grows well up a trellis or some other kind of support, so consider growing it up a wall!
Jasmine attracts love and money into your home, and encourages prophetic dreams! Jasmine oil is known for being one of the most powerful aphrodisiacs, so this is a fantastic plant for single babes or anyone wanting to keep the romance alive! Jasmine flowers are often worn by high priestesses. Incredibly, jasmine flowers open at night, which, to my mind, makes them even cooler.
Buy: The Arabian Tea jasmine plant in a 4″ pot is very fragrant and easy to grow.
As well as being bright and happy, lemons are a fantastic thing to have around the house! They symbolise purification and friendship, and it’s said that if you wear diluted lemon oil during the full moon, it will help you attune with its energies. Plus, how great would it be to have your own lemons for making drinks and salad dressings?!
Apartment Therapy has a cool guide to growing lemon trees indoors. Here are some of the many uses of lemon.
Buy: Meyer lemons are the best kind — they’re delicious, sweet, and easy to grow. Try this Meyer lemon tree in an 8″ pot!
Lavender is one of my favourite plants: it smells wonderful and is known for its mood-elevation and calming properties. A dab of lavender oil on your pillow will send you off to sleep in two seconds flat, it brings a sense of inner peace, and it’s great for alleviating headaches. The scent of lavender is said to attract men, and will allegedly help you see ghosts… ! Either way, I think it’s one of the most relaxing scents in existence.
There are a lot of different varieties of lavender with their own pros and cons, so do a little research before you take the plunge. Here are some tips on growing lavender indoors.
Buy: Munstead lavender is ideal for growing indoors. It comes in a 3″ pot, smells great, and grows quickly. You can also sow your own seeds if that’s more your speed!
Roses are said to have the highest vibration of all living things. Not too shabby, huh? They attract love, healing and luck, offer protection and healing, and help with divination of all kinds.
Full-size roses are a little ridiculous to grow inside, but miniature roses are quite hardy and just as beautiful (if not moreso!). It can be tricky to find a miniature rose plant, but I found some on Amazon (and they’re gorgeous!). You can have them inside for a while, but eventually they will need to go outside for more sun. In a very New York twist, I’m going to put mine on the fire escape!
The colour of your rose has a meaning, too. White: Purifying and healing, positive energy. White with red details: Devotion and passion. Peach: Peace, spirituality and friendship. Pink: Romantic love, sweetness, fun and play. Fuchsia: A lust for life, radical self love, deep love and acceptance of your physical body. Lavender: Spirituality. Red: Passionate, deep, true love.
In terms of care, here is the dummies guide and some other tips for making the most of your miniature roses.
Buy: I adore these pink miniature roses in a good-lookin’ pot. I think they’ll do quite nicely!
Orchids are one of my favourite flowers, not only because they are beautiful, but also because they are so easy to take care of! Orchids represent love: they attract love, soothe the soul, and deepen friendships. The ancient Greeks associated orchids with fertility and virility, which makes them a great gift for new parents!
Buy: This bubblegum pink Phalaenopsis orchid is so sweet, but if you’d like to buy a few at once, here’s an assortment of 5. (Some anonymous gem bought us 5 Phalaenopsis orchids as a wedding gift, and they are still thriving on our windowsills! They are so hardy and gorgeous.)
Rosemary increases your brain power, can help you get a good night’s rest, and keep you youthful (well, so they say)! This herb attracts love and encourages lust, has properties of protection and purification, helps with healing, and can even be used in exorcisms. (I know, I know, a herb which helps with exorcisms is totally on your shopping list!)
One of the best things about rosemary is that you can snack on it whenever you please! It improves memory and mood, relieves pain and freshens your breath! Again, it’s lovely because — just like basil — you can use it in your cooking. Here are 16 health benefits of rosemary!
Buy: This 17″ rosemary topiary is elegant and would look so great in a kitchen.
Sage is well-known for its qualities of protection. It also represents immortality, longevity, wisdom and the granting of wishes. Of course, if you grow sage, you can make your own smudging sticks… And cook with it, too!
Buy: You can snap up a little 3″ pot of sage for under $5. Totally worth it!
So… Do you feel inspired to bring some magical plants into your home and workspace? I’m looking at my newly-acquired bamboo and basil plants as we speak, and they make me feel so good! Even if you have a black thumb, these plants are easy to grow… I encourage you to give it a try!
Enjoying my newly green office,
Scientific review: Dr Heben's Team
Plants has become important thing in live since the dawn of the earth. They provide human and animal with food, building material, fiber, fuel, and medicine. Since thousand years ago, human has brought plant in a container and put in inside their home as an effort to decorate the home. Plant decorate the garden outside house and some of them are brought inside the home. They also mark some special occasion such as wedding, anniversary, birthday and even funeral. People has considered that plant which they grown outside or inside will give them benefits physically, mentally and also socially. Even some people has made gardening as their hobby. They feel excited to grow and decorate the garden with numerous kinds of plant.
There are hundreds or even thousand types of indoor plant. Below are the top 10 indoor plants that usually grow inside home :
Health Benefits of Indoor Plants
Indoor plants or also known as houseplants has many varieties and people love to grow them in a container such as a pot and put it inside their room.
1. Fight cold and flu
Most cold are caused by particle and virus that comes inside the body through air. Based on a study, indoor plant can reduce cold and related illness by 30%. This is due to the cleaning effect of indoor plant which can purify the air from such particle that may cause cold and flu.
2. Prevent airborne disease
Indoor plant can help to remove airborne contaminant which can cause several health problem such as pollutant including VOCs ( Volatile Organic Compound ) that may cause nausea, headache and other health problem.
3. Cure headache
Headache is annoying and it may decrease our productivity and disturb our activity. Headache usually occur because brain lack of oxygen. Indoor plant provides oxygen which produce through photosynthesis and this oxygen supply may help to cure your headache.
4. Increase your good mood
The green leaves and various color of indoor plants attract our eyes and make us calmer. It also increase our happy feeling by watching them. A study by Ulrich in 1984 reported that patient in hospital will recover faster if they facing hospital garden view rather that the one who just watching the wall.
5. Improve mental health
Same like we care for pet, caring plant may also increase mental health by get rid of the feeling lonely and depressed. It may give you some joy and also give purpose in life
6. Lowering blood pressure
Indoor plant can reduce stress and this may affect to blood pressure. Stress is one of the cause of high blood pressure. By caring and enjoying the esthetic of indoor plant, it give beneficial effect in lower heart pressure and prevent some heart disease
7. Reduce carbon dioxide
Plant has been known for their ability to bind carbon dioxide which later will be processed in photosynthesis to produce oxygen. Carbon dioxide is the waste of respiration process and it may be harmful and causing drowsiness if the level in the air is high enough.
8. Relieve pain
Some indoor plant can give benefits as natural remedy such as aloe vera. Aloe vera is a herbal plant that can reduce inflammation and decrease pain especially on skin.
9. Prevent allergy
Allergy usually occur because your immune system inever exposed to allergen. Some people may develop allergy to plant especcially the pollen. Iif you try to expose your children with allergen earlier, it will help them to build more immune tolerance which can prevent them to suffer allergy in future.
10. Increase brain function
As mentioned before that plant can produce more oxygen which is need to boost the brain and nerve function. Having indoor plant may help you to increase focus and concentration while working.
11. Provide clean air
Plant can filter the air from chemical substance. It may help you to get clean air if you live in an area which is narrow and high in air pollutant such as factory environment or street side. It also will help you if you don’t have any space to make garden outside your home especially if you live in an apartment.
12. Clear congestion
Congestion is a condition of excessive liquid accumulate in the nose or commonly known as runny nose. Some indoor plant such as eucaliptus can give you benefit as anti-congestion natural remedy by its aromatic scent. It also contains some phytochemical that will help you to clear phlegm
13. As natural humidifier
If you live in dry area, instead of buying a electric humidifier you better bought one or two indoor plants. They may help to increase the humidity in air because they do not only release oxygen but also vapour to the air.
14. Improve sleep quality
Some indoor plant prodece oxygen during night time such as Gerbera daisies. Putting such indoor plant in bedroom can improve your sleep and calming your mind.
15. Neutralize cigarette smoke
Cigarette contains many chemicals which released to air when it is burned. We know that passive smokers ( those who don’t smoke but exposed to the cigarette smoke ) have higher risk to suffer some disease such as respiratory disorder and cancer. If you are smoker and often smoke inside room, put some indoor plant to absorb the chemical and neutralize the toxin in tthe air. This will make your family healthier.
16. Increase creativity
According to a study, indoor plant can increase the brain function in generating ideas and improve creativity. The colour that provided by indoor plant give a pleasant feeling to workers and it is great to increase their productivity.
17. Cooling room temperature
Plant has benefits to lower the temperature by releasing vapour and increase humidity. This may help to build a green building which is more nature friendly. It also can decrease your energy consumption.
18. Reduce noise
Maybe you never know that plant has not only have ability to absorb carbon dioxide but it also can absorb noise. Yes, indoor plant can make your room more quiet and it will help you to learn and work better.
How to Select and Care Indoor plant
Its not difficult to grow indoor plants in your home but you must pay attention to some condition about how to care or grow the indoor plants. Nowadays indoor plant is available in store and it will be easier to have it without you need to grow. Follow these tips to how to select and care indoor plants :
Those are all the benefits of indoor plants which we never realize. So start to decorate your home and get the benefits.
Botanical Name: Ganoderma lucidum
Common Names: Basidiomycetes Mushroom, Champignon Reishi, Ganoderma lucidum, Ling Chih, Ling Zhi, Mushroom of Immortality, Rei-Shi
Reishi mushroom, also known as lingzhi, is a fungus, which belongs to the Ganodermataceae family. It’s a fan-shaped mushroom and orange to reddish brown in color. Since they are rare to find, it’s commercially grown and sold in the form of tea, capsules, and beauty products. Indeed, reishi mushrooms possess numerous health benefits, which makes it a great staple of eastern medicine. Some of the benefits that reishi exhibits are:
They are generally safe to use, yet it can lead to digestive disorders in some people. You must consult a doctor before taking them, especially if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, have blood disorders or is about to have surgery.
Botanical Name: Gynostemma pentaphyllum
Common Names: Five Leaf Ginseng, Poor Man’s Ginseng, Southern Ginseng, Miracle Grass, Fairy Herb, Sweet Tea Vine, Gospel Herb, Immortality Herb, Immortality Tea
Gynostemma, also known to be “the herb of immortality” because it could make you feel like an immortal by boosting your immunity. It produces a beneficial compound- ginsenosides, which is rare in any other plant. This compound promotes high energy levels and reduces stress, making your life healthier than ever. The herb is available in the natural form as well as commercial tea and powder. Following are some of the benefits that this fairy herb holds:
While it’s possibly safe, some people can suffer from severe nausea and an increase in bowel movements. It may reduce the blood clotting process and might adversely affect the blood sugar levels of diabetic people. Avoid intaking the herb if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or healing a recent surgery. Consult your doctor whenever required.
Common Names: German chamomile, Roman chamomile, English chamomile,
Camomilla, and Flos Chamomile
Chamomile is a European plant of the daisy family with white and yellow flowers and a fresh aroma. People use it in manufacturing almost everything, from cosmetics to beverages for years. Here are some of its health benefits:
If you notice any skin allergy, eye irritation, or other hypersensitivity reactions, contact your doctor immediately. Avoid applying chamomile around your eyes and before applying it on your skin, do a patch test first.
Botanical Name: Taraxacum
Common Names: Bitterwort, blow-ball, cankerwort, clockflower, Irish daisy, lion’s tooth, piss-in-bed, pissinlit, priest’s crown, puffball, swine’s snout, telltime, yellow gowan
Dandelion is a weed belonging to the daisy family and is easily available in most parts of the world. Contrary to being merely just a weed, it has a wide array of health benefits. They contain high levels of protein and a variety of vitamin and minerals, which makes them perfect survival food. Below are the potential health benefits of dandelion:
If you take dandelion by the mouth and apply it to sensitive skin, it may lead to allergic reactions. If by any chance you seem to have an allergy, consult your doctor before taking this plant. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid intake.
Botanical Name: Athyrium filis-femina
Common Names: Lady Fern, Common ladyfern, Subarctic ladyfern, Asplenium ladyfern, Southern Lady Fern, Tatting Fern
Lady fern, also known as shuttlecock fern or eagle fern. It commonly grows across the US, and in some parts of Europe, Canada, and Australia. Like many ferns, it reproduces from its spores. Its leaves contain a high amount of protein, zinc, calcium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B and B complex. The fern is regarded to be a plant with home remedy qualities and is famous as an edible vegetable in many areas. The list below contains some health benefits of lady fern:
Not enough information is available to question about the safety of this plant yet avoid it if you’re pregnant.
Botanical Name: Zingiber officinale
Common Names: Jiang, gingembre, ingwer, adrak, kon-gang, adi
Ginger is one of the most delicious and healthiest spices available on Earth. Not only it adds a tasty flavor to the food, it’s full of nutrients and bioactive compounds that are beneficial for your brain and body. Ginger mostly grows in warmer areas of Asia and is popular to cure an upset stomach. Some other benefits include:
Excessive intake of ginger might increase bleeding tendency and promote diarrhea. Throat irritation, abdominal discomfort, central nervous system depression are some other downfalls of ginger. However, you must not worry about these side effects if you’re intaking it in the prescribed dose.
Botanical Name: Schisandra chinensis
Common Names: Beiwuweizi, Chinese Mongolavine, Chinese Schizandra, Chosen-Gomischi, Five-Flavor-Fruit, Fructus Schisandrae, Gomishi, Magnolia Vine, Northern Schisandra, Wuhzi, Wuweizi
A fruit-bearing vine, these berries are purple-red in color and have four tastes- sweet, salty, bitter and sour. It’s a popular adaptogen to increase resistance power to fight stress and diseases. You can take Schisandra berries as whole or in the powdered form available in stores. It has a variety of health benefits, which you can read below:
Schisandra can stimulate the central nervous system, which in turn can adversely affect people with epilepsy. These berries can worsen peptic ulcers and high brain pressure.
Botanical Name: Rhodiola rosea
Common Names: Rose root, roseroot, Aaron’s rod, Arctic root, king’s crown, lignum rhodium, orpin rose
Also known as “golden root,” this fragrant root of a herb has adaptogenic qualities to eliminate stressors. The extract grows in northern climates in places like Asia, Russia, Europe, and Greece. This herb is significantly used as a natural remedy since ages to treat multiple illnesses:
For now, there are no scientifically proven downfalls of using this herb. However, to be on the safe side, avoid it if you have some allergy.
Botanical Name: Salvia officinalis
Common Names: Garden sage, true sage, salvia real, echter salbei
Sage is a woody herb and belongs to the mint family. It’s a staple ingredient in many cuisines around the world and is proven to be one among the healthiest food. Sage contains a variety of volatile oils, flavonoids, phenolic acids. It has a soft and sweet-savory flavor and wonderful health-promoting properties:
Sage is a safe herb with no side effects. To be on safe side, never consume sage excessively especially in the tea and essential oil form.
Botanical Name: Tagetes
Common Names: Caltha, Ganda, Gols bloom, Garden Marigold, Gold bloom, Holligold, Marybud, Pot Marigold
Marigold is a subdivision of perennial plant in the sunflower family. It’s usually yellow, orange, red, and maroon in appearance and belongs to the kingdom- Plantae. There are many more benefits of marigold except its bright beauty:
Marigold can sometimes result in an allergic reaction in forms of rash, itchiness, trouble breathing, and dizziness. Seek medical attention if you notice any of the above or other effects.
Botanical Name: Capsicum annuum ‘acuminatum’
Common Names: Capsicum frutescens, guinea pepper, african bird pepper,
Cayenne pepper is a type of capsicum annum and is usually used to add a chilly flavor to dishes. This pepper has been a part of Native American dishes and medicine since year unknown. The ingredient capsaicin is held responsible for the various health benefits of this hot chili. Here are several benefits of cayenne pepper:
Cayenne peppers are safe to eat when in a limit, excessive intake can upset your stomach.
Botanical Name: Echinacea
Common Names: American Cone Flower, Black Sampson, Black Susans, Brauneria Angustifolia, Comb Flower, Hedgehog, Helichroa Purpurea, Indian Head, Kansas Snakeroot, Red Sunflower, Rock-Up-Hat, Rudbeckie Pourpre, Scurvy Root, Snakeroot
This herb is native to the eastern areas of the rocky mountains of the United States. The herb is long used as a herbal remedy by the Indian tribes. There are many commercial echinacea products available in the market in forms of tablets, juice, and tea. Listed are some of the benefits of this herb:
Most common side effects of echinacea include nausea and stomach pain. If you suffer from an autoimmune disease, you must refrain from using this herb.
Botanical Name: Eschscholzia californica
Common Names: Golden poppy, California sunlight, cup of gold, yellow poppy
California poppy is a medicinal flowering herb, which contains soothing properties. Also, the herb consists of Vitamin A, C, E, calcium, and magnesium. The general taste is bitter and is native to Western North America. In appearance, it’s red, orange, and yellow with cup-shaped petals. The plant is such great a herb that April 6 is officially named “California Poppy Day.”
It can slow down the central nervous system, which can cause sleepiness and other lethargic effects.
Botanical Name: Asclepias curassavica
Common Names: Tropical milkweed, cotton bush, hierba de la cucaracha, Mexican butterfly weed, redhead, scarlet milkweed, wild ipecacuanha
Bloodflower is a garden plant that is a source of food for the butterflies. It flowers nearly year-around with vivid red blooms. Though it has plenty of health benefits, you should be cautious when using this plant because its stems and leaves release a poisonous milky sap, which can potentially damage your eyes.
It’s advisory to consult your doctor before consuming the blood flower.
Botanical Name: Thymus vulgaris
Common Names: Common thyme, English thyme, garden thyme
Thyme is among the most popular herbs from the mint family. It has been used to treat a range of symptoms along with multiple dietary uses. Also, this ornamental herb has antibacterial and insecticidal properties. Commercially, the herb is available in the forms of essential oils and tea.
Thyme is safe to use by adults as well as children if taken in normal food amounts.
Botanical Name: Agastache Rugosa
Common Names: Blue licorice, purple giant hyssop, indian mint, wrinkled giant hyssop, huo xiang, chinese patchouli
As the name suggests, Korean mint is a short-lived herb belonging to the mint family. It’s purple flower spikes are usually two to four inches tall. The minty herb is a drought tolerant plant when it gets set correctly in the ground. In addition to health benefits, it can attract birds and butterflies to your yard. The leaves of this medicinal plant contribute to an uplifting tea and can provide a unique seasoning to your food.
The plant is advisable to consume in a recommended dosage.
Botanical Name: Medicago Sativa
Common Names: Burgundy clover, purple medick, lucerne, holy hay
A perennial flowering plant in the family Fabaceae, mostly used for grazing as well as green manure in the farming land. It has a superior content of vitamins, minerals, and protein, which are helpful in cleansing your blood. Several health tonics, tea, supplements, and hair growth tonics are available in the market as a substitute for naturally growing alfalfa in your yard.
Alfalfa seeds might prove them unsafe if taken for long-term. It might as well result in an allergy similar to lupus erythematosus.
Botanical Name: Rubus fruticosus L. agg.
Common Names: Bramble, european blackberry, scaldhead, zarzamora, murier, amora silvestre
Blackberry is an edible fruit that belongs to the Rosaceae family. The dark color of the berries indicates a high concentration of antioxidants. The fruit is low in calories and rich in fiber and nutrients and has antiviral and antibacterial properties.
People with a sensitive stomach can feel the urge to vomit right after eating the berries.
Botanical Name: Thelesperma
Common Names: Hopi tea greenthread, navajo tea, hopi tea
Popularly known as the Indian tea, this herbal tea is an extract from a single plant, indigenous to regions of the southwest. The tea is typically prepared by boiling a bundle of it in about 6 cups of water for 5-6 minutes. The tea has an aromatic taste and is enjoyable even without any sweetener.
Botanical Name:Tanacetum Parthenium
Common Names: Altamisa, Bachelor’s Buttons, Chrysanthème Matricaire, Chrysanthemum parthenium, Chrysanthemum praealtum, Featherfew, Featherfoil, Flirtwort Midsummer Daisy, Grande Camomille, Partenelle, Santa Maria
This flowering plant of the daisy family is also called bachelor’s button and is a preventative against a migraine. You can either grow your feverfew or buy dried capsules, tablets, or tinctures from a store. You can even dry the leaves at home the result remains as potent as fresh leaves.
When taken during pregnancy, it can cause UTERINE contraction. Similarly, you should not use feverfew if you are breastfeeding or have taken aspirin or other NSAIDs recently.
Botanical Name: Satureja Montana
Common Names: Ajedrea, Calamintha montana, Herbe de Saint Julien, Mountain Savory Oil, Poivre d’Âne, Sadrée, Sarriette des Montagnes, Satureja montana, Satureja obovata, Savory
Winter Savory can grow up to one foot, its deep green herbaceous perennial plant, native to warm regions of southern regions of Europe. It is a semi-evergreen herb and belongs to the family Lamiaceae.
Special precaution must be taken by pregnant and breastfeeding women. Winter savory is likely safe to use when in a lower amount.
Botanical Name: Nepeta cataria
Common Names: Catnip, Catswort, Catnep, Catrup, Catmint, Catswort, Field Balm, Nep, Herb Catta
Catnip is a perennial herb member of the mint family and can grow up to three feet high. Manufactures of medicine repeatedly use the flowering tops of the plant to help people with:
Catnip can cause drowsiness, which can reduce your productivity and can lead to vomiting as well. It’ll be better to take it in the night to learn how it works for you. Moreover, children and pregnant women must restrain from taking the herb.
Botanical Name: Spinacia oleracea
Common Names: palak, épinard , spinat , spinace , espinaca , and hispane
Spinach is one among the most favored edible flowering plant, native to central and western Asia. The leaves of the plant are worldwide famous as a vegetable. The leaves are an excellent source of Vitamin K, A, and C. When you cook and eat spinach, your body absorbs a higher content of protein, fiber, thiamin, and zinc.
In the worst case of spinach complication, a person may experience mild diarrhea, allergic reactions, or even kidney stones if taken regularly in big quantities.
Botanical Name: Allium Sativum
Common Names: Ajo, Alho, Allii Sativi Bulbus, Allium, Allium sativum, Da Suan, Echte Rokkenbolle, Echter Knoblauch, Lasun, Maneul, Ninniku, Rason, Rocambole, Rockenbolle, Rust Treacle, Schlangenknoblauch, Stinking Rose, Suan, Thoum, Vitlok
Allium sativum, commonly called garlic is a species of the Allium family and is a common food ingredient all around the world. It has a unique flavor, which makes it an indispensable element in many dishes. Ancient Greek physicians have referred it to be the father of western medicines. Not just it eases people with heart and blood issues, it has several other health benefits too.
Before taking garlic, do enough research on the web for its interactions with various drugs present in popular medicines.
Botanical Name: Mentha × piperita
Common Names: Black Peppermint, Brandy Mint, Field Mint, Herba Menthae, Lamb Mint, Mint Balm, Paparaminta, Western Peppermint
Crossing watermint with spearmint produces the famous plant from the mint family- Peppermint. In the modern era, peppermint is favorite to flavor soft drinks, ice creams, toothpaste, and many other products. Here are some medicinal properties that it holds:
Using peppermint in normal food amounts is possibly safe. Avoid using commercial peppermint products that are coated with enteric to prevent anal burns.
Botanical Name: Cynara scolymus
Common Names: Cynara, French artichoke, and green artichoke
Globe Artichoke is a perennial medicinal plant that is primarily grown for its edible and nutritious flower buds. The plant is native to the Mediterranean region. However, it’s frequently used in preparing food items in Italy, Spain, and other areas of the world. Not just in food, it’s an ingredient of much herbal tea and liqueur.
It might increase bile flow and therefore worsen bile duct obstruction.
Botanical Name: Tanacetum vulgare
Common Names: Wurmkraut, tanaceto, boerenwormkruid, renfana, bitter buttons common tansy, English fern, golden buttons, hindheal, parsley fern, scented fern, tanaceto, tanarida, tanacée, Rainfarn, tanaisie, tanaisie commune and erva-de-San-Marcos
Belonging to the aster family, Tansy is native to temperate Europe and Asia. Many manufacturing companies use tansy extracts to process perfumes and green dye. Tansy increases the saliva and blood flow to the tissues, curing many ailments of mouth, stomach, pelvic area, and intestines.
Tansy is poisonous when taken by mouth and can be allergic to the skin.
Botanical Name: Uncaria tomentosa
Common Names: uña de gato, Uncaria guianensis, Hawk’s claw, and Garabato
The claw-shaped thorns are from where the woody vine gains its unique name. The pharmaceutical industries often use the root and bark of the cat’s claw to manufacture medicines for:
Cat’s claw is particularly safe to use by most people, but some people may react to it with a headache, nausea, and vomiting.
Botanical Name: Ocimum basilicum
Common Names: Albahaca, Basilic, Basilic Commun, Basilic Grand, Basilic Grand Vert, Basilic Romain, Basilic aux Sauces, Basilici Herba, Basilici Herba, Common Basil, Garden Basil, Krishna Tulsi, Munjariki, Ocimum basilicum, St. Josephwort, Surasa, Sweet Basil, Vanatulasi, Varvara, Visva Tulsi
Basil is a herb popular as a food seasoning to promote health benefits. It’s an adaptogen herb with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. From slowing the aging process to building a stronger immunity, health benefits of basil are quite a lot:
The medicinal plant is safe to use by most people. However, you should only take the leaves for a short term.
Botanical Name: Curcuma longa
Common Names: Haldi, Halodhi, Arishina, Halud, Haridra, Yaingang, Indian saffron, ukon, nghe, wong-keong
Turmeric is a spice that belongs to the ginger family and has bioactive compounds. Due to these compounds, the herb is an antiseptic with numerous other health benefits. It has a unique earthy taste with a heady aroma and is usually bright orange.
Turmeric is potentially safe to use by anyone. Research more about the spice if you have any doubts about its safety.
Botanical Name: Drumstick Tree
Common Names: Windibundu, Kpashima, Kotba, Zingeridende, Nasadua, Gawara, Sejana Sanjina, Soanjana, Lal Sahinjano, Sigru Shobhanjan, Sobhan jana, Shobanjana, Danshamula, Swanjera, Murungai, Murunkak-kai, Morunga, Maranga calalu, Mulaga, Sajana, Morunga, Morungai, Sundan
Moringa is a drought tolerant plant, which is widely cultivated for its medicinal leaves, flower, pods, and stems. It’s grown in the tropical parts of the world, especially Himalayan regions of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. While all the parts of the plant are healthy, the leaves are the most nutritional part. Moringa is a nutritious vegetable, which can solve problems like:
It’s not safe to use the roots and barks of the tree, especially if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Botanical Name: Annona muricata
Common Names: Custard apple, cherimoya, guanabana, soursop, and brazilian paw paw
A small evergreen tree, parts of which are used in the pharmaceutical industries to manufacture medicines. Recently it has received ample attention as an anti-cancer food. Although these declarations are a result of test tube studies, scientists are yet to confirm it’s effectiveness on humans. It’s highly rich in antioxidant properties, which makes it favorable by a mass of people.
Graviola can cause nerve damage and movement problems with long-term use. Consult your doctor before use if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or if you’re pregnant.
Botanical Name: Azadirachta indica
Common Names: Neem, Margosa, Nim, Nimba, Persian Lilac, Pride of China and Indian Lilac
Neem or Indian lilac is a tall evergreen plant cultivated for its timber, resin, and aromatic seed oil. Though it’s an evergreen plant, it may shed all its leaf in extreme drought conditions. Apart from using it for medicinal purposes, it can also serve as an insecticide to eliminate insects from your indoors. It’s most famous in the Indian subcontinent for its beneficial traits in healing:
Neem consumption is not for infants and those with existing kidney or liver issues.
Botanical Name: Aloe barbadensis
Common Names: Cape aloe, Aloe curacao, Barbadoes aloe, Venezuela aloe, Indian alces, Ghirita, Lu hui, Star Cactus
Aloe vera is an evergreen succulent with almost no to a little stem. Originated from the Arabian Peninsula, this plant grows worldwide in the tropical climates. The plant is famous among modern gardeners as it can grow indoors as well as outdoors, successfully. Many industries have been using the plant in their products such as beverages, lotions, ointments, to name a few.
Aloe latex can lead to can lead to cramps, diarrhea, and other serious problems.
Botanical Name: Calendula officinalis
Common Names: Caltha, Ganda, Gols bloom, Garden Marigold, Gold bloom, Holligold, Marybud
Calendula is an ornamental flowering plant that grows worldwide but is native to the Mediterranean region. Not just they add an attractive and lively decoration to your garden, it also poses multiple health benefits on usage by humans. The chemicals present in calendula can help new tissues to grow more quickly over deep cuts and other wounds.
To be safe, avoid the herb if you’re allergic to marigold, pregnant or lactating.
Botanical Name: Rosmarinus officinalis
Common Names: Rusmari, Rosmarin, Rosmariini, Ramerino, Romero, Erromero, Rozmarinë, Ružmarin and Dendrolivano
Rosemary is a woody and fragrant evergreen herb with fine needle-like leaves and warm-bitter taste. It’s a member of the mint family, which is used mostly for seasoning in Italian dishes. Rosemary is rich in iron and calcium, and its aroma can benefit people with memory issues. The extracts of its leaves and twigs have many medicinal and culinary uses.
Side effects include vomiting, coma, and pulmonary edema.
Botanical Name: Lavandula angustifolia
Common Names: Lavanda, levănțică, Lavandīna, Lavendin, Levanduľa, Laventeli, Lavandula , Levanta , Lavânta çiçeği, and Lavendel
Lavender belongs to the mint family with many culinary uses and also makes a great landscape decoration for your yard. The plant is unusual in appearance with finely-toothed leaves and small flowers with purple bracts. Contrary to this fact, not all lavenders look purple. Some hybrid species have other attractive pastel hues like pale pink, white, yellow, violet blue, and rose. It can last for several years if given the right attention.
Lavender, sometimes can cause constipation, headache, and irritation.
Botanical Name: Greek Hay
Common Names: Alholva, Bockshornklee, Bockshornsame, Chandrika, Fenogreco, Foenugraeci Semen, Greek Clover, Greek Hay, Hu Lu Ba, Medhika, Methi, Methika, Sénégrain, Sénégré, Trigonella Foenum, Trigonella foenum-graecum, and Trigonella foenugraecum
Fenugreek is an annual plant with light green leaves and small white flowers. It is long used as a herb, spice, and vegetable as well. The seeds of the plant are cuboid in shape with a yellow color and somewhat bitter taste. It is commonly used in India in many dishes since ages for its richness in protein, fats, vitamins, zinc, and other minerals.
Fenugreek may cause stomach irritation, allergic reactions, hypoglycemia. Pregnant women and children must avoid the intake of fenugreek.
Botanical Name: Withania Somnifera
Common Names: Ajagandha, Asana, Asgandha, Ashagandha, Asoda, Asundha, Avarada, Ayurvedic Ginseng, Ginseng Indien, Hayahvaya, Indian Ginseng, Kanaje Hindi, Kuthmithi, Peyette, Physalis somnifera, Turangi-Ghanda, Vajigandha, Winter Cherry and Withania somnifera
Withania Somifera is a plant in the nightshade family with flowers in a bell shape and dull green leaves. U.S markets sell Ashwagandha as dietary supplements, and it’s commonly used in Ayurveda for its medicinal benefits. However, there is no specific evidence which can prove any of the benefits.
Large doses can cause abdominal discomfort, diarrhea and even miscarriage in pregnant women.
Botanical Name: Cymbopogon
Common Names: Andropogon citratus, Andropogon flexuosus, Ceylon Citronella Grass, Citronnelle de Ceylan, Citronnelle de Java, Citronnelle de Madagascar, Cymbopogon nardis, Fever Grass, Herbe Citron, Hierba de Limón, Jonc Odorant, Verveine Indienne
Lemongrass is a perennial grass of the grass family, a culinary herb in Asian cuisines and medicinal herb in India. People cultivate the herb because of its lemon-like aroma and therapeutic properties. It grows well in the summer season with a red base stem and a height of up to ten feet. The grass genus is a common ingredient in many deodorants, soaps, tea, and cosmetics.
It’s unsafe to take lemongrass by mouth when you’re breastfeeding or pregnant.
Botanical Name: Calotropis procera
Common Names: Giant Milkweed, Crown Flower, Giant Calotrope, Swallow-wort
Crown flower has a bunch of waxy white or lavender flowers, which makes them an excellent choice for floral arrangements. Growing crown flower in your yard isn’t difficult as long as you put them near an area with full sun. It holds a strong position when it comes to Ayurvedic treatments for various ailments:
Calotropis in unsafe to use especially in high doses, it can lead to heart problems.
Botanical Name: Saussurea costus
Common Names: Betalauri, wild ginger, lakhut, and keukand
Costus is a medicinal herb of Costaceae family with an approximate height of 30-40 cm. The oil extracts of the root and the root itself is used for treating many medical ailments. It’s a significant component in cosmetics, fixatives, and food flavoring products.
Not enough information is available on the effects of costus on pregnant or breastfeeding women. Avoid it to stay on the safe side.
Botanical Name: Stevia rebaudiana
Common Names: Sweetleaf, Sugarleaf, and Chrysanthemum
Candy leaf is a plant species of the sunflower family and native to Brazil and Paraguay. As the name tells, it’s taste is as sweet as candy. Cultivators widely prefer to grow it for its sweet leaves which act as a source for many sweetener products. It has gained attention from fitness lover all over the world since it’s a natural alternative to processed sugar.
Although food administrations declare stevia to be safe, raw stevia herb may harm your kidneys.
Botanical Name: Althaea Officinalis
Common Names: Marsh Mallow, Malvaceae, Hollycock, Genus Althaea, White Mallow, Mallards, Mauls, Schloss Teai, Cheeses, Mortification Koot, Mortification root, Sweet weed, and Wymote
Native to Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, marshmallow is an ornamental plant. The leaves, flowers, and roots of the plant are long used for herbal medicines. Other than herbal uses, they have several culinary uses as well.
The plant is safe to use, but it may interact with any other drug/medicine. So, it’s better to consult a doctor before using it.
Botanical Name: Arctium lappa
Common Names: Arctium, Arctium tomentosum, Bardana, Bardana-minor, Bardanae Radix, Bardane, Burdock Root Extract, Burr Seed, Clotbur, Cocklebur, Cockle Buttons, Edible Burdock, Fox’s Clote, Gobo, Glouteron, Grande Bardane, Great Bur
Cultivated in gardens for its roots, it’s a plant from sunflower family. This biennial plant can reach the height of 3-9 feet with thistle-like purple flowers. Every part of the plant – leaves, roots, flowers, and seeds are used to treat a sore throat, insect bites, flu, constipation, diabetes, eczema, and many more diseases.
Great burdock might slow the blood clotting process people with injury must restrain from taking it. Moreover, it must not be consumed during pregnancy.
Botanical Name: Dioscorea Polystachya
Common Names: Igname, Nagaimo, Pochrzyn chinski, Iams kitaiskii, Huai sua, Name de China, Igname de Chine, Chinese potato, Wild yam, Verrilaivalli, and Malay
Chinese yam is an invasive plant from the yam family. This twining vine usually grows to a height of 3-5 meters and twines in a clockwise motion. The flowers of the plant smell like cinnamon, and that’s why it’s also referred to as cinnamon-vine.
Large amounts of Chinese yam can cause vomiting and nausea.
Botanical Name: Gentiana lutea
Common Names: Gentian, Bitter Root, Bitterwort, Gall Weed, Geneciana, Gentiana acaulis, Gentiana kochiana, Gentiana lutea, Gentianae Radix, Gentiane, Gentiane Acaule, Pale Gentian, Racine Amère, Stemless Gentian, Yellow Centiyane, and Wild Gentia
The great yellow gentian is a herbaceous plant of the gentian family and originates from central and southern Europe. One of its common names is “Bitterwort” because of its extremely bitter taste. Many herbal bitters and soft drinks use the roots of the great yellow gentian as a critical ingredient.
People with low blood pressure should refrain from using it. Stop using gentian at least a week before or after surgery.
Botanical Name: Chrysopogon zizanioides
Common Names: Cuscus grass, Khas-khas, Khus-khus, Ramacham, and Vettiver
It’s a bunchgrass, which is most common in India, especially in the western and northern parts of the country. The roots of the grass are used to extract oil for the manufacture of many cosmetics and in aromatherapy.
Taking vetiver during pregnancy might result in a miscarriage. Likewise, maintain distance from it if you’re lactating.
This article on best medicinal plants is created for informational purposes only. Always consult your physician before taking anything. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional.
Introduction and Importance of Medicinal Plants and Herbs
The term “medicinal plant” include various types of plants used in herbalism ("herbology" or "herbal medicine"). It is the use of plants for medicinal purposes, and the study of such uses.
The word “herb” has been derived from the Latin word, “herba” and an old French word “herbe”. Now a days, herb refers to any part of the plant like fruit, seed, stem, bark, flower, leaf, stigma or a root, as well as a non-woody plant. Earlier, the term “herb” was only applied to non-woody plants, including those that come from trees and shrubs. These medicinal plants are also used as food, flavonoid, medicine or perfume and also in certain spiritual activities.
Plants have been used for medicinal purposes long before prehistoric period. Ancient Unani manuscripts Egyptian papyrus and Chinese writings described the use of herbs. Evidence exist that Unani Hakims, Indian Vaids and European and Mediterranean cultures were using herbs for over 4000 years as medicine. Indigenous cultures such as Rome, Egypt, Iran, Africa and America used herbs in their healing rituals, while other developed traditional medical systems such as Unani, Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine in which herbal therapies were used systematically.
Traditional systems of medicine continue to be widely practised on many accounts. Population rise, inadequate supply of drugs, prohibitive cost of treatments, side effects of several synthetic drugs and development of resistance to currently used drugs for infectious diseases have led to increased emphasis on the use of plant materials as a source of medicines for a wide variety of human ailments.
Among ancient civilisations, India has been known to be rich repository of medicinal plants. The forest in India is the principal repository of large number of medicinal and aromatic plants, which are largely collected as raw materials for manufacture of drugs and perfumery products. About 8,000 herbal remedies have been codified in AYUSH systems in INDIA. Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Folk (tribal) medicines are the major systems of indigenous medicines. Among these systems, Ayurveda and Unani Medicine are most developed and widely practised in India.
Recently, WHO (World Health Organization) estimated that 80 percent of people worldwide rely on herbal medicines for some aspect of their primary health care needs. According to WHO, around 21,000 plant species have the potential for being used as medicinal plants.
As per data available over three-quarters of the world population relies mainly on plants and plant extracts for their health care needs. More than 30% of the entire plant species, at one time or other were used for medicinal purposes. It has been estimated, that in developed countries such as United States, plant drugs constitute as much as 25% of the total drugs, while in fast developing countries such as India and China, the contribution is as much as 80%. Thus, the economic importance of medicinal plants is much more to countries such as India than to rest of the world. These countries provide two third of the plants used in modern system of medicine and the health care system of rural population depend on indigenous systems of medicine.
Treatment with medicinal plants is considered very safe as there is no or minimal side effects. These remedies are in sync with nature, which is the biggest advantage. The golden fact is that, use of herbal treatments is independent of any age groups and the sexes.
The ancient scholars only believed that herbs are only solutions to cure a number of health related problems and diseases. They conducted thorough study about the same, experimented to arrive at accurate conclusions about the efficacy of different herbs that have medicinal value. Most of the drugs, thus formulated, are free of side effects or reactions. This is the reason why herbal treatment is growing in popularity across the globe. These herbs that have medicinal quality provide rational means for the treatment of many internal diseases, which are otherwise considered difficult to cure.
Medicinal plants such as Aloe, Tulsi, Neem, Turmeric and Ginger cure several common ailments. These are considered as home remedies in many parts of the country. It is known fact that lots of consumers are using Basil (Tulsi) for making medicines, black tea, in pooja and other activities in their day to day life.
In several parts of the world many herbs are used to honour their kings showing it as a symbol of luck. Now, after finding the role of herbs in medicine, lots of consumers started the plantation of tulsi and other medicinal plants in their home gardens.
Medicinal plants are considered as a rich resources of ingredients which can be used in drug development either pharmacopoeial, non- pharmacopoeial or synthetic drugs. A part from that, these plants play a critical role in the development of human cultures around the whole world. Moreover, some plants are considered as important source of nutrition and as a result of that they are recommended for their therapeutic values. Some of these plants include ginger, green tea, walnuts, aloe, pepper and turmeric etc. Some plants and their derivatives are considered as important source for active ingredients which are used in aspirin and toothpaste etc.
Apart from the medicinal uses, herbs are also used in natural dye, pest control, food, perfume, tea and so on. In many countries different kinds of medicinal plants/ herbs are used to keep ants, flies, mice and flee away from homes and offices. Now a days medicinal herbs are important sources for pharmaceutical manufacturing.
Recipes for the treatment of common ailments such as diarrhoea, constipation, hypertension, low sperm count, dysentery and weak penile erection, piles, coated tongue, menstrual disorders, bronchial asthma, leucorrhoea and fevers are given by the traditional medicine practitioners very effectively.
Over the past two decades, there has been a tremendous increase in the use of herbal medicine however, there is still a significant lack of research data in this field. Therefore since 1999, WHO has published three volumes of the WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants.
Importance of some herbs with their medicinal values
As our lifestyle is now getting techno-savvy, we are moving away from nature. While we cannot escape from nature because we are part of nature. As herbs are natural products they are free from side effects, they are comparatively safe, eco-friendly and locally available. Traditionally there are lot of herbs used for the ailments related to different seasons. There is a need to promote them to save the human lives.
These herbal products are today are the symbol of safety in contrast to the synthetic drugs, that are regarded as unsafe to human being and environment. Although herbs had been priced for their medicinal, flavouring and aromatic qualities for centuries, the synthetic products of the modern age surpassed their importance, for a while. However, the blind dependence on synthetics is over and people are returning to the naturals with hope of safety and security. It’s time to promote them globally.
Gentle gardening helps patients at some hospitals relax and recover.
Lori Bloomberg, a horticulture therapist for NYU Langone, at its Rusk Rehabilitation Center in Manhattan, with Clovis the bunny. Credit. Daniel Dorsa for The New York Times
On a recent chilly Wednesday, Lori Bloomberg, a horticultural therapist with NYU Langone ’s Rusk Rehabilitation center in Manhattan, pushed a cart filled with bright green foliage down the hospital’s hallways, past a row of wheelchairs and into the room of two patients, who were sitting propped up in their beds.
Today’s activity: arranging bamboo stalks in a vase. “How often do these get watered?” asked Rita Belfiore, one of the patients and a former paralegal from Brooklyn, who was recovering from hip replacement surgery.
“It’s not like watering a plant. It’s a little less intensive,” Ms. Bloomberg said. “These things drink pretty slowly.”
Ms. Belfiore and her roommate , Carol — a food broker from Massapequa, N.Y., who was recovering from spinal surgery, and who declined to give her last name — carefully wrapped rubber bands around their bamboo clusters, grazing the light brown roots that puffed out of each stalk. They filled glass vases with tiny red stones, then added water and the plants.
The activity took on a hypnotic quality. It was, in a word, relaxing.
There’s nothing more happily out of place in a hospital than something green and delicate and alive. And in a setting where patients routinely feel poked and prodded, isolated and immobile, the act of nurturing a plant can be a transportive part of the recovery process.
Horticultural therapy embraces the basics, using nature and gardening-like activities, facilitated by a trained therapist, to help patients feel better. It’s often used in hospitals, but horticultural therapists also work in addiction recovery centers, prisons and wilderness therapy programs for teenagers.
At NYU Langone, horticultural therapy can involve propagating plants, arranging flowers, plus lotion making and other vaguely natural activities. The department also retains two very large, placid rabbits, Clovis and Lily, who pay visits to patients not inclined toward potting and pruning.
“People can sometimes be a little resistant when you show up with dirt in a hospital,” said Gwenn Fried, the manager of NYU Langone’s horticultural therapy services department. “And then they’ll participate once, and they’re calling: ‘Can I have it tomorrow?’”
Working with plants can be a modest physical challenge — Carol, 63, said it helps with her fine motor skills — but at NYU Langone, it’s often employed to promote a sense of mindfulness, and to distract or motivate patients during a tough physical therapy session.
Some benefits are more clear-cut than others. The American Horticultural Therapy Association’s formal contention that “quality of life is related to the relationship between people and plants” — reminiscent of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s view that there exists an “occult relation between man and vegetable” — suggests that horticultural therapy may facilitate a deeper kind of interspecies connection, one that would probably benefit us all.
There isn’t an enormous body of reliable research to back that up. But gardening is known to reduce stress and improve moods, and some studies have demonstrated the potential of horticultural therapy for elevated well-being.
“One patient specifically said to me, ‘The best thing about horticultural therapy is that I’m no longer the subject,’” Ms. Fried said. Often patients are struggling with uncontrollable circumstances, and working with plants is “a gentle way of trying to process that,” said Leigh Anne Starling, president of the American Horticultural Therapy Association.
“It totally decompresses me,” Carol said quietly, tearing up. “It’s calming, and everything else is stressful.” She believes her horticultural therapy sessions in the hospital have “absolutely” sped up the recovery process — and, as a bonus, working with plants has brought her closer to her husband, whose gardening interests she now shares.
“When we first started dating, I would say ‘I’m allergic to dirt.’ And he believed me! For years!” she said, hooting in laughter.
The American Horticultural Therapy Association was founded in 1973, but the nonprofit credits Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, with the first modern Western documentation of the curative benefits of “digging in a garden.” (The concept of nature as a healing agent certainly predates him. Enclosed gardens, in particular, were used in a hospital context at least as far back as the Middle Ages.)
Horticulture therapy as it’s known today in the United States took root (so to speak) following the first World War. It was used as a treatment for veterans suffering from PTSD and was later applied to a wider variety of purposes, including reforming “delinquent girls” in the 1960s. In 1959, Rusk Rehabilitation — then the Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine — added its first greenhouse, and their horticultural therapy program has been running steadily ever since.