By Peter Yurek, BSc.Phm

As any avid gardener will tell you, plants are therapeutic. Being around them taps into a human phenomenon called biophilia—our innate need to connect with nature. The benefits are undeniable. Research shows that plants help us feel better physically and mentally.

We have a symbiotic relationship with plants. When we breathe, we take in oxygen and release CO2, while plants do the reverse. They also act as natural air purifiers, filtering out contaminants and allergens that can make breathing more difficult for us. In the ‘60s, NASA researchers found that plants absorbed and neutralized even the most poisonous gases like Agent Orange. Later studies demonstrated how indoor plants decrease many pollutants in our homes.

Our indoor flora also helps to soothe and heal us. Researchers in Nova Scotia discovered that gardening helped ease people’s fears associated with health concerns and was a distraction from the side effects of treatment. They noted, “Gardening … may have particularly poignant meaning for people who are faced with serious health crises such as cancer.”

A 2016 study added that people who keep plants (at home and work) feel happier, more positive, and demonstrate sharper focus. In fact, “the larger the plants, the better the mood of the subject.”

Science tells us that the more greenery we keep around us, the better we feel. So, if you could use a touch of calm, some extra focus, or a mood booster, stock up on vegetation and start feeling better. Perhaps a little biophilia is just what the botanist ordered!