(NaturalNews) You visit someone who is in the hospital following an operation or a sick friend confined to bed at home and you bring along a gift of colorful flowers or a lovely potted plant. That may sound like simply a thoughtful gesture to spread some cheer. But, it turns out, your gift of greenery may actually have a therapeutic effect that can help people recover physically from illness -- even serious surgery.
That`s the conclusion of a recent study by Seong-Hyun Park and Richard H. Mattson, researchers from the Department of Horticulture, Recreation and Forestry at Kansas State University. Using a host of medical and psychological measurements, the scientists found strong evidence that contact with plants is directly beneficial to a hospital patient`s health.
The research, published in the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) journal HortTechnology, was conducted on 90 patients recovering from appendectomies who were randomly assigned to hospital rooms with or without plants during their recovery periods after surgery. The scientists collected data on the length of hospitalization, administration of drugs for postoperative pain control, vital signs, ratings of pain intensity, distress, fatigue and anxiety, and how satisfied patients were with their rooms. The results showed the surgery patients who had plants in their rooms needed significantly less pain medication, had lower blood pressure and heart rate and reported less pain, anxiety, and fatigue. These non-drug ways plants can improve recovery is good news for patients, doctors, and insurers alike because plants are cost effective and provide medical benefits with no side effects.
The patients with plants in their rooms also expressed better overall satisfaction with their recovery rooms than the patients in the control group who had no plants in their rooms. In fact, 93 percent of patients with plants in their rooms reported that the plants were the most positive qualities of their rooms.
The researchers also suggest that potted plants are more beneficial than cut flowers. That`s because the plants last longer and, in addition, nurses reported that as patients recovered, they began to interact with the plants, actively watering, pruning, and moving their plants for a better view or light. There`s another reason plants could boost recovery: several past studies have shown indoor plants can improve indoor air quality by increasing humidity and reducing the quantity of mold spores and airborne germs.
Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA’s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic’s "Men’s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.