Plants Improve Recovery of Patients

Jan 7, 2009 by

Plants Improve Recovery of Patients

When a friend is ill, we sometimes bring plants or flowers while visiting. People also report feeling better after going for a walk in the park. Indeed, nature gives us an array of health benefits, including fresh air, stress reduction and peace of mind.

A recent study at Kansas State University has strongly suggested that contact with plants directly benefits the health of hospital patients.

Led by Seong-Hyun Park and Richard H Mattson, the study used medical and psychological measurements to attempt to assess if therapeutic benefits are derived from plants placed in hospital rooms.

Published in the journal HortTechnology, the study was carried out on 90 patients who had had an appendectomy. Post-operation, the patients were randomly assigned to rooms which had or did not have plants. Information which was collated included length of stay, drug administration for pain control, vital signs, pain intensity, distress, anxiety, fatigue, as well as the level of satisfaction the patients had of the rooms.

It was found that patients who stayed in the rooms with plants had significantly lower intake of pain medication; had more positive physiological responses, for example lower blood pressure as well as heart rate; experienced less pain, fatigue and anxiety; and also displayed better overall satisfaction with their rooms.

Interestingly, of those who had plants in their rooms, a whopping 93% of patients stated that plants were the most positive quality of their hospital rooms. On the other hand, those who did not have plants in their rooms were most likely to report watching television being their favorite aspect (91%).

Another finding of the study was that most benefits were derived from potted plants, as supposed to cut flowers, due to their longer life. Hospital staff reported that as the patients got better, they began to interact with the plants. This included watering the plants, pruning them, and moving them into better positions.

Other studies have shown that indoor plants can improve air quality, increase humidity and reduce the amount of mold spores and airborne germs.

Post-operative stress is associated with more severe pain and slower recovery, and drugs are usually used to deal with such problems. But drugs, of course, come with a whole host of side effects. This non-drug approach to improving recovery is great news, indeed.

Bottom line? If one is ill or staying in a hospital, increase contact with plants for better healing. In fact, anyone can benefit, and even healthy people should be increasing contact time with Mother Nature’s gifts to us.

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