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We all need stress relief, increased health, and better concentration. Plants in your home and workplace can lend a helping hand.

Houseplants represent an integral part of the interior for some people, while others take their love of plants a step further. They see their plants as companions and talk to them. Do you think houseplants are overrated or more trouble than they are worth? You might just change your mind after you find out about the numerous health benefits they offer.

Cleaner Air For Easier Breathing

Most plants absorb carbon dioxide and expel oxygen during the day, while photosynthesis is ongoing. As humans, we do the opposite — we depend on the oxygen in a closed space and release carbon dioxide. When we don't open the windows frequently, a room's air quality can quickly go down. 

Houseplants offer the perfect solution. You offer them what they need — carbon dioxide — and get an oxygen boost in return.

But a bunch of houseplants will give you more than oxygen alone. They will also cleanse the air in your environment. NASA found that a strong plant presence will remove the vast majority of so-called VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from a room. These VOCs are toxins that are emitted from some liquids and solids in the form of gases. You will find them in many carpets, cleaning materials, paints, glues, and office electronics such as printers, and they can pose both short- and long-term health risks. 

Does cleaner air with more oxygen sound good to you? Before you run out to purchase a bunch of random plants, remember that most plants actually emit carbon dioxide at night when photosynthesis is not happening. This makes many plants unsuitable for the bedroom. Exceptions include succulents and orchids. 

Aloe vera, gerber, spider plant, ferns and weeping fig (ficus) are examples of plants that will cleanse the air in your office or living space during the day. You'll need at least one plant per 100 square feet or 30 square meters. And before you ask, you won't be poisoning your plants with those notorious VOCs; plants expel these toxins into the soil in which they are planted. 

Faster Healing And Less Stress

As the largest exporter of ornamental plants in the world, and the second largest exporter of agricultural products in general, the Netherlands is a country that has a vested interest in promoting the popularity of plants. "Working with plants", a study commissioned by the Dutch Product Board for Horticulture, set out to discover how plants impact our health and well-being in the workplace. 

The results were astonishing. Plants in the workplace were found to decrease workers' incidence of disease — including colds, flu, sore throats, headaches and fatigue. The study further revealed that the presence of plants boosts employee productivity. Plants are especially beneficial for workers who suffer from stress. A temporary dip in motivation and productivity might have a simple remedy — a plant. 

The Dutch study recommends that two workers share one plant, that there is a plant per 12 square meters of office space, or that every worker can see a plant while they are working. 

Are you stressed at work? If your office is plant-deficient, take the initiative and bring some plants into your workplace!

A team from Kansas State University went even further, and studied how plants affect the recovery of patients who have undergone an operation. Patients in rooms with plants were found to do much better. They tend to ask for less pain medication, and don't have as much stress and anxiety as patients in rooms without plants.

Is it just in the head? Well, the researchers discovered that patients who had access to plants also had better heat rates and lower blood pressure. To top it all off, they were released from hospital more quickly as well! There is a good reason people tend to bring plants and flowers to hospital patients as gifts, then. 

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