Do plants make us healthier?

In a city full of concrete, its easy to understand how disconnected to the earth humanity has become. I believe plants are the connection between earth and man. I’m not the only one to have this belief. After all, when we sit in a room full of plants or take some time to be in nature, we usually walk away feeling reenergized and more healthy. It is this premise that has led to Forest Bathing. Forest Bathing is taking time to be in nature. It helps us to envelop all our senses. The smell of the forests and plants, the sounds of the wind through the leaves, the birds and life around us, the sights of life in all forms, the feel of life touching us as we brush by trees and the freshly oxygenated air. Everyone feels better after a day in the woods, both mentally and physically. The question is, is it real or in our heads?

According to physician Qing Li, chairman of the Japanese Society for Forest Medicine, Scientific research has shown that plants really do heal us. Antimicrobial essential oils (phytoncides), the very chemicals that protect trees, are extremely beneficial to humans. These essential oils elevate moods, improve immune systems, cure insomnia, heighten our senses and make us sharper, and more creative, reduce stress and blood pressure and may even help the cancer victim.

Records have shown where hospital patients who had window views of trees or green space recover quicker than those who had no plants around them to look at. If you’ve been in a hospital lately, you will see more and more hospitals incorporating living plants and green spaces. The question is why? The theory is that because we all come from nature and that being back in it or even observing it, bring us all a sense of hope. The connection between man and plant is real, so much so that scientists in Japan have invested millions of dollars studying it. They have recorded vital signs of people prior to spending time in the forest, then again upon leaving. All subjects showed improved health after a weekend in the woods. Japan has now 62 designated Therapeutic Forests.

I observe this on a daily basis when people come into my shop. The majority of people who enter into the plant store, without even thinking about it, reach out and touch most of the plants within their reach. I don’t think anyone ever leaves more stressed out than when they walked in.

Its not always possible for all of us to get out and enjoy nature as much as we would like to, but you can have plants in your home and work space. The benefits are unquestionable. Make this year your healthy one, and surround yourself with plants!