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Why Plants and Greenery are Essential for Healing Environments

Written by Portland Clinic of Natural Health on December 25, 2023

The role of plants and greenery in creating healing environments extends far beyond their visual appeal. Scientific research consistently supports the idea that the presence of plants in healthcare settings can have profound effects on patient health and well-being.

Physiological Benefits: Plants contribute to improved air quality by removing harmful toxins and releasing oxygen, leading to a healthier environment. This aspect is crucial in healthcare settings where clean air is paramount for patient recovery. Furthermore, studies have demonstrated that the presence of plants can lead to reduced stress levels, lower blood pressure, and decreased heart rate among patients.

Psychological Impact: The psychological benefits of being in a natural, green environment are significant. Exposure to plants and greenery has been linked with reduced anxiety, improved mood, and an overall increase in feelings of well-being. This phenomenon, known as biophilia, suggests that humans have an innate need to connect with nature.

Enhanced Recovery: The therapeutic effect of plants in healthcare environments isn’t just theoretical. Research has shown that patients with views of nature from their hospital rooms often recover faster and require less pain medication. The calming effect of plants can also reduce the length of hospital stays.

Stress Reduction: The stress-reducing properties of plants are particularly beneficial in high-stress environments like hospitals. They create a more tranquil and restorative environment, essential for both patients and healthcare workers. This reduction in stress can contribute to better patient outcomes and a more positive working environment for staff.

Aesthetic Value and Patient Experience: Beyond their health benefits, plants add aesthetic value to healthcare settings, making them more inviting and less clinical. This can significantly improve the overall patient experience, making hospitals and clinics feel more homely and less intimidating.

The integration of plants and greenery into healthcare environments is not just a matter of decoration but a strategic approach to enhance healing and recovery. Their ability to purify air, reduce stress, and create a calming ambiance makes them an indispensable element in the design of healthcare facilities.

Resources:

  1. Gu J, Liu H, Lu H. Can Even a Small Amount of Greenery Be Helpful in Reducing Stress? A Systematic Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Aug 9;19(16):9778. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19169778. PMID: 36011414; PMCID: PMC9408062.
  2. Park SH, Mattson RH. Ornamental indoor plants in hospital rooms enhanced health outcomes of patients recovering from surgery. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Sep;15(9):975-80. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0075. PMID: 19715461.
  3. van Iperen ID, Maas J, Spronk PE. Greenery and outdoor facilities to improve the wellbeing of critically ill patients, their families and caregivers: things to consider. Intensive Care Med. 2023 Oct;49(10):1229-1231. doi: 10.1007/s00134-023-07185-7. Epub 2023 Aug 23. PMID: 37610484; PMCID: PMC10556109.
  4. Raanaas RK, Patil G, Alve G. Patients' recovery experiences of indoor plants and viewsof nature in a rehabilitation center. Work. 2015;53(1):45-55. doi: 10.3233/WOR-152214. PMID: 26684703.
  5. Zhang X, Zhang Y, Zhai J. Home Garden With Eco-Healing Functions Benefiting Mental Health and Biodiversity During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Scoping Review. Front Public Health. 2021 Nov 11;9:740187. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.740187. PMID: 34869154; PMCID: PMC8632623.

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