Plants that help with stress and anxiety

PLANTS THAT HELP WITH STRESS AND ANXIETY

girlfriends spending time on riverside in park

These are the plants I have in my house for helping with mood and stress

With people spending more time indoors these days, the need to make your home environment comfortable and welcoming hasn’t been more important.

Its that time of the year in England where the sun usually goes on vacation for months. A lot of people suffer from what is known as seasonal depression, due to the lack of feel-good energy from the sun

So today we are going to look at some of the plants that are recommended, by the NASA study that actually helps with our mood and general mental well being.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m surrounded by plants and greenery I just feel good. So I love plants, I have indoor, outdoor plants, basically, everywhere you look on my property, there are plants. Sometimes, my husband gets confused has to whether I got married to my plants or him.

Most of my outdoor plants have shed their leaves. At the moment outside just looks barren and blank, I love to have my plants indoor because I still can see green leaves throughout the year.

So these are some the plants that have been recommended by the NASA Study.

SNAKE PLANT

One of the famous or more recognizable plants is the snake plant, otherwise known as the mother in law tongue. You’re probably wondering how could a plant with a name like mother in law tongue be good for you?

If you’re one of those persons who are not very careful with plants or you don’t have time to keep and maintain them. These plants don’t require a lot of care, you can forget about them totally ignore them for months, go back and they will still be alive. My husband said, “this plant sounds like his ideal wife”.

In Jamaica, these plants grow wild and like the Aloe Vera, they don’t require a lot of water or nutrients. A pretty quick survey online of all the different publication regarding this plant and pretty much all of them come to the same conclusion.

That this plant is excellent at helping with reducing bad toxins from the air in a room. And obviously, the more fresh air you have especially at night when sleeping the better. Snake plant is in all the bedroom in my house and I would recommend that as a good idea for readers.

ALOE VERA

Aloe Vera is a herbaceous perennial plant and is a part of the Liliaceae family. Well known, for its many medicinal uses. Several studies have shown that the plant is effective in treating burn wounds, genital herpes, and seborrheic dermatitis.

According to the International Aloe Science Council, this plant has been in use for over 4000 years, treating different types of human ailments.

From a nutritional standpoint, the gel extracted from the plant has over 75 nutrients, 200 active compounds including 20 minerals, 18 amino acids and 12 vitamins.

With this much nutrients, your body has a much better opportunity to defend itself against infection and illness. Because a lot of different healthy nutrients can make their way into the bloodstream.

Oxidative Stress

According to the online journal, Health Line. “Oxidative Stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body” When there are too many free radicals built up in your body this can cause diabetes, hardening of the blood vessels and high blood pressure.

In a paper by Chief Science Officer Ken Jones, from the ALOECORP INC. Entitled Aloe Vera in The Management of Oxidative Stress, he said that Aloe Vera has been shown to help reduce oxidative stress. By normalising blood glucose levels, restoration of cellular redox balance. And also the antioxidants in Aloe Vera “contribute to the maintenance of a healthy oxidative redox balance”.

Growing and Using Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera plants are extremely easy to grow, and they will thrive in pretty much any indoor or outdoor garden.

Its one of those plants that you shouldn’t water too often, and it is best to wait until the soil it is planted in has completely dried out, before watering it again.

They preferred to be planted in soil or compost that allows water to flow through the soil rather than stagnate in the plant pot. So choose a gritty, free-draining type of soil/compost.

How to use the plant

Clinical studies on both animals and plants have shown that eating or drinking Aloe Vera pulp. Can reduce blood glucose levels and plasma triglycerides.

It also helps with most of the secondary symptoms that are, associated with diabetes and oxidative stress.

In Jamaica, we cut a small piece of the sap and rub or wrap it around wounds when children get cuts and bruises. Women use it along with shampoo to wash and nourish their hair.”

The plant gives off a bitter yellow gel called Aloe Latex, which contains a substance called Aloin. This is quite a strong laxative which can lead to stomach cramps or irritation and diarrhoea if eaten.

The main guideline, however with Aloin is that it should not be taken in large quantities. However, if taken in small proportions it can be used as a laxative.

Aloe Vera Drink

Aloe Vera drink has been quite popular in recent years and can be found in most supermarkets and health food stores.

You can also purchase a leaf or cut one of the leaves from a plant you are already growing, remove the clear sap, wash and dry it well, then blend it into some orange juice or fruit juice of your choice to top up your body’s essential nutrients.

Aloe Vera for Healthy Hair

I normally remove the sap crush it in a cup, and make a paste which I then rub into my hair. I leave it in for about 30 minutes, covering it with a shower cap to allow it to steam. Over the years this has helped my hair stay healthy and strong.

The Rubber Plant (Ficus Elastica)

The Rubber Plant or Ficus Elastica is a very resilient plant which can grow and thrive in very harsh environmental conditions. Resisting, extreme temperatures and limited water supply. A friend of mine gave me the one you see in the background over ten years ago.

It has survived with very little maintenance from me. It is a species belonging to the Moraceae family, which is often referred to has the mulberry family. Believe it or not but the rubber plant falls within the same family group as breadfruit, jack fruit, mulberry and fig tree.

The plant gets its name from the white milky latex which comes from the bark. Slits are made in the bark along which the latex is drained and runs into a cup which is harvested and made into rubber. After 6 hours the substance hardens to start the process of forming rubber.

Rubber Plant Care

The Rubber Plant has got a sense of presence about it. When you put it in a living for instance it can almost look like a work of art. And can really add to the ambience of the environment.

Every once in a while I will wipe the leaves with a clean piece of cloth and some water to open up the pores of the plant once more. Maybe, once or twice a fortnight I will give it a little water, but that’s pretty much it. Some people online say lots of sunlight is best for this plant, but that’s an ideal scenario. It will survive in a room even if it doesn’t get all-year-round sunlight.

Devils Ivy (Pathos Plant)

The Devil’s Ivy is another low maintenance house plant. Its botanical name is Epipremnum aureum . It has a very dominant and commanding presence when grown indoors so it makes an excellent decorative plant.

Devil’s Ivy Careand use

Devi’s Ivy care is easy, I’ve kept this one just by my door and it has thrived. It has withstood extreme heat and cold. The fact that it’s by my door means that as soon as the door is opened it gets hit by very cold winter winds and frost.

When I close the door it is then subjected to the heat in the house. I’ve had it for about 5 years and have positioned it all over my house at different locations in the house, depending on wherever is convenient for me. It is very faithful I don’t think I’ve lost a leaf.

Because I have so many plants It gets neglected a lot, but I do try to keep it well-watered, I’ve squashed it into a ball to save space, at other times I’ve stretched out the branches so the leaves spread out to create an ornamental effect in my living room.

Benefits of Devils Ivy

My little survey of a few of the publications online seem to come to the same conclusion, that the plant is a great air purifier, it is known to be quite effective at cleansing pollutants, such as benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene and formaldehyde from the atmosphere in a room.

English Lavender(lavandula angustifolia)

People normally leave these plants outside in winter, but for some reason, mine died when I left it out in the cold. So I replaced it with this one and kept it in the polytunnel and that seems to have prevented it from dying.

Most online publications I’ve looked at, say the plant is of Mediterranean origin. Lavender plants are perennial members of the mint family. It is grown in England for use in potpourri. The plant is also known for its use as a fragrance due to its amazingly beautiful smell and has a decorative plant due to its pretty purple flowers.

Uses and benefits of the Lavender Plant

Although the debate it out, regarding the effectiveness of Lavender as a therapeutic and herbal substance. I recently looked at a paper on the medical benefits of lavender, the paper was entitled “Lavender and the Nervous System” by an Authors, Pier Hossein Koulivand, Maryam Khaleghi Ghadiri, and Ali Gorji. They did a survey on current experimental and clinical findings on the impact of lavender on the nervous system. They basically concluded that sufficient scientific research is not available to justify the use of Lavender as a plant fit for medicinal use.

However, there is evidence pointing to the fact that Lavender oil has been effective in treating anxiety and depression. Also, they came across findings which suggest that Lavender can be used to treat insomnia and aid with relaxation and sleep. Moreover, they found that the plant was effective in lowering blood pressure, the heart and respiratory rate.

In my house, I have used the plant to bring a nice smell to the house and also has a decorative plant piece. Something about the look and smell of this plant really lifts my mood on a dreary winter day. The oil makes a great massage basing agent and the smell is really relaxing

Basil

I don’t really have much experience with the basil plant growing it outdoor. Last year I kept one in the unheated polytunnel outside and it didn’t survive so this year I am keeping it indoors. I don’t think it favours our colder British climate so if you are going to give it a go maybe it would be best to start off indoors.

Health benefits of Basil and its uses

The scientific name for basil is Ocimum basilicum, most online documents state that it is native to Southern Asia and the islands of the South Pacific. As I am Jamaica I don’t really use it in a lot of dishes since it is not a plant that people from that part of the Caribbean tend to cook with. It’s more popular in Italian, Mediterranean and Thai dishes.

I’ve increased my use of the plant in recent years in my cooking recipes, my husband uses it to make a tea concoction also. We tend to use it more in the winter months because we feel that the less sunlight we are getting during these months, means we should try and increase our nutritional intake to kind of rebalance the lack of vitamin D we are being denied during the British winter. So for that reason, basil and all other types of herbs are a great source of additional nutrition.

Basil contain lots of essential oils rich in phenolic compounds (Simon et al. 1990; Phippen and Simon 2000) it also has polyphenols such as flavonoids and anthocyanins (Phippen and Simon 1998).

Growing Basil

Growing Basil couldn’t be easier, you really don’t have any excuse, it can grow from seed to full plant in three to four weeks. For that reason, it makes an excellent choice for beginner gardeners who are looking for a quick motivational boost, from all the effort they might be putting into gardening for the first time. I plant it on my window sill, in my kitchen and water it regularly, the plant likes to keep moist. Whenever I see fresh shoots appearing I pick the leaves on top of the fresh shoots the keep the plant alive.

Croton Plant

If you are someone looking for a plant to brighten and bring some life and energy to a room, look no further. The leaf colour varies from green, yellow, pink and red to name a few.

The plant is originally from Malaysia and can be found throughout the Pacific and Northern Australia all the way down to India and Sri Lanka. It is grown primarily as an ornamental garden or indoor decorative shrub here in the UK. There are over 15 species of Croton plant, but only the Codiaeum variegatum is the more popular.

Growing Croton Plant

Although Croton is quite a versatile plant, there are certain conditions it rather favours. Medium fertile red lateritic soil if possible. It prefers well-drained soil with a pH ranging from 6.0-8.0. But it can also thrive where the soil pH is 6.5-7. If the soil is moderately alkaline or acid it won’t affect the plant’s ability to grow, as long you feed it with rich organic matter.

If you are growing it outdoors, its best to position it where it can get lots of sunlight. Preferably 6-8 hours of sun, during the summer. It can produce beautiful foliage even in low light, but it produces the most beautiful leaves when it is exposed to a good amount of sunlight.

But its natural comfort zone is warm and humid with lots of water. As for temperature, during the winter I would say don’t keep it anywhere, in which the temperature will fall below 16 degrees celsius.

Using Croton Plant

There is quite a lot of information on the internet about this plants and its uses. See for example Antonio Salatino et al 2007, an article entitled Traditional Uses, Chemistry and Pharmacology of Croton Species. In which they state that the leaf extracts have purgative and sedative, antifungal and anti-cancerous activities.

I also saw another site called Health Benefits Times where it stated that the oil from the plant can be used to treat constipation, internal intestinal parasites, treatment of rheumatism, bronchitis and glandular swelling. The site cautioned that the oil should be taken in very small proportion. It said that oil can cause a variety of side effects.

I have never used it for therapeutic purposes before. It made the NASA Clean Air Study’s list, of plants that are great for air purification and detoxing a room of harmful chemicals.

“I’ve been getting out into nature and walking, either on my own or with dogs, to manage my bipolar disorder for years. It helps to keep me calm and physically healthy, and I love taking the time to be mindful of all the beautiful green spaces around me, even when living in a city. Watching the birds and squirrels always has a calming effect and takes me out of my own head.” MINDS

So these are some of the main plants I have on my list, I had a look at the MINDS website which is the UK’s main charity dedicated to people with mental health.

And I found a tonne of resources showing evidence of the link between mental health and being around plants and threes.

It improves your mood, reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. With the reduction in travel limiting our ability to go on holidays, taking care of or having plants around the house is a good way to take time out and feel more relaxed.

Nurturing something else into life can help your well being, physical health and self esteem.

According to MINDS, there are types of therapy such as ecotherapy (which is a formal treatment involving spending time in nature) has shown to benefit people with mild to moderate depression.

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