16 indoor plants to help improve your health and wellbeing

We all know that having more plants in our diets is good for us. But did you know that just having plants around us makes life better?

Researchers have found that indoor plants can have a positive impact on our health. As well as giving us something pleasing to look at, they can help us breathe easier, be more productive, ease stress levels and even reduce pain.

We had a backyard when I was very little, but plants have always been in our house. Usually big dangly spider plants that took over! Moving around meant I haven’t been able to have indoor plants of my own – I had to give away my beloved peace lily when we moved to Madrid – but now I have my own place, plants are high on my shopping list.

In the past, I’ve always gone with what looks pretty. But if plants can play such an important role in our wellbeing, perhaps I should start thinking a little more – after all, there’s more to life than just a pretty face, right?

So, thanks to online florist Serenata Flowers, I’ve been finding out the top plants to improve our health, happiness and general wellbeing.

Plants to reduce anxiety

More and more of us are suffering from anxiety as the stresses and strains of everyday life grow. It’s also one of the biggest health issues menopausal women tell me about.

Filling your home with the right plants is an easy way to improve your mood and help reduce anxiety. Research has shown that lavender in particular has powerful stress-relieving qualities, helping slow down a panicky heart rate and helping lowers blood pressure. There’s a reason why it’s in all those scents and air-fresheners! Snake plant – aka the delightfully named mother-in-law’s tongue – is also believed to reduce anxiety, improve respiratory problems and prevent headaches. It’s Nasa approved, too, and was mentioned in its clean air survey!

Plants to help you sleep

Whether it’s because of restless legs syndrome, hot flushes, menopausal anxiety or simply your partner’s snoring, not getting enough sleep can have a huge impact on your life. It can affect our health, work abilities and even our social lives (I’m not the only one who sighs with joy when she’s tucked up in bed at 9pm on a Friday, am I?)

A beautiful aloe vera plant beside your bed could help you see the night through, however. It is one of the few plants that produces oxygen at night and this can help combat insomnia and improve the quality of your sleep.

I’m also pleased to hear that jasmine is a good one as I love it. Jasmine is believed to reduce anxiety levels which in turn will help you drift off to sleep, while the gentle scent will keep you in a deep sleep throughout the night.

Plants to increase productivity

Having plants in the office has been found to increase worker productivity by 15%. A touch of greenery is found to reduce stress and fatigue and can also aid your memory (a boon for those of us suffering from menopause fog). Plus they also regulate humidity and reduce carbon dioxide to help you energy levels stay high.

As well as snake plant, bamboo palm can combat indoor air pollution, leaving you feeling fresher and breathing easier.

You could also opt for golden pothos, which removes air toxins and also absorbs unpleasant smells – we all know a few of them in the office! (Just joking, boss!)

Plants that clean the air

I knew there was a reason I loved my peace lily so much! It is incredibly effective at purifying the air we breathe (and was also praised by Nasa). It’s thought that they improve air quality by as much as 60 per cent. And they’re pretty, too. I send them to friends in place of funeral flowers. There’s something about them that’s so relaxing and brings a real sense of peace – hence the name!

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Rubber plants are on the list, too. They’re particularly good at getting rid of the likes of formaldehyde and become more efficient at cleaning the air the longer they live – so treat them with some TLC.

Plants to restore your hair colour

I talked about the power of plants to colour hair with hairdresser Gennaro Dell'Aquila. But you can use them at home, too.

If you’re turning grey and aren’t happy with it, Sage could be the answer. Use it in a paste or as an ointment and it can help restore colour. Or you could try black tea as a rinse if you have darker hair that has started to fade. Simply pop the kettle on and brew up a strong batch – but let it cool first, eh!

Plants to relieve an upset stomach

This is an easy one – it has to be mint. But not the sort you put on your lamb dinner. Catnip (or Catmint) has long been used to help stomach upsets such as indigestion, colic and wind (an unknown menopause symptom).

If you want to be more exotic, Korean mint has long been used in Chinese medicine to help nausea vomiting and bloating.

Make sure you follow all instructions if you use these, mind, and take care if you have certain medical conditions. If in doubt, always check with your doctor.

Plants to fight infection

Before the age of pharmacies, wise women would concoct potions to help the sick and injured. Red clover has long been used in teas and ointments to treat coughs, colds and skin irritations. Meanwhile, Native Americans used Navajo tea to help relieve urine infections.

Same cautions as before, remember! Always make sure herbal remedies are safe for you to take.

Plants to repel insects

Creepy-crawlies can ruin the summer, but don’t reach for the spray. Mint smells better and won’t damage the environment, while if you put basil around your doors and windows, it will stop bugs from coming in, too. (Plus basil’s scent has also been shown to help ease stress, so win-win).

With thanks to Serenata Flowers

What pot plants do you have in your home? Leave me a comment below and let me know.

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Elizabeth Carr-Ellis