Can Flower Bouquets Actually Make You Healthier?
Experts explain the real effects of flowers on your mind and body.
Roses are red. Violets are blue. If you buy a bouquet, will it cure ailments, too?
Some flower companies attempt to attract new customers by touting the health benefits of bouquets (“They will quell your colds!” “The relaxation will be instant!”). It’s natural to wonder: Is a flower bouquet a nice décor treat or a secret ingredient for good health? Three experts — a doctor, a design pscyhologist, and an interior designer — weigh in on whether flowers actually have a positive effect on your health, mood, and overall wellness.
WHAT A DOCTOR SAYS: It depends on the flower.
“Some plants can really help us, while others can be a trigger for patients with lung disease such as asthma,” says Raj Dasgupta, MD, a pulmonary sleep doctor and professor at the Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California.
Most plants, however, will help you breathe better, says Dr. Dasgupta. (It’s probably best to talk to your doctor about potential triggers or allergens if you do have any lung conditions, though.) On a cellular level, plants give the human body the oxygen it needs to create food, while humans exhale carbon dioxide—grub for plants. In case you’re rusty on 7th grade science, that healthy relationship is called symbiosis.
And it doesn’t take much, according to Dr. Dasgupta.
“Little things can go a long way,” he says. “Research has found that patients who have flowers and plants in their hospital rooms take less pain medication and have less anxiety.”
Plants can also reintroduce humidity into the air by releasing water, helping lubricate the nasal passages and the back of the throat.
“Lack of humidity creates an environment in your body that breeds infections,” says Dr. Dasgupta. “That’s why in the dry wintertime you see so many people getting the cold and flu. Water released naturally by plants will help with sore throats, dry skin, and heavy dry cough.”
WHAT A PSYCHOLOGIST SAYS: Bouquets can help you reach your goals.
“We have notions of time, and sometimes they can become distorted, especially if you live in a stable environment where seasons don’t change,” says Dak Kopec, PhD, a design and environmental psychologist. “Flowers help people measure time and track goals, whether they be fitness goals or career goals, because different flowers are in season at different times and act as a positive symbol of the passage of time.”
On a more primal level, flowers appeal to our two most important senses: sight and smell.
“Smell is one of the most primal of our senses, and sight is our primary sensation,” says Kopec. “Combining our primary sensation with our primal sensation evokes strong feelings, happiness, and brings about a lot of positive moods.”
While houseplants provide a constant presence of green that can lower stress levels, bouquets of flowers add a little extra boost of happiness, says Kopec.
“Green spaces will always make you feel less stress in the environment,” says Kopec. “But bouquets of flowers are associated with happy events, happy thoughts, and happy feelings. Bouquets and cut flowers have a stronger meaning attached to them and are going to promote stronger emotions.”
The best places for a bouquet of flowers? Opt for the kitchen and bathroom, the rooms with the most traffic in the house. Just don’t let them wither: Kopec says this can subconsciously signal you’ve let time escape you (not ideal for a chipper, motivated mood).
WHAT A DESIGNER SAYS: Foliage is an essential part of design that promotes healthy living.
For Sarah Barnard, LEED AP, an interior designer in Los Angeles, plants and flowers are a crucial part of room design.
“We definitely try to incorporate live plants into the design strategy from the very start of a project,” says Barnard. “Cut flowers can provide that visual, emotional, and mental connection with nature, which we all need for our mental health and happiness.”
In the design world, this is a concept called biophilic design—or design that reflects the human desire to connect with nature or other living organisms.
“It’s why people feel so happy when they look out the window and see green, the sea, or birds flying,” says Barnard. “When we think about an interior environment that’s pleasing, relaxing, stress-relieving, and promoting health and wellness, we’re really thinking about environments that are emulating nature.”
Barnard’s advice: Strategically place a bouquet where you’ll see it when you open your eyes in the morning. “If the first thing you see every morning is natural and beautiful, rather than, say, a turned-off television screen, it’s going to give you a more positive start to your day.”
Original post from Elle Decor
Publication date: May-16-2016