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Plants speed post-surgery recovery

Therapeutic growth — Study shows potted plants or flowers boost post-operative healing. © iStockphoto

Therapeutic growth — Study shows potted plants or flowers boost post-operative healing. © iStockphoto

A recently released university study affirms what we already seem to know intuitively and that is that plants are good for us.

In fact, people recovering from surgery in hospital rooms with plants felt better, reported less pain and registered lower blood pressure and heart rate, according to the October 2008 issue of HortTechnology, a journal published by the American Society for Horticultural Science .

Ninety appendectomy patients comprised the study conducted by Seong-Hyun Park and Richard H. Mattson, professors in the Department of Horticulture, Forestry and Recreation Resources at Kansas State University.

For recovery, the patients were assigned randomly to rooms with and without plants. The researchers collected various medical and psychological measurements, including pain medicines used, vital signs, and ratings of pain intensity, distress, anxiety and fatigue. The patients also completed a room satisfaction questionnaire.

“Patients with plants in their rooms had significantly fewer intakes of pain medication, more positive physiological responses, less pain, anxiety and fatigue,” the researchers said. “An interesting note to this study – the majority of patients who had plants in their rooms reported that the plants were the most positive qualities of their rooms (93 percent), whereas patients without plants in their rooms said that watching television was the most favorable aspect of their rooms (91 percent).”

As patients began to feel better, they began to interact with the plants by watering and grooming them or moving them to better light.

We already know that house plants improve the indoor air quality and this new research takes the healing power of plants a step farther.

“This nonpharmacological approach to recovery is good news for patients, doctors and insurers alike, in terms of cost effectiveness and medical benefits,” the professors wrote. “The study provides strong evidence that contact with plants is directly beneficial to patients’ health (when) recovering from painful surgery.”

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