What’s the Secret to a Healthy Home? It May Be Plants

Proactive Health


By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder


Summer Rayne Oakes, a thirty-something model and environmental activist, reportedly kept 670 plants growing in her 1,200-square-foot apartment in Brooklyn, according to this 2017 NBC TODAY report.

“I feel like one of the best ways to warm up a home is get another living, breathing entity in there. For me, it wasn't another roommate but a plant," Oakes said.

This is obviously an extreme example, but take note of this self-proclaimed “crazy plant lady.”

Many credible sources say that living with plants helps purify the air in your home. NASA actually conducted a whole study surrounding the impact that plants can have on the air around us.

Plants are notoriously adept at absorbing gases through pores on the surface of their leaves. It's this skill that facilitates photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert light energy and carbon dioxide into chemical energy to fuel growth,” reports Live Science.

Generally, houseplants may improve the air quality inside your home by  taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. This results in a more oxygen-rich environment in your home especially when the plants are exposed to appropriate light conditions.

“But scientists studying the air-purification capacities of indoor plants have found that plants can absorb many other gases in addition to carbon dioxide, including a long list of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).”

Some of these VOCs include benzene (which is found in some plastics, fabrics, pesticides and cigarette smoke) and formaldehyde (found in some cosmetics, dish detergent, fabric softener and carpet cleaner).

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), short-term exposure to VOCs may cause:

  • Irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Visual disorders
  • Memory problems

And long-term exposure may cause:

  • Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system
  • Cancer
  • Asthma

Young children and elderly people may be more affected by the potentially harmful effects of VOCs.

Some great plants you can include throughout your home include jasmine, lavender, snake plant and the spider plant. The NASA study showed that spider plants removed around 90 percent of the potentially cancer-causing chemical formaldehyde from the air. And keep in mind, the better air quality you have in your home the better quality sleep you will enjoy.

Additional Reasons to Have a Plant-Friendly Home?

  • Plants may improve concentration and productivity. One study suggested having plants in the room to increase productivity by 15 percent. Other than for the purpose of aesthetics, this may be why the office you work in contains a lot of plants. Why not put plants in your home office or where your kids do their homework?
  • Plants may reduce stress and boost your mood. It’s amazing what surrounding yourself with a bit of greenery can do. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that plants can put you in a better mood “through suppression of sympathetic nervous system activity and diastolic blood pressure and promotion of comfortable, soothed, and natural feelings.” The NIH also says that 85 percent of a person’s daily life is spent indoors! We should all try to spend more time outdoors in nature, however, being around plants indoors is a nice compromise.
  • Plants may help your immune system work more efficiently. If being around plants improves air quality, reduces stress and helps you get better sleep, it makes perfect sense that this would all help ward off viruses and bacteria that may cause a cold or upset stomach. Areca palm is a beautiful plant you can keep indoors and is said to be great for people with sinus issues.
  • Plants may help with skin issues. Have dry skin? Plants create more moisture in the air and may help if you constantly have dry, dehydrated skin. Both Areca palm and Bamboo palm are said to be great for your skin.

Can’t keep plants alive?

If you’re one of those people who just looks at a plant and it seems to die, don’t let this deter you from keeping plenty of plants in your home. All it takes is a little bit of patience and care. Check out the guide 20 Plants That Help Improve Indoor Air Quality (And How to Care for Them). This extensive guide is also a wealth of information on volatile organic compounds and plants that can help improve your indoor air quality. I highly recommend taking the time to read this guide thoroughly, as it also goes into great detail about what plants can be toxic to pets and children. It even gives tips on where in your home you can put these plants and which plants may help remove unpleasant odors.

Don’t forget to eat your plants.

Fruits, veggies and herbs are all plants we should consume on a daily basis in order to get an adequate intake of essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and more.

So surround yourself with plants, get outdoors in nature and eat plants as part of your comprehensive proactive healthcare routine.

Do you keep plants in your home? Which ones? Please join the conversation.


Enjoy your healthy life!


The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.


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