We all know that having fresh flowers or greenery in your home, office, or near your hospital bed can be great for stress-relief. A study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine journal demonstrated such results when gifting vases with flowers to female college students (1). What’s new about flowers’ positive effects on people, however, is that they may have a more direct physical effect, such as reducing pain levels.
Flowers Reduce Pain
A new study by the American Society for Horticultural Science has made the discovery that the therapeutic influence of plants on surgical patients is so significant that they tend to report lower pain levels (2).
The study used data from 90 appendectomy patients who were split into rooms, some with several plants in them, others – with no plants at all. The results were indisputable – the patients with extra foliage around them reported not only that they were calmer and more positive but that they experienced less post-operative pain as well.
Patients with flowers in their rooms also had lower blood pressure, slower heart rates, reduced anxiety and fatigue, and higher satisfaction levels, in addition to the lower pain levels.
The cause of this phenomenon is believed to be mainly psychosomatic (3) – flowers make people feel better and when people feel better they tend to subconsciously ignore unpleasant physical perceptions. This doesn’t diminish the positive effect the flowers had – psychosomatic or not, the patients with flowers near them experienced less pain.
It should also be pointed out that the flowers were given around randomly, meaning that whether the patient liked flowers or not wasn’t taken into consideration. In other words, even people who may not typically enjoy having greenery around them still reported lower pain levels and reduced stress at the end of the experiment.