You’ve probably heard – the world’s become obsessed with getting cozy. We’re not reinventing the wheel with plant therapy. It’s been around for centuries – and it’s likely you’ve subconsciously turned to plant therapy in the past.
What is plant therapy? What can it do for you? How can you practice it? Read on to find out.
Plant Therapy – What Is It?
Long before ‘doctor’ was a profession and medication came in little white capsules, civilizations around the world used plants for health.
China had a book featuring 365 medicinal plants in 2500BC.
Dioscorides – the father of pharmacognosy (the study of plants as medicine) was working around the year 77AD.
Even the bible talks about plants with healing properties.
As more people are deterred by the side effects of Western drugs, plant therapy is becoming a popular alternative.
Which brought up the question – if plants can heal us physically, can they heal us mentally?
If you think about it – the idea doesn’t seem so far fetched. Would you rather sit in a sterile, metal laboratory, or in a warm-lit room with palm fronds in the corner and colorful bulbs along the windowsill?
Plant Therapy is basically an increased involvement with horticulture into your daily life to increase happiness and relaxation and to decrease stress and anxiety.
How Do You Define Horticulture?
Which brings us to the next valid question – what is horticulture?
Horticulture is a Latin-derived word. If you’re proficient in Latin (we don’t blame you if you’re not) you’ll know that horticulture stems from ‘garden’ and ‘culture’. It’s the science of growing and caring for plants including how to use plants for food, decoration, and the environment.
Horticulture covers the whole life and processes of a plant – from planting seeds and cultivating a flower or tree, to using these products to enrich our lives.
Now that you know what horticulture is, you can see the similarities between plant therapy and horticultural therapy.
At the crux of things – plant therapy and horticultural therapy are pretty interchangeable phrases.
Nature has been used to effectively help individuals with a mental illness in scientific, documented ways for a long time, even in the Western world. The Father of American Psychiatry (and signer of the Declaration of Independence) Dr. Benjamin Rush, documented the improvements made on individuals with a mental illness when they spent time gardening in the 1800s. Another more recent study details how passive involvement with nature can help veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Horticultural therapy is not a miracle cure to treat mental illness on its own. Rather, it often proves complementary to other forms of treatment and therapy that patients undergo. Many healthcare facilities are building outdoor spaces, or taking patients to cultivate outdoor spaces, to assist with mental health.
We can see the effects of these findings being rolled out into everyday spaces as well. Apartment buildings are incorporating outdoor and green spaces, at the request of dwellers. Cafes and restaurants have plants dotted around – not only to increase how ‘insta-worthy’ space is but also to change how spacefeels. Students who use green spaces on campus report having higher quality of life than students who did not spend time in nature. This finding is prompting university campuses to increase the usability of outdoor spaces.
Relief with Plant Therapy
We’re all on the lookout for ways to bring a bit of relief into the manic pace of daily life. Often, our first port of call when it all becomes too much, or a niggling physical pain becomes a bit too much to handle, is to turn to over the counter medication.
Horticultural therapy is a great way to find natural relief. This is particularly true if you’re feeling stressed. Although – you might want to steer clear of this one if you’re stressed, and have severe back pain. But in our definition of plant therapy, we want to extend things a bit further than getting down and dirty amongst the flowers. Yes, plant therapy can involve spending time working on a garden, or being in a natural space. But there are also hundreds of ways to find relief from using plants and natural ingredients in other ways.
Here’s a couple of ideas to get you started:
We know how good it feels to curl up on the couch with a good book and a steaming pot of herbal tea. But did you know that studies suggest some teas might help alleviate anxiety1 by reducing our amount of stress hormones?
Be at one with the trees
There’s a popular form of relaxation in Japan called Shinrin-yoku. It means ‘forest bathing’, and basically involves spending time in a forest, soaking up nature. Participant’s stress levels in this study significantly decreased on days of shinrin-yoku.
Take your workout outside
Exercise is great for relieving stress. But does it make a difference whether the exercise takes place indoors or outside? Actually, yes. Whilst the difficulty of the activity and the physical effects it has on your body are unlikely to change, levels of enjoyment, calm and satisfaction are increased after exercising outside.
We’re particular fans of this one. Which is why we included essential oils in all of our Specktra products. Essential oils have been used throughout history, long before things required scientific research or empirical evidence. Studies are still being done on how science-based the benefits of aromatherapy really are. However, there is no arguing against the people who have benefited from this natural practice, and their real results.
We don’t all have a green thumb. But the experience of bringing something to life and cultivating it to grow can be immensely rewarding. Have you ever picked a strawberry straight off a bush? Or made a salad with tomatoes and herbs from your garden? Not only is the taste infinitely better, but the experience of harvesting product which you have grown from scratch is pretty unique, and correlates with an improved mental state.
An apothecary is the old equivalent of today’s general practitioner and pharmacist. They would offer medical advice, wines, spices, and poultices to heal patients.
Now that we are a little bit older and wiser, the ‘science’ of apothecaries appears more like a combination of magic, guesswork and a bit of luck. But back in the day, apothecary (as in the profession) was an esteemed medical figure of knowledge.
Whilst they have developed into the modern-day doctor’s office, apothecaries used many natural ingredients in their mixtures and remedies. Science has taught us a lot since then about what’s good (and perhaps not so good) for the human body, and manufactured medication became the norm. But once again, we are experiencing a shift in medicinal habits. People are becoming privy to the side effects of Western medication, and are often turning to alternative solutions.
Thankfully, natural remedies today do not use human excrement or earwax in medicines. But some popular ingredients like coriander, mint, lavender, and sage have their medicinal beginnings in medieval apothecary.
It’s crazy to think that wacky combinations of ingredients, touting ‘magical’ benefits hundreds of years ago, are still being used today, with wonderful results. When we chose which natural ingredients to use in our products, we made an educated decision based on scientific findings and testimonials from users.
Herbal remedies give proven results, and even some of the strongest forms of manufactured medication contain plant derivatives. Medicinal plants won’t cure the world of all disease, but they are a great addition to any wellness routine. Their benefits lie in concentrated versions, often found in supplements, as well as straight from the plant itself.
The FDA does not monitor medicinal plants. Some companies selling natural supplements take advantage of this loophole to make false claims. The experimental and unmonitored nature of traditional remedies makes medicinal plants generally unsuitable for use on children, pregnant women or vulnerable members of society.
Specktra’s Plant Therapy
If you are open to exploring the benefits that plants can offer, there is a world of choices.
Specktra combines the benefits of CBD with the targeted relief of medicinal plants.
Lavender helps encourage a sense of calm to an environment.
Moringa has many minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants.
Chamomile is one of the very first plants that humans used for medicinal purposes. It is great for relaxation.
Ylang-ylang is a popular essential oil choice. It can help with insomnia and skin conditions.
Bergamot is a type of citrus with a yellow peel. It is great for skin health and mood regulation.
Eucalyptus is a strong plant, in scent and power. It has also been used on joint conditions and can reduce the itchiness of bug bites.
Lemongrass can assist with mood regulation. It is a popular essential oil for its medicinal purposes and fresh scent. Lemongrass is also a common ingredient in Southeast Asian cuisines.
Patchouli is a strong natural agent. Its protective abilities, healing properties and ability to reduce inflammation make it a popular skincare ingredient.
Of course, the benefits delivered from cannabis are some of Specktra’s favorite types of plant therapy. Our products are strictly concerned with CBD – but other components of the cannabis plant have been used holistically for centuries.
Cannabis (also called marijuana) has long faced stigma in the United States – a stigma that is slowly dissipating. The FDA does not monitor cannabis. Nor is it legal across the whole country. But many cultures have been using cannabis to increase wellness for centuries.
There is already a lot of discovery underway. But before we can draw conclusive evidence on its effectiveness, much more research needs to be done on cannabis.
It is a great source of relief for people suffering from chronic pain. Millions of Americans have to put up with pain every single day. Cannabis can help ease their suffering, and as of yet, no negative long-term side effects have been found.
Some people do not enjoy cannabis, because of the ‘high’ that it gives you.
Cannabis as Plant Therapy
CBD can be a great option for these people. CBD is a separate cannabinoid to THC, which is the part of cannabis which makes you high.
It is a debated topic, but some studies conclude that cannabis can assist with drug dependency and addiction. What makes this a debated topic? Some studies have found opposing conclusions, and suggest that cannabis can make addiction worse. One thing for certain? This area needs more research.
The one component that the FDA has approved cannabis use for is in some epilepsy treatment. This approval doesn’t apply for cannabis as a whole – just for CBD, and only in particular cases.
- Plant therapy (or horticultural therapy) is no new phenomenon, but its effects can be life-changing.
- It involves improving mental health through exposure to nature, most commonly via cultivating plants and flowers.
- Plant therapy can also be used to help our bodies internally, and have been used in medicines for centuries.
- Manufactured medicines are deterring more and more people. Plant Therapy is becoming more accepted for its many benefits and limited side effects.
- Specktra loves to incorporate the benefits of CBD with the healing properties of nature, through the use of essential oils.