Scientists say plants boost immunity and recovery time
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Scientists say plants boost immunity and recovery time

As coronavirus anxiety sweeps across the UK, we’re all wondering how to build our immune systems – not just for ourselves, but for those most vulnerable.

Hand sanitiser, baked beans and toilet roll are sweeping off the shelves, but none of these support the body’s defences against illness and infection.

When a cold or flu hits a classroom or workplace, some people go down like dominoes, while others only experience mild symptoms or don’t get sick at all. So what can those of us with weakened immune systems do to give ourselves the best chance of fighting viral infection?

What you put into your body should be your number one priority (stock up on blueberries, people) but consider your home environment too – especially if you're spending more time there than usual ... 

How do plants boost your immune system?

Plants support the body against infection in three key ways: improving respiratory health (via air filtration and humidification), speeding up recovery times and increasing NK (natural killer cells) in the body.

How do plants improve respiratory immunity?

As they photosynthesise, plants help filter VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from the air. We associate VOCs with cigarette smoke and exhaust fumes, but they are also found in common household cleaning products and aerosols. VOCs negatively impact our respiratory health, nose, mouth eyes and throat, and are strongly associated with asthma and repressed immunity in children.

Plants that are particularly good at filtering out include Calatheas, Mother-in-Law’s Tongues and anything with a large surface area – like sweetheart plants.

Another way plants can improve air-quality is by adding moisture to the air.

Rainforest plants, and those that thrive on high levels of humidity, such as Areca Palms, Philodendrons and Elephant Ears, also perspire and boost humidity in indoor environments in a natural way. This stands to benefit anyone who’s airwaves are affected by dry indoor settings.  

The lungs are one of the body’s principle defences against disease and infection – strong lungs = high immunity.


We've put together the best air-purifiers, dust trappers and forms humans have a strong affinity in our immunity collection.

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How do we know plants speed up recovery times?

It’s been well documented that hospital patients in rooms with houseplants, or even a view of nature, recover at a significantly faster rate than those that don’t.  

A landmark study from the 1980s, published in Science, found that patients who could see elements of nature from their beds recovered sooner than those who didn’t.

These findings have been replicated in three studies by Park and Mattison (2004; 2006; 2009), as well as Mang et al. (1991), who included houseplants in their trials, confirming the idea that plants improve the body’s ability to heal.   

How do we know plants increase NK cells in your immune system?

A remarkable study conducted in Japan found that people who regularly immersed themselves in nature, compared with those who lived in urban environments and had minimal interaction with plants, had 20% higher level of natural killer cells in the body (Tsao et. al, 2018).

NK cells are a type of white blood cell and play a vital role in our innate immune system. NK cells are activated in response to particular threats to the body, namely viral infections like the common cold, flu and – of course – coronavirus. 

Key take-aways 

We’re not saying plants should be used in place of any other preventative measures against coronavirus. But if you’re going to be spending more time working from home and you’re looking for ways to improve immunity, investing in a few immune boosting plants couldn’t hurt!


We've put together the best air-purifiers, dust trappers and forms humans have a strong affinity in our immunity collection.

View collection

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