People have brought plants into their homes since we had permanent homes. Early man was nomadic and probably couldn’t travel with living plants. But when we started to raise food crops and live in permanent settlements, plants were surely brought indoors.

Today, there is a whole horticultural subsection devoted to plants specifically developed for growing indoors using pretty ingenious indoor growing supplies. While many are grown primarily for aesthetic value, there are many other benefits to growing indoor plants. We have always been exposed to nature and growing plants, but today we spend the vast majority of our time indoors. The average amount of time indoors is 85 percent. If the weather is bad, as in the Northwest where there is lots of rain, or in the North where severe temperatures and snow may keep you indoors for days, that percentage is even worse. However, we can compensate for the lack by increasing the plants we nurture indoors.

Place plants throughout your home if possible. Just a small pot of flowers on the bathroom windowsill will start your day off in a positive way. Here are eight ways that indoor plants can benefit us.

1. Seasoning Foods.

Growing herbs on your kitchen windowsill is primarily done for culinary reasons. We season our food with a large assortment of herbs. Plants like basil, thyme, parsley and rosemary are used fresh or dried to flavor our food. Plants like chamomile and mint are often used to brew teas as some plants often contain more than one terpene. Dill can be added to brine for its distinctive flavor when preserving food by pickling.

Besides enhancing the flavor of our foods, having green and growing plants on the windowsill can elevate your mood. Lightly brush the plant to get a wave of scent from it for a multi-sensory effect. Lavender has a calming effect while mint is stimulating.

If you don’t have a window in your kitchen, add a grow kit to your garden supplies. They contain all that you need to grow herbs on your counter, including grow lights.

2. Restful Sleep.

First things first, ditch that movie you were planning to watch on Piratebay and keep a pot of lavender or jasmine in your bedroom to promote tranquility and will help you to stay calm. Claims are made that it will help you to sleep well. People used to put a sprig of lavender in their pillow before they went to sleep at night. Many soaps contain lavender for its calming effect.

3. Promote a Stress-Free Environment.

The Journal of Physiological Anthropology published a study where young male subjects who were computer literate were asked to either repot a plant or complete a simple computer task. Stress indicators like heart rate and blood pressure were measured before and after the task was completed. Those who worked with the plants showed a lesser degree of stress after they completed the task. Those who completed the simple computer task showed a marked increase in stress indicators.

Informal surveys of workers who have plants in their work environment have reported less stress than their coworkers without plants. More and more companies are recognizing these results and allowing employees to have houseplants in their personal workspace, as well as incorporating green spaces in the work environment design.

4. Improved Air Quality.

Plants give off oxygen and water vapor. The water vapor can be especially helpful in the winter when our heating systems are drying the air. The increase in humidity is especially helpful to those with respiratory issues or dry skin. The research is ongoing in relation to plants cleansing the air. Some plants are more effective than others in removing toxins from the air. NASA is studying the feasibility of using plants as a significant part of the removal of toxins in the air and the oxygenation process in space. A boost in the oxygen level can improve mental focus, making us more productive. After all resetting the Honeywell thermostat is not the kind of trick that you can pull off everytime.

5. Medicinal Value.

Most gardeners know that there are plants that have great medicinal value. One of the most popular is the aloe vera plant. This is a plant that contains a healing gel that will help heal minor wounds and is best known for the treatment of burns, including sunburn. There are lots of other plants that have medicinal value. In the pioneer days, most gardeners had a section set aside for medicinal plants as there were no manufactured medications. The method of preparing the plant and which part of the plant to use was passed down from mother to daughter. Almost every community had someone who had the greatest knowledge of herbs and potions for treating all kinds of ailments. Some gardeners are reviving those skills today. Some of these plants will do very well in the home and, much like aloe vera, will be right at home with your other houseplants.

6. Natural Air Freshener.

Use a dwarf lime tree to provide a clean citrus smell to your home. Potpourri has long been used to add scent to a room. Today, we see potpourri mostly at Christmas when the scent of pine and cinnamon are associated with the holiday. It sets the mood for the Christmas celebration.

7. Improved Creativity.

A study by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension showed people had an increase in creativity when exposed to living plants. If you pursue creative tasks, either at work or as part of your leisure activity, having plants in the work area may improve your results.

8. Increased Positivity Happiness.

Plants make us happy. Whether we are walking through a forest, what the Japanese call Shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing,” touring a botanical garden or enjoying time in the backyard, the benefits can be reproduced with houseplants. Just seeing live plants in the home will benefit you–but actively caring for your plants will maximize the benefits of decreased stress and increased happiness. Each time you pull out your indoor garden supplies to water your plants or prune a branch or even as you walk by, just reach out and touch the leaves. Physically and mentally connect with living plants to reap the benefits throughout your day.

As you can see, indoor plants can benefit us in more ways than just their beauty. Adding plants to your indoor décor will be even more beneficial in so many different ways.