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The Science of Flower Therapy

Backed by Empirical Evidence

Emerging research indicates that flowers have a diverse array of health advantages, such as enhancing mood, relaxation, cognition, social activation, and alleviating pain. Horticultural assignments such as Structured Floral Arrangement (SFA) offer a comprehensive “mind-body-nature” exercise that engages a full-brain, bi-hemispheric workout for increased brain plasticity which can positively regulate activities across brainstem, diencephalon, limbic system, and neocortex. Discover further insights into the scientific principles underlying Postal Petals below:

Harvard: Living with Flowers Strengthens Feelings of Compassion, and Decreases Anxiety and Worry

A behavioral research study conducted by Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, reveals that people feel more compassionate toward others, have less worry and anxiety, and feel less depressed when fresh-cut flowers are present in the home.

Texas A&M: Flowers & Plants Promote Innovation, Ideas

A scientific study conducted at Texas A&M University finds that nature can hold the secret to business success. The research demonstrates that workers’ idea generation, creative performance, and problem-solving skills improve substantially in workplace environments that include flowers and plants.

An Environmental Approach to Positive Emotion: Flowers

Haviland-Jones, J., Rosario, H. H., Wilson, P., & McGuire, T. R. (2005). An Environmental Approach to Positive Emotion: Flowers. Evolutionary Psychology, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.1177/147470490500300109

The article shows in three different tests that flowers are a strong "inducer" of good feelings. The research demonstrated that cultivated flowers are satisfying because they have evolved to quickly make people feel good. This is like how other plants have evolved to make a wide range of species act in different ways, which helps the plants spread.

 

Structured Floral Arrangement Program Benefits in Patients With Neurocognitive Disorder 

Mochizuki-Kawai H, Kotani I, Mochizuki S, Yamakawa Y. Benefits of structured floral arrangement program in patients with neurocognitive disorder. Front Psychol. 2018;9:1328. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01328.

The paper shows that the structured flower arrangement (SFA) program helped people with neurocognitive disorders caused by stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other related disorders improve their motivation and cognitive skills. The current findings show that the SFA program kept people involved in cognitive intervention and helped improve problems with recognition and visuospatial memory in people with neurocognitive disorders.


Electroencephalography (EEG)-Based Neural Emotional Response to Flower Arrangements (FAs) on Normal Elderly (NE) and Cognitively Impaired Elderly (CIE) 

Du J, Yin J, Chen X, et al. Electroencephalography (EEG)-based neural emotional response to flower arrangements on normal elderly and cognitively impaired elderly. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(7):3971. doi:10.3390/ijerph19073971.

This study compares the EEG-based brain affective reaction to flower arrangements (FAs) in normal elderly (NE) and cognitively impaired elderly (CIE). CIE had a considerable rise in engagement and interest, whereas NE did not. EEG-Based Neural Emotional Responses to floral arrangements showed relaxation in NE and CIE. CIE Interest and Engagement improved but NE Focus declined. 


Viewing a Flower Image Provides Automatic Recovery Effects After Psychological Stress 

Hiroko Mochizuki-Kawai, Izumi Matsuda, Satoshi Mochizuki, Viewing a flower image provides automatic recovery effects after psychological stress, Journal of Environmental Psychology, Volume 70, 2020, 101445, ISSN 0272-4944, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2020.101445.

Multiple research projects demonstrated that viewing nature aids in psychological stress recovery. Flowers are predicted to provide a restorative impact like natural landscapes. The article studied how flower viewing modulates mood using psychological, physiological, and neuroscientific methods. After an acute visual stressor (negative images), passive viewing of a typical floral image reduced negative emotions and stress-induced blood pressure and cortisol levels, reducing amygdala–hippocampus activity and downregulating physiological responses.


Psychophysiological Responses of Cut Flower Fragrances as an Olfactory Stimulation by Measurement of Electroencephalogram in Adults

Wu YT, Lee AY, Choi NY, Park SA. Psychophysiological Responses of Cut Flower Fragrances as an Olfactory Stimulation by Measurement of Electroencephalogram in Adults. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(18):11639. Published 2022 Sep 15. doi:10.3390/ijerph191811639

Horticultural therapy (HT) is green care that can improve and heal city residents' health through nature. The article examined individuals' brain activity and emotions during flower arrangement (FA) with different flowers in an HT program. Results demonstrated that FA tasks affected participants' attention differently. The study validated the variations in attention level and emotional fluctuations based on flower varieties when employing clinical approaches of HT for diverse clients.


Therapeutic Influences of Plants in Hospital Rooms on Surgical Recovery

Park S, Mattson RH. Therapeutic influences of plants in hospital rooms on surgical recovery. HortScience. 2009;44(1):102-105. doi:10.21273/HORTSCI.44.1.102.

Medical and psychological assessments of surgical patients were used to determine how hospital plants and flowers affect them. Patients in hospital rooms with plants and flowers had shorter hospital stays, fewer analgesics, lower pain, anxiety, and exhaustion ratings, and better room satisfaction than those in the control group. This research suggests that hospital plants may be a beneficial supplemental medication for surgery patients.


Effects of Flowering and Foliage Plants in Hospital Rooms on Patients Recovering from Abdominal Surgery 

Park S, Mattson RH. Effects of flowering and foliage plants in hospital rooms on patients recovering from abdominal surgery. HortTechnology. 2008;18(4):563-568. doi:10.21273/HORTTECH.18.4.563.

This randomized clinical experiment with surgery patients examined whether hospital plants are helpful using medical and psychological measures. Patients in hospital rooms with plants and flowers had significantly fewer postoperative analgesic intakes, lower systolic blood pressure and heart rate, lower pain, anxiety, and fatigue ratings, and higher room satisfaction than patients in the control group. This study found that hospital plants may be a noninvasive, affordable, and effective supplemental treatment for abdominal surgery patients.


Plant Therapy: a Nonpharmacological and Noninvasive Treatment Approach Medically Beneficial to the Well-being of Hospital Patients 

Khan M, Amin N, Khan A, et al. Plant therapy: a nonpharmacological and noninvasive treatment approach medically beneficial to the wellbeing of hospital patients. Gesunde Pflanzen. 2016;68. doi:10.1007/s10343-016-0377-1. 

Greenery and nature (plants and flowers) reduce stress related to anxiety, sadness, neurotic impairment, and other psychological illnesses, improving senses and sanity. The study included two surgical wards, Ward A (with leafy plants and arranged flowers) and Ward B (without). Ward A patients had much more positive and promising health gains than Ward B patients. Foliage plants and flower arrangements in ward A reduced postoperative stays, analgesic use, pain intensity, stress fatigue, and vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, body temperature). Additional analyses showed that ward A patients had a stronger psychologic frame of mind about their surgery recovery and more pleasant hospital feelings. They also found the ward atmosphere more relaxing and satisfying. 


Determining the Effect of Group Flower Arranging Sessions on Caregiver Self-Efficacy and Stress Levels in an In-Patient Hospice

Lavin, J., Lavin, C., Bai, X., Mastropaolo, S., & Feldman, D. (2021). Determining the Effect of Group Flower Arranging Sessions on Caregiver Self-Efficacy and Stress Levels in an In-Patient Hospice. OMEGA - Journal of Death and Dying, 84(2), 491-511. https://doi.org/10.1177/0030222819900441

This study was designed to promote enhanced self-efficacy and decreased stress levels for family caregivers at a hospice care hospital, thus increasing their quality of life. This is achieved through group flower-arranging sessions. The results show that the flower arranging sessions resulted in significantly increased self-efficacy and decreased stress and associated problems for the caregiver participants. 


Additional Resources

A Second Life for Flowers, March 10 202  New York Times

Flower Arranging Mental Health Benefits That’ll Make You Want to BYOB (Build Your Own Bouquet), May 28, 2021 Well + Good

The Blooming Effects of Flowers on Mind and Body, April 5, 2022  Next Avenue 

Flowers: A surprisingly simple mental health superhero?, 10 May 2022  Yahoo

How flower arranging helped a chronic anxiety sufferer and how she helps others de-stress by holding free flower art therapy workshops in Hong Kong, 31 Dec 2021 SCMP

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