Home & Garden Garden Prescribing Houseplants for Anxiety, Depression, and Loneliness? A medical practice in Manchester, England gave patients indoor plants to help boost wellness. By Melissa Breyer Editorial Director Hunter College F.I.T., State University of New York Cornell University Melissa Breyer is Treehugger’s editorial director. She is a sustainability expert and author whose work has been published by the New York Times and National Geographic, among others. our editorial process Melissa Breyer Updated May 21, 2020 ©. Stokkete Share Twitter Pinterest Email Garden Indoor Gardening Planting Guides Urban Farms Insects Take two spider plants and call me in the morning? It is no secret that houseplants have all kinds of benefits to offer their human hosts. Beyond their cheerful demeanor, they provide many helpful assists, like increasing oxygen levels, helping stave off illness, cleaning the air, boosting healing, nudging creativity, and relieving stress – among other things. Meanwhile, one study found that just observing a houseplant can help foster happiness. Plant-Based Medicine So it comes as little surprise that the medical community is catching on – as evidenced by a GP practice in Manchester, England that decided last year to prescribe plants to help people with anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Laura Abernethy reported that patients got herbs, vegetables, and potted plants to care for. After a while, they would bring them back to the medical office and transfer them to a communal garden. Abernethy wrote, "The new scheme – believed to be a first in the country – gives patients a chance to join in with further gardening and social activities." The plant prescription plan was launched by the Cornbrook Medical Practice in inner-city Hulme, a place where patients do not have much access to green space. Augusta Ward, a medical secretary at Cornbrook, told Metro UK, "Having something to care for brings so many benefits to people – especially for those who may not have a garden or be able to have pets." Supported by the city’s health commissioners, the concept is a wonderfully holistic way to promote community involvement to improve well-being in the city. Not only do patients get the benefits of having had the plants, but they also forge a connection to the community garden – a place that offers both the benefits of green space as well as social connections. Evidence-Based Natural Medicine "There’s a lot of evidence now about how two hours a week in a green space can lift mood – and then that too has physical, mental and emotional benefits. That’s something we need to harness." said Dr. Philippa James, a GP from the practice. Of course, houseplants and a community garden aren't going to solve everyone's anxiety and depression – medication certainly has its place. But for sparking the spirit, it's a great supplement. As Dr. Ruth Bromley from Manchester Health and Care Commissioning, says, "So much of what keeps people happy and well isn’t medical. That’s why ideas like this one are so wonderfully effective."