Heart DiseaseStressStress Management

Horticulture for mentally challenged adults

Researchers at Catholic University of Daegu, in Gyeongbuk, South Korea, examined how pressing flowers, planting, and making topiaries affected stress.

First, the details.

  • 2 studied were conducted.
    • Heart rate variation in 30 mentally challenged people in a rehabilitation center
    • Cortisol levels in 20 mentally challenged people from the residential home
  • Changes from the start of the study were measured for each of the activities listed above.

And, the results.

  • Heart rate variation
    • Pressed flower group and the planting group
      • Significant improvement was associated with both activities.
    • Flower arrangement group and the topiary group displayed significant differences.
  • Cortisol levels
    • Pressed flower group
      • Significant decrease in cortisol levels on day 7
      • No significant difference observed on day 4
    • Planting group
      • Significant decrease in cortisol levels on day 7 vs day 4 of planting activities
    • Topiary group
      • Significant decrease in cortisol levels at each cortisol collection after the first day of topiary activities

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Indoor horticultural activities have an effect on mentally challenged people’s stress relief. In particular, planting activities were effective for this relief.”

In 2004, researchers at Uppsala University, in Sweden reviewed the benefits of horticulture therapy and concluded, “Horticulture therapy mediates emotional, cognitive and/or sensory motor functional improvement, increased social participation, health, well-being and life satisfaction.”

They recommended more study, and after 7 years the South Korean researchers came through.

12/15/11 17:57 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.