Flowers in the Hospital: more than just anti-depressants

Reply Tue 31 Mar, 2020 11:01 am
People give and receive flowers for birthdays, funerals, and when they are in the hospital. From one perspective, you might say that flowers make people a little happier, so they have an anti-depressant function; but what if the effect actually goes beyond mood-uplift?

Flowers have evolved to release pollen, and pollen has evolved to attract vectors (animals) that will carry the pollen to other plants. So, logically, there are many ways that pollen can do that, e.g. by smelling good enough to stimulate us to smell flowers, but then making us sneeze so the pollen spreads.

Pollen and viruses are not so different in this regard. Viruses and pollen not only share the same basic shape, they also use us as vectors to spread and reproduce. So in a sense viruses and pollen are in competition for our mucus membranes as vehicles for their transportation.

Fall and winter are seasons where people traditionally get sick more. Part of the reason for this might be the changing weather and spending more time indoors to avoid the cold, but the dying back of trees and plants could also contribute to our vulnerability insofar as viruses suddenly gain a monopoly position as colonizers of our mucus membranes.

If pollen helps our immune systems by competing for air-space and 'mucus-membrane space,' flowers in hospital rooms, churches, funerals, and other gatherings and public spaces could have more than just psychological effects.

Maybe some experiments should be done introducing pollen into hospitals, nursing homes, etc. where there are no live trees and garden spaces that produce it naturally to test whether the pollen itself has positive effects on health. Flowers may just be psychologically beneficial for their natural anti-depressant effects, but it would be good to know if their pollen and aroma have positive effects that go beyond aesthetics.
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Reply Tue 31 Mar, 2020 11:11 am
The release of oxygen might be helpful to some.

Pollen? Not to many allergy sufferers.

The scents of certain flowers might sicken some folks.

Seeing plants chopped down, subdued and subjected to an early death could seriously sadden people....which, I suppose would add to more tears at the funeral. (As could the pollen)
Reply Tue 31 Mar, 2020 01:44 pm
Sturgis wrote:

The release of oxygen might be helpful to some.

Oxygen is nothing special. If higher oxygen levels promoted healing and immunity, they could just add it to hospital air from tanks.

Pollen? Not to many allergy sufferers.

I think pollen allergies are misunderstood. People who are sensitized to pollen by underexposure are probably more vulnerable to viruses as well.


Seeing plants chopped down, subdued and subjected to an early death could seriously sadden people....which, I suppose would add to more tears at the funeral. (As could the pollen)

I agree that it's sad to see plants cut and killed, and it's a waste when the same plants could go on living and flowering for longer. Some flowers can be cut without hurting the plant/tree, if it is done right.

I think the best thing is when hospitals/nursing homes/etc. have living trees and gardens built into their architecture. Those that don't should add them.

But I think more pollen exposure could be good, even if people have to go through some allergic reactions to build up immunity. "No pain no gain," as they say, but more research should be done on otherwise healthy allergy sufferers to see how their immune systems, mucus membranes, etc. change after systematic exposure to pollen lessens their allergic reaction to it.

I think that pollen could help strengthen immune systems and mucus membranes and neutralize viruses by sticking to them and preventing them from sticking to and infecting cells.

I'm not sure exactly how to research this, but you could probably examine mucus membranes to see how they interact with viruses as well as pollen and other particles, such as industrial dusts and other air-pollution.

We see all these photos of coronavirus now, and pollen looks similar, but we could be learning more about how these microscopic particles function and interact in the various environments they inhabit, such as our mucus membranes.
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