Flowers power memory and fight depression

By Sharon Cummings, Care2
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Getty ImagesGetty ImagesFlowers are known around the world to symbolize love, friendship, compassion, and celebration. Flowers are a part of our every day -- they enliven our homes with their beauty and fragrance, grace our gardens with color and creativity, delight us, seduce us, and remind us of the beautiful, transitory life we share together on earth.

When we sip a calming chamomile tea, smile at an unassuming daisy, or find freshly cut stargazers at the farmers market, we behold the healing power of flowers.

According to research conducted by Jeannette Haviland-Jones, PhD, director of the Human Development Lab at Rutgers University, "Flowers have immediate and long-term positive effects on reactions, mood, social behaviors, and even memory for both males and females."

Giving flowers makes people more social

All age groups in the study exhibited emotions of extraordinary delight and gratitude after receiving flowers, encouraging more positive behavior in social activity -- such as eye contact and sincere smiling. The mere presence of flowers in subjects' homes led to increased contact with friends and family, indicating that we share with our loved ones when happy emotions are triggered.

Flowers are a natural mood booster with direct long-term positive effects on emotional well-being, authenticating our compassionate instinct to send flowers to sick or healing friends.

When wildflowers spring up each year for their seasonal appearance, we too invite the concept of rebirth into our homes and our families with spring cleaning, sowing new seeds, and gathering for family celebrations. Cross-culturally, many spring holidays include bright colors and flowers in the annual rituals of renewal and rebirth.

Flowers decrease depression, increase short-term memory

Another Rutgers University psychology study noted the effects flowers have on seniors (also conducted by Haviland-Jones). The study finds flowers decrease depression, encourage companionship, and enrich short-term memories in seniors, proving that flowers have the power to ease us into a peaceful place of old age -- while perhaps reminding us of the vitality in all life forms.

Botanists estimate there are more than 240,000 types of flowering plants on Earth. Flowers and their essences have been used in medicine for ages. Many of today's herbal remedies are based on the ancient wisdom of Mother Nature. Some flowers that appear in natural products include immune-enhancing echinacea, anti-inflammatory calendula, stress-relieving passionflower, relaxing lavender, and stimulating patchouli.

Encourage romance with flowers

As sensual human beings, we are attracted to the majesty of each flower's individual fragrance, color, and symmetry. Flowers are supposed to be sexy -- they must seduce the buzzing birds and bees into intimacy for their own successful reproduction through pollination. We, too, respond to expressive colors, sweet scents, and bold patterns.

When we celebrate springtime underneath cherry blossoms or spot a summer sunflower, be sure to breathe in the naturally occurring therapy -- inviting you to stop and smell the roses, as often as you like.

Sharon Cummings is an author for care2, where this post originally appeared.

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