Even for those not interested in herbalism, most everyone feels happy seeing plants and trees in gardens and nature. Studies have indicated that there are notable positive effects in connecting to nature including reductions in anxiety, depression and improvements in mood and wellbeing. In Japan there is a term known as Shin-Rin-Yoku, or Forest Bathing. The practice of forest bathing, or going out and breathing and taking in the full beauty of nearby forests is a regular practice to encourage greater emotional harmony.
In medical systems, there is a strong focus on orally ingesting medicines as a way of healing. But in a five senses herbalism approach, connecting to plants through all five senses is key. That means that seeing and being out in nature with plants can play just as important role as taking them internally as medicines. When I worked in a hospital as a therapist for many years, I saw the immediate benefit of bringing mental health patients out into a therapeutic garden. Once out of tight knit fluorescently lit environments into open fresh air with lots of flowering plants and trees, the mood of the patients noticeably improved. They would smile and laugh more, connect to each other more playfully and show that they were more relaxed and at ease.
Beyond taking more walks out in nature it can be really helpful to grow plants in your garden and indoors in pots. While all plants can be beneficial, we can divide up therapeutic plants into a few sections:
Edible plants: It can be profoundly enjoyable to go out into your yard or a community garden and munch on berries and lettuce. Some options include huckleberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, a variety of greens, carrots, etc.
Medicinal Plants: Not only do these plants stimulate you visually, they can be turned into herbal preparations that are healing to mood and wellbeing. Some examples are the mimosa tree, lemon balm, holy basil, lemon verbena, jiaogulan and mugwort.
Aromatic Plants: These plants will affect not only your visual receptors but improve mood via smell as well. Some examples include lavender, daphne, rosemary, sage and jasmine.