Detoxifying House Plants

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Toxins abound in our environment – in the air we breathe, water we drink and food we eat. Pollutants can be found in furniture, paint, carpeting, clothing, draperies and cleaning products. It’s hard to escape exposure to toxins in today’s modern world. Some people that suffer flu-like symptoms that disappear when their environment changes, may be suffering from toxic overload from a sick building or home. Off-gassing is the process whereby toxins are released by materials that contain some of these pollutants.
Aloe  Vera Plant
In my eBook 12 Easy Ways to Detoxify and Lose Weight, I explain how excess toxins in the body settle in fatty tissue. Unfortunately, the more fatty tissue you have, the greater your body’s ability to hang on to toxins. And vice versa – the more toxins you’re exposed to, the greater the need to detoxify so that your body isn’t hanging on to excess garbage.
There are some things you can do, however, to reduce your exposure to toxins. In this article from the Summer 2015 issue of Healing News published by The Gerson Institute, learn about common toxins, their sources and several common house plants that can actually filter some of the more common air pollutants and make your home or office less toxic.

Common Air Pollutants


This is a nonflammable liquid that is used as a solvent in oil, grease, fat, wax and tar and is released into the atmosphere. Most commonly trichloroethylene is found in adhesives, paint and spot removers and white-out correction fluid. Exposure to fumes from this colorless liquid is toxic to the central nervous system. Some people with excess exposure to trichloroethylene have reported headaches, confusion, fatigue and sleepiness.


This toxic substance is created when oil, gasoline or coal are burned. However, benzene is also found in paint, glue, plastics, cigarette smoke and detergent. Short-term exposure to breathing in benzene can lead to headaches, dizziness and drowsiness. Longer-term exposure to benzene can cause reproductive problems, blood disorders and an increased risk of leukemia. This toxin is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a known human carcinogen.


Like trichloroethylene, formaldehyde is colorless. It is also strong-smelling and flammable. It is often used in household and building products. Most commonly formaldehyde is used to make particleboard, paper product coating, glue and insulation. Formaldehyde is also used as a germicide, fungicide, disinfectant and preservative.

Carbon Monoxide

Most people know that carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless. It is also a toxic gas. Carbon monoxide comes from many types of heating equipment including unvented gas space heaters, kerosene heaters, wood stoves, gas water heaters and fireplaces. Carbon monoxide is also created from vehicle gas engines (think exhaust fumes) as well as cigarette smoke. Exposure to this toxic gas can result in dizziness, headaches, disorientation, fatigue and nausea.

House Plants to Detoxify Your Environment


Although it is in the succulent family, aloe removes both benzene and formaldehyde form the air. Aloe vera gel is well-known for healing cuts and burns. Aloe vera liquid is also a good intestinal detoxifier.

Snake Plant

This common plant is also known as the mother-in-law plant because it’s said to look like a sharp tongue. Sansaveria removes formaldehyde from its environment.

Chrysanthemum, Gerber Daisy and Tulips

All three of these plants will remove both benzene and trichloroethylene.

English Ivy and Golden Pothos

In some areas, English ivy is an invasive species, but kept indoors in a pot, it will remove formaldehyde. Both English ivy and Golden pothos are well suited as hanging plants and are easy to grow, even for people with brown thumbs.

Boston Fern

Ferns are a little trickier to grow, but are both beautiful and useful. Boston ferns are natural air humidifiers. They also grow best in damp air but can be grown in drier climates with adequate misting of the leaves. Boston ferns remove formaldehyde and are considered by many among the best air purifiers.

Red-edged Dracaena and Ficus

These plants pull triple duty by removing xylene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air. Dracenas are often found in plant arrangements found at florist shops and can live a very long time without a lot of maintenance.

Bamboo Palm

This is a great plant for small spaces and makes a terrific humidifier. It also removes trichloroethylene and benzene from the air.

Peace Lily

While this is a common plant, often found in plant arrangements at floral shops, it is highly toxic to pets and children. On the plus side, peace lilies remove trichloroethylene, benzene, formaldehyde as well as toluene

xylene from the air. They are one of the most efficient air filtering plants because of all the toxins they remove.

Spider Plants

There is hardly an easier house plant to grow than the spider plant. Unlike peace lilies, spider plants are non-toxic and safe around pets. Spider plants can remove trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide and xylene.


Detoxifying through the soft waste (lymph) and solid waste (intestinal) systems is helpful in keeping the body clean. As an adjunct to regular detoxification, reducing or eliminating exposure to toxins is also helpful. Optimal air filtration is easy with placement of these house plants. Try having one plant for every 100 square feet of living space. As the modern world grows increasingly toxic, it’s important to do what you can to keep your own world as clean and toxin-free as possible.

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