Plant Hormones and Your Body

You may already know that hormones play an essential role in your bodily functions. It’s the same case with plants. Plant hormones help immensely with plant growth and development, and studies showed that certain plant hormones can be beneficial for human health, too.

The Main Types of Plant Hormones

Plants also have chemical messengers within its body for growth and development, and these are the five types: (1)

1. Auxin

Have you ever seen a plant bend towards sunlight? That’s auxin in action. This hormone also stimulates growth in plant cells, making them grow longer, and is often found in growing parts like the stem. Without auxin, a plant will easily die.

2. Gibberellin

Gibberellin acts similarly to auxin, in which it helps plants grow taller by elongating the stems. How? On stems, there are nodes where leaves are attached. Gibberellin elongates these internodes. This comes in handy, especially for farmers who make money from plant stems.

3. Cytokinin

Plants age too and for them, the process is called senescence. Cytokinin delays this natural aging process by encouraging cell division. Further, cytokinin helps in cell repair with the help of auxin.

4. Ethylene

Can hormones exist in a gaseous state? Ethylene proves it can. This plant hormone influences the ripening and rotting in plants. Plant tissues release ethylene and can travel from one plant to another.

5. Abscisic Acid

Abscisic acid is the hormone that sends a message that the plant is dehydrated and needs more water. It travels in the xylem to send this message, and it can be found in developing seeds and dried roots and leaves.

How Can These Plant Hormones Affect You?

The gut microbiome affects your health in several ways like digestion, metabolism, and immune function. Studies have also shown how a healthy gut improves brain health, too. This encouraged scientists to look into how hormones from the plants you eat can affect your gut and health.

For example, abscisic acid when ingested can make inflammation in the body worse. On the other hand, gibberellic acids help reduce inflammation.

How could that be? Researchers point to hormone synthesis. The human body synthesizes these hormones differently, which is why the gut reacts in different ways, some of which can result in inflammatory diseases. (2)

Other notable examples were given, too. Abscisic acid, which could worsen inflammation but can stimulate increased glucose uptake. This is good news for people with diabetes. Further, indole acetic acid, another plant hormone, can help in eliminating cancer cells.

How can plant hormones affect humans? There’s no single answer to that. Researcher Emilie Chanclud says it can be co-evolution. (2) That the human body has abscisic acid and indole acetic acid and the body may have evolved to adapt to them (although, there’s no scientific evidence yet as to how these acids are found inside the body apart from ingesting them).

Indeed, there’s still much to explore and discover how plant hormones affect human health. Nonetheless, it’s good to know about any contradictory effects of the vegetables and fruits you’re consuming.



  1. Understanding Plant Hormones
  2. How humans and their gut microbes may respond to plant hormones