What are Bach flower essences?
Flower essences, or flower remedies, are plant infusions that are used to lift the spirits rather than to treat any underlying symptoms. The principle behind using flower remedies is that our emotions have a strong effect on our physical condition, and lifting our mood with flower remedies should improve our health.
Flower essences were originally devised in the 1930s by Edward Bach (pronounced ‘batch’), a doctor, bacteriologist, and homeopath, who discovered that when he became stressed he was attracted to particular flowers which seemed to restore his inner peace.
Flower remedies, of which the Bach flower essences are the best known, are extracted from the flowers of wild plants, bushes, and trees by soaking sun-exposed flower heads in spring water for a few hours or by boiling the more woody plants in water. The resulting tincture, which is then preserved in brandy, is taken internally.
Dr Bach originally devised 38 remedies in total that when used in combination covers all possible states of mind. Many other flower essences are now available, such as the Bush flower essences.
Some of these new essences were extracted by an American named Richard Katz in the 1970s. Since then essences from all over the world, most notably Australia, California, and the Himalayas have been developed. These are separate systems to that devised by Dr Bach, using different plants, and may have a different effect.
Bach flower remedies are said to help alleviate emotional and stress-related conditions and physical symptoms arising from emotional problems. They are not used for specific physical problems as such, but the aim is to balance the emotions so that the body is free to heal itself.
Bach divided his 38 remedies into seven therapeutic groups according to the following emotions:
- Lack of interest in the present
- Over-concern with the welfare of others
Although the Bach flower remedies are quite specific, some can be used for a variety of emotions. Chicory, for instance, is given for selfishness and possessiveness. Willow is recommended for resentment and a tendency to blame others for everything. Star of Bethlehem is used for shock and feelings of loss and is a vital ingredient in Rescue Remedy.
Bach Flower Rescue Remedy
Rescue Remedy is a mixture of five remedies with which Dr Bach allegedly saved a fisherman’s life in 1930s. The purpose of Bach Flower Rescue Remedy is to comfort, reassure, and calm those who have received serious news, suffered a severe upset or had a startling experience.
Dr Bach primarily developed his remedies for self-help use, and you can buy the flower remedies in many pharmacies and health food shops to treat yourself. One of the attractions of flower remedies is that a lay person can easily treat themselves unlike other therapies such as herbalisim which require a qualified practitioner to administer treatments.
Using Bach Flower Essences
To take Bach flower remedies, dilute two drops of remedy in a glass of water and sip the drink as and when you need it. If there is no water handy the remedy can be dropped neat on the tongue.
You can take up to seven remedies at the same time. Flower remedies can also be applied directly to the skin, added to creams or lotions, put into the bath or dispersed into the air using a spray bottle. Few complementary therapists use flower remedies alone.
Most practitioners who use them in their work are qualified in another therapy such as naturopathy, aromatherapy, reflexology or conventional medicine. The appropriate flower remedies can be chosen by focusing on the key emotional issues that need addressing.
This was the method recommended by Dr Bach, as it enables the remedies to be understood and used by everyone.
Bach Flower Remedies For Cats
Bach flower essences are harmless and can be taken by anyone of any age or condition, even animals. Cats, in particular, tend to be more prone to anxiety and nervous conditions. Because the flower essences are so gentle, Bach flower remedies for cats is a safe, effective option for cat lovers who want to help calm a fearful cat and get them gently through a troublesome time without drugs.