Flower essences are the liquid preparations made from the flowering heads of plants or trees. Remedies made from flowers, wild plants, bushes, and trees are believed to contain the energy of the flower, and act to restore inner balance and harmony in an individual. Flower essences are often used to treat anxiety caused by physical or psychological issues, or to treat mental shock after a traumatic physical or emotional event. Additionally, floral essences are thought to treat emotional issues which are the initial causes of certain physical disorders.
To make flower essences, flowers are picked at their peak of vitality and then placed in spring water under the sun or boiled (the practice of leaving the flowers in the sunlight is believed to infuse the spring water with the essence of the flower). The oils extracted through these processes are then filtered, diluted many times over with spring water, and preserved with brandy to make a mother tincture. Then, specific floral remedies are chosen to cater to an individual’s emotional and psychological issues (instead of physical ailments), as well as the patient’s personality and behavioral traits.
The History of Flower Essences Therapy
While floral remedies have been used for thousands of years, modern flower essence remedies were developed by a British doctor in the 1930s named Edward Bach. Dr. Bach believed that physical problems were often caused by emotional conflicts (after observing that many of his patients exhibited emotional and psychological issues prior to physical disease), and that floral remedies could ease emotional conflicts and thus prevent physical issues.
At the time, Dr. Bach stated that “all emotional, psychological, and physical disorder grows out of a conflict between our personality and our Soul.” He also found that these same emotional and psychological issues tended to complicate the physical illnesses of the disease, and this complicated his attempted treatment of the by then manifested disease. More recent studies seem to confirm Dr. Bach’s hypothesis, as these studies show that if an emotional issue goes unresolved for a significant length of time (around six months to a year), serious physical manifestations of the emotional issue may develop. These issues, at an early stage, include an increased likeliness of developing colds and other infections, sexual dysfunction, headaches, fatigue, allergies, and digestive unease. From there, if the issues remain unresolved, serious physical disease may result.
Dr. Bach left his medical practice to focus on the research of natural remedies for these emotional and psychological issues. With his extensive knowledge of plants and personality types, Dr. Bach experimented with and then developed 38 floral remedies intended to treat individual emotional states and personalities, as well as harmonize the inherent imbalances of the psyche. In recent years, these same 38 floral remedies have been produced and sold by a number of different researchers and companies. While Dr. Bach’s remedies were based on plants native to Great Britain, others have created remedies using flowers from throughout the world, including flowers from Australia, India, New Zealand, Scotland, and the United States.
How Flower Essences Therapy is Practiced
Flower essences are usually a part of a holistic program of treatment. These programs tend to attempt to treat a person’s mind, body, and spirit all at once, instead of focusing on a particular symptom or issue. Instead of treating physical illnesses directly, floral essences are used to treat emotional imbalances. After talking with the patient and assessing their current emotional state and personality, a doctor will prescribe a particular flower essence or essences tailored to treat the individual’s needs.
The mixture that is given to a patient may have up to six different floral essences intended to treat the individual. The mixtures is diluted with mineral water and then placed on the tongue or mixed into a drink. For individuals with alcohol sensitivities (many floral remedies contain alcohol, which acts as a preservative), the floral remedies may be rubbed directly on the temples, wrists, behind the ears, or under the arms. This is often the chosen way of administering floral remedies to infants and children.
It is believed that once the floral remedy is given, the flower essence stimulates a mechanism in the individual’s brain that in turn triggers their body’s healing process. This, in theory, eventually causes a healthier mental, emotional, psychological, and physical state within the individual. Flower essences have even been used to treat emotional issues on animals.
How Flower Essences Therapy Works
The most well-known floral remedy is called Rescue Remedy, which combines five remedies developed by Dr. Bach (impatiens, rock rose, clematis, cherry plum, and star of Bethlehem). These remedies are used to treat the after-effects of the shock that may follow acute physical or mental trauma. Rescue Remedy is believed to have saved many lives following shock, hemorrhage, and other traumatic issues.
An experienced practitioner will prepare suitable floral remedies for an individual, who will be told what each remedy is, what it treats, and how to use the remedy. Remedies vary in the length of time they should be taken, ranging from weeks to months. The more serious or permanent the emotional issues, the more likely the remedy will need to be taken for many months. Additionally, some individuals experience “peeling”, where the initial remedy reveals more serious emotional issues within and individual (this is generally considered a positive development overall). If this happens, a new remedy may need to be chosen to deal with that particular issue. Remedies may also be bought at a local drug store or made at home.
Conditions Benefited by Flower Essences
Generally, floral essences seem effective in treating physical problems that are manifested by emotional issues and/or stress. While no clinical trials have proven the effects of flower essences, they are often used to treat the following conditions:
A study of 61 people in Germany published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders in 2001 found that levels of anxiety reduced significantly in their test subjects, but this was the same as the result for a control group.
The flower essences are said to help improve a range of negative mental states and personality traits, such as nervousness, indecision, despair, irritability, guilt and the inability to cope.
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- Deepak Chopra, M.D. Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide, Celestial Arts (2002)
- Nancy Allison. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Body-Mind Disciplines, The Rosen Publishing Group (1999)
- Servan-Schreiber, D. The Encyclopedia of New Medicine: Conventional & Alternative Medicine For All Ages, Rodale International Limited (2006)
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