Thursday, 8 May 2008

Bach Flower Remedies

I have embarked on a new journey. I have just discovered the world of Bach Flower Remedies.

What is a flower remedy?
There are 38 flower remedies discovered by Dr. Edward Bach in the 1930s. He determined the treatment value of each flower by trial and error upon himself and his patients. Each flower remedy addresses an emotion or state of mind. Dr. Bach considered his set of remedies complete at 38.

A flower remedy or flower essence is made by placing flowers in a bowl of water in the sun. Alternately, some types of flowers are boiled. This flower-infused water is then mixed 50/50 with organic brandy to create a 'mother tincture'. This mother tincture is then further diluted for sale in 'stock bottles'. The dilution is 27% grape alcohol with 1.75 drops of mother tincture in a 20ml bottle, and the bottle is topped up with mineral water. This is the product you can buy in the shops. You determine which flower remedy you need by thinking about your current emotional state.

To use, you may take straight from the stock bottle 2 drops at a time, drop 2 drops into a glass of water and drink it, or you can create a 'treatment bottle', which is is a 30 ml bottle into which you drop 2 drops of your selected remedies (up to 7), add 1 tsp of brandy or cider vinegar, and top up the bottle with mineral water. You can then take this 4 drops at a time as often as you like.

What do flower remedies do?
The flower remedies work by a principle of resonance. They will be most effective and noticeable when they actually match the core mental or emotional challenges you face.

In the long run, working with flower essences will help you to feel more alive and in touch with your goals, values, and creativity.

However, the essences do not create euphoria, nor do they banish pain and conflict. They work by stimulating awareness of our conflicts and challenges, and they strengthen our ability to work through the obstacles to our health and growth. Thus, taking flower essences may at times stimulate some discomfort and awareness of pain or conflict. This is a normal part of the journey towards wellness, and can lead to a much more complete state of health than the suppression of pain, or artificial stimulation of feelings through bio-chemical intervention.

(Information taken from FES Flowers).

What is the evidence of their efficacy?
There is no scientific data to back up the efficacy of flower remedies. All studies done to date indicate that they are no more or less effective than a placebo.

I am not bothered by a lack of scientific evidence. There is no scientific back-up for lots of things that people find useful and helpful in their lives.

Can the flower remedies harm you?
There is no way a flower remedy can harm you. There is very little if any actual flower material contained in a stock bottle or treatment bottle, and only 1 part in 600 of alcohol. They are flower essences, not flower extracts.

My story so far
I discovered Bach Flower Remedies through the Rescue Remedy, found it effective in helping me deal with emotional crisis points, and decided to do further investigation. On a recent trip to Milton Keynes, I discovered a display of individual flower remedies and bought four bottles. I have been using them and find that for me they do what is claimed. The white chestnut did stop an instance of overthinking. The larch helped my confidence. The pine did help me stop an episode feeling overly guilty. I just took 2 drops of the stock liquid whenever I found myself becoming mired down in these state. I began to wonder how these remedies might be used for deeper treatment than emergency rescue. I read Principles of Bach Flower Remedies and The Essential Writings of Dr. Edward Bach, then decided to order more flower remedies and a storage box to keep them in. All my purchases arrived today, and the box looks like this:

I have bought 11 remedies so far that seem directly relevant to me and my husband. Today I mixed my first treatment bottle.

Cherry plum--The cherry plum state is being swept along in uncontrollable and irrational emotion, with the mind under great strain and threatening to give way. Cherry plum allows us to express emotions in a positive way, because the cleanest release of emotion is when we remain coherent and rational. It opens us up to the better path of building our reserves of sanity and self-possession so that we will not snap and don't need to fear doing so.

Gorse--The gorse state is a deep state of despondency in which we have chosen pessimism and feel that nothing can be done to help us.

White chestnut--The white chestnut state occurs when our thoughts run away with us and wear themselves into a groove. They go round and round without getting us anywhere.

Aspen--The aspen state is a vague dread varying from generalised foreboding to hair-standing-on-end shaking terror. Aspen gives us faith in the goodness of the world and helps us overcome fears unrelated to any cause.

Mustard--The mustard state is when we lose consciousness of the joy in life. Everything in our lives is going okay, but we lose touch with joy and have an unaccountable sense of gloom and depression.

I have decided to address these particular emotional states because I have been tremendously and unaccountably stressed out for the last several weeks, to the point that I have considered going back on serotonin reuptake inhibitors. My thoughts have been out of control and I need help getting my mind back on track.

I am going to take this treatment four times a day and as needed, as suggested. I will also continue to journal, and will update my experience on this blog.

I am now reading Bloom: Using Flower Essences for Personal Development and Spiritual Growth, and will be reviewing it here soon.

May all beings be at ease.


syslibrarian said...

In the US you can get certified to be a practitioner of Bach Flower Remedies. Not sure about over there... It is pretty intereseting. I was using something... can't remember what, when I was in Portland. My GP recommended it. She was a homeopathic doctor.

Keep me posted!

Morandia said...

er.. that last message was from my 2nd account. sorry... It was me -Dominique.... hehe Didn't realize I was logged in under the wrong account

Carla said...

There are Bach practitioners in the UK (Dr. Bach was actually from Birmingham!), but Dr. Bach designed the flower remedies to be self-selecting. He wanted to create a system that could be used by anyone to help themselves grow emotionally and spiritually, and to heal themselves. So I feel confident in practising the flower essences on my own. Still,the option is there if I feel I need it.

I have also found out about Australian Bush Flower Essences, but for now I think I will stick to Bach. It's better, I feel, to use the flowers that are native to your own environment, and all the flower remedies (if I recall correctly) are native to the English countryside.

What was it your homeopathic doctor gave you? Bach Flower Remedies are not homeopathic. They are not prepared the same way and are chosen by intuition rather than 'proving'. But anyway! I love ritual and I know I am going to find something very soothing and therapeutic about handling these bottles and keeping them in a lovely wooden box. :)

Morandia said...

I was thinking in terms of you becoming a practitioner to help others.... you are a teacher after all - even if you aren't currently practicing in a traditional setting.

Carla said...

It will be a long time before I feel my house is in order to the point that I could be a teacher. To me, that's like someone getting a divorce being a marriage counselor! Can't help people get unstuck when I myself am mired in the mud. :)