(NOTE: This article is from the old Herbal Legacy Newsletter)

June 2005

by Lindsay Wolsey, MH

When people call our office and ask about different emotional health conditions, we often ask them if they have looked into the Bach Flower Remedies.  These are remarkable products—especially when you take into consideration that they contain the essence of the flower, and not much else!  I have personally had great success with the Bach Flower Remedies, and can attest that the person doesn’t need to know they are taking them to achieve results.  We have given my mom’s poodle Midas Bach Flower Remedies on several different occasions, and have seen dramatic results.  One time we gave him Holly because he was obsessively chewing on his paws.  Not only did he stop chewing himself, he also stopped fetching his ball.  That dog would play fetch from sun-up to sun-down if he could.  The dog had no idea we were giving him anything—and we got results.  There is actually a book called Bach Flower Therapy for Animals by Stefan Ball and Judy Howard.
 
Who Was Dr. Bach?
 
Dr. Edward Bach was a renowned London physician.  He felt that patients should be treated differently, as they reacted differently to the same diseases.  In 1928 he discovered the first of the Bach Flower Essences.  He had such great success with this that in 1930 he gave up his regular practice to search for a new method of healing.  Before his death in 1936, Dr. Bach discovered 38 flower essences that could be used to treat emotional states.
 
How Do They Work?
 
The Bach Flower Remedies work by flooding out negative feelings and emotions. Sometimes the emotions that are dealt with have been repressed for some time and in order to clear them they have to be cleansed from the system.
 
Nathan, our old student advisor, found this out when one of his kids was having troubles sleeping at night.  They tried various things, but nothing worked.  Then he thought about the Bach Flower Remedies, and gave his kid Aspen, which is the Bach Flower essence that is used for vague, unknown fears.  The Aspen worked like a dream, and his kid was able to have sweet dreams.
 
How Do I Know What To Use?

Generally where you find a display of Bach Flower Remedies you will find a booklet that will help you decide what remedy to get.  If there is no booklet, you can go to BachCentre.com and look for your symptoms.  The 38 Bach Flower Essences have been put into seven different emotional groups: fear, uncertainty, insufficient interest in present circumstances, loneliness, over-sensitivity to influences and ideas, despondency or despair, over-care of welfare of others.  For example, if you were looking to help someone who was lonely, you might start by looking at the loneliness category.  From there, you would decide which of the three loneliness Essences would be beneficial to that person.  They are:

Water Violet: Helps you get a warmer relationship with other people. You love being alone, but often find yourself lonely.
Impatiens: Helps you when you get impatient and irritated. Other people who are slow often irritate and you prefer to work alone, so you can do everything at your own speed. 
Heather: Helps you when you get unhappy being alone for any length of time, you are always seeking the companionship and find it necessary to discuss your affairs with others, no matter whom it may be.

If you want to get in depth information on using Bach Flower Remedies, there are many different books out there.  The one that I usually turn to is The Encyclopedia of Bach Flower Therapy by Mechthild Scheffer.  If you are interested in becoming a practitioner, there are several courses you can take, including courses taught directly by The Bach Flower Institute.  When looking into a Bach Flower course, it is wise to find one that is accepted by the Bach International Education Programme (BIEP), if you are interested in joining the Bach Foundation’s International Register of Practitioners.
 
What’s In Them?
 
Bach Flower Remedies contain the essence of the flower in an alcohol base.  For example, the bottle of Cherry Plum that is sitting on my desk contains Cherry Plum Essence in 27% alcohol.  The Sweet Chestnut Essence made by Ellon contains Sweet Chestnut Essence in 27% alcohol.
 
How Do I Take Them?
 
The standard way to use the Bach Flower Remedies is to put two drops into a cup of water and sip throughout the day.  You can also put two drops in a dropper bottle of water, and use four drops of the dropper bottle four times a day.  One of the great things about the Bach Flower Remedies is that they work great diluted—in fact, you are supposed to dilute them, not take them straight.  Taking them diluted helps with the alcohol taste as well, making it not so potent.
 
Generally, people use up to five Bach Flower Remedies at a time, although combining six or seven is not unheard of.  If you feel that there are 10-12 issues that you need to work on, the best thing to do is to look at what the most pressing issues are, and work on them.  You can also move on to new Bach Flower Remedies when you need them, but you don’t want to overdo it.  This is also good advice when using herbal formulas—you don’t need to use 14 different formulas when 6 will do the job.
 
What is Rescue Remedy?
 
Rescue Remedy is the only commercially available blend of Bach Flower Essences.  It contains Star of Bethlehem, Rock Rose, Impatiens, Cherry Plum, Clematis.  Rescue Remedy is generally used in emergency situations where the body is experiencing shock.  Shock, in the context of Bach Flowers, is defined a little differently than the conventional usage.  Shock in this sense refers to anything that shakes up the energy system—a fight, facing a difficult situation, fright, stress.  Rescue Remedy begins working immediately, because it reactivates the body’s self-healing mechanisms.  Rescue Remedy is not a long- term solution, and should be used from time to time, not on a regular basis.  If you are finding that you need to use it on a regular basis, you might want to read the descriptions for the different essences it contains.  You might want to add them to your Bach Flower therapy.
 
I have utilized Rescue Remedy on a number of occasions, both for myself and others.  When you are at your wits end, and one step away from losing it, it’s time to break out the Rescue Remedy.  When someone gets hysterical, it’s time to start the Rescue Remedy.  We keep a bottle at our offices in case someone breaks down at our Master Herbalist seminar—which has happened, on more than one occasion.
 
I read in the Encyclopedia of Bach Flower Therapy that Rescue Remedy and Walnut would be an excellent thing to add to a baby’s bath right after birth, to help them adjust to their new state of being.  I’m planning to try that after my baby is born this August.  Rescue Remedy is generally the only Bach Flower Essence that babies need, and is usually administered only when there is too much excitement.  However, Bach Flower Essences are very safe, and can be used for babies if there is a need.  BachFlower.com has some excellent suggestions of Bach Flower usage from birth to adulthood.
 
Complications
 
Bach Flower Remedies do not cause any complications with any herbal or nutrition therapies.  There are no known complications when used in conjunction with pharmaceuticals.  The Bach Flower Essences are very safe to use.
 
Conclusion
 
While Bach Flower Essences are no substitution for herbs or dietary changes, they can be very beneficial when there are emotional issues involved.  Plus, they are very easy to add to a healing regime—just a few drops in a glass or bottle of water, and you’re done for the day.