Bach flower remedies are used to treat emotional conditions such as depression, anxiety, insomnia and stress by using the “energetic signature” of certain plants. They are a dilution of flower extracts in a 50:50 solution of water and brandy, and were developed by the physician Edward Bach in the 1930s.
Edward Bach was born in Birmingham, and began researching new methods of medical treatment in 1930 after a career as a casualty officer at University College Hospital, London. He developed the new flower remedies without any part of the plant itself, but rather what he called the patterns of energy within the flower. He based his research on intuitions about healing properties of particular plants, believing that when dew drops on a plant were heated by the sun, they would absorb healing properties that had an affinity with the human soul. Thus, the flower’s energy is transferable to water, producing a remedy that restores harmony contributes to a healthy life.
The flower remedies are aimed at treating stress, anxiety and panic attacks. Each can be used on its own or in conjunction with other remedies, as each impart a unique energy. They can be prescribed or recommended by a naturopath, a doctor, or a trained Bach flower practitioner. While intended for humans, Bach flower remedies can also be effective in calming domestic animals. Most are taken orally, however Rescue Cream should be applied to the skin.
Flower remedies were originally identified as coming from the dew warmed on top of flowers, however as it was impractical to collect dew, Bach soaked picked flowers in bowls of water under sunlight. If there is no sunlight, the flowers may be boiled. The result of this process is what Bach called ‘mother tincture’, which is then further diluted for use. Unlike other homoeopathic remedies, Bach remedies are all derived from non-toxic substances.
Bach flower remedies are divided into seven groups based on the emotions they are intended to eliminate, each with a corresponding set of essences that help alleviate the ailment. The groups are fear, uncertainty, insufficient interest in present circumstances, loneliness, oversensitivity to influences and ideas, despondent or despair, and over-care for the welfare of others.
Bach flower remedies not only uses flower extract, but also those of trees or other plants, and even rocks. The main essences include: Agrimony, Elm, Mustard, Vervain, Aspen, Gentian Oak, Vine, Beech, Gorse, Olive, Walnut, Centaury Heather, Pine, Water Violet, Cerato Holly, Red Chestnut, White Chestnut, Cherry Plum, Honeysuckle, Rock Rose, Wild Oat, Chestnut Bud, Hornbeam, Rock Water, Wild Rose, Chicory, Impatiens, Scleranthus, Willow, Clematis, Larch, Star of Bethlehem, Crab Apple, Mimulus, and Sweet Chestnut.
Specific combinations of these essences are used to treat specific ailments in the patient.
Rescue Remedy is perhaps the most well known of Bach’s flower remedies, and is the most highly recommended by professionals of all those that come ready-mixed. It is a combination of five different essences: Star of Bethlehem for trauma and shock; Cherry plum, for fear of losing control; Rock Rose, for panic and terror; Impatiens, for people who act too quickly; Clematis, for those unhappy with their lives. This is recommended for situations of extreme stress which occur in everyday life, such as a school examination or a job interview. It is to be taken orally as four drops under the tongue as frequently as is required, or the same dosage diluted in water. Though Rescue Remedy is used as an instant fix in everyday life, professionals believe that finding a personal mix of essences is a more effective way to deal with emotional problems.