Edward Bach (1886-1936) was a British physician and well-known pathologist, immunologist, and bacteriologist. His discoveries in these areas of medicine were pioneering, and his innovative bacterial vaccines have found a permanent place in homeopathic medicine under the name “Bach nosodes.” Despite his medical successes, he still felt unsatisfied. For him an illness was not just a “dysfunction of the human machine” but an effect of disharmony between body and mind. The symptoms of an illness were the external expression, the bodily manifestation, of negative emotional states.
His postulate was, “Treat the person, not the illness.” He assumed that the causes of disease were negative emotional states such as sorrow, fear, dissatisfaction, impatience, sadness, and so forth. Therefore, he started looking for soul remedies that could influence the causes of an illness. A great nature lover, Edward Bach was also extremely sensitive. In his quest for new remedies he would go into the countryside, pick the petal of a single flower, and lay it on his tongue. With the help of his immense sensitivity he was able to feel the effect of a plant on the human body and psyche. In this way he found the plants he thought were useful for the treatment of negative emotional states. He used not only the blossoms of wildflowers but also the flowers of wild shrubs, bushes, and trees.
Production of the Bach Flower Remedies
The production of the Bach Flower Remedies is handled in two ways: Using the “sun method,” the flowers are picked on a warm summer day in full sunshine. The flowers are put in a glass bowl with fresh spring water, taken, if possible, from a spring close to the location of the flower. It is sufficient that the flowers only cover the surface of the water. The bowl is placed in the sun for two to four hours. According to Edward Bach the sun will transfer the vibration of the flowers into the medium of the water, which in this way becomes energetically impregnated.
Afterward the flowers are removed from the solution, and an equal portion of alcohol is added for preservation (Bach used brandy). The derived solution is stored in a stock bottle. During treatment, the remedy is usually diluted with water.
Since not all flowers, shrubs, bushes, and trees bloom at a time of year with plenty of sunshine, a second method for the preparation of remedies is necessary, the so-called cooking method. The flowers and buds are picked according to the sun method and boiled down. The extract is filtered several times and mixed again with the same portion of alcohol as a preservative. The process is continued in the same way as the remedies produced with the sun method.
How do Bach Flowers work?
In 1934, Bach wrote the following concerning the way his flower Remedies work:
The action of these remedies is to raise our vibration and open up our channels for the reception of the Spiritual Self; to flood our natures with the particular virtue we need, and wash out from us the fault that is causing the harm. They are able, like beautiful music or any glorious uplifting thing which gives us inspiration, to raise our very natures, and bring us nearer to our soul and by that very act to bring peace and relieve our sufferings. They cure, not by attacking vibrations of our Higher Nature, in the presence of which, disease melts away as snow in the sunshine.
There is no true healing unless there is change in outlook, peace of mind, and inner happiness,
If the Personality could and would act wholly in harmony with its soul, which itself is part of the greater whole, man would be living in perfect harmony. Wherever the Personality is not connected to the great cosmic energy field by its Soul, not swinging in harmony with it, there is disruption, congestion, friction, disharmony, and loss of energy.
When conflict has arisen between the intentions of Soul and of personality within a certain soul quality or energy potential, there is disharmony. This will have a negative effect on the person’s whole psyche, and, as Dr. Edward Bach put it, a negative state of mind and soul develops.
The flower remedy has the same harmonious energy frequency as the human soul quality concerned, but in this case without distortion and at the normal rhythm. The Bach Flower Remedy acts as a form of catalyst, re-establishing contact between Soul and Personality at the point where this has become broken. The Soul is able to communicate its intentions to the Personality again. Life returns to an area where disharmony and rigidity had taken over. Or as Dr. Bach said: The human being becomes very much himself again at a point where he had ceased to be quite himself.
The personality, caught up in the confusion and restriction that is only too human, finds a way out again, back to the soul qualities or virtues that give meaning to our existence on this planet and bring harmony.
New Bach Flower Therapies
This new therapeutic concept is based on three principal elements, as described below.
Consideration of the Relationship among the Flowers.
Through the relationship of the flowers to each other (the “tracks”) it is possible to determine which flower covers the superficial side of a problem and which focuses more on the deeper cause. In this way a new hierarchy is created, one that will determine the therapy to follow. This hierarchy is especially helpful when a patient needs many flowers, which can make it difficult to find a starting point. Once the acute problems have diminished, it is possible with the help of this hierarchy to determine which of the deeper negative emotional states have led to the present complaints. It is then possible, if desired, to continue the therapy with the appropriate flowers to open up the mind.
Diagnosis through the Bach Flower Body Maps
Every Bach Flower Remedy is related to an area on the surface of the body – similar to the foot reflex zones. Negative moods lead to a change of energetic structure in these places, which often is accompanied by pain and disturbing sensations. Thus, solely by pinpointing the areas on the body map it is possible to obtain a flower diagnosis.
You can take the remedies in several ways. For the treatment of a short-term mood or problem the easiest way is to put two drops of each selected remedy in a glass of water and sip as required, but at least four times a day, until relief is obtained. If using Rescue Remedy, put in four drops instead of two.
For the treatment of more chronic problems you should make up a treatment bottle, as this is more economical and will make the precious stock remedies go a bit further. Simply get a 30ml bottle with a dropper in the lid (try the local pharmacy), and then add two drops of each selected remedy (four drops of Rescue Remedy) to the bottle. Top this up with still mineral water and from this bottle take four drops four times a day.
If you keep them in the fridge, treatment bottles will last from 2 to 4 weeks. If you can’t keep your bottle in the fridge but have to keep it in your pocket or handbag then you can add a teaspoon of brandy to the treatment bottle – this will help to keep the water from going off. If you don’t want to use brandy, cider vinegar is an alternative, although it isn’t quite so effective.
Selecting the Bach Flower Remedies
Dr Bach wanted his remedies to be so simple to use that anyone could select and take them without professional advice or the need for any special techniques. That is why the simple method set out here is still the only one used by the Bach Centre and by the practitioners on its register.
Imagine for example that you are suffering from asthma. There is no Bach Flower Remedy for asthma, since this is a physical complaint. Instead you need to ignore the asthma and look at the kind of person you are. Perhaps you are someone who is shy and timid, and who gets nervous about things like speaking in public and meeting new people. This would indicate that you are a Mimulus type, so this would be the first remedy to select.
Then you might think about the way you are feeling at the moment. Perhaps your son is about to start school and quite without cause you are frightened that he will be bullied. Red Chestnut is the remedy for the fear that something bad will happen to loved ones. Perhaps you have been working too hard and are exhausted: this would indicate the need for Olive.
You can select up to six or seven different remedies in this way. Don’t worry too much if you make a wrong selection, because if a remedy is not needed it will not do anything. Experience has shown, however, that too many remedies taken at one time are not as effective as a few well-chosen ones. This means that there is no point mixing all 38 together to zap everything at once!
Each of the 38 remedies discovered by Dr Bach is directed at a particular characteristic or emotional state. Here is a list of the 38 remedies and their indications:
Agrimony – mental torture behind a cheerful face
Aspen – fear of unknown things
Beech – intolerance
Centaury – the inability to say ‘no’
Cerato – lack of trust in one’s own decisions
Cherry Plum – fear of the mind giving way
Chestnut Bud – failure to learn from mistakes
Chicory - selfish, possessive love
Clematis – dreaming of the future without working in the present
Crab Apple – the cleansing remedy, also for self-hatred
Elm – overwhelmed by responsibility
Gentian – discouragement after a setback
Gorse - hopelessness and despair
Heather – self-centeredness and self-concern
Holly – hatred, envy and jealousy
Honeysuckle – living in the past
Hornbeam – procrastination, tiredness at the thought of doing something
Impatiens – impatience
Larch - lack of confidence
Mimulus – fear of known things
Mustard – deep gloom for no reason
Oak – the plodder who keeps going past the point of exhaustion
Olive – exhaustion following mental or physical effort
Pine - guilt
Red Chestnut – over-concern for the welfare of loved ones
Rock Rose – terror and fright
Rock Water - self-denial, rigidity and self-repression
Scleranthus – inability to choose between alternatives
Star of Bethlehem – shock
Sweet Chestnut – Extreme mental anguish, when everything has been tried and there is no light left
Vervain – over-enthusiasm
Vine – dominance and inflexibility
Walnut – protection from change and unwanted influences
Water Violet – pride and aloofness
White Chestnut – unwanted thoughts and mental arguments
Wild Oat – uncertainty over one’s direction in life
Wild Rose – drifting, resignation, apathy
Willow – self-pity and resentment
There is also a combination remedy called Rescue Remedy.