Preparations of the flowers of various plants used in a system of complementary medicine intended to relieve ill health by influencing underlying emotional states are known as flower remedies.
The emotions play a crucial role in the health of the physical body. Flower remedies directly address a person's emotional state in order to help facilitate both psychological and physiological well being. By balancing negative feelings and stress, flower remedies can effectively remove the emotional barriers to health and recovery.
The flower extracts recommended in this form of therapy are intended to relieve various unwanted, counterproductive emotional states. Its advocates say that diminishing these negative emotions can, in turn, remedy any physical symptoms the emotions may have fostered. Although many physicians would agree that emotional stress can contribute to illness, the effect of flower remedies on emotions has never undergone formal clinical trials, and there is no scientific proof that the remedies have any therapeutic value.
Procedure of Treatment
The extracts used in this form of therapy are extremely diluted solutions produced form 38 different blooms. The so-called 'mother tinctures' are made by either floating the blossoms in water for a number of hours or boiling them for half an hour. Each tincture is preserved by mixing it 50/50 with full-strength, 80 proof brandy. Drops of this mixture are diluted in additional brandy and bottled for personal use. Before ingesting, patients are advised to further dilute the remedy by putting two drops in a 30-millilitre (1-ounce) dropper bottle and filling it with mineral water. The bottle should be refrigerated. The entire set of remedies is intended as a self-help system simple enough to use without professional advice. Manufacturers provide self-administered questionnaires to aid in the selection of the proper flowers, each of which is thought to correspond to an emotional or psychological state. Users are advised to ignore any overt illness, instead asking themselves how they feel and what emotions they are experiencing, since the remedies are intended to treat the psychological states, not physical disease. Remedies can be combined, but no more than six or seven should be used at one time. The problems that the remedies purport to relieve range from fear of the unknown to intolerance. Here is a complete list:
agrimony-mental torture behind a cheerful face;
aspen-fear of unknown things;
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-for those overwhelmed by responsibility;
gentian-discouragement after a setback;
gorse-hopelessness and despair;
heather-self-centiredness and self-concern;
holly-hatred, envy and jealousy;
honeysuckle-living in the past;
hornbeam-procrastination, tiredness at the thought of doing something;
larch-lack of confidence;
mimulus-fear of known things;
mustard-deep gloom for no reason;
oak-for the plodder who keeps going past the point of exhaustion;
olive-exhaustion following mental or physical effort;
red chestnut-for those overly concerned 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 and hopelessness;
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. If you feel you need help with your diagnosis, you can consult a practitioner trained in selecting the remedies. He or she will question you about your emotions and attempt to intuit the emotional state underlying your condition. However, practitioners are expected to encourage patients to choose their own flower therapies once they are sufficiently knowledgeable.
Treatment frequency: Take four drops of each diluted remedy four times a day. Alternatively, put two drops of the solution from the manufacturer's bottle into a glass of water and sip from the glass at least four times daily.
Flower remedies were developed in the early 1900s by Dr. Edward Bach, an English homoeopathic physician, who believed that negative emotional or psychological states underlie physical illnesses. The remedies are designed to treat these emotional states rather than any specific disease. For this reason, people with similar physical conditions may need different remedies, based on their psychological needs. Dr. Bach identified the 38 wildflowers used in the remedies while searching the English countryside for blooms with healing effects. He determined which flower helped which emotional state by trying various plants on himself when he experienced a particular feeling.
Who Should Avoid This Therapy?
Although the brandy used as a preservative is taken in extremely diluted form, recovering alcoholics and those who wish to avoid alcohol for other reasons may wish to forego these preparations. Alternatively, the concentrated drops can be boiled to evaporate the alcohol without affecting the remedy's potency.
Proponents of the remedies warn that they may "(stir) up repressed feelings that need to be cleansed before complete healing can be achieved." Mainstream physicians, however, seem unconcerned. Most regard the remedies as harmless unless they are substituted for needed medical care. Advocates cite no physical side-effects. Indeed, they say that the remedies can be taken more frequently in moments of crisis without risk of overdose, addiction or tolerance. The solutions do not affect other courses of treatment, and are unaffected by them. Some practitioners add that the remedies are a self-limiting form of treatment, asserting that the need for, and effectiveness of, the remedies decrease as the patient's emotional health improves.