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Bach Flower Remedies

Treating the person not the disease

A unique form of treatment from the wild plants of the countryside that tackles the negative emotions causing disease. Bach's eventual selection of essences include holly, honeysuckle, wild rose and clematis.

The Bach flower remedies were developed by Dr. Edward Bach in the 1930's and have increased in popularity ever since.  In the belief that all sickness is a product of negative states of mind, Dr. Bach used the essences of certain wild plants to treat the underlying emotional reasons for illness.  After carrying out experiments over a number of years with numerous different plants, he made a final selection of 38 flowers and trees from which to extract the essence.  These, Dr. Bach divided into seven groups, corresponding to emotions which he believed to be the most common negative states of mind occurring in human nature:

  1. Fear.
  2. Uncertainty.
  3. Lack of interest.
  4. Over-sensitivity.
  5. Despondency.
  6. Loneliness.
  7. Over-concern for the welfare of others.

Treating The Emotions

Dr. Bach believed in treating the patient's emotional state, not the disease, because every illness had its roots in the patient's character.  He believed that, just as a minor worry, or irritating thought, will automatically cause a frown to appear on the face, so a continued, larger concern will have a correspondingly greater effect on the body – eventually causing physical illness to set in.  The aim is to deal with the underlying emotional problem, before the physical symptoms set in.

Most people have suffered from indigestion or tension headaches at sometime in their lives, and many of today's major illnesses are closely related to emotional 'symptoms'.  The nature of the medical condition is unimportant: if, for example, fear is present, a remedy to combat fear is what the patient requires.

Prescribing Your Remedy

The Bach flower remedies are available from most health-food stockists and herbalists.  It is usual to self 'prescribe' the remedies but, for your initial prescription, it may be advisable to consult a flower remedies specialist (or naturopath), as most people find it difficult to be honest with themselves about their personality traits and their emotional state of mind.

As the remedies are quite harmless, they have no unpleasant side effects, and can, therefore, be taken with other treatments, such as homoeopathic tissue salts, or vitamin supplements.

The Rescue Remedy

Dr. Bach also formulated a potent mixture of five of the remedies – Cherry, Plum, Clematis, Impatiens, Rock Rose and Star of Bethlehem – which he called the 'Rescue Remedy'.  It can be used in a wide variety of situations such as after an accident, or hearing bad news, during childbirth, before important interviews, going on stage or taking a driving test.  It helps to relieve feelings of panic and restores natural balance to the body.  It is not, of course, a miracle cure, but a very useful emergency aid – the latter day equivalent of smelling salts.

The Rescue Remedy is available in liquid form or as a cream, which can be used for cuts, bites or stings.  The liquid can also be given to pets after an accident or when they are disturbed.

How to Take This Remedies

The flower remedies are sold as 'stock' – that is, concentrated essences of the individual plants, preserved in brandy.  Mix two or three drops of the remedy, or remedies using the dropper supplied with each bottle, with a little water and sip slowly.  Hold the liquid in the mouth for a moment before swallowing.  If no water is available, put several drops directly into the mouth and again, hold for a moment before swallowing.  Repeat the dose three times a day, after meals, for several weeks until an improvement is noted.

The Rescue Remedy should be taken whenever necessary, directly from the bottle.

Your Guide to the Bach Flower Remedies

The remedies are divided into seven groups which are classified according to the predominant emotion of the individual state of mind.  Each essence is itself administered to treat a particular aspect of that emotion.

1. ) FEAR

Aspen : For vague fears that something awful will happen, or nightmares.
Cherry Plum : Fear of losing control and doing something rash.
Mimulus : Fear, for unknown reasons, of speaking in public, or of accident.  For shy, timid types.


Cerato : For those who doubt their own ability, are lacking in self-confidence and always seeking others' advice.
Gentian : Easily discouraged.  Good for children who find it difficult to keep up with others at school.
Gorse : Feelings of hopelessness and despair.
Hornbeam : Can't cope with present difficulties: always procrastinating.


Clematis : Dreamy, absent-minded and preoccupied.  Often forgetful.
Honeysuckle : Nostalgic or homesick.  Recently bereaved or living on their own.
Wil-d Rose : Apathetic, resigned, unwilling to change.


Agrimony : Puts on a brave face, but desperate inside.
Centaury : Weak-willed, 'human doormat', cannot stand up for self, easily swayed by others' opinions.
Holly : Jealous, suspicious, bad-tempered, aggressive.
Walnut : For adjusting to change in life – teenagers going through puberty or women in the menopause.  When severing ties – changing jobs or giving up a relationship.


Crab Apple : Often ashamed of self, and feels unclean.  Houseproud.
Larch : Expects failure, so doesn’t even try.  Feels inferior.
Oak : Brave, determined type who 'struggles on' whatever the odds.
Pine : Blames self for others' mistakes.  Guilt complex.


Heather : Talkative, self-centered bores.
Impatiens : Impatient and irritable.  Wants everything done quickly.  Hates slow people.
Water Violet : Appears proud and aloof.  Does not become personally involved.


Beech : Intolerant and critical of others.
Chicory : Possessive, easily offended.  Selfish, expects others to follow their high standards.
Vervain : Fanatical, incensed by injustice.  Uptight and finds it hard to relax.


Unlike conventional medical treatment, where a GP will often prescribe only one type of medication for the physical symptoms alone, a Bach flower remedies specialist (or naturopath) may well suggest a mixture of several flower remedies together.  The following case history will help to explain why.

Dorothy, a single lady, had just retired from a lifetime's teaching when she broke her leg.  Used to being in control, she was very angry at being housebound, but found that the leg took far longer to heal than expected.  She found it difficult to accept help from anyone, but lost her confidence when she tried to walk on the leg again.

The naturopath prescribed for her a mixture of:

  • Star of Bethlehem – for the shock caused by the accident (shock can continue for many weeks after an event);
  • Honeysuckle – to stop her 'living in the past';
  • Crab Apple and Impatiens – for her anger with herself and for trying too much, too soon;
  • Larch – to help her regain her confidence in using the leg.

She was soon back on her feet and learning to be self-sufficient in a different way.


Dr. Edward Bach (1880-1936) gave up his Harley Street practice and moved to the countryside in 1930, where he believed he would be able to identify medicinal healing agents in the wildflowers growing in the meadows. 

He wrote:

'Among the type of remedies that will be used will be those obtained from the
most beautiful plants and herbs to be found in the pharmacy of nature