Flower essences have been with us for a very long time. In fact, the ancients included fragrance in their healing modalities in many ways. Today, traditional flower essences, as remedies, are attributed to Edward Bach, M.D. (1886–1936), an acclaimed British physician, bacteriologist, and homeopath. I personally feel that the study of flower essences should begin with learning about the work of Dr. Bach, and then the student will be better equipped to explore what resonates on a personal level after the original Bach Flower Remedies are laid down as a foundation to build upon.
One can find myriad of flower essences from many different manufacturers and formulators being marketed both online and in shops where holistic remedies are sold virtually all over the world.
As a holistic life coach and anti-aging practitioner for people and animals, I especially like to include flower essences in anti-aging regimes for both people and also our companion animals, as I have had great success with them and have used them personally for many years. I believe that flower essences can help each of us become connected to our higher selves and experience a state of ‘agelessness,’ as finding the right remedies and using them at the appropriate times in our lives allows us to align our attitude about life and about our age (or the age of those living things around us) and connect us to this moment in time. This moment in time is truly what we all have ownership of. Flower essences can help us to become aware of emotional patterns that we find ourselves and others caught up in. Once aware of them, the remedies can then help to release the blocks that keep us from moving forward. Once we are moving forward, we can be open to our soul’s true purpose and accomplish our own hopes and dreams. Perhaps the essences help us to get out of our soul’s way!
Some practitioners, such as myself’ now use several different lines of flowers essences. I, for one, am always open to exploring the new essences that are being developed on a regular basis. Some are even made specifically for animals. The difference is that most human essences contain a little brandy as a way to preserve them, and the ones made for animals usually use vegetable glycerine; this varies from maker to maker. We can try the ones that appeal to us on for size and embrace what works for us. We can, therefore, create very specific personalized protocols, even species appropriate ones, as well. If this subject matter is new to you, then you might just enjoy leanring a bit about flower essences.
Let us keep in mind that flower essences are rather like homeopathy. My recent article on Homeopathy for Dogs and Cats will give you the basics so don’t skip reading it because dogs and cats are mentioned in the title. Its principles are the same whether one walks on 4 legs or two!
Like homeopathy, flower essence therapy is a system of energetic, alternative or holistic medicine. If you prefer the mainstream Western evidenced based medical model, then this may not be right for you to explore, as there will be no double blind clinical studies presented here to prove its effectiveness or efficacy. This is in part because the word ‘holistic’ recognizes that the whole is more than just the sum of its parts.
Let’s define what holistic actually means. In holistic medicine, the whole being is considered: environment, social and spiritual factors, personality, and emotions, not just the symptomatic parts. Holism, as popularized in the 1960s and 1970s, was a backlash against the Cartesian reductionism—the idea that complex natural phenomena can be explained by reducing them to their constituent parts—that still dominates Western science and medicine today. I like to call it the ‘only matter matters’ Newtonian medical system.
Philosopher René Descartes, the seventeenth-century mathematician who wrote, “I think, therefore I am,” somewhat perversely saw nonhuman animals as a mindless, soul-less collections of parts, instincts, and reactions that could be taken apart and analyzed and thus understood. This belief led to the use of animals as labor, experimental subjects, clothing, food, and entertainment, with little if any consideration for their feelings. This, to this day describes Western medicine, in my opinion, pretty much to a “T!”
Let’s take a look at the life of Dr. Edward Bach.
After many years of researching the healing properties of flowering plants, Dr. Bach developed thirty-eight natural remedies to address every negative emotional state he identified. In addition, he created the combination formula Rescue Remedy intended for any emotionally or physically traumatic situation. If you don’t see your emotional or physically traumatic situation covered in the 38, Rescue Remedy is a brilliant choice on its own. And I always carry it with me! Today, these remedies are world-renowned for their effectiveness. But good luck trying to share this concept on your next visit to your physician unless you know this individual has studied up on this subject matter and is open to it.
Dr. Bach’s work has had a significant influence on holistic medicine through his philosophy and essence development. However, while many of his followers believe his 38 remedies are the only viable ones, other innovators have expanded the essence repertory, as I mentioned having now created thousands of new essences of not only other flowers but animals and even inanimate objects (gems, crystals, minerals, mountains, lakes, landmarks) and the intangible (celestial bodies and even angelic beings).
Unlike antidepressants and tranquilizers, which only mask emotional distress, flower essences, or flower remedies, are gentle catalysts that have been found to alleviate underlying causes of stress and restore emotional balance. Flower remedies are benign, and they may, therefore, be safely used for humans and animals. The subtlety of this therapy makes it also well suited for our animal companions as it works brilliantly in my opinion on our cats, dogs, and horses, too. The fact is I have never found anything that doesn’t benefit from the use of flower essences, including plants, and the good news is, their use is completely safe.
Note: I caution the reader to seek the advice of their doctors for diagnosed and undiagnosed medical conditions and to use flower essences as an adjunct therapy for emotional well-being when appropriate. Please don’t confuse the sharing of information with medical advice. Again flower essences can be used to accompany any therapy holistic or not!
Also please note, that flower essences are not herbal remedies. Herbs possess powerful medicinal qualities and should only be used as directed by a qualified herbalist. There are both veterinary and human holistic practitioners who specialize in different aspects of holistic medicine. However, flower essences do not contain any of the physical flower but only the energy or “essence” of that plant. In this way, they are as previously mentioned somewhat like homeopathic remedies. Like homeopathic remedies, they are diluted to such a degree that a kind of memory or “ghost” of the original substance is imprinted on the water. Have a look at this YouTube video to see a bit of interesting research on the subject of imprinting water. And for more on the subject of imprinting water see my article, Heartfusion: The Magic of Imprinting Water.
HOW TO USE FLOWER ESSENCES
Edward Bach, M.D., the British physician and flower essence inventor, reasoned that negative, inharmonious thoughts and feelings poison the system, bringing about ill health and hindering recovery. He believed the only way to truly cure illness was to address its underlying emotional causes. This view is diametrically opposed to that of conventional medicine, which treats symptoms. Everyone, including our animal companions, experiences negativity from time to time, but some are better able to deal with it and thus bring their systems and minds back into harmony. For those who need help, flower essences are wonderful assistants.
Flower essences are completely safe and nontoxic and do not interfere with medicines or any other healing therapies including homeopathy. Flower essences act on the emotions and energy and do not have direct physical effects. However, they often relieve physical symptoms whose root is emotional imbalance.
GENERAL DOSAGE INSTRUCTIONS
Giving flower remedies to people, children and animals is simple. You’ll be making a dosage bottle for your remedy selections. I like the cobalt blue glass dosage bottles (but amber is fine too). I find the 2 ounce size with glass dropper perfect. Choose the essences that apply to the situation. Start with a maximum of six to eight remedies, which you may select from the Bach flower repertory based on the symptomatic picture of what is described in their usage guidelines. I usually include the remedy called Rescue Remedy, which is a combination remedy itself, but we need only count it as one essence when mixed with others. The reason I include Rescue Remedy is that we may not consciously know what the real issues are that may be causing underlying issues, and this remedy seems to catch the ones that we humans may miss for ourselves and others.
Prepare the clean 2-ounce (60 ml) cobalt glass, dropper bottle by filling it with spring or purified water. Add 2 drops of each chosen remedy from its original stock bottle; for Rescue Remedy, add 4 drops. Vigorously shake the dosage bottle against your hand for a few seconds to energize the remedy. You may also use a spray bottle and can apply the spray to the chakra point you feel would be most appropriate. I like to use the heart chakra as so much energy emanates from it. But please don’t spray cats or dogs as they deem it to be punishment and intrusive. Horses don’t seem to mind when misted with flower essences. For dogs and cats, just put a few drops of the combination remedy in the cat or dog’s species appropriate raw food or purified drinking water. You can rub a few drops of the remedy on the inside of the cat or dog’s ears, on the crown of the head, or on the paw pads; or just give on or two drops by mouth. When using a spray bottle, you can spritz the ambient environment. And keep in mind this works well for dogs and cats who must be transported by cars, so spritz their carriers, too and for cats. Their litter boxes can be spritzed as well, for example, in the case of inappropriate elimination. As you begin to open up to the idea of flower essence therapy, your imagination can guide you on a wonderful path of exploration.
Ideally, flower remedies are given three or four times a day. In cases of extreme stress, Rescue Remedy may be given as often as needed. I especially like to simply add my particular remedy to a glass of alkalized, ionized or spring water and sip leisurely. Only a few drops should be taken or administered at a time. To increase the effect, administer essences more frequently, not in greater volume.
Take or administer 5 to 10 drops at a time by mouth or alternative route such as I have mentioned by spraying or dabbing onto chakra points or sensitive areas. Try not to touch the dropper to anything, especially the mouth so that the dropper is not contaminated. If you do, rinse the dropper in hot water before you put it back into the bottle to avoid contaminating the remainder of the formula.
When the remedies are sprayed or given in food or water such as for dogs, cats or horses, even babies, children, elderly or infermed individuals, there’s no need to worry about their effect on anyone else should they come in contact with the flower essence. If another animal (or human, for that matter) doesn’t need this exact remedy or combination of remedies, it will have no effect.
To ensure potency, always prepare the remedy-enhanced food or water fresh daily. Store flower remedies the same way you would homeopathic remedies. In other words, keep them away from sunlight, heat, strong odors, microwaves, motors, electrical equipment, and disinfecting agents.
ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS: WHAT IS NORMAL?
Before you begin using flower essences, remember to take a good look at yourself or those living things in your care objectively so you know what actions and behaviors are normal.
When it comes to animals, children and even the very elderly, we often accuse both humans and animals of being angry or spiteful, or simply difficult because we misunderstand their behavior when they behave in ways we don’t like, but this is only our inability under certain circumstances to understand our fellow sentient beings on a truly deep, loving personal level.
The more we practice ‘being and becoming’ simultaneously and stay truly in the moment, the more value we add to the lives of those around us. Flower essences offer a gentle therapy to aid in all the transformations we go through in our lives.
For a complete illustrated guide in the use of Bach Flower Essences for cats, see The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care at my Celestial Pets website.