Flower essences (Proceedings)


In the early 1930's an English physician, Dr. Edward Bach, believed that people fell into several distinct emotional types and that each of these types would respond to illness in a particular way.


In the early 1930's an English physician, Dr. Edward Bach, believed that people fell into several distinct emotional types and that each of these types would respond to illness in a particular way. Dr. Bach also felt that the essence of the plants from nature might provide a healthier vehicle through which to give medicines to his patients than the bacterial vaccines he had initially developed, and he believed that the true essence of the plant lie in its flowers.

Dr. Bach began with two essences, Mimulus and Impatiens, which he prescribed according to his patients' personalities. Results were almost immediately positive, so he continued to test these first two essences on patients, added more essences as he could develop and test them, and ultimately ended up with 38 remedies – along with Rescue Remedy, a combination of five remedies. These first 39 remedies were the original Bach Flower® remedies; today there are several commercial lines of "Bach Flowers" available, collectively they are now known as flower essences.

In the early 1980's a handful of holistic veterinarians began using the flower essences to treat animals, and the essences can now be found as an important part of many healing practices, veterinary and otherwise.

Practitioners and researchers continue to add essences as they observe how they interact with patients, and today there are several suppliers of flower essences in this country and from abroad. Almost any health food store or other outlet that sells alternative medicines will have one or more of the product lines.

The essences have been used to treat humans and nearly all species of animals, including dogs, cats, horses, fish, birds, and wild animals. Some practitioners even report beneficial effects when the essences are used to treat plants and trees. While most practitioners focus on the essences' ability to impact emotional health, many also claim that when the patient's emotional component is normalized, physical ailments also clear up.

How the Essences Work

Dr. Bach's theory was that plants contain something innately within, an "essence" that, when given to a person with the appropriately-matched personality, would help that person develop an emotional balance that would in turn make him/her feel better. And, as the patient started to feel better emotionally, Dr. Bach discovered that some physical conditions also seemed to melt away.

Bach tested this theory extensively by observing each essence's effects on patients. Since Bach's time, more and more observations have been recorded, and there have recently been a few scientifically based tests to verify the effects. (The Flower Essence Society has been a leader in the field of scientifically testing the essences, and results of the scientific data are available from them.) To be sure, however, there are not a wealth of double blind scientific tests on flower essences, and by and large, practitioners have to rely on the clinical reports of other practitioners and the observable results they see in their patients.

Adverse Side Effects

The flower essences contain almost no chemical substance that would have the potential to create harmful side effects. (The only measurable chemical might be the substance used as a preservative.) Further, the essences only interact with emotions that need balancing – thus the potential for adverse side effects is extremely low. These two factors combine to make the essences one of the safest medicines to use on man or beast. Note: I've always felt personally that where there is potential for healing, there is also potential for harm. One thing to be aware of is that there is the potential, when using flower essences, for the animal to return to the emotional being he was genetically programmed to be. This "new self" may not be exactly what some dog owners want, but at least a competent trainer will know what hidden "agendas" the animal has within, and perhaps be better able to deal with them once they have shown up in less hidden fashion.

Using Flower Essences

Application of the healing powers of the flower essences is also exceedingly easy. Several drops (about four) of the mother solution are added to an ounce or two of pure water. Depending on the personality needs of the patient, you can use one remedy or combine up to five remedies in your prescription. (Note that the five remedies contained in Rescue Remedy or a substitute "rescue remedy" count as one remedy in a prescription.)

This mixture of essences is then applied to the patient, and you can be creative here: It can be mixed into the patient's food or water, you can squirt it into animal's mouth or into the lip fold, it can be atomized/spritzed over the animal, or you can soak your clean hands with the mix and then rub them over the body, ears, or feet.

The amount used is not as important as the number of times you use the remedy. I typically recommend 6 to 8 daily treatments over the first few days, then, if you are dealing with a chronic or ongoing situation, tapering the applications off to one to three times per day for at least a week or so longer.

It's been my experience that, if we are going to see beneficial results, we will often see them faster than I usually expect with herbs or other alternative treatments – oftentimes within hours and usually within a few days.

For chronic conditions I like to re-check how we are progressing after a month or two. I find that the initial prescription has typically had an effect by then. That is, if we had the proper match of plant and patient personalities, the animal's emotional patterns will already have changed somewhat, indicating that a change in the essence prescription may now be needed. Some treatments, however, may take longer – perhaps up to several months before we re-evaluate.

Choosing the Flower Essences to Use

The idea when using flower essences is to match the present emotional state of the patient with the "personality profile" of the flower. While we can't ask our animal patients how they feel, we can certainly make an educated guess, just by observing them ... and it is not difficult to tell when an animal is fearful, or high-strung, or overly aggressive, or exhausted.

A Beginner's Repertory of Flower Essences

Typical conditions where flower essences are often helpful include: Anytime an animal experiences fear and/or anxiety, including: trips to the show ring or the vet, thunderstorms, July 4th firecrackers, etc. Animal trainers have benefited from the flower essences when working with conditions such as: fear of loud noises, fear of things or people, puppies that nip or bite.

For the abused and/or neglected animal, for example, a combination of Aspen, Star of Bethlehem and Larch may be indicated. Aspen and Larch are indicated for the animal that shows his fear with downcast eyes, and Star of Bethlehem for grief and trauma. For the animal that seems to lack confidence a combination of Cerato, Aspen, Elm, Larch, and Mimulus might be helpful. Chestnut bud and Walnut have been used successfully, along with gentle but firm training, to work with animals that bite or nip.

Other specific remedies include (parentheses indicate the company where the particular remedy was originally developed):

  • Mimulus (Bach): For fear of particular things or circumstances such as thunderstorms, vacuum cleaners, trips to the vet, visits by small children.

  • Aspen (Bach): For the nervous, fearful animal, especially in new circumstances. For the dog with its tail always tucked between its legs or the dog that constantly rolls on its back and "piddles".

  • Gorse (Bach): For utter despondency and hopelessness; restores endurance and vitality. For the very sick animal that appears to have given up.

  • Rock Rose (Bach): For extreme fear and panic; restores courage and calmness. A good remedy to add to Mimulus (and possibly also Aspen) for the animal afraid of thunderstorms or during the Fourth of July firecracker season.

  • Star of Bethlehem (Bach): For the physically or emotionally traumatized animal – dogs or cats rescued from the shelter, previously abused animals, or after surgery or boarding.

  • Chestnut bud (Bach): For the animal that fails to learn from experience; that makes the same mistakes over and over.

  • Larch (Bach): For the patient with no confidence; the animal who seems to always have a fear of failure.

  • Scleranthus (Bach): Remedies uncertainty and imbalance. Good for motion sickness. May be combined with "Rescue Remedy".

  • Walnut (Bach): Helpful after any change such as new babies or pets in the family, moving from one home to another, weaning, after heat cycles.

  • Self Heal (Flower Essence Society): Helps healing by stimulation the innate healing reserves of the body. Useful when trying to heal any illness.

  • Tiger Lily (Flower Essence Society): Helps with aggression and animals that tend to bite and snap. Teaches co-operation with others, helps release aggression and hostility.

  • Chamomile (Flower Essence Society): Calming. Helps with the irritable and fractious animal.

  • Rescue Remedy (Bach), a combination of five flowers which is also known by a variety of other names, available from other suppliers. These other "rescue remedies" often have a slightly different flower formula from the original Bach remedy, but all of them are used: For any accident, illness or injury ... the emergency remedy to use until you can get to the vet.


Modern-day health practitioners recognize the importance of emotional well-being for establishing and maintaining a person or animal's overall health. The importance of the mind/body connection for whole-body health has been scientifically validated, and many of the other alternative medicines – in addition to the flower essences -- have successfully focused on this vital connection. Because they are extremely safe, effective for many conditions, and very easy to use, flower essences have become one of the more popular remedies for helping balance the emotional status of our best buddies.

Selected References

Bach, Edward and F. J. Wheeler; Bach Flower Remedies; orig 1930's – Keats

Barnard, Julian and Martine; Healing Herbs of Edward Bach; Ashgrove Press

Blome, Gotz; Advanced Bach Flower Therapy; Healing Arts Press

Chancellor, Philip M.; Bach Flower Remedies; Keats Pub

Cunningham, Donna; Flower Remedies Handbook; Sterling Pub

Graham, Helen and Gregory Vlamis; Bach Flower Remedies for Animals;

Findhorn Press

Kaminski, Patricia and Richard Katz; Flower Essence Repertory; Flower Essence Society

Kramer, Dietmar; New Bach Flower Therapies; Healing Arts Press

Mazzarella, Barbara; Bach Flower Remedies for Children; Healing Arts Press

Scheffer, Mechthild; Bach Flower Therapy; Healing Arts Press

Vlamis, Gregory; Bach Flower Remedies to the Rescue; Healing Arts Press

Williamson, Vivien; Bach Remedies and Flower Essences; Southwater

Wright, Michaelle Small; Flower Essences; Perelandria

Related Videos
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.