Flower Essences:
A General Introduction


There is no true healing unless there is a change in outlook, peace of mind, and inner happiness. Dr. Edward Bach, 1934

Edward Bach, medical doctor, bacteriologist, and homeopathic physician, dedicated his life to discovering a system of healing which would go beyond the diagnosis and treatment of physical symptoms to address the emotional and mental roots of disease. He came to realize that when people were treated on the basis of distinctive personality characteristics, rather than according to their disease, true healing could occur. Convinced that he would discover what he sought in nature, he began to explore the fields and forests of England in search of Essences which would be effective, pure, and inexpensive.

One day, the sight of dewdrops glistening on flower petals inspired him with the idea that the heat of the sun, acting through the dew, must draw out the healing essence of each flower Through the development of a method for extracting this essence and self-experimentation with the resulting essences he isolated flowers which addressed a broad range of psychological conditions. These became known as the Bach Flower Essences.

How They Heal

Dr. Bach believed that the source of all illness is conflict between one's higher self, which wishes to realize its full potential, and the personality (or ego) which may obstruct this realization through limiting beliefs and actions. This obstruction expresses itself through blockages which prevent the wishes of the higher self from being heard, as illustrated in this case history.

Susan deeply wishes to do volunteer work at a local animal shelter in order to deepen her bonds with animals and to be of service to them. Her mother, bored and lonely, demands all of Susan's free time. Susan, feeling obliged to meet her mother's needs, blocks the energy of the impulses which come from her higher self. She thus both prevents herself from using this energy for her personal growth and uses additional energy in trying to avoid recognition of her feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction.

The Bach Flower Essence Centuary is for those who (in Bach's words) "become more servants than willing helpers," thus neglecting their own purpose in being. Willow would be helpful if Susan feels resentful; Pine could alleviate guilt about living her own life; while Chicory would be useful in helping Susan's mother let go of her daughter.

Because each essence has the same energy as that of the desire the higher self wishes to fulfill it is able to make direct contact with this energy, strengthening the higher self to dissolve the energy blockages.

Which Ones Are For You?

A useful way to begin is to make a list of the feelings or issues which worry you most. For example:

  1. Whenever I think of starting something new I get discouraged.
  2. I worry about my children all the time
  3. I'm trying to lose weight, but the urge to raid the refrigerator overcomes me all the time.

Keep your list to no more than five items (preferably three). Then read the descriptions in the next section to see which most closely correspond to your issues. You may find that you need to refine the problem. For example, the problem, "Whenever I think of starting something new I get discouraged" may have several emotional sources.

If someone doesn't feel competent enough to start the project the appropriate essence would be Larch.

For the feeling that one is already overwhelmed with work, Elm would be appropriate.

If one is simply afraid to try something new Mimulus would be ideal for the fear.

The Essences for the other two problems posed would be 2. Red Chestnut, and 3. Cherry Plum.

An important thing to remember as you read the descriptions of the flower Essences in the next section is that a condition need not be one which is habitual. For example, maybe you used to have more self-confidence, but lately it seems to be missing. Flower essences work for both longstanding and temporary states.

We recommend choosing Bach Flower Essences for general issues. For example, Hornbeam is recommended for the general issue of being reluctant to face a new day. If, however, your reluctance is based on resistance to something specific--you need to make some dreaded phone calls or take a career step which frightens you we recommend Tansy.

Similarly, if you are generally critical of others Beech is a good choice. We recommend the FES essence Filaree for those who are critical in a picky way or over small things (although "small" isn't an objective word).

However, we aren't the ultimate authorities. If a description of a flower essence feels intuitively right to you choose it.

Because flower essences are non-addictive and physically harmless they are an ideal form of self-treatment for you, your children, even your pets. You may find that your explorations yield you more vivid dreams, a deepened sense of intuition, and greater excitement about being alive. Enjoy these gifts of the flowers.

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