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Frequently Asked Questions About
The Bach Flower Essences

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Please note: The answers here also apply to Flower Essence Services Essences.

  1. How did the Bach Flower Essences originate?
  2. How are they prepared?
  3. What does "life force" mean in connection with the Bach Flower Essences?
  4. How do they work?
  5. Can the Bach Flower Essences be used for physical diseases or complaints?
  6. Are the Bach Flower Essences only for long-standing conditions, or can I take them for temporary situations?
  7. How do I choose them?
  8. How many can I take at once?
  9. Does Rescue essence count as one essence or five?
  10. How long does it take them to work?
  11. What happens if I take the wrong one?
  12. What if nothing happens?
  13. I'm taking some Essences, and I feel worse. Should I stop?
  14. How will I know when to stop taking my mixture?
  15. Are there other things I can do to help the Bach Flower Essences to work?
  16. If I take a Bach Flower essence once does it mean I should never take it again?
  17. Are the Bach Flower Essences safe for children and infants to take?
  18. Can I give Bach Flower Essences to my pets?
  19. My husband doesn't believe in anything, and he'd never take Bach Flower Essences. What if I slip some in his coffee?
  20. Do Bach Flower Essences work only as placebos?
  21. I'm a recovering alcoholic. Can I take Bach Flower Essences?
  22. What about other flower Essences? Are they as good as the Bach Flower Essences?
  23. If Bach Flower Essences are intended to be a process of self-diagnosis and -treatment what's the point of BFR counselors?

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If you have questions which do not appear above we'd be happy to answer them. You can email us at elfin@ulster.net.

Please note that we can answer general questions only, i.e. " is the difference between Aspen and Mimulus" If you'd like to know what Bach Flower Essences you need please see our questionnaire

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In writing the following answers I've kept in mind that you who read them may range from old-time New Agers and metaphysical explorers who don't blink when the word "vibrations" is used in casual conversation to those who are making a cautious first exploration. To readers in the latter group: I appreciate your open-mindedness and willingness to explore and learn.

Some general premises make it easier to understand the Bach Flower Essences. One is the idea that all forms of matter are made up of energy, and that energy is always changing and interacting with the energy of other forms of matter.

A second premise is that all forms of matter are individual expressions of one unlimited energy source (called by some God, by others Life Force, Universal Soul, or All That Is).

Another way of saying the above is that every living thing has a soul, which is its expression of Universal Soul, from which it receives a sense of its purpose in being, a purpose which involves expressing its individuality while in relationship with other souls. We are at once unique and connected to all other beings.

In this context we can view the 38 flowers which make up the Bach Flower essence repertoire as both expressing their individual purposes (which are known only to them) and sharing their Essences with us.

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  1. How did the Bach Flower Essences originate?

    Edward Bach, a medical doctor, bacteriologist, and homeopath, discovered the Essences in the late 1920s and early 1930s. His intention was to develop a method of healing which would treat the emotional and spiritual imbalances which lead to physical disease. He discovered the Essences for this method of treatment in certain wildflowers.

    His method of relating particular flowers to a mental or emotional condition was intuitive. Although trained in the rational methods of science and medicine, he now began to manifest a deep sensitivity. When he was looking for a flower to heal a particular negative state, for example, jealousy, he would suffer that condition. He would feel jealousy, and associated emotions--, rage, hatred-- often related physical complaints (perhaps a tension headache or upset stomach) until he found the flower which he intuitively knew would heal the condition.

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  2. How are the Bach Flower Essences prepared?

    There are two methods. Twenty of the Essences are prepared by the potentization method. Flowers are picked at the peak of their blossoming and put in glass containers holding distilled water for about three hours. The flowers are then discarded, and the water preserved in brandy. This is the "mother tincture" from which the Bach Flower Essences are prepared.

    In the boiling method (used mostly for for those Essences which come from trees) twigs bearing flowers or catkins are boiled for about an hour; then the water is left to cool, after which the twigs are discarded, and the water preserved in brandy.

  3. What do the terms "life force" and "subtle energy" mean in connection with the Bach Flower Essences?

    The Bach Flower Essences contain infinitesimal amounts of plant material. What gives them their effect is the flowers' subtle energy. Dr. Bach developed the two methods described in Answer 2 to draw out that subtle energy (which could also be called the life force or soul essence) of the flower. This energy heals on an emotional/spiritual level.

    One could think of this vibrational essence as being electrical in nature. The water's molecular structure is charged and imprinted with the electrical pattern of the flowers' vibrational essence.

    (The auras-- subtle energy pattern- certain Bach Flower Essences have been captured by Kirlian photography. These pictures are reproduced in Mechthild Scheffer's Mastering the Bach Flower Essences.)

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  4. How do they work?

    The theory behind the use of the Bach Flower Essences is each of the flowers embodies a particular soul quality (or energy frequency). When an individual resists that quality an energy blockage forms so that s/he is out of touch with that aspect of his/her fundamental nature.

    John, for example, resists being nonjudgmental, genuinely nurturing, and capable of selfless love. He was raised to believe that such characteristics were only for women, and that as a man he had to be dictatorial and produce model, obedient children.

    As a parent, John interfered with and manipulated his children's lives to the best of his ability. He became sullen and irritable when he didn't get his way. He wanted his children to visit often, and when one of his sons contemplated moving across the country John went into a sulk for days.

    John needed the flower essence Chicory, which embodies the soul potential he'd never dared to express. If he took it it would act as a catalyst to re-establish communication between himself and his soul by flooding his nature with the subtle energy of that quality.

    In Dr. Bach's own words:

    The action of these Essences is to raise our vibrations and open up our channels for the reception of the Spiritual Self, to flood our natures with the particular virtue we need, and wash out from us the fault that is causing the harm.

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  5. Can the Bach Flower Essences be used for physical diseases or complaints?

    Yes and no.

    No, in that there may be no direct correspondence between a particular illness or disease and a flower essence. The Bach system views physical disorder as the outcome of emotional/spiritual disorder. The role of the practitioner is to identify these subtle disorders and recommend the Essences which can help to restore the client to inner harmony.

    Yes, in that there is sometimes a relationship. A person who is mentally rigid and unbending may develop an arthritic condition, for example, but the practitioner would evaluate the mental, not the physical.condition.

    Yes, because ultimately a state of mental and emotional harmony will eventually express itself in the health of the physical body.

  6. Are the Bach Flower Essences only for long-standing conditions, or can I take them for temporary situations?

    You can definitely take the Essences for temporary situations. Say that you are ordinarily well-balanced, but the recent and sudden death of someone you loved has put you in a state of shock. You can take Star of Bethlehem until the symptoms have gone.

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  7. How do I choose the right Essences?

    I feel that the most effective way to choose them is to make a list of the principal issues in your life right now, then to decide which of these issues is the most important. (For more information on how to do this see Bach Flower Essences in this section of our site). Remember, this isn't the only chance you'll ever have to take them.

  8. How many can I take at once?

    In general, it is recommended that no more than seven be taken in a mixture.

  9. Does Rescue essence count as one essence or five?

    Traditionally Rescue essence counts as one, and it's recommended that you use it in your mixture if you feel that you need three or more of the Essences it contains.

  10. How long does it take the Essences to work?

    This depends on a number of factors: how long you've had the condition (are you still in shock from something which happened many years ago or was it a recent occurrence?), the degree to which your life and self-image are structured around the imbalance (some people, for example, are so used to asking other people what they should do [Cerato] that the idea of making their own decisions could be terrifying). One's willingness to change is always the primary factor in speeding things up.

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  11. What happens if I take the wrong one?

    Nothing. If you mistakenly take Vine and you don't have a dictatorial impulse in your being the essence will have no effect because there's no blockage for it to dissolve. Because the Bach Flower Essences are completely harmless you will feel no effect.

  12. What if nothing happens?

    You may have chosen the wrong essence. You may not be taking it often enough (see The Bach Flower Essences: A Travel Guide for information on preparing and taking your mixture), or you may be strongly resistant to the change which the essence facilitates.

  13. I'm taking some Essences, and I feel worse. Should I stop?

    Maybe. Feeling worse is part of what is called in homeopathy a healing crisis. The idea is that in the process of releasing the energy blockage it must pass through the being, causing emotional and sometimes physical symptoms. Sometimes it means that a person is now very aware that he's, for example, prone to hide his feelings, and notices every time he does that; whereas before he was far less aware.

    Taking Rescue essence is one good way to ease through a healing crisis. Accepting that the condition is temporary is another. If life has really become too difficult, I recommend trying to determine which of the Essences in a mixture is causing the crisis and making up a new mixture without it. Or, if you're taking the maximum number of seven Essences, try cutting down to 3 or 4. You may be going through more changes than you're prepared to handle. Be sure to try the essence again at a later time.

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  14. How will I know when to stop taking my mixture?

    When the condition for which you took it is no longer present. You may also notice that, although for a few weeks you took it faithfully, you've started to forget.

  15. Are there other things I can do to help the Bach Flower Essences to work?

    Yes. The Bach Flower Essences: A Travel Guide gives a number of suggestions. Some of these include recording and thinking about your dreams (which many people find become very vivid when they're taking Essences), making an affirmation which matches the change you want to occur (Cerato: "I trust my decision-making ability"; Larch: "I'm confident that I can succeed.")

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  16. If I take a Bach Flower essence once does it mean I should never take it again?

    No. It's my feeling that sometimes the process of dissolving a blockage is gradual, or in stages. You may clear it up to whatever degree you're willing to incorporate into your life. Then a year or so later you may be ready to make deeper changes.

  17. Are the Bach Flower Essences safe for children and infants to take?

    Yes. I regularly recommend them, and because children and infants haven't had years and years for blockages to become entrenched the Essences work with great ease for them.

  18. Can I give Bach Flower Essences to my pets?

    My cats urge you to. Veterinarians are becoming increasingly open to recommending the Essences as part of their diagnostic work. Plants, by the way, like them, too. If you transplant a plant, consider giving it Star of Bethlehem for the trauma.

  19. My husband doesn't believe in anything, and he'd never take Bach Flower Essences. What if I slip some in his coffee?

    Well . . . You could, but I don't recommend it. What are you going to do if he has a healing crisis? I would prefer to introduce the subject of the Essences, and show by example, i.e., you take the ones you feel you need, that they work. I also recommend that you do the same with a child whom you feel is old enough to understand what the Essences do (which you would explain in his/her own language).

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  20. Do Bach Flower Essences work only as placebos?

    This is another yes and no answer. I don't tell my cat, Brendan, that I'm putting Vine in his drinking water because he's dictatorial with my other cat, Binx, or tell Binx that her self-esteem will perk up with Larch; yet these Essences have worked with each cat. When we are consciously taking the Essences with a commitment to change, however, our belief that the Essences will help is going to aid and accelerate that change.

  21. I'm a recovering alcoholic. Can I take Bach Flower Essences?

    Only you can decide. It's possible to dilute the Essences (without loss of effect) to the point where you can't taste the alcohol in which they're preserved, and you can also substitute vinegar as a preservative for your personal mixture. If you feel that this is a risk, though, you can rub Bach Flower Essences on your wrists or another pulse point. If you have any concerns at all about taking Bach Flower Essences in any form I recommend that you don't.

  22. What about other flower Essences? Are they as good as the Bach Flower Essences?

    There are a great many lines of flower Essences available today, and I use several of them, both for myself, and in recommendation to my clients. It's my own feeling, though, that the Bach method is the simplest, both in that it involves the fewest number of Essences and that it addresses the broadest range of emotional/spiritual imbalances.

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  23. If Bach Flower Essences are intended to be a process of self-diagnosis and -treatment what's the point of Bach Flower essence counselors?

For the above reasons we've developed a consultation form which you may view online and, if you wish, send to us. For more information see the form.

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