A great many people have heard of Rescue Remedy™, which is used by all sorts of people to cope with crises and everyday emergencies. But how many know about the 38 individual flower remedies that are part of the same system of medicine, a system unusual in that it is aimed at treating the emotions alone, rather than their physical manifestations?

Dr Edward Bach, MB, BS, MRCS, LRCP, DPH, was a well-known bacteriologist, pathologist and homeopath whose career took him from University College Hospital to the London Homeopathic Hospital and a successful Harley Street practice. His orthodox researches culminated in a series of oral vaccines that are still known as the seven Bach nosodes, but even though this work received great acclaim Bach himself was not satisfied. He wanted to replace the vaccines with plant material which he felt would be more effective. To this end he began experimenting in 1928 with medicines made from flowers.

Bach had always been more interested in the people suffering disease than in the diseases themselves – a fact that made him unusual at that time. But his work with the flower remedies convinced him that true health could only be maintained by treating the individual personality instead of concentrating exclusively on the diseases of the body. He found that by selecting flower remedies according to the personality and emotional states of individuals he was able to resolve these imbalances, and that well-balanced people got better physically because their bodies were quite literally free to heal themselves.

By the time he died in 1936 Dr Bach had discovered the 38 remedies that were needed to treat every possible emotional state, with each individual remedy being aimed at a particular emotion or characteristic. Sometimes people find it strange that only 38 can deal with everything, but in fact used in combination over 292 million different mental states are covered by these 38 “primary” remedies, which are:

• Agrimony for people who put a brave face on their troubles • Aspen for people who are anxious or afraid but don’t know why • Beech for people who are intolerant and critical of others. • Centaury for people who allow others to impose on them • Cerato for people who doubt their own judgement • Cherry Plum for uncontrolled, irrational thoughts and the fear of doing something awful • Chestnut Bud for people who repeat mistakes and don’t learn from experience • Chicory for over-possessive, selfish people who cling to their loved ones • Clematis for day-dreamers • Crab Apple for those who dislike something about the way they look and as a general cleanser • Elm for responsible, capable people who in a crisis doubt their ability to cope • Gentian for people disheartened when something goes wrong • Gorse for people who have lost hope, often without cause • Heather for talkative types who are obsessed with their own problems • Holly for negative feelings of hatred, envy, jealousy and suspicion • Honeysuckle for people who live in the past • Hornbeam for mental tiredness at the thought of a coming task • Impatiens for impatience and irritation at other people’s slowness • Larch for fear of failure and lack of confidence • Mimulus for people who are afraid of something real that they can name • Mustard for gloom and depression with no known cause • Oak for strong, indefatigable people who can over-extend themselves by trying too hard • Olive for people physically drained by exertion or illness • Pine for those who blame themselves when things go wrong • Red Chestnut for excessive worry about the welfare of loved ones • Rock Rose for extreme fright and terror • Rock Water for people whose self-discipline and high standards are carried to excess • Scleranthus for people who find it hard to choose between possible courses of action • Star of Bethlehem for sudden frights and shock • Sweet Chestnut for utter despair and anguish • Vervain for enthusiastic people who are always on the go • Vine for domineering people • Walnut to help protect against outside influences and the effects of change • Water Violet for private, reserved people who can appear proud and arrogant • White Chestnut for persistent worrying thoughts • Wild Oat for people unable to find a direction for their lives • Wild Rose for people who resign themselves without complaint or effort to everything life throws at them • Willow for people who are full of self-pity, resentment and bitterness

When using Bach flower remedies it is essential to ignore as far as possible any physical symptoms or disease. This can be a hard to do, but the physical side of disease can of course be treated using any other appropriate system of healing, whether orthodox or complementary. The remedies themselves are selected according to the personality of the person being treated. For example, a kind gentle person who found it hard to say ‘no’ to other people would be given Centaury, while someone who always tries to laugh things off even when he is undergoing torture inside would need Agrimony. In addition, the current mental state is taken into account so that someone who was worrying all the time would need White Chestnut while someone who was feeling a bit despondent after a setback would be given Gentian.

The effect of the remedies is to transform negative thoughts and behaviour into positive ones. They do not of course alter the personality or bring instant nirvana or bring back your past lives – instead they bring you gently back to yourself so that you can go on learning from the life that you are living now. So taking Centaury would not turn a kind person into a bossy tyrant; she would still be gentle and kind; but in addition she would be better able to draw the line and as a result wouldn’t suffer from exploitation by more ruthless characters. And the White Chestnut worrier would be able to think more constructively about problems instead of circling endlessly around them and never reaching a rational conclusion.

Dr Bach once gave nine remedies to one of his patients at a single time, but in practice it is possible in almost all cases to limit the number given to six or seven. There are two main ways to take them. One is to put two drops of each selected remedy into a glass of water and sip from this at least four times a day – more if necessary – or until the problem has passed. Alternatively the two drops can be put into a clean empty 30ml dropper bottle which is then topped up with mineral water. From this bottle – known as a treatment bottle – four drops are taken four times a day. Kept in the fridge and used regularly a treatment bottle will last up to three weeks.

The treatment bottle dose is the minimum needed for the remedies to work effectively. You can take them more frequently for moments of crisis, because they are completely safe: it is impossible to overdose on them or become addicted or build up tolerance. In addition Bach flower remedies do not affect the actions of other medicines or therapies, nor are they affected by them. This and the fact that they are free of side effects free makes them an ideal complement to other courses of treatment. You should always keep in mind, however, that the remedies are preserved in neat brandy, and for this reason use caution when giving them to recovering alcoholics or people who are allergic to alcohol or object to its use on religious or moral grounds.

As for the Rescue Remedy™, it is a mix of five remedies – Rock Rose for terror, Clematis for light-headedness, Impatiens for agitation, Cherry Plum for loss of self-control and Star of Bethlehem for shock. Dr Bach selected these five remedies because he felt there would be at least something in the mix that would help anyone going through a crisis. To take it you simply put four drops in a glass of water and sip as required – and in an emergency, if there is no water available, you can put the drops straight on the tongue or rub them on the pulse points. Common uses for Rescue Remedy™ include calming down the victims of accidents and combatting pre-operation nerves. Many midwives use them to help mothers through labour.

Dr Bach’s original remedies are still made today at the Bach Centre, Mount Vernon, the Oxfordshire cottage where he spent the last years of his life. Since 1991 practitioner courses have been run at the Centre and are now run in the USA, Canada, Spain, Holland and a dozen other countries around the world. As a result nearly a thousand trained practitioners are now registered with the Centre and working in 37 countries.

Information Courtesy of
: Stefan Ball, Consultant at the Dr Edward Bach Centre For more information contact The Dr Edward Bach Centre, Mount Vernon Bakers Lane Sotwell Oxon OX10 0PZ UK

For Further information visit the website www.bachcentre.com

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