ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: BACH FLOWER REMEDIES

These are herbal remedies derived from flowers. They promote healing by reducing negative states of mind, seen as the cause of disease, and increasing positive emotions. Physical problems are thought to derive from a mind/body energy imbalance that nature can correct through its effects on plants when they are taken in the right combination. The remedies are extracted from the flowers and buds of common plants by the action of sunlight or heat, and preserved in brandy.

The system was devised by Dr Edward Bach , a pathologist and bacteriologist who, following an illness of his own in the early 1900s, discovered that plants contain compounds or energy that affect the psyche. He found that different diseases seemed to be linked to different temperamental types, and classified these types into seven main groups, each with a habitual negative emotional state. These states are indicated by a key word or phrase, and are: loneliness, fear, uncertainty, lack of interest in the present, over-sensitivity, despondency, and over-concern for others.

Working intuitively, Dr Bach set out to find plants that made these negative states positive, and eventually found 38 in all, ranging from agrimony to willow. For the purposes of prescribing he further subdivided each state of mind so that, for example, under the heading uncertainty, aspen acts on fear of the unknown, cherry plum on fear of losing control and rock rose on terror or self-abandonment. Under the category of over-sensitivity, agrimony acts on worry and anxiety hidden under a brave face, centaury is for weak will and a ‘doormat tendency’, and holly works for jealousy and anger.

The remedies should therefore be selected to correspond to the state of mind and the personality. The experience of a practitioner may be helpful if you find it difficult to decide on the appropriate remedy. Since they are completely safe for any age, the remedies are commonly used for self-help at home, particularly the ‘Rescue Remedy’ which is a mixture of five of the flower remedies and can be used after a shock or in an emotional crisis.

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