Articles > Flower Essences 101

23 May 2002

© 2002 Tenanche Rose Golden, M.A. Reprinted with revisions from an article published in The Cooperator, the monthly newsletter of the East End Food Co-op health-food store in Pittsburgh, PA
All Rights Reserved.

While browsing through the supplements aisle your local health food store, many of you may have probably run across a display with the FES Flower Essences as well as Bach Flower Essences with the Bach Flower Rescue Remedy™. Not really knowing much about these remedies, you may have passed over them without much thought as you searched for the specific herbal supplement or homeopathic remedy you have come to buy.

In the aftermath of the September 11th tragedies and recent world events, flower essences have come into focus for many who find themselves trying to deal with the additional stress that has been brought into our lives. Flower essences, are “remedies” which can assist us to more effectively manage the emotional and psychological stressors that we are all experiencing in these trying times. Flower Essence Therapy, like Homeopathy, is a larger aspect of healing, known as Energy or Vibrational Medicine, which is beginning to find acceptance in the mainstream culture.

A flower essence is a remedy from nature. It is a liquid infusion that holds the energy pattern or “signature” of flower blossoms. This infusion carries the unique healing qualities of the flower to the user. In some cases stems and leaves of the plant are also included in the making of the infusion. The infusion is preserved, diluted and potentized in a process akin to homeopathic dilution. This “essence” of the flower is then bottled in a light-sensitive amber or cobalt blue dropper bottle for administering dosages.

A flower essence is not the same as an essential oil used for aromatherapy. It is made, formulated and used in a different way. Unlike an essential oil, it can be taken orally as well as applied externally.

Flower essences, likewise, are not drugs. They do not work in the same way as say, anti-depressants or tranquilizers from the local pharmacy. They are safe to use because they do not react chemically within the body, as do prescription drugs. Their reaction is, instead, bio-energetic. Much like herbal supplements, these natural healing agents may catalyze a noticeable healing effect over time. These healing effects are more likely to be sustained with no side effects because they catalyze the body’s own natural healing response, rather than just suppress symptoms, as do most prescription medications.

Though considered a “new” science, the therapeutic use of flower essences dates back some 10,000 years, with the earliest known tradition being among the aboriginal people of Australia. Research has actually validated the use of flower remedies in their ceremonial practices and “flower saunas” which are still practiced today. A Buddhist tradition of flower essence therapy in Malaysia and Thailand, where temples specialize in flower essence healing, is also still in practice.(1) In Native American, African, Polynesian cultures and virtually every indigenous culture in the world, the life-force of the plants, considered to be living beings, is believed to be the most concentrated in the flowers. The blossom is considered to be a powerful healing ally.(2)

Dr. Edward Bach, a British bacteriologist and homeopath, was one of the first modern pioneers of healing with flower essences. He is credited with introducing the therapy to western medicine during the first half of the 20th century. Via meticulous research between the years 1930 -36, Dr. Bach introduced 38 basic flower remedies to the western world. In his findings he discovered that flower essences helped the body heal itself by working with its vital force or “life-force energy.” He also found that these remedies worked by balancing the emotions and mental attitudes that were the underlying causes of physical diseases! Through thousands of case studies over the years, these remedies have proven to be so effective that they are approved by the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administation).

The Bach Flower Remedies, and especially, the Rescue Remedy™, can be found in practically every health-food store in the world. Because of their supportive role in healing, thousands of holistic practitioners, chiropractors, acupuncturists, herbalists, massage therapists, psychologists, and counselors have incorporated these and other flower essences into their practices.

The energy patterns in essences influence the body’s bio-energetic field. When this life-force energy is in a state of balance, it maintains the body in a state of health. Flower essences can help us to restore and harmonize our emotions, where negative emotional and mental attitudes have contributed to illness. In a non-invasive way, they can also assist us in clearing away the limiting thought patterns that keep us from being and living to our full potential. They are a great complementary therapy to any holistic health enhancement program that may include exercise, balanced diet, stress reduction, inner development, and holistic medical care.

Dr. Bach developed a system of natural healing with 37 different single remedies made from wildflowers and one remedy made with potentized spring water.* Each remedy addresses personality traits and emotional states that he found to be common in the human psyche. These remedies and traits are:

Flower Essence Unbalanced Personality Trait/Emotional State
Agrimony: mental torture; worry concealed from others
Aspen: vague fears of the unknown; anxiety; apprehension
Beech: intolerance; criticism; judgment (self and others)
Centaury: weak willed; follows the crowd and fads
Cerato: self-distrust; self-doubt; foolishness
Cherry Plum: fear of losing one’s mind; harming self or others
Chestnut Bud: doesn’t learn by experience; lack of self-observation
Chicory: self-centered, possessiveness; self-pity; domineering
Clematis: daydreaming; inattentive; sleepy; lack of ambition
Crab Apple: self-disgust; feeling unclean; despairing
Elm: feeling inadequate; exhausted perfectionist
Gentian: discouraged; doubt; depression
Gorse: hopelessness; despair
Heather: self-centered; fear of being alone; poor listener
Holly: hatred, envy; jealousy; suspicion; cut off from love
Honeysuckle: stuck in the past; nostalgic; homesick; regretful
Hornbeam: weariness, exhausted; stressed; boredom; laziness
Impatiens: impatient; irritable; extreme mental tension
Larch: lacks confidence; expects failure; irresponsible
Mimulus: fear of the known: (flying, dentist, public speaking)
Mustard: deep depression of unknown cause; gloom
Oak: despondency from relentless struggle and effort
Olive: complete mental and physical exhaustion
Pine: guilt; self-blame for the wrongs of others
Red Chestnut: excessive fear for others: (war, famine, disasters)
Rock Rose: acute fear; terror; panic from accident or near escape
Rock Water: self-repression; self-denial; rigid ; eating disorder
Scleranthus: procrastination; indecision; unreliable
Star of Bethlehem: after-effect of recent or past shock or trauma
Sweet Chestnut: mental anguish; hopelessness; feeling utterly alone
Vervain: stress, strain from hyperactivity and over-enthusiasm
Vine: intolerant; domineering; unsympathetic; ambitious
Walnut: difficulty adjusting to change yet desires to move on
Water Violet proud; aloof; self-reliant superiority; isolationist
White Chestnut: persistent mental arguments; insomnia; worry
Wild Oat: frustration; dissatisfaction; uncertain vocation
Wild Rose: apathy, resignation; emotionally flat
Willow: resentful, bitter, blames everyone else for adversity

Rescue Remedy™ is a composite formula of five of the remedies: Star of Bethlehem, for shock; Rock Rose for terror and panic; Impatiens for mental stress and tension; Cherry Plum for desperation; and Clematis, for being bemused, faraway and out of the body. Many people make a habit of carrying this remedy for use in emergencies. I found myself taking this remedy (along with rose essences) after the traumatic events of September 11, 2001. It helped me to calm myself, to go to my job and to keep my composure, where I had been jittery, fearful and tearful for hours after the events.
*These remedies may be found in the FES (California Essences) line of essences and the English Flower Essences carried at the East End Food Co-op.

Before you go running off and buying a flower essence or two, in order to slip them into Uncle Harry’s morning brew in an attempt to covertly cure him of his annoying habits, it would be helpful to understand one thing. Flower essences work best when they are consciously chosen and willingly worked with by the person taking them. If you feel that you might benefit from flower remedies, you’d be much better off buying a couple for yourself and adding them to your own personal healing program. Follow the dosage instructions on the bottle, which generally instruct you to take a couple of drops under the tongue or sip in pure water or juice. Refrain from using caffeine, tobacco, and other toxic substances that would interfere with the healing process within the body. Flower essences can also be applied externally to pulse and energy points on the body. They can be used in bath therapy as well as mist sprayed around the body.

If you have doubts about which essences would benefit you the most at this time, consult an experienced flower essence practitioner. She can assist and guide you in choosing essences that may benefit you from various essence makers who formulate hundreds of remedies made from flowers from all over the world. Various testing and diagnostic tools may be used, such as kinesiology (muscle testing), dowsing, self– and practitioner assessment. Some practitioners even use more intuitive methods of choosing essences. Remember to choose a practitioner you grow to trust and who is knowledgeable and experienced in working with essences.

In these challenging times flower remedies are wonderful tools to help us make it through the day. Perhaps they will also assist us in aspiring to find our greater potential as human beings in our world.

Information presented in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or mitigate any disease or condition. If you have a medical condition, please consult a qualified health care professional.

1. Vasudeva Barnao, “The Wildflowers of Australia – Living Essences of Australia” Essences of Nature Magazine, Vol. 3, Issue 3, p. 26.
2. Clare G. Harvey, Amanda Cochrane, The Encyclopaedia of Flower Remedies, p. 5.

Ball, Stefan. Bach Flower Remedies. Teach Yourself Books, 2000.
Chancellor, Dr. Philip M. Handbook of the Bach Flower Remedies. Keats Publishing. 1971
Harvey, Clare G., Cochrane, Amanda. The Encyclopaedia of Flower Remedies. Thorsons, 1995.
Weeks, Nora. The Medical Discoveries of EDWARD BACH, Physician. Keats Publishing. 1994.
Essences of Nature Magazine, Vol. 3, Issue 3, p. 26. (Website of the World Wide Essence Society)

© Tenanche Rose Golden.

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©2002 Tenanche R. Golden. All Rights Reserved.