Bach Flower Remedies

An Introduction to Bach Flower Remedies

Bach Flower essences
Written by S. V. Swamy

S V Swamy gives in-depth review of Bach flower remedies, how Back essences are prepared and common uses of Back flower essences.

Bach Flower Remedies are the gift of the Spirit to mankind through Dr. Edward Bach, an English physician who lived from 1886 to 1936. They are considered as ‘Alternative Therapy’, ‘Herbal Supplementation’ and ‘Energy Essences’. Together with Herbal Supplements, Schussler Tissue Remedies and where necessary allopathic medication, they do form an effective and safe healing system. Before taking up this healing system in detail, let us begin with a short introduction to Holistic Health Systems. A Q&A format is used to make the communication process more effective.

What is holistic health?

Holistic health is the well-being of the body, mind and spirit of a person. It is the Whole of the person.
Holistic healing systems look at the whole of the human being – body, mind and spirit. They all recognise the fact that a person is more than a body of skin, flesh, blood and bones. The Spirit expresses itself through the mind. So, the importance of mind in health is recognised. In the last few decades, the role of mind in the physical health has been well recognised and ‘psychosomatic’ has become a house-hold word. Psyche means mind and Soma means body. Effect of mind over body. Many modern doctors agree that most of the chronic diseases are partly if not totally psychosomatic in origin. Even where the cause is purely physical, like in an accident-related injury, the recovery is largely governed by the mental outlook of the patient, which in turn depends on him/herself and the support received from the caretakers or lack of it.

Can you name some holistic healing systems?

There are several healing systems that are holistic in their approach. Acupressure, Acupuncture,
Aromatherapy, Ayurveda, Bach Flowers, Homeopathy, Magnetotherapy, Tissue Remedies, Reiki, Pranic Healing, Siddha, Unani etc., are certainly Alternative or Complementary Medical Systems and many healers consider them to be holistic. Of course whether a healing system is holistic or not is a matter of subjective interpretation, but what is generally accepted is that any healing system that includes the mental (and thus indirectly spiritual too) symptoms in addition to the physical symptoms could be rightly called holistic.

Are all alternative healing systems holistic?

Alternative therapies are plenty. All of them may or may not fit the definition of holistic.
If the system addresses the mental health, that is if the system looks at the individual patient as a person, not just a collection of individual isolated parts, it could be called holistic. Treat the patient, not the disease is the motto of all such systems. All of them believe in looking at the person as a whole, and dispense with labelling a group of symptoms as a disease. Naming a disease doesn’t necessarily mean that the doctor has a cure.

Ayurveda and Homeopathy are definitely holistic healing systems, since they address the entire gamut of symptoms, physical and mental. Bach Flower Remedies, Acupressure, Acupuncture, Reiki etc., also could be considered as holistic healing systems, since they emphasize the mental or emotional symptoms of the patient, that is they try to look at him/her and not the individual physical symptoms.

Can you explain more about Bach Flower Remedies?

Bach Flower Remedies are Flower Essences (with one exception of Rock Water, which is a specific natural spring water, but is clubbed with the others) derived from the flowers and some other parts of wild plants and trees of English countryside. Introduced between 1931 and 1935 by Dr. Edward Bach of England, the remedies or essences are 38 in number and have proved themselves over the years all over the world. They are called Bach Flower Remedies in England and Bach Flower Essences in USA.

Can you tell us a little more about Dr.Bach?

Dr.Edward Bach (originally pronounced as Back, but later pronounced as Batch by his colleagues and that stuck) was born in 1886. He was of delicate health (and destiny chose him to discover a system which heals others!). His father wanted him to continue in the family business of foundry, but Edward chose to become a doctor. As was the usual practice, he studied in the regular orthodox medical system and worked in various hospitals. Like other path-breakers, he too was not satisfied with the system of treatment prevailing in his days. Thus he was always looking for better ways. In the course of his work, he became a bacteriologist and became acquainted with the work of Samuel Hahnemann, the brilliant German doctor who discovered the homeopathic principle of ‘like cures like’ about 150 years earlier.

Dr.Bach was happy to realise that his ideas of mind influencing the matter were not new and that
Homeopathy recognised this long ago. However, he also felt that it should be possible to classify the basic human nature and the mental/emotional aberrations into a fairly limited number of classes or groups and thus simplify the method of treatment. He felt that once the mind is OK, body will become OK. Treat the person, not the individual symptom was his motto.

Dr.Bach prepared 7 nosodes from the intestinal flora of his patients and found excellent results in terms of restoration of health. But he had some aversion to administer disease products, of however minute quantity through the mouth to his patients. He was convinced that the same God/Nature which produced a problem also provided a solution and thus was compelled to abandon his practice in London and move to the countryside. There in the course of a few years, he discovered some wild flowers whose essences (not aromatic, by essence it is meant its healing properties) could help the person recover from negative emotions. He found that these essences work as efficiently or even more efficiently as the nosodes.

Can you give more information about the remedies?

As mentioned , there are 38 of them and a compound or mixture of 5 of them discovered by Dr.Bach himself as being of invaluable service in emergencies and which he called appropriately as Rescue Remedy.

The list of remedies and their principal uses –

Name of the Remedy/Essence Main symptom which it helps
Agrimony Hiding problems behind a cheerful face
Aspen Vague and undefinable fears
Beech Intolerant of others, critical
Centaury Weak-willed, easily led, unable to say no
Cerato Not trusting one’s own judgement, always asking others for
Cherry Plum Fear of Losing control
Chestnut Bud Failure to learn from past mistakes
Chicory Possessive, Over-protective
Clematis Dreaminess, lack of interest in the present
Crab Apple Poor Self-Image, Sense of uncleanliness
Elm Overwhelmed by responsibility
Gentian Discouragement, Despondency
Gorse Despair, Hopelessness
Heather Self-centered, Talkative, Always talking about one-self
Holly Envious, jealous, hatred, lack of love
Honeysuckle Dwells on the past,nostalgic
Hornbeam Mental weariness, doubting one’s ability to cope, but doing
well once taken up.
Impatiens Impatience
Larch Lack of confidence
Mimulus Fear of specific known things
Mustard Deep gloom with no origin, Depression
Oak Exhausted but struggles on
Olive Lack of Energy, exhaustion of body and Mind
Pine Self-reproach, guilt
Red Chestnut Fear or over concern for others
Rock Rose Terror
Rock Water Rigid, inflexible, self-denial
Scleranthus Uncertainty, Indecision
Star of Bethlehem After effects of Shock
Sweet Chestnut Extreme Mental Anguish
Vervain Over enthusiasm
Vine Assertive, dominating,inflexible
Walnut Protective from change and outside influences
Water Violet Proud, Aloof
White Chestnut Unwanted thoughts,mental arguments
Wild Oat Uncertainty as to correct path in life
Wild Rose Resignation, apathy
Willow Self-pity, Resentment
Rescue Remedy For emergency


Rescue Remedy is a combination of Impatiens, Star of Bethlehem, Cherry Plum, Rock Rose and Clematis. Rescue Cream with added Crab Apple is available and useful for multi-purpose skin salve.

How are the remedies prepared?

Bach Flower Remedies are prepared from the flowers by ‘Sun Method’ and ‘Boiling Method’, each of which is briefly explained below. Note that each Flower Remedy is prepared using one of the two methods, depending on its nature. The same flower will not be prepared using both the methods. Which Remedy is prepared which way is detailed in Bach Literature.

In the Sun Method, flowers are placed in a bowl of water and are exposed to the sunlight for about an hour. The essence of the flowers is absorbed by the water and the energised water is preserved as a standardised mother tincture by dilution with 40% pure brandy. The stock remedies are prepared by further dilution with 27% grape alcohol.

In the Boiling Method, flowers, twigs etc. of the plant are put in a kettle and are boiled. The distillate is collected and processed further as above.

The treatment bottle is prepared by taking two drops of the stock remedy and adding mineral water to a 30 ml bottle. More than one Bach Flower Remedy can be added to the same botle and thus a mixture individualised can be prepared.

Can you differentiate between Bach Flower and Homeopathic Remedies?

Bach Flower Remedies are unlike homeopathic medicines in that they are not potentised. They could be called dilutions at the most. And the dilution is fixed, as described above. They are prescribed purely based on mental / emotional symptoms, without reference to the physical symptoms, modalities etc., which form a crucial part in homeopathy. Bach Flower Remedies are selected many times with the active participation of the patient in the treatment process.

Bach Flower Remedies are safe and are used for treatment of Children, Pets and Plants too. No adverse reactions are reported from use of a wrongly selected Remedy or from over dosage.

Since there are only 38 remedies it may be necessary and it is permitted to mix two or more remedies at a time in the treatment bottle. To that extent, they are similar to Schussler’s Tissue Remedies. Rescue Remedy, if selected is counted as one remedy. Up to 6 or 7 remedies can be mixed at a time, though Dr. Bach used up to even 9 remedies at some time.

Bach Flower Remedies can be taken directly from the treatment bottle or mixed with food, tea, coffee, cool drinks, juices etc.

Can you give us some resources about availability of Remedies, Courses etc. ?

In India, Bach Flower Remedies are also available in the form of sugar pills wetted with the liquid. In India, they are available from homeopathic shops. In UK and USA, Nelson Bach is the main supplier. but there are others too and a search on the internet will be helpful in locating a shop nearby. It is also possible to order the Remedies through Mail order.

Distance learning programs and other courses are available from Bach Centre, UK, Nelson Bach etc.
[email protected] is an excellent Yahoo Group, where one can get a lot of information and advice about the Remedies.

Bach Flower Remedies thus provide a safe, simple system of healing the person.

About the author

S. V. Swamy

S. V. Swamy

1 Comment

  • I have a question with regards to your comment above which states that the treatment bottle is prepared by adding 2 drops of each applicable remedy to 30ml of mineral water. However, nowhere does it state how exactly to administer from this treatment bottle. How many drops constitutes a dose? And how many doses per day? And for how long? Obviously, these are prescribed by personality type and hence it’s difficult to visualize that someone’s personality will start shifting too quickly after a few doses. What is the determining criteria to start giving less frequent doses? I appreciate hearing about these details. Thanks for your time.

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