In 1930 Dr Edward Bach left his lucrative Harley Street medical practice and embarked on his search for a set of gentle plant based remedies that would help people people recover from illness. Just before he died in 1936 his work was complete in the set of 38 remedies that we see for sale now.
The Bach Flower Remedies are a complete system for emotional healing and each of the 38 remedies addresses one of each of our emotional states. They can be used individually or in combination to deal with any upsetting situation.
How do the remedies work?
The remedies themselves have been made using a method similar to that of homeopathic remedies, although they are not themselves considered homeopathic. Some of the remedies are made by floating the flowers of the plant on pure water and leaving them in bright sun for 3 hours. The other remedies are made by taking the woody parts of the plant and boiling them in pure water for 30 minutes. These are strained and mixed 50/50 with brandy to make the mother tincture. This is then diluted again, 2 drops to 30ml of brandy to make the stock remedies you can buy in the shops.
This method means there is no active ingredient in the remedy that can interfere with medication or cause side effects. When we take the remedy we send a message to our innate that we wish it to follow a set of instruction carried by the remedy and that brings about healing.
To explain how they work I would like you to imagine a house with 38 rooms, each with a light on. Each room represents an emotional state; there is one for fear of known things, one for exhaustion, one for shock and on and on for each of the remedies. When we are emotionally distressed the lights go off in certain rooms. Taking the remedies turns on those lights, flooding the whole house with light and joy returns.
What should I use the remedies for?
The Bach Remedies are helpful for any situation that is upsetting or stressful but should only be used for emotional healing. Although they are not designed to treat physical illness, they can be used to support the healing process. By treating how the person feels about being ill their positive mental attitude can help them recover.
The remedies can be used ad hoc to deal with day to day issues or used long term to work on deep seated problems. It is important to understand that the remedies work on how you are feeling now, not how you were feeling at a certain time in the past or how you think you will feel in the future.
How are the remedies chosen?
More often than not, when someone first learns about the remedies they believe they need all of them, however when you come for a consultation we will aim to whittle down the number of remedies needed to 7 or 8. You could take all 38 but it could cause confusion as you would be working on too many levels at once. Instead in taking the 7 or 8 remedies many of the other emotions fade away because the core emotion has been dealt with.
Through the process of discussing the issues at hand I try to understand what emotions the client is feeling so that the right remedies can be chosen. Interestingly I often find that many people are not actually aware of what they are feeling and in talking about it they become more in touch with the situation and their emotions. This in itself can be quite a healing process.
To a newcomer to the remedies this discussion can be daunting and feel like talk therapy, but the important difference here is we are not attempting to dig down through buried emotions to the root cause of a problem, a process that can be quite traumatic. Because the remedies only work on what you are feeling now, in this moment, there is no need to dig, no need to wade through the past bringing up old stuff that can be upsetting. Instead all we are trying to do is understand where you are now.
This focus on “the now” can make the remedies appear very superficial only dealing with current problems and never getting to the root cause, however this is misleading. By working on and supporting the emotions that are felt now we are peeling a layer away allowing the cause of those feelings to surface. When this happens another set of remedies are chosen and those emotions are supported, again allowing deeper issues to surface. Long term use of the remedies can eventually heal deep and forgotten wounds that affect our daily lives without us realising.
One of the methods of understanding how the client feels is to use the actual remedies as examples; when trying to understand a clients fears we can compare the attributes of Mimulus, Aspen, Cherry Plum and Rock Rose. By discussing the possible remedies the client is involved in the process and helps choose the remedies that are right for them.
What happens if I take the wrong remedies?
The great thing about the Bach Remedies is that if you take the wrong one the worst that can happen is that nothing happens. Go back to the metaphor of the rooms with lights on; if you take a remedy that corresponds to a room that already has the light on, all that happens is the light stays on.
What happens next?
Once we have worked through the situation and decided on the remedies a treatment bottle is made up. This contains mineral water, a small amount of brandy that acts as a preservative and 2 drops of each remedy. You will take this away along with a leaflet explaining what the remedies are for and how to take them.
4 drops of the treatment remedy are to be taken 4 times a day, once first thing in the morning, once last thing at night and twice during the day. You can take more but this is the minimum dose.
It is normal for people to believe that if they take more of something it will be more effective. Once again we can use the model of homeopathy to understand how this is not the case with Bach Remedies; because they are an energy based treatment taking a larger dose does not have a stronger effect. However, it can be helpful to take the remedy more often. By adding 4 drops to a glass of water it can be sipped throughout a particularly stressful time bringing constant relief.
If there are concerns about the alcohol content the remedies can be added to a hot drink which evaporates the alcohol away. One client who is allergic to alcohol has found this very effective.
Due to the fact that the remedies work on how you are feeling now your emotions are supported throughout the process, when the emotions change another remedy can be made up so that the support continues. In general it is unlikely for any treatment bottle to be appropriate for more than 3 weeks, in which case the client can either stop taking them or come for another consultation. If the client finds they are forgetting to take the remedy after a period of constant use it can be seen as a sign that it is no longer needed.
Bach remedies are a gentle therapy, so gentle at times that you aren’t aware that anything is happening. It’s only when you look back and see how much better you coped with a situation or how a problem is less apparent in your life that you realise how effective they are.
*Please note, not all of this information was taught by the Bach Centre, some is based on how I have come to understand the remedies after working with them.