By Mahalia Freed, ND
Naturopathic Doctor, BodyTalk Practitioner, Writer, Speaker, Educator, Kale Crusader
Flower essences are energetic, or informational, remedies made from the flowers of plants. They are gentle and deep acting, and are most commonly used to support emotional health and personal growth. One familiar example is Rescue Remedy, a combination of flower essences (from the Bach line) popular for anxiety and shock. Many people carry Rescue Remedy in their bag, finding it effective emotional first aid for calming down enough to drive home after a fender-bender, facing their ex’s divorce lawyer without breaking down, getting through a funeral.
In my practice I use flower essences to support heart healing, move through grief or trauma, overcome tobacco addiction, develop healthy body image, allow for true personal expression, help someone find their life path, and so much more. The subtle, powerful healing of a correctly prescribed flower essence is magical to witness, and gratifying to experience.
These days, I often choose a flower essence as part of someone’s naturopathic treatment plan. It may complement a homeopathic, or fill in the gap between counseling regarding relationship patterns and a custom tincture for a lung infection.
“Sally”(JG), a perimenopausal woman in her 50s who came to me for help resolving her hot flashes, digestive discomfort (bloating) and fatigue. When Sally first came to see me, she was depressed, but she had felt like that for so long, it had started to feel like all there was. As is common for people who are used to doing everything themselves rather than trusting others to help, she was not very expressive or open with me at first. We started out by improving her diet, increasing exercise, and ensuring that all her particular nutrient needs were met. For Sally, this meant more leafy green vegetables, less packaged food, and more variety in grains. She decided to begin yoga classes, and start walking more regularly. I prescribed a couple foundational supplements for energy and mood, and custom-formulated a botanical tincture to help decrease her heavy menstrual bleeding and eliminate hot flashes. I also suggested a journaling exercise. She came back and reported that she felt slightly more energy, as well as no more hot flashes, and no more heavy menstrual bleeding. Progress, right? Great, but her mood was still very “up and down”, and in my office she seemed down even while positive about the changes thus far. Next step: botanical formula for mood. Follow-up: helped a bit, but still “up and down”. Meanwhile, her periods continued to improve, and her bloating resolved once we identified and eliminated her particular food sensitivity.
When things are getting better on a physical level, but seem “stuck” on an emotional
level, a flower remedy can help. In Sally’s case, we started with Larch, a Bach essence for self-confidence and speaking your truth, often indicated for women with thyroid concerns as part of their picture. After one month on twice daily Larch drops, the effect was clear: Sally shared more with me than she ever had previously – confidence in speaking your truth. Amazing progress! We continued to incorporate flower essences into the treatment plan over the next 6 months, with consistent healing progress. Recent update: Sally and I are now working on the next level of her health. That is, with the help of the flower essences and the development of trust in our relationship, she is able to access deeper information from within herself regarding her true purpose. Further, Sally is now able to contemplate the changes needed to bring her current life into alignment with her passions and sense of what she meant to be doing. As she integrates this information and begins to make changes, I have seen her physical health concerns shift and lift even further. Witnessing her healing and that of many other clients affirms for me that personal growth is part of health. It is so clear that supporting personal growth must be part of truly holistic care, and flower essences are an ideal tool with which to provide this support.
Flower Essence Q&A
Q: How do flower essences work?
A: There is now solid science – from Einstein on forward – demonstrating that matter is energy. We know that the energy contained in a liquid can be used to influence human energy fields to help resolve ailments. This is what flower essence liquids do. When you take flower essences, the energy they contain affects your energy field, which in turn may shift your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual state.
Q: Is this the same as essential oils?
A: No. Essential oils contain concentrated biochemical components of the plants from which they are extracted, while flower essences are closer to homeopathic remedies in nature, in that they are energetic imprints of their source.
Q: How do you make a flower essence?
A: A flower essence is made by infusing the blossoms of a particular plant, bush, or tree in water in the sun. The liquid is then diluted and “potentized” in a method similar to the preparation of homeopathic remedies, and preserved with brandy (or a nonalcoholic substance, if need be). The result is a highly diluted, “potentized” substance that embodies the energetic patterns of the flower from which it is made.
Q: Is there scientific evidence that flower essences are effective?
A: Yes, there is both clinical and double blind placebo-controlled study evidence that shows clear efficacy of flower essences. For example, this study http://www.flowersociety.org/cram2.html, titled, “Flower essences reduce stress reaction to intense environmental stimulus” found that two flower essence combos outperformed placebo in calming specific areas of the brain that respond to stress.
Q: How do I choose which essence or essences are right for me?
A: There are many flower essence repertories and guidebooks available. My favorite one is here: http://www.fesflowers.com/fes_books.htm#rep
You can choose remedies for yourself, based on the particular emotional state you are working with. In some cases, this can be amazingly effective. However, I strongly suggest working with a practitioner in choosing essences. Prescribing accurately requires a certain amount of objectivity that most of us cannot muster about ourselves. Despite my familiarity with the flower essences, and my training, I do not prescribe to myself, as I know I do not have the best perspective from which to do so.