Introduction to Bach Flower remedies
First I’d like to tell you a little about myself and my work with the Bach Flower Remedies. I first heard of the Bach Flower Remedies back in about 1977 and was immediately interested. I have always been a flower lover and the idea of healing with the energy of flowers really appealed to me. I bought some remedies from a Chemist in Sydney and treated myself. I also read Edward Bach’s little book Heal Thyself, and this book really impressed and inspired me.
Then, many years ago, on a trip to England, my partner and I visited the Dr Edward Bach Centre near Oxford and purchased a set of the Bach Flower Remedies, plus every book we could lay our hands on. The centre is actually just a tiny quaint little cottage and was the home where Dr Bach lived and worked during the last years of his life. We were told that the room we sat in was Dr Bach’s room and was much as he had left it. His books were on the shelf, some very old books on herbs and flowers and spiritual healing. There was a grandfather clock, some handmade furniture, and a large photograph above the mantle-piece of a glass bowl of water with yellow flowers floating on top, sitting in the sun. Drawings of all of the Bach Flowers were framed on another wall, and a prayer he had written was on the mantlepiece.
It’s hard to adequately convey the feeling of this place. But even though we were there almost 50 years after his death, at the time I felt that being in that room had imparted something of the presence of Dr Bach to us that would always remain and influence our work. We certainly left there feeling inspired. So, we’ve been using these remedies with much success ever since and have prepared hundreds of medicines for family, friends and clients. We’ve found them to be extremely helpful for treating emotional and mental problems.
In 1985, when we came back to South Australia, we also began making our own Mother Tinctures, of flowers from the Bach selection, as well as from a group of flower essences known as the Californian Flowers. These include a lot of well-known plants and herbs like borage, dill, dandelion, yarrow, rosemary, thyme and many others. So, now our work includes preparing and supplying flower essences, as well as therapeutic consultations, research, publication and teaching.
Objectives of the course
First, we’re going to be looking at the first three topics mentioned in the contents:
* We will cover what the flower remedies are and how to prepare them.
* We’ll also look at the history of this form of healing and the life and work of Dr Bach who discovered the Bach Flowers.
* And we’ll begin to familiarise ourselves with the 38 Remedies and look at some useful ways of getting to know them.
What are Bach Flower Remedies?
The Bach Flower Remedies are a system of healing with flowers that treats the emotional, mental and spiritual nature rather than the physical body. They were discovered by Dr Edward Bach in England in the early 1930s. They are actually quite easy to make. They are liquid preparations, and are administered by drops from the dropper, either directly onto the tongue or into a glass of water or juice. Flower remedies are also known as flower essences, and I’ll be using these two words interchangeably. By the way, they are not to be confused with the essential oils used in aromatherapy, which are also sometimes called essences.
SIMILARITY TO HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES
The flower remedies are closest conceptually to homeopathic remedies, in that the activating agent is increasingly diluted and only small doses are taken, usually 4 drops at a time. Apart from this similarity, they are quite unique, and they differ from homeopathic remedies in other respects. But the differences are a bit too technical for us to cover now.
THE HISTORY OF FLOWER ESSENCES
It is believed that flower essences have been around for a very long time, possibly dating as far back as Ancient China. Traditional peoples have always been aware of the healing power of flowers. And there is evidence that a number of traditional cultures, including the Egyptian, Malay, African and Aboriginal Australian, have used flowers in healing. But the earliest written record of their use is by the 16th century European healer and mystic, Paracelsus, who collected dew from flowers to heal emotional disharmony.
THE PIONEERING WORK OF DR EDWARD BACH
In modern times, flower essences were discovered, or some say rediscovered, by Dr Edward Bach, an English physician, bacteriologist, immunologist, pathologist, homeopath and herbalist. Now, it’s very important that we look at the life and work of Dr Bach, because this gives us a much better understanding of the background to the discovery of the Bach Flowers. These healing flowers were not stumbled upon in a random or haphazard way. Their discovery was actually the result of many years of scientific experiment, painstaking observation and deep thought. During his work as a medical practitioner, Dr Bach observed his patients very closely. Some of these observations had a deep impact on him and led to an increasing dissatisfaction with orthodox medicine, and were to form the basis of the new system of healing treatment that he pioneered.
BACH’S OBSERVATIONS WERE:
* That the same treatment did not always cure the same disease in all patients.
* He also noticed that patients with a similar personality or temperament would often respond favourably to the same treatment, even if they had different diseases. So, these two observations convinced him that the personality was more important than the body in the treatment of disease.
* Another observation was that the process of healing was often painful and temporary. This developed in him the conviction that true healing should be gentle, painless and benign.
* Through his own experience with a life-threatening illness, Bach made a very important discovery. In 1917, he was diagnosed as suffering from advanced cancer and given three months to live. He knew that overwork, lack of sleep and emotional turmoil were contributing factors. But to everyone’s amazement, he made a remarkable recovery. What pulled him through was his all-embracing need to fulfill what he saw as his life’s mission. From this experience, Bach concluded that an absorbing interest, a great love, or a definite purpose in life were the decisive factors in creating our happiness on earth.
Over a number of years, Bach experimented with different forms of healing treatment. He turned to bacteriology for a time and developed a series of vaccines made from intestinal bacteria that proved to be very successful in treating some forms of chronic disease. But he was still dissatisfied. He did not like using needles or the products of disease to heal people.
It was Bach’s introduction to homeopathy which was able to take him a step further in his quest. In 1919, he took up the position of pathologist and bacteriologist at the London Homeopathic Hospital. It was here that he discovered the work of a kindred spirit, Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy. Bach was deeply influenced by Hahnemann’s book ‘The Organon’. In this book he discovered what he considered to be the principle of true healing, and that was: TREAT THE PATIENT AND NOT THE DISEASE.
Bach had believed this himself for a long time, and he was very excited to find that many of Hahnemann’s ideals were identical with his own. So, this principle, of treating the patient and not the disease, was to form the basis of Bach’s new system of healing.
The inspiration of homeopathy led Bach to refine his bacterial vaccines into a series of oral remedies called nosodes. These were seven oral vaccines homeopathically prepared from seven groups of bacteria and, like the vaccines, were also used to treat chronic illness. Bach found that the seven bacterial groups corresponded to seven different and definite human personalities. By treating patients according to their temperamental symptoms with the nosodes, he obtained excellent results. This method of diagnosis appealed to him above all others because, apart from its emphasis on prescribing according to the personality rather than the physical body, it also saved people from the discomfort and embarrassment of physical examinations, which Bach had always disliked. The Nosodes were very successful. In fact, they are still used in homeopathy today, and are known as the Bach Nosodes. But Dr Bach was still dissatisfied with this form of treatment, despite its success. Even though the Nosodes were homeopathically prepared, he still disliked a remedy that was made from the products of disease. This is where Bach deviated from homeopathy, or as he saw it, he decided to go one step further than homeopathy. Bach had come to believe that the homeopathic principle of ‘like cures like’ or ‘disease cures disease’ was not the way of nature, and he became determined to replace the Nosodes with purer remedies.
THE HEALING POWER OF NATURE
It was this determination and his strong belief that true healing lay not in the laboratory, but amongst nature, that led Dr Bach to abandon his medical practice to search the fields and woods for a simpler and more natural system of healing treatment.
THE TWELVE GROUPS OF HUMANITY
One of the most important discoveries made by Bach was that all of humanity could be divided into twelve groups. This understanding came to him suddenly one evening while he was dining in a large banqueting hall. Like all true geniuses, many of his discoveries came to him in the form of flashes of inspiration and realisation. Apparently, Bach had attended this dinner somewhat unwillingly and wasn’t enjoying himself. So, to pass the time, he began to watch the people around him, and suddenly he had a realisation that the whole of humanity consisted of a number of definite groups of types. He noticed that every individual in that large hall belonged to one or other of these groups, and he spent the rest of the evening watching all the people he could see. He observed how they ate their food, how they smiled and moved their hands and heads, the attitudes of their bodies, the expressions on their faces and, when he was close enough to hear, the tone of voice they used. He saw that the resemblance between certain people was so close that they might have belonged to the same family…By the time the dinner was over he had worked out a number of groups.
THE DISCOVERY OF THE TWELVE HEALERS
What Bach identified as a result of that evening’s observations were twelve groups of personality traits or twelve archetypal patterns of behaviour in people. He also called them ‘world’ types. So, when he began to roam across the countryside seeking the healing remedies, he knew what he was looking for. He knew the personality trait or emotional state, and he generally knew something about the quality of the plant, tree or flower that would heal that state. During the years that followed, he walked many hundreds of miles, wandering all over the country, in search of what we know today as the Bach Flower Remedies. Dr Bach searched the fields for the healing remedy for each of these twelve groups. It took him 4 years to discover them all, and he called them ‘The Twelve Healers’.
THE SEVEN HELPERS
In the space of the following year, 1933, Bach discovered what he called ‘The Seven Helpers’. These were for the states of mind which had become more persistent than those of the first group, for the people who had been chronically ill for a long time and had given up hope.
THE LAST NINETEEN REMEDIES
The last nineteen remedies were discovered very quickly, over a period of six months. A year or so later, in 1936, Dr Bach died, at the age of 50. Throughout the process of discovering and preparing these last 19 remedies, Bach suffered greatly. He had become acutely sensitive and before he discovered the next remedy, he would experience the state of mind that it would heal. He also suffered intensely on a physical level. In her biography of Dr Bach, Nora Weeks tells us that before the finding of one remedy, his face was swollen and extremely painful. Another time, he had a severe haemorrhage and the bleeding didn’t stop until the remedy for the mental state he was experiencing was found.
The primary reference and source for all the historical material relating to Edward Bach and his life is:
Nora Weeks, The Medical Discoveries of Edward Bach Physician
-by Candy Hillenbrand
In the next lesson we’ll look at the preparation of The Bach Flower Remedies