Preparation of The Bach Flower Remedies
It took Bach seven years to discover the entire 38 of the Bach Flower Remedies, and during that time he experimented with different methods of preparing or potentising the remedies. The first three remedies he discovered were prepared according to traditional homeopathic techniques. But Bach then went on to perfect a new method of preparation and potentisation called the SUN METHOD.
Discovery of the Sun Method of Preparation
So, how did Bach discover his new methods? Well, out in the fields, he no longer had a laboratory or scientific instruments to help him in his tests. Instead, his senses were so finely attuned that he could hold a petal or flower in the palm of his hand or place it on his tongue, and he would feel in his body the effects of the properties within that flower. Through his experiments, Bach made several important discoveries.
He found that:
* The medicinal properties of a plant were concentrated in the flower-heads, rather than in the roots or leaves.
* After stumbling upon the idea that a dewdrop must contain some of the properties of the plant upon which it rests, he decided to test this theory by collecting dew from certain plants and trying it out on himself.
* What he found was that the dew collected from plants exposed to sunlight was far more potent than dew collected from plants growing in the shade. So, he concluded that the sun’s heat must be essential to the process of extraction.
* Collecting dew was too laborious, so he decided to pick a few blooms from a chosen plant and place them in a glass bowl filled with water from a clear stream, and leave it standing in the field in full sunlight for several hours.
* He found that this water was impregnated with the power of the plant, and was very potent. He had discovered the new method of extraction or potentisation, as he called it. This method was to become known as THE SUN METHOD.
* Bach was very satisfied with this method, because it was the method of simplicity he had longed for, and involved a process of combination of the four elements. This is how he described it: “The earth to nurture the plant, the air from which it feeds, the sun or fire to enable it to impart its power, and water to collect and be enriched with its beneficient magnetic healing.”
Preparation of the Mother Tinctures
Bach prepared all of the first 19 of the remedies he discovered with this sun method. Most of the second 19 he prepared by boiling the flowers instead. This was because many of these flowers were from trees which flowered at a time of year when the sun in England did not have much strength, and also the plants were of a tough and woody nature. It isn’t often necessary to use the boiling method in Australia, because we have plenty of sun.
Making your own Bach Flower Remedies
Making your own flower remedies is a very rewarding experience. It’s quite easy, once you know the technique. There is nothing mystical about it.
Dispelling some Myths
I would like to dispel a few myths about this before we go on.
* FIRST, there are those who will tell you that only the Bach Remedies from England, and specifically those from the Bach Centre, are the true thing, and that only these remedies will work. I do believe that the remedies from the Bach Centre are special. The people who work there now are trustees and have inherited the responsibility of furthering Bach’s work. They adhere to his traditional methods and gather flowers from the same places as Bach did, and so on. And only the remedies made at this Centre can be legally called The Bach Flower Remedies, because it is a registered trade name.
* Flower essences contain a vibrational energy which some have likened to the life force of the flower. This life force is present in every flower and is transmitted to the flower essence, regardless of where it grows or who makes it. Edward Bach was adamant that one of the beauties of his system of healing was that the remedies could be made and used by anyone, including lay people. Throughout his writings he encourages people to make their own Mother Tinctures. And he repeats again and again his wish to share his understanding freely and to serve his fellows. I believe that some of this original intention has been lost, unless you read Bach’s original work. I find it interesting that Bach’s own description of how to make the remedies was removed in 1979 and you can no longer find it in any current editions.
* SECONDLY, there are also others who say that only wild flowers should be used, that cultivated flowers don’t contain the life force of the flower. Even Edward Bach made one of his remedies from a cultivated plant growing in somebody’s garden. The only important requirement of the flowers is that they should be growing in unpolluted spots, or if cultivated, they should be organically grown.
* THIRD, there are those who say that only pure and attuned people should be making flower essences, that you need to be able to communicate with the flowers, or at least go into a meditative state prior to making an essence. This intimidates people, and makes them feel that they are not good enough to make flower essences, or that the essences are too special for the ordinary person to make. Again, the important requirement is that you approach the making of an essence with a sense of respect and a quiet mind.
So basically, I believe that the gifts of nature are free, and I really encourage you to make your own remedies, because this will give you a much deeper feeling for and understanding of this system of healing. It will help develop in you a love of plants and nature, which you won’t experience just from taking drops from a bottle. Another good reason for making some of your own essences is that they have become very expensive, between $400 and $500 for a complete set.
The most important first step is that you correctly identify each flower. Before preparing any Tincture, the plant or tree should be checked with the illustration and the botanical desciption.This is because there are several varieties of some plants, and cultivated varieties of others.
These are the books to purchase if you are going to make your own Mother Tinctures:
Nora Weeks and Victor Bullen, The Bach Flower Remedies – Illustrations and Preparations, and
Julian and Martine Barnard, The Healing Herbs of Edward Bach – An Illustrated Guide to the Flower Remedies.
The only thing to be aware of with these books is that they are English and they stick to the letter of Bach’s original methods of preparation, so they will tell you to make many of the remedies by the boiling method. As I mentioned before, this isn’t usually necessary in Australia. There are some Bach flowers which are winter-flowering trees, so you may need to use the boiling method for these. We haven’t the time to cover this now, but you’ll find the boiling method described in these two books. The sun method is generally preferable if possible, because it releases more life force from the sun.
These are the materials you will need:
A thin glass or crystal bowl, not cut glass or the oven-proof type.
A glass funnel and filter paper.
A pair of tweezers.
A 50 or 100 ml amber bottle to store the essence.
Natural non-carbonated spring water, obtainable from supermarkets.
Brandy – this is the preservative.
The bowl, funnel, tweezers and storage bottle must be sterilized beforehand. Place them in a saucepan of cold water and gently boil for 20 minutes. Then wrap all these items in clean cloths. When the bottle is cold, half fill it with brandy, put on the cap and label it with the name of the Remedy to be prepared and ‘Mother Tincture’.
* You are now ready to make the remedy. Choose a cloudless, sunny morning. Take the bowl and water to the spot where the flowers are growing before 9 am. Place the bowl on the ground near the flowering plants, away from any tall grasses, bushes or trees which might cast a shadow over the bowl as the sun travels across the sky.
* Fill the bowl to the brim with the spring water. Select flowers that are in perfect bloom and from several different plants or trees, if possible. Pick the flower-heads just below the calyx, or the flowering spikes.
* Float the flowers on the surface of the water and continue until the whole surface is thickly covered, overlapping the flowers, but making sure that each touches the water. Avoid casting a shadow over the bowl as you do this, or touching the water with your fingers.
* Make a note of the time and leave the bowl in full sunshine for three hours. If the sun becomes clouded during this time, the remedy should be abandoned.
* At the end of the three hours, you should see tiny fizzy-looking bubbles in the water. This means that the water has been potentised with the essence of the flower. Remove the flowers with the tweezers or a stalk from the plant you are preparing, again making sure not to touch the water with your fingers.
* Fold the filter paper. You may remember this from school science lessons, and place it inside the funnel and put the funnel into the bottle with the brandy. Pour the now vitalised water gently into the funnel. This takes time, because the filter paper slows things down. Then put the cap on securely and store in a dark, cool place, such as a cupboard.
* This Mother Tincture will keep its strength indefinitely, because unlike herbal preparations, flower essences don’t contain any chemical plant substances, so there is nothing in them that can deteriorate over time. Now, this essence will need two further dilutions before it can be used as a medicine.
Making a Stock Bottle
The STOCK strength essence is the strength that practitioners use, and from this we make the DOSAGE strength remedy, or the ready-to-take medicine. This dosage strength remedy is what you will most often find on a Health Food Shop shelf. To make the stock essence, take a 15ml bottle and half fill it with brandy. Then top it up with spring water. Next add two drops from the Mother Tincture. Cap the bottle and shake very gently to mix. Label the bottle with the name of the flower and indicate that it is a stock strength essence.
-by Candy Hillenbrand
Next Lesson, we’ll begin to get to know the individual Bach Flowers