Winter can be a gloomy time. Stressful holidays. Cabin fever. Seasonal depression. For cold dark days, when you’re still reeling from the drama of extended family gatherings, reach for flowers.
Flower essences are a unique modality of plant medicine designed to address emotional imbalance and distress. Individual flower extracts are used separately or combined to ease feelings such as obsessiveness, jealousy, and loneliness.
Finding the appropriate remedy for your particular mood requires some introspection.
“We’re not concerned about what happened in your childhood unless that’s currently bothering you,” said Dr. Carol Bennington, flower essence educator with the Bach International Education Program. “We’re looking at what now is emotionally out of balance, and then you find the corresponding flowers. Sometimes it’s a little bit of detective work.”
The winter blues manifests differently for everybody. If you’re depressed, Bennington wants to know the reason. For gloominess that appears out of nowhere, try mustard flower. Does life seem unfair? Go for willow. No motivation? Choose hornbeam. Overwhelmed? Try elm.
If the idea of treating feelings with flowers sounds hokey, you’re not alone. Bennington says that when people first hear about it, they’re quick to dismiss it.
“I was pretty skeptical to begin with, but I gave it a try and had a really profound experience,” she said.
Dr. Bach’s Discovery
Not to be confused with essential oils, flower essences are a relative new comer to herbal medicine. The modality was invented by homeopath and bacteriologist Dr. Edward Bach who was so taken with his discovery that he left his busy London practice in 1930 to devote the rest of his life to developing a complete and easy to use system.
The Bach remedies consist of 38 individual flowers, and are designed to address the full spectrum of emotional upset. But the number of flower essences has grown enormous over time—Bennington estimates several thousand. Think of any flower. Someone has probably made a remedy from it.
Purists adhere strictly to Bach’s original 38, but with such a large number of remedies now available, it’s tempting to explore the vast variety. Keep in mind that effective treatment results from making a good match, so it’s best to learn the basic theory of the Bach system before branching out into newer remedies.
To help find appropriate flowers, Bennington consults with clients over the phone or in her Ann Arbor, Michigan office, but is just as encouraging for people to use the remedies at home.
“It’s a self-help system so you don’t really need a practitioner,” she said. “Where I find practitioners particularly helpful is that it’s much easier to see what somebody else needs than what you need, and sometimes it’s just easier to have somebody who is more experienced and trained to listen help select the flowers.”
Basic indications are printed on each bottle. For those interested in a deeper understanding, Bennington recommends “The Twelve Healers” which gives Dr. Bach’s description of each remedy. All 38 flowers are included in this book, but the original version was written when Bach’s first twelve were discovered.
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