Dr Edward Bach (1886–1936) studied medicine at University College Hospital, London, and went on to practise general medicine, and also work as a bacteriologist and, later, as a pathologist. Although a successful medical practitioner, Dr Bach became disillusioned with the way in which conventional medicine focused on treating the illness, rather than the patient. Believing that in nature there were remedies available, if only they could be found, he gave up lucrative Harley Street practice and moved to the country.
Dr Bach carried out considerable research and, using his intuition, identified thirty-eight plants, flowers and trees which he believed held significant healing properties. These include clematis, heather, holly, larch, oak and pine. Experimentation led Dr Bach to devise two ways of preparing his ‘flower remedies’. The first method is to gather the plant material on a sunny, cloudless day.
The flowers and leaves are then placed into a glass bowl filled with spring water and left in full sunshine for three or four hours. After that, the plant material is removed and the remaining water, preserved with a little alcohol, is bottled as a flower remedy. The second method of preparation involves simmering the plant material in spring water for half an hour. The water is then cooled, filtered and bottled. In both methods the water is said to hold the vibrational energy of the original plant substance.
Dr Bach focused on creating remedies that were intended to treat the personalities, feelings and emotions of his patients. He took the view that if he could help to alleviate someone’s emotional distress, then this would unblock the body’s own ability to heal any physical distress or trauma.
The thirty-eight flower remedies are categorised into seven different groups: (1) fear; (2) loneliness; (3) uncertainty; (4) lack of interest; (5) despondency and despair; (6) oversensitivity; (7) too much concern for others. The specific combination of remedies will be chosen by the practitioner, depending on the client’s mental and emotional needs.
A Bach flower practitioner will encourage the client to talk about the issues and problems which they are currently facing in their life. The practitioner will help the client to explore his or her deepest feelings, concerns and fears.
Together the practitioner and the client will determine the underlying cause(s) of the problem(s), and the practitioner will then prepare a remedy. This will be a combination of anything up to five flower essences, which will be put into a dropper bottle filled with water and, usually, topped up with alcohol to preserve the contents. The client will usually be asked to take two drops of the remedy in a glass of water and sip throughout the day. Sometimes the client may be advised to take the remedy direct from the dropper bottle, under the tongue. A consultation usually lasts for about an hour, and follow-up consultations may be needed.
Bach flower remedies are particularly good for dealing with mental and emotional states such as loss, grief, bereavement, loneliness, despair, fear of being alone, shyness, anxiety, panic attacks, lack of confidence, low self-esteem.
They can also be used to help with physical conditions such as migraine, eczema, asthma, insomnia, eating disorders and chronic fatigue.
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