Flower essences are herbal infusions created from flowers and plants and can have a profound effect upon emotional and physical well being and psycho/spiritual development. They were first created by an English physician, Edward Bach, in the 1930s.
Like homeopathic remedies, their mechanism of action is vibrational in nature. They do not affect the biochemistry of the body, but rather their impact is through the subtle human energy fields, which influence physical, psychological and spiritual well-being.
Symptoms targeted by the flower essences are very nuanced and carefully characterized. This is not a one size fits all pharmaceutical approach which targets “depression” or “anxiety”, rather the flower remedies are extremely specific and nuanced in what they purport to heal.
Here are just a few examples:
Pine, one that many of my patients need, promotes self-acceptance and forgiveness, and freedom from inappropriate guilt and self-blame. A psychoanalytic framework would understand this as the “unconscious guilt” remedy. Unconscious guilt causes tremendous suffering. A patient with this problem does not feel as though he/she deserves happiness, or has a right to a life, and is likely to spoil permissible pleasure, sabotage themselves, and can make their life a monument to suffering. Along with therapeutic conversation, Pine can be a very helpful support in freeing someone from this terrible self undoing.
Walnut, another of my favorites, is particularly useful during times of life’s transitions, like starting or losing a job, moving, loss of a partner through death or divorce, starting college, or becoming a parent. It lends courage to follow one’s own path and destiny and to help free an individual from limiting influences. It is particularly useful for those people who feel overly constrained by social conventions or familial expectations. Walnut helps the soul to perceive and follow its purpose.
Gorse is excellent for a particular sort of depression, one that is characterized by pessimism and despair regarding one’s personal relationship to world events. It is not appropriate for despair that is confined to feelings about one’s personal life, but rather for those who feel overwhelmed by the frightening state of the world. It helps them embrace a more hopeful and positive world future.
Red Chestnut is one of the “co-dependence” remedies”. It helps establish healthy boundaries for those individuals who are overly identified in the role of care-taker, and enmeshed in the psychic life of the other. Red Chestnut addresses this mental imbalance. It can help to transform negative anxiety and worry about another into healthy compassion and concern.
Since the time of Dr. Edward Bach, many new families of remedies have been formulated. The four I discussed above are from the original repertoire. Often 5 or 6 flower essences are combined together to create a unique personalized healing remedy for body, mind, heart, and spirit.
These remedies can be a useful and uplifting tool as part of a multi-modal healing approach.