By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
A form of vibrational medicine developed by Dr. Edward Bach in the 1920s and 30s, Bach Flower Remedies are tinctures taken under the tongue to treat psycho-emotional states thought to underlie illness. Essentially, Bach believed that people can heal themselves and that bringing about peaceful and positive emotional states can stimulate the body’s innate healing abilities.
Dr. Bach created 38 remedies, each designed to treat a particular psycho-emotional state, for example “fear of unknown things,” “intolerance” or “hopelessness and despair.” Like the primary colors – red, blue and yellow – can be combined to form numerous other colors and hues, Bach asserted that his 38 preparations can be mixed into 293 million combinations to treat all kinds of emotional distress.
Dr. Edward Bach’s Healing Path
In the early 20th century, Dr. Bach, then a London house surgeon, bacteriologist and pathologist, suffered a near-death medical crisis, after which he began approaching medicine more holistically. He attributed his recovery to his sense of purpose: the work he had yet to accomplish. Determined to treat people rather than their diseases, Bach started practicing homeopathic medicine, eventually leaving his orthodox training behind to find more natural solutions.
Noticing similarities between his vaccine research and homeopathic principles, Bach began adapting his vaccines and subsequently created a series of homeopathic nosodes (treatments made from diseased substances). Hoping to find gentler remedies, Bach began testing thousands of plants, and eventually developed 38 plant and flower remedies. In general, Bach found that addressing his patients’ mental states or emotions through plant remedies resulted in improvement of their physical symptoms. He felt that treating their feelings and personalities, rather than their disease symptoms, helped unblock the natural healing potential within them.
Eventually, Bach became so dedicated to his work that he would deliberately suffer particular emotional states in order to find the right flowers and plants to cure the ailments. A year after he completed his series of remedies, Bach passed away, having lived 20 years past his doctors’ prognoses when on his deathbed as a young surgeon. His life experience and work have helped revolutionize modern alternative medicinal therapies.
Dr. Edward Bach Was ahead of His Time
In Heal Thyself, first published in 1931,Bach wrote that “Disease is, in essence, the result of conflict between the Soul and Mind, and will never be eradicated except by spiritual and mental efforts.” Eighty-plus years later, this kind of thinking is still at the cutting edge of alternative medicine, as we finally have started to acknowledge the power of mind-body unity and how stress can lead to illness. At the forefront of mind-body medicine is psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), the study of the interconnectedness of our nervous, endocrine and immune systems, that is, how our thoughts and emotions influence immunity.
Bach Homeopathic Tinctures
Bach flower remedies are made by either soaking flowers in pure water in direct sunlight, or by boiling them in pure water. The heat produced by either the sun or boiling methods transfers the energy of the flowers to the water, which is then mixed with brandy. The dominant theory as to how the remedies work is that the energy or vibration of the flowers is transferred into the water, and that this flower energy soothes particular psychoemotional states. Likened to the uplifting effect of a beautiful sunset or music, the effects of flower essences on one’s psyche are subtle, not like taking a pharmaceutical drug with immediate and/or powerful effects.
How Do I Find the Right Homeopathic Tincture?
Bach designed the flower remedies as self-healing modalities, and they can usually be found in natural food and vitamin stores. For help choosing the right one(s), see the Bach Centre’s Guide to the Remedies. Specifying that the “remedies don’t treat physical complaints directly. Instead they help by treating the negative emotional states that provoke or worsen illnesses,” the Bach Centre says “the way to select the correct remedies is always to think about the sort of person you are and about your current emotional state, and forget the physical symptoms.”
For those who seek assistance choosing appropriate flower essences, the Bach Centre also provides a referral list of Bach Foundation Registered Practitioners, as well as a fee-based consultation service; for more information, visit the Bach Centre Web site.
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