No. I’m not going to review a TV show nor am I developing a plot for an action movie. This short essay is about essences. The dictionary defines essence as “ the basic, real, and unvariable nature of a thing “ . If we know the essence of something, we know what makes it tick, what makes “it” unlike all other essences. Discovering the essence of a plant, we can use it as a medical treatment. Plant essences provide the base for many ways to heal both in herbal medicine and in homeopathy.
The way it works is to match the symptoms presented by the patient as closely as possible. Dr. Rudolph Ballantine, a 21st century homeopath practitioners explains essences in terms of how they may have been perceived by their discoverer Dr. Edward Bach. “We might imagine that Dr. Bach contemplating the olive tree was struck by its gnarled trunk, its worn twisted shape, its tenacity to hold on despite the winds and storms, the way in which its fruit can shrivel and dry yet still retain its flavor. He (Dr. Bach) was led to prescribe olive in its essence form for those who are weary and have exhausted their reserves.” (Radical Healing)
We can look about a garden as Dr. Bach did in 1930 and see plants that are tenacious, struggling to live, or are modest and even shy, that appear cheery or aloof, that stand tall and straight or that bend with the slightest breeze, or are unable to bend at all. The rose, clematis, violet, impatients, aspen, beech, or oak evoke mental pictures and feelings which to Bach were the essences of the plant or tree. If these essence can match an individual’s emotional state they might work to undo an imbalance in that individual. For example, a fearful, apprehensive personality, often anticipating the worse situations happening to him, can be matched by the quivering aspen tree and hence treated with the “Aspen” remedy.
The flower essences discovered and used by Dr. Edward Bach were his way to treat mental and emotional states. He firmly believed that negative emotional states were the cause of most physical distress; therefore, the individual’s state of mind and the emotional symptoms that show up tangled in the disease are the best guides to a course of treatment. He was strongly in favor of prevention : “...before almost all complaints there is usually a time of not being quite fit, or a bit run down”, he writes, “ that is the time to treat our conditions, get fit, and stop things going further.”
Bach’s repertory of flower, plant, and tree essences matched seven categories he used to define ailments: fear, uncertainty, loneliness, despondency, insufficient interest in present circumstances, over-sensitivity to external influences and the idea of others, and caring too much for the welfare of others. Examining fear, Bach’s prime candidate as the most likely trigger to physical distress and disease, he came upon several possibilities for diagnosis and treatment. First, there is anticipation or fear of worldly things such as accidents, poverty, illness, a great emergency or danger heading one’s way. This he explains is fear of great intensity. Another fear can emerge from someone having had a terrifying experience of a more ordinary type such as the specific fears happening in daily living: the sudden illness, being hurt, a destructive fire or a natural disaster, failure in business or at a task, fear of animals, people in 1 in general, even of the dark - all fears that can cripple a person. These fears are more definitive fears with or without a basis of reason. He suggests a type of fear such as a vague unsettling anticipation often of a dreadful happening, the worst case scenario many live with daily. It is a fear that may have no underlying rationale yet is quite real. A fourth fear is that of collapsing under a strain, perhaps being overworked and the subsequent loss of control, particularly of one’s mental capacity. The last fear trigger is the fear for others especially those close to one. It is fearing the worse can happen to them; anticipating misfortune such as a crippling accident or long illness.
Everyone of us has suffered from one or all of these fears at some time in life. Many of us can get through them, rationalize them away, and get our lives on a normal track again. But there are those who remain continuously burdened with fear. These need a rescue. Since Dr. Bach insisted that the individual, not the disease, be the considered priority, any disease may have different effects on different people and these effects or symptoms need to be uncovered and treated. This is especially important in changes in mental states because they will show the onset of the disease long before the disease becomes apparent through physical signs and symptoms. If one caught the change in mood early, the disease could be prevented from ever appearing.
Bach was confident that anyone had the ability to use his remedies; no medical knowledge was required. To that end he laid out very simple methods of usage. He suggested that two to five drops from any given remedy be put into a newly filled bottle of water. If combining remedies, two to five drops of each are used. All doses were given from this bottle. The bottle mixture is vigorously shaken (called “succussing”) several times against the palm of the hand to spread the essences throughout the dilution. In urgent cases, a few drops of the mixture were given every five minutes until improvement was seen. In severe cases, doses were to be given half-hourly throughout the day.
A patient can also be advised to sip the mixture throughout the day having his bottle handy next to the bed or at his work place. In chronic cases, the patient can take a dose every two to three hours. A lotion can even be made by mixing a few drops of the remedy in a bowl of water and soaking a piece of bandage in it to cover a body part inflamed and painful. The remedies can be dropped into bath water providing the whole body with relief. If unconscious, a patient’s lips can be frequently moistened with a remedy. An unconscious pet can be helped by wetting the ears, gums, and/or pads of the feet with a remedy.
Through intuition, trial and error, observation, self-testing, and hundreds of cases, Bach “proved” 38 essence remedies. During the last half of the 20th century, practitioners and lay people developed hundreds more. Among these are remedies from the Indian Master Yogi, Paramhansa Yougananda - remedies based on Buddhist religious beliefs and Indian styles of homeopathic prescribing. In America, Steve Johnson began an Alaskan Flower Essence Project when he was awed by the wildflower abundance in that state. Ian White developed a small repertory of essences from the Australian bush, all through meditation and spiritual guidance. The effectiveness of his remedies has been verified through using special photography devices 2 to record energetic changes and medical diagnostic equipment to show the physical changes from treatment. Essences from the medicinal plants of ancient aborginal Myoongah people of Australia have also been documented. Molly Sheehan of Green Hope Farm in New Hampshire bases her work in remedies on self-testing and personal experiences and has added many new essences to the repertory. Pegasus, a research and distribution company of essences of the American Southwest, has proved many remedies from minerals and rare and precious stones.
The modern repertory now includes more than 700 essences, generated from flowers, gems, vegetables, plants, trees, and mineral sources. More keep added all the time, coming through clinical experience, observations from private research, case histories, prayer, spiritual guidance, psychic and shamanistic work.
You too can make your very own essences. Any flower essence remedies are created in one of two ways: the Sun Method or the Boiling Method. Bach preferred the Sun Method, of placing each flower or bud in its separate bowl of water and setting the bowl in the sun around high noon for an hour or two. The “solarization” traps the essence of the flower in the water. The resulting liquid can be preserved by mixing it with brandy. It then becomes a “mother tincture”. The Boiling Method involves slow simmering of flowers in water. The boiling traps the essence and then the resulting liquid can be cooled, filtered, and bottled. Appropriate formulas can be made from combining tinctures.
Deciding on an appropriate remedy or mix of remedies comes through using a questionnaire If you purchase remedies, there will be either an accompanying questionnaire to guide you in choosing a remedy or a detailed explanation of the appropriateness of a remedy to the symptom picture. There are practitioners and companies that will customize a formula for your use. It is best to read through all the descriptions of the remedies several times to get an understanding of the differences in each. Using an intensity scale can also help you in making a choice. On a scale from one to ten, ask yourself just how strong is the emotional problem. How closely do you identify with one of the fear types or other categories? It is suggested that a rating of seven or above indicates a definite choice. Don’t confuse the picture with too much thinking. Do limit the number of remedies to six or less.
If we look at how Bach developed his “Rescue Remedy” - the most famous and popular of the Bach flower remedy mixes - we can see the prime aim of the mix as well as the nuances. The Rescue Remedy formulation is always the same five of the original 38 remedies: Cherry Plum, Clematis, Impatiens, Rock Rose, and Star of Bethlehem. Cherry Plum, Clematis, Impatiens, and Rock Rose are remedies which can cover most emergency situations: anxiety, trauma, terror, panic, shock, and pain. Star of Bethlehem helps in psychic shock or any traumatic blow to the mind and well as the body. The whole grouping will calm, stabilize, and put the patient on a fast road to recovery. The name aptly describes an excellent first aid help and a bottle should be in the car, and the medicine chest in the home and office of everyone who wishes a quick, effective, non-toxic, side-effect free solution to accidents.
Bach Flower Essences are widely
used because they are gentle and effective, treating 3 a wide range of stresses,
even deep, long-term stress, and they are without side effects. They are
inexpensive: a kit with all 38 remedies can be bought and will last years.
In his book Heal Thyself; An Explanation of the Real Cause and Cure of Disease
, Bach presents his concept of disease and cure. “Disease will never be cured or eradicated by present materialistic
methods, for the simple reason that disease in its origin is not material.
What we know as disease is an ultimate result in the body, the end product,
of deep and long acting forces, and even if material treatment alone is apparently
successful, this is nothing more than a temporary relief until the real cause
has been removed.” And Bach strongly believed that negative emotions
were the real causes of disease. If the remedy or mix is the correct one,
the body will vibrate to its singular frequency, absorb its healing energy,
and throw off its burden. It will have been rescued!
For supplies and further information consult Marie Cargill.