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Bach flower remedies

Mind-body interventions - edit
NCCAM classifications
  1. Alternative Medical Systems
  2. Biologically Based Therapy
  3. Manipulative Methods
  4. Energy Therapy
See also

Bach flower remedies are dilutions of flower material developed by Edward Bach in the 1930s.[1] He called this material "essences". The remedies are used primarily for emotional and spiritual conditions, including but not limited to depression, anxiety, insomnia and stress.

The remedies contain a small amount of flower material in a 50:50 solution of water and brandy. Because the remedies are extremely dilute they do not have a characteristic scent or taste of the plant. Vendors state that the remedies contain something called the energetic signature of the flower, and that this can be transmitted to the user. Randomized clinical studies of the 38 remedies have tended to find the flower remedies no more effective than a placebo; however, the randomization process precludes the diagnosis necessary to match a specific remedy to the specific patient needing it — thus, clinical testing of the remedies is inherently difficult.



  Each remedy is used alone or in conjunction with other remedies, and each flower is believed by advocates to impart specific qualities to the remedy. Bach flower remedies are also used on household pets and domestic animals, and have been said to be effective in calming them and improving problem behaviours. Some people say that they are also useful for the treatment of diseased plants. Remedies are usually taken orally.

Remedies may be prescribed by a naturopath, or an individual may choose the combination they feel best suits their situation. Some vendors recommend dowsing[1] to select a remedy.

The most well known flower remedy is the Rescue Remedy combination, which contains an equal amount each of Rock rose, Impatiens, Clematis, Star of Bethlehem and Cherry Plum remedies. The product is aimed at treating stress, anxiety, and panic attacks, especially in emergencies.

Rescue Cream contains the same remedies in a paste form, to be applied externally to treat minor skin problems such as itches and burns.

Research on the effects of a particular remedy is done by case reporting with consensus review by other users. For example, one person will report that using a particular remedy seemed to help with 'X', then other users will then focus on that same condition either in treating themselves or patients, and will report findings. Results found in this manner are often skewed by a confirmation bias, a tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions and avoid information and interpretations which contradict prior beliefs.[citation needed]


Edward Bach thought that dew collected from the flowers of plants contains some of the properties of the plant, and that it was more potent on flowers grown in the sun. As it was impractical to collect dew in quantity, he decided to pick flowers and steep them in a bowl of water under sunlight. If this is impractical due to lack of sunlight or other reasons the flowers may be boiled.

The result of this process is what he called "mother tincture", which is further diluted before sale or use.

Bach was satisfied with the method, because of its simplicity, and because it involved a process of combination of the four elements:

The earth to nurture the plant, the air from which it feeds, the sun or fire to enable it to impart its power, and water to collect and be enriched with its beneficient magnetic healing[2].

Bach flower remedies are not dependent on the theory of successive dilutions, and are not based on the Law of Similars of Homeopathy. The Bach remedies, unlike homeopathic remedies, are all derived from non-toxic substances, with the idea that a "positive energy" can redirect or neutralize "negative energy".


A recent database review of randomized trials concluded:

The hypothesis that flower remedies are associated with effects beyond a placebo response is not supported by data from rigorous clinical trials.[3]

All randomized double-blind studies, whether finding for or against the remedies, have suffered from small sample sizes but the studies using the best methodology were the ones that found no effect over placebo.[4][5]

However, since the 38 Bach flower remedies are case-specific, randomized trials are unable to test the effectiveness of any given remedy on patients who need that specific remedy.

According to those skeptical of the remedies, the most likely means of action for flower remedies is as placebos, enhanced by introspection on the patient's emotional state, or simply being listened to by the practitioner. The act of selecting and taking a remedy may act as a calming ritual.

The Bach centre states that "There haven't been any full clinical trials on the actions of the remedies. There was a study done in California as part of a doctoral thesis, but the methodology followed was questionable both in scientific terms and in terms of the assumptions made about the remedies, so we would not produce this study as 'evidence' even though it claimed to show that the remedies work. And there have been other, small-scale studies in different parts of the world, but again nothing that would convince a determined sceptic.... We don't see it as our role to 'prove' that the remedies work - instead we simply demonstrate how to use them and let people prove the effect on themselves."[2].

List of Bach flower remedies

The Dr. Edward Bach Centre, which is the Centre founded by Dr Bach to promote and preserve his work, presents this list of the thirty eight remedies discovered by Dr Bach and directed at a specific characteristic or emotional state.

  1. Agrimony – mental torture behind a cheerful face
  2. Aspen – fear of unknown things
  3. Beech – intolerance
  4. Centaury – inability to say 'no'
  5. Cerato – lack of trust in one's own decisions
  6. Cherry Plum – fear of the mind giving way
  7. Chestnut Bud (made with horse chestnut buds) – failure to learn from mistakes
  8. Chicory – selfish, possessive love
  9. Clematis – dreaming of the future without working in the present
  10. Crab Apple – cleansing remedy, also for self-hatred
  11. Elm – overwhelmed by responsibility
  12. Gentian – discouragement after a setback
  13. Gorse – hopelessness and despair
  14. Heather – self-centeredness and self-concern
  15. Holly – hatred, envy and jealousy
  16. Honeysuckle – living in the past
  17. Hornbeam – procrastination, tiredness at the thought of doing something
  18. Impatiens – impatience
  19. Larch – lack of confidence and self-esteem
  20. Mimulus – fear of known things
  21. Mustard – deep gloom for no reason
  22. Oak – the plodder who keeps going past the point of exhaustion
  23. Olive – exhaustion following mental or physical effort
  24. Pine – guilt
  25. Red Chestnut (a type of horse chestnut) – over-concern for the welfare of loved ones
  26. Rock Rose – terror and fright
  27. Rock Water – self-denial, rigidity and self-repression
  28. Scleranthus – inability to choose between alternatives
  29. Star of Bethlehem – shock
  30. Sweet Chestnut – Extreme mental anguish, when everything has been tried and there is no light left
  31. Vervain – over-enthusiasm
  32. Vine – dominance and inflexibility
  33. Walnut – protection from change and unwanted influences
  34. Water Violet – pride and aloofness
  35. White Chestnut (made with horse chestnut blossoms) – unwanted thoughts and mental arguments
  36. Wild Oat – uncertainty over one's direction in life
  37. Wild Rose – drifting, resignation, apathy
  38. Willow – self-pity and resentment

Other flower remedies or essences

Makers of "flower remedies" all over the world have created thousands of additional remedies based on the original principles invented by Bach. The term "flower essences" is also commonly used these days, especially when referring to the non-Bach flower essences being made. Along with the sun-bowl method of preparation pioneered by Bach, a few other techniques have been developed, including some non-cutting methods.

Currently over 400 small (i.e., one or two people) to medium (i.e., up to fifteen or so employees) flower essence makers are active around the world, from Alaska to Australia, Brazil and India. In Britain alone over sixty different makers are registered with the British Association of Flower Essence Producers (BAFEP).

Some makers produce other kinds of what they call "vibrational essences," using sources such as minerals/gemstones, nonflowering plants, sea life, mushrooms, cacti, metals, intuitive methods, and natural environments.


  1. ^ As Edward Bach's family name is pronounced "Batch" ([bætʃ]), rather than "Bark", they are correctly spoken of as "Batch flower remedies", rather than "Bark flower remedies".
  2. ^ Barnard, Julian (2004). Bach Flower Remedies. Lindisfarne Books, 64. ISBN 1584200243. 
  3. ^ E. Ernst (December 30 2002). ""Flower remedies": a systematic review of the clinical evidence". Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift 114 (23-24): 963-966. PMID 12635462.
  4. ^ H. Walach, C. Rilling, U. Engelke (July 2001). "Efficacy of Bach-flower remedies in test anxiety: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial with partial crossover". Journal of Anxiety Disorders 15 (4): 359-366. 11474820.
  5. ^ Pintov S, Hochman M, Livne A, Heyman E, Lahat E (2005). "Bach flower remedies used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children — a prospective double blind controlled study". European Journal of Paediatric Neurology 9 (6): 395-398. 16257245.

See also


  • Skeptic's Dictionary on Bach Flower therapy
  • Sceptic Information from
  • Homeopathy explored

Research studies

  • National Institutes of Health: Bach Flower Remedies no more effective than Placebo
  • Journal of Psychosomatic Research: Personality traits predict response to Bach flower remedies
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Bach_flower_remedies". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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