Flower therapy, or essence therapy, is a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). It’s based on the idea that flowers have a healing vibrational energy.
The practice uses flower essences, which are liquids infused with a flower’s energy. They’re also called flower remedies.
Modern flower essences were created by Edward Bach, a British physician, in the 1930s. According to Bach, the energy of flowers can balance your emotions. He believed that this can bring about mental, physical, and spiritual wellness.
Today, people use flower essences for the same purpose. You can buy essences in stores or get them from an essence therapist.
There’s some evidence flower remedies may help anxiety and pain. They’re also believed to improve immunity, depression, and various psychological disorders, but the science is lacking.
To learn more about this type of herbal medicine, read on. We’ll explore the potential benefits of flower essences, plus how to use them.
Flower essences vs. essential oil
Flower essences and essential oils are often confused with each other. Both solutions are made with plants, but they’re prepared in very different ways.
Here’s how flower essences are made:
- Flowers are submerged in natural spring water.
- The water is boiled or placed in the sun. Allegedly, sun exposure helps extract the energy of flowers.
- The water is filtered and preserved with brandy. The finished essence contains no part of the flower.
Essences can be made with nonflowering plants and crystals using the same method. They can also be made without alcohol.
On the other hand, essential oils are concentrated liquids of plant compounds. Here’s how they’re made:
- The flowers, leaves, fruit, or bark of a plant are gathered. One bottle of essential oil often requires several pounds of plant material.
- The plant material is steamed distilled or pressed, which extracts the fragrant compounds.
- The extracted “oil” is not actually oily and may be mixed with a carrier oil for use.
Bach flower remedies are an alternative or complementary treatment that is used for emotional problems and pain. They’re made out of watered-down extracts from the flowers of wild plants.
Edward Bach, a medical doctor and homeopath, created these remedies in the early 1900s. Homeopathy is the belief that the body can cure itself. It uses small amounts of natural substances like plants and minerals to treat the body or mind. The idea behind Bach flower remedies is similar to homeopathy. But they use fewer materials and don’t work directly on physical symptoms, but instead on the emotions.
Bach believed that healing negative emotions helps the body heal itself. His system contains 38 remedies that each address a specific negative emotion. The emotions are grouped into seven broad psychological causes of illness:
- Lack of interest in present circumstances
- Oversensitivity to influences and ideas
- Sadness or despair
- Cares for others at the expense of self
How to Choose a Bach Remedy
Select a flower remedy according to the emotional issue or issues at the root of your problem. You might choose one remedy or mix several together.
You can buy them at a health food store or work with a specialist or someone trained to use them. Also, some naturopaths, homeopaths, herbalists, chiropractors, and acupuncturists offer them.
There’s also a combination remedy that was developed by Bach himself. People use it to help stay calm in stressful situations.
How to Use Them
Bach remedies usually come as liquids in dropper bottles. You can either drop the remedy on your tongue or mix it into a glass of water to drink. The dosage varies, but most people take several drops a few times a day.
Some remedies are also found as pills, sprays, skin creams, and bath salts.
Do Bach Remedies Work?
People have used Bach remedies for many conditions, including anxiety, depression, stress, emotional and physical trauma, cancer, and HIV. Existing reliable research does not back up these claims.
Results are mixed when it comes to whether they help with emotional issues or pain. They seem to make some people feel better, but it isn’t clear if this is a result of the placebo effect or not. The placebo effect means something helps because people expect it to work.
Side Effects and Safety
Studies have found that Bach remedies are safe. Some have a small amount of alcohol, so check the label if you want to avoid it.
Don’t take Bach remedies in place of any prescribed medicine. Let your doctor know if you have any problems.
Flower essences for anxiety
Flower essences may have benefits for anxiety. In a 2020 studyTrusted Source, flower therapy reduced anxiety in children at the dentist. An older 2012 study found similar effects in adults with moderate anxiety.
Additionally, a 2017 case reportTrusted Source found that a Bach flower remedy reduced anxiety in a woman with menopause.
According to a 2008 reviewTrusted Source, flower essences provide energy that balances emotions. However, the studies above failed to mention exactly how the energy works. There’s also no scientific proof that this energy exists.
More in-depth studies on this purported benefit are necessary.
Flower essences for pain
In a 2017 study, Bach flower remedies reportedly eased pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. The participants applied a flower essence cream to the affected area.
According to the study, the essences may have biological properties that help numbness. But again, the study did not provide a hard scientific explanation.
An older 2008 study also found that Bach flower remedies relieved pain. According to the researchers, the therapy helped participants focus on their emotional health rather than physical pain. They also acknowledged that believing in flower therapy was a factor.
Theoretically, if flower essences can reduce anxiety, they may have benefits for pain. That’s because anxiety increases your perception of pain, according to a 2019 report. Still, more in-depth research is needed to confirm the benefits of essences for pain.
Flower essence services are offered by a range of providers, including:
- spiritual coaches
- massage therapists
- naturopathic doctors
- holistic nurses
- reiki practitioners