Tim Couzens MRCVS
Flower remedies tap into the healing energy hidden within the flowers of a wide range of plants to help resolve psychological problems and the physical problems that can often occur as a consequence. Interest in flower remedies is growing steadily, partly due to the fact that they are easily accessible and partly as there is more information available than ever before on their use. As our understanding of animal behaviour is also advancing and treatment of problems is being seriously taken by professionals, it is an ideal time to combine our knowledge with the use of some of the more familiar remedies. Probably the most famous of all the flower remedies are those discovered and used by Dr Edward Bach.
Edward Bach and his work on the healing energies of flowers
Dr Edward Bach MB, BS, MRCS, LRCP, DPH., pronounced “Batch”, was born September 24th 1886 near Birmingham. He was the eldest of three children and the most sensitive and intuitive. Although he had a love of nature, poetry, music, sport and a great sense of adventure, his ultimate ambition was to become a doctor. He trained as a medical student in Birmingham, completing his studies in London, qualifying in 1913. As well as working from consulting rooms in Harley Street, he worked at University College, in the bacteriology department. It was here that he carried out some of his most famous work on the bacteria in the intestine and their relationship to illness.
In 1919 he was appointed to The Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital in Great Ormond Street as pathologist and bacteriologist. Combining his work on bacteria with the homoeopathic principles of Samuel Hahnemann, he developed a series of potentised bacterial preparations called nosodes. The Bach nosodes are still used to this day in homoeopathic medicine.
However his life was to take a different course following an invitation to a dinner party. It was during dinner that he started to observe his fellow guests. He watched their facial expressions, tone of voice and body language. It soon became apparent that there were seven distinct groups or types of people around the table. With his knowledge of homoeopathy he was able to predict that the personality and emotional state of patients was as important as any physical symptoms they had.
Determined to look more closely into emotional states and ill health Bach closed his Harley Street clinic and moved to the heart of Wales. His knowledge of nature and clever intuition soon led him to recognise the healing power in the plants that surrounded him. In fact, by merely laying a petal on his hand or on his tongue he could feel the vibrating healing energy within the plant. It was this energy that could be put to use in helping treat states of mind and their physical consequences which we see as ill health.
Carefully selecting a group of plants, he studied them from every aspect. How and where they grew, their shape, size and colour. Looking at dew covered blossoms one morning, he thought that the action of strong sunlight on the flowers would energise the dew with the healing energy of the plant. Tasting the dew from a plant, he realised immediately that he was right. Collecting the dew into bottles he began the very first step in creating his world famous flower remedies.
Travelling throughout the country he painstakingly searched for remedies that would change negative states of mind to positive. This resulted in a series of 19 remedies which could deal with emotional upsets, curing not directly by attacking the disease, but by assisting the body at a much deeper psychological level.
It was in the Oxfordshire countryside that Edward Bach discovered the final 19 of his 38 remedies. Eventually he made his home here, at “Mount Vernon” at Sotwell, near Wallingford, now home of the Bach Centre. He lived and worked simply, continuing to give lectures and write books, papers and articles, spreading knowledge of his system of healing until his death in 1936.
THE PRINCIPLES OF BACH FLOWER TREATMENT
Using the remedies requires a degree of perception and always remember that the remedies are used to treat states of mental disharmony, principally negative psychological feelings rather than physical illness. You should aim to look, observe and listen before selecting the most useful remedy or remedies. In many cases you will need to combine several remedies together to cover the totality of symptoms. You should always look deeper than using the remedies alone. It is equally as important to look at diet, environment, interaction between other animals and humans as well as sources of stress. Always seek advice from a trained behaviourist where necessary.
HOW DO THE REMEDIES WORK?
No one really knows for certain but healing energy is involved in as much the same way as in homoeopathy. What is known is that each flower has a unique energy of a particular wavelength. Each of these is “in tune” with a certain frequency in the energy field which surrounds each and every living being. With illness, stress or psychological disturbance this field becomes distorted and out of harmony. This in turn has a negative effect on the whole cat which can lead to physical illness as well. By carefully selecting the correct flower remedies, then it is possible to correct the distortion in the energy field and return the animal to a state of health mentally and physically.
HOW ARE THE REMEDIES PREPARED?
Plants have always had a traditional role in healing. Herbal remedies have been used for many centuries to relieve or cure symptoms. Bach perceived his remedies being of a “higher order”, having healing powers which were particularly special.
His great perception lead to their discovery and such was his sensitivity that he would merely have to place a petal from the plant concerned on his tongue to be aware of its effects on the body, soul and spirit. In some instances he would suffer very acute negative states of mind for which a flower was needed. On occasion he even developed associated physical complaints. He would then wander the lanes near his home until he was “led” to find the flowers which would restore his normal state of mind and physical well-being.
Some of the remedies are used in herbal medicine like Agrimony, some are classified as weeds such as Vervain, whilst others are familiar garden plants or trees. Oddly there is one remedy which is not plant based – Rock Water, which is derived from natural spring water from areas untouched by civilisation.
The flowers are gathered from unspoilt areas, where they can be found growing wild. The very same wild local areas in which Dr Bach lived and worked. The main reason for this is that cultivated varieties lose their powers of healing rapidly. Naturally, in picking the flowers, the plant is neither destroyed nor damaged.
The flowers have to be picked at full maturity when the essential energies are concentrated, just before the flowers start to drop. This also has to be done when there is a cloudless sunny sky. The time between picking the flowers and preparation of the remedies is kept to a minimum so virtually no energy is lost. The whole process is harmonious, a form of natural alchemy, involving the elements: Earth, Air, Sun (or Fire) and finallyWater which serves as the transfer vehicle.
Having gathered the flowers they are then allowed to float on water, transferring their energy to the liquid. The resulting energised water is then used to produce stock solutions for medication by adding a few drops to brandy which also acts as a preservative. The normal dilution is 1:240, water to brandy. The resulting stock bottles will keep indefinitely.
THE 7 REMEDY GROUPS OF DR BACH.
There are 38 remedies classified into the original 7 groups and one combination remedy, the most famous, which is known as Rescue Remedy which is known world-wide.
Indications: Panic, severe fright, terror, alarm.
Uses: Transporting cats, capturing cats, introducing a cat into new home, to pacify ferals`, allays fear and terror in many situations.
Indications: Timidity, shyness, fear of known things.
Uses: Specific fears (noises, people, vets, other animals etc.), allows better socialisation. Use when homing rescue cats and to help build character. Useful for spraying where fear or timidity is the cause.
Indications: Apprehension, indefinite fears, anxiety generally.
Uses: For nervous cats with non-specific fears, psychogenic eczema, adjustment to new home, spraying of nervous origin, skittish cats which creep from place to place and those which hide away. Helps cats which are easily startled and very useful after bad accidents or fright.
Indications: Over concern and fear for others (obsessed).
Uses: When removing kittens from mother. Helpful in separating two companion cats. Allays grief and resolves pining for companion animals or humans.
Indications: Settles irrational thoughts, bad tempered cats.
Uses: In accidents and trauma, general ill humour, ferals`, cats in cattery or rescue pens which are unapproachable or vicious whilst normally placid, bad temper generally, over or compulsive grooming (displacement activity) of psychogenic origin, general aggression or uncontrollable behaviour.
Indications: Where own judgement is doubted.
Uses: Cats which appear uncertain and doubt their own capabilities, slow to learn, seem stupid. For poor developers.
Indications: Fluctuating moods, indecisive cats.
Uses: Cats of unreliable temperament, especially those showing periods of intense behaviour, then lethargy or extreme hunger then loss of appetite. Travel sickness (which is due to an uneven energy balance) in conjunction with Rescue Remedy.
Indications: Easily discouraged and despondent.
Uses: Cats which appear depressed and lethargic for no physical reason.
Indications: Feelings of hopelessness & despair.
Uses: Use in chronic illness to provide support and in states of apathy. Lie around and do nothing cats. Depressed cats, especially after the loss of a companion.
Indications: “Monday morning” feeling, weariness.
Uses: Exhaustion, following mental trauma, supportive treatment for poor-doers and sick cats.
Indications: To determine life’s path.
Uses: Helps a new cat settle into a multi-cat household; enables the cat to find its place in the feline hierarchy.
3) LACK OF INTEREST IN THE PRESENT
Indications: Dreamy and disinterested animals
Uses: For lazy, lay-about cats!, states of lethargy, cats stunned by recent events, post surgery, helps revive new born kittens. Included in Rescue Remedy.
Indications: Home-sick cats, those which dwell on the past and past events.
Uses: Grief, pining over the loss of a companion, human or animal, illness arising from a past event, accident, temporary separation from owner, cats in boarding catteries, re-homed animals which do not seem to settle, changes in circumstances. Helps let go of the past.
Indications: Physical and mental exhaustion.
Uses: Indicated for malnourished animals, those that have been injured, during kittening, exhausted by some event.
Indications: Apathy, lack of interest, no ambition.
Uses: Cats which are resigned to their fate or illness, i.e. stop eating, feral cats which refuse to feed after capture and similarly cats in boarding catteries.
Indications: Pre-occupation with worry, unwanted thoughts.
Uses: Persistent worries e.g. over loss of companion, nervous cats which over-groom (seen as displacement activity), insomniac cats.
Indications: Depression and sadness.
Uses: The remedy for the completely introverted cat, never wants fuss or attention, appear unhappy and miserable.
Indications: Slow learners.
Uses: Kittens slow on the uptake, assists toilet training, cats which appear awkward and clumsy.
Indications: Shyness, reserved, cats which prefer their own company.
Uses: Almost a constitutional for some cats, those which appear withdrawn, though not depressed. Cats which consider themselves superior especially exotic cats such as Siamese and Burmese. Those that do not mix easily with other cats. Cats which seek solitude when ill, loners.
Indications: Irritability and impatience.
Uses: Short tempered cats, quick movers, rapid and swift reactions (look out for the claws!), fast acting. Irritable cats.
Indications: Talkative, noisy cats, hate being alone, self-concerned.
Uses: In part the Siamese. Cats which are self-important and very vocal, those which demand attention constantly and want to be the sole recipient of their owners affections.
Indications: Hidden anxiety & worries.
Uses: Psychogenic eczema due to repressed emotions, ill effects of some past event, assists healing in prolonged illness, especially when away from home i.e. hospitalised in veterinary hospital. Allows expression of feelings.
Indications: Weak character, exploitation, cats which are taken advantage of.
Uses: For the runt of the litter, those cats which are frequently picked upon, insecure cats which spray, passive characters, unable to defend their own territory, always being bitten or attacked.
Indications: Times of transition or change.
Uses: At time of re-homing, introduction of new cat/dog/child into household, moving house, whilst boarding in cattery, after the loss of a companion, changes of routine. Helps cats adjust to new situations.
Indications: Suspicion, envy, hatred, jealousy.
Uses: To settle inter-cat rivalry, inter-cat aggression, mis-mothering, malicious behaviour, cats prone to bouts of rage and violence
6) DESPONDENCY & DESPAIR
Indications: Cat which lacks confidence and feel inferior.
Uses: Timid, shy cats, agoraphobic cats, cats inclined to spray (due to insecurity), cats which always hide away, completely submissive animals.
Indications: Feeling of guilt, always apologising.
Uses: For the introverted cat. Possibly cowards or perfectionists?
Indications: Temporary self-doubt, overwhelmed.
Uses: Queens unable to cope with caring for their kittens.
Indications: Feelings of dejection, limit of tolerance or endurance, cats unable to go on any further.
Uses: States of exhaustion, during long illness to help recovery.
STAR OF BETHLEHEM
Indications: Effects of trauma or fright, loss of companion.
Uses: To treat the ill-effects of any past event, accidents, neutering, fright, loss of companion, mistreated cats, recently re-homed cats, kittening, weaning, post-surgery, “never the same since…” syndrome.
Indications: Resentment and bitterness.
Uses: Cat which spray as a result of inter-territorial trespass, introduction of a new cat in the household and in cases of loss of rank or standing in the social order. Psychogenic eczema, post neutering, anger, “touchy” cats which are sometimes unpredictable and spiteful.
Indications: No longer able to struggle on against adversity.
Uses: In long term illness to offer support to animals which are normally strong characters.
Indications: The cleansing remedy.
Uses: In treating psychogenic eczema (the need to be clean) and over-grooming. Crab Apple is the most important remedy for this condition. Useful initially in the treatment of many long term health problems.
7) OVERCARE FOR OTHERS
Indications: Over possessive, self centred and clinging cats.
Uses: Possibly the Siamese again. Cats which need to have their own way and which may resort to ripping furniture or wallpaper if upset. Animals which are easily upset, turning to anger if their demands are not met i.e. manipulating! Jealousy, over-affectionate cats, over-grooming and other similar psychosomatic conditions.
Uses: Cats which are nervous and seem on edge all the time. Irritable, keyed up and tense cats which show sometimes fanatical behaviour including over-grooming. Over-active cats.
Indications: Tyrannical, arrogant, dominating and inflexible animals.
Uses: The “bully”. Cats which desire to gain total control and terrorise the neighbourhood. Persistent aggression to other cats, cat-flap raiders, always fighting and getting into trouble.
Indications: Cat which are intolerant of others or arrogant cats.
Uses: Inter-cat aggression, introduction of new cat into the household, cats which are always fighting.
Indications: Rigidity and self denial.
Uses: Where there are suppressed emotions resulting in over-grooming. Stress in sensitive cats.
A combination of 5 of the remedies:
CHERRY PLUM For uncontrolled and irrational thoughts
CLEMATIS For lack of attention, dreamy, inattentive states
IMPATIENS For irritability and anger
ROCK ROSE For states of terror & panic
STAR OF BETHLEHEM For the ill-effects of trauma
Use at times of crisis, accidents, fear, fright, injury, bad travellers, impending surgery, kittening, revival of new-born kittens. Rescue Remedy is also available as a cream for external use.
PRACTICAL USE OF THE REMEDIES
Dr Bach`s remedies are safe for everyday use and can be used on the youngest kitten and the oldest cats without fear of side effects or over dosing. Since the flower remedies work on homoeopathic principles occasionally the symptoms may slightly intensify before improving. This homoeopathically termed “aggravation” is considered a good sign and the outcome of the treatment should be favourable. Often you will need to use more than one remedy to cover all the aspects of a particular problem. There is no harm in combining the remedies together as they are all compatible with each other. To make administration easier they can be mixed together in one bottle if need be. Normally, however you should not need to use more than 5 or 6 remedies to resolve a particular situation. Any concurrent allopathic treatment or homoeopathic remedies can be continued as the flower remedies will not interfere with either form of treatment.
All the Bach remedies are available over the counter in health food shops, an enviable situation compared to the continent where a prescription would be required. They are normally supplied as 10ml dropper bottles (known as stock bottles) although Rescue Remedy is also available in a larger 20ml size as well.
In practice seems been best to use the remedies undiluted, in contrast to the instructions given on the bottles (for humans!). They appear to be more effective in the undiluted form and seem to act more quickly. The normal dose is 1-2 drops up to 4 times daily. The drops can be added to food or drinking water. If your cat will tolerate the taste the remedies can be dripped directly in the mouth, carefully ensuring that the dropper does not become contaminated. In neither of these is practical, then rub a drop or two of the remedy onto your cat’s paw (where it will be licked off) or onto the skin on the inside of your cats back leg.
Some cats will tolerate the remedies better if they are diluted in the traditional fashion. If you do decide to use the remedies diluted, then you will need a 30 ml dropper bottle nearly filled with still spring water. To this add about half-teaspoonful of cider vinegar as preservative. Add 2 drops of each chosen remedy from the stock bottle, selecting no more than more than six. Use 4 drops if adding Rescue remedy to you mixture. The dose is 4 drops up to 4 times daily, by mouth or in food. Diluted remedies can also be added to drinking water if practical.
The length of time to see a response varies considerably. It can be as little as a few hours to several weeks. Remember that the remedies are safe and non-addictive and continued treatment will not harm your cat in any way. Under normal circumstances you should not need to treat for more than 4 months or so. In acute situations, such as accidents, you will need to give an appropriate remedy such as Rescue Remedy, every few minutes until your cat seems better.
T.W.Couzens MRCVS. March 1996.