Bach remedies, otherwise known as Bach Flower Remedies (BFRs), were developed in the 1930’s by the British homeopathy practitioner Edward Bach. BFRs are water or brandy solutions of certain flowers. BFRs is based on the premise that the flower petals with the dew present on them have medicinal properties capable of providing cure for a number of health disorders.
How is the preparation made?
The resultant solution prepared with equal quantity of water and brandy (or alcohol) with the flower petals are considered to contain the essential characteristics of the particular flower used. However, due to dilution with water and alcohol smell make the solution unidentifiable with the flower used.
Importance of placebo effect
Before commencing a detailed study on the effects of BFRs,it is very important to know about placebo effect. Ever since, BFRs came to be known they were considered by doctors as having only a placebo effect. Placebo is a deceptive treatment wherein the patient is made to believe that the particular health issue is treated by the tablet or syrup administered. It is intended to provide only a psychological relief to the patient. During the recent past it has been observed by various researchers that placebo effect can be helpful in certain types of patients, particularly those having neurological issues.
Flowers identified by Dr. Bach
Bach has identified about 38 flowers that can be used in the preparation of BFRs. The remedies prepared from each of the flower is considered to provide specific health benefit. None of the flowers identified has any poisonous character and hence use of the BFRs do not cause any negative impact on the health.
Most of the flowers identified by Bach are from the plants and trees which produce leaves, barks, fruits and seeds and are found to be useful in their edible form and also in the preparation of various food items and medicines. The attempt here is only to highlight the benefits of the flowers from which BFR are prepared.
Some of the flowers identified by Bach for preparation of Bach remedies are briefly described here.
Agrimonia also referred to as Agrimony is a plant from northern hemisphere. It grows between 50 cm to 200 cm with pinnate green leaves with yellow flowers. Originally brews prepared from the plant leaves are used to cure diarrhea, and disorders of the liver, gall bladder and kidney (1). However,Bach had found the remedy made from the flower petals to be useful in treating the mental stress experienced by a person appearing to be cheerful externally.
Aspen trees which grow in mountains of northern hemisphere,particularly in cold regions with cool summers. The trees grow from about 50 feet to 100 feet in height with large trunks. It is also known as a quaking or trembling tree as the trunks swing violently during strong winds (2). The flowers of the tree is used in preparation of Bach remedy in the treatment of anxiety and unknown fear experienced by any person.
Beech is a deciduous tree native to Europe, Asia and North America. Beech flower remedies were originally used to cure emotional stress but have become useful in addressing certain physical disorders too (3). Beech flower remedy is used to treat emotional imbalances.
Centaury is an herb of European origin growing up to half a meter in height bearing flowers which range from pinkish to lavender in color.The remedy prepared from its flower is used in the treatment of gastric disorders and liver disorders (4). Stomach disorders like bloating and flatulence are cured by the flower remedy. The plant is also known as feverwort as it was traditionally used to treat fever.
Cerato or cerato stigma is a group of eight species of plant native to Africa and Asia. It is a shrub growing up to a meter in height with leaves in a spiral order and flowers that are pale azil, dark blue, red or purple in color (5). Though Bach recommended the remedy to improve the self-confidence of a person, some other health benefits are also derived from it. Indian system of Ayurveda medicines has been using the flower extract to cure digestive disorders, obesity and tumors.
Cherry plum, prunus cerasiferais a plum variety of European origin. I t is an ornamental shrub or small tree flowering in spring season growing up to 40 feet. The flowers are generally white or pale pink in color while the fruits are red. The fruits have sour or sweet taste consumed raw. There are many species of cherry plums available and Bach remedies are prepared from a particular variety known Asprunus cerasifera only (6). BFR prepared from this flower is used to cure mental depression in addition to providing physical strength to overcome the depression.
Chestnut bud, aesculus hippocastanum, is the flower produced by a big tree called conker tree or horse chest (7). The flowers are also called white chestnut and the BFR is used to treat absent mindedness and lack of attention, particularly in children.
Chicory, cichorium intybus is a perennial plant which produces generally bright blue flowers. Sometimes white or pink flowers are also produced but are rare. Chicory roots are used in culinary and in beverages. It has a high insulin content (8). The flowers are used to prepare BFR which is used to balance the energy levels in the body. It enhances the positive mood of the person.
Clematis, Clematis vitalba also called traveler’s joy or old man’s beard is a shrub with scented greenish white flowers native of United Kingdom. BFR made from this flower is used to treat people with unfocussed and confused mind (9).
Apple, malus pumila is a worldwide cultivated tree primarily for its edible fruits. It produces pink tinted white flowers which is used in the preparation of BFR. It is used in treating people with extra ordinary sense of cleanliness often tempted to wash their hands or take bath many times in a day. It is also used to cure various skin disorders by using it as a bath lotion.
English elm, Ulmusprocera is a fast growing European tree which produces brown, purple, red,yellow or green flowers (10). BFR from the flowers are used in the treatment of extreme stress conditions developed due to professional or personal reasons accompanied by physical weakness.
Mustard plant, Sinapis arvenis is a shrub plant presumed to have been domesticated in Asia and Europe, the seeds of which are brown,white or black in color and widely used in culinary (11). The flowers of the plant are yellow in color. BFR from the flower is used to retrieve a person from unexplained gloom.
Oak, quercus robur isa tree and a flowering plant grown in countries in the northern hemisphere namely Asia, Europe, North Africa and Americas. The tree is essentially cultivated for its wood. Oak flower essence is used to enhance a person’s stubbornness, persistence and perseverance. It has a rejuvenating effect on the heart and the soul.
Olive, olea europaea is a small tree native to Mediterranean basin but cultivated widely in many parts of the world. The oil extracted from the seeds are edible. The wood, leaf and fruit are also used for various purposes. It produces white flowers which blossom in clusters which in turn grow as fruits. BFR from the flower is used to treat imbalances in the body energy due to physical, psychological or emotional causes.
Rock rose, helianthemum nummularium is an evergreen plant native of Europe which produces cluster of bright yellow flowers. BFR made from the flowers have the effect of allaying fear and alleviating the symptoms of terror.
Wild rose (Dog rose), rosacanina is a climber plant native to Europe. Africa and Asia, which produces pale pink flowers. It is a species belonging to the group of wild rose. BFR from the flowers are used in treating people who experience a sense of loneliness and appear sad without any particular cause.It helps in removing the negative state of mind and make the person evince interest in life.
Wild oats, Bromusramosus is a perennial bunch grass native of Europe, Africa and Asia, which grows under shades of trees. BFR prepared from its flowers are helpful to persons who are constantly overambitious and are unable to resist temptations to keep on exploring alternatives in their careers.
Walnut or English walnut, Juglus regia is a tree cultivated for its nuts which contain high density of nutrients and essential fatty acids. Besides the nuts, the flowers are also used to prepare BFR which help in enabling a person to cope up with significant changes in the life course like birth, marriage, change of career and places etc.
Honey suckles Lonicera caprifolium is an arching shrub native to Northern hemisphere. These are cultivated for their fragrance and ornamental value (12). It produces tubular and colorful flowers. BFR from the flowers are helpful in bringing a person to the present state of life rather than wandering in an imaginary world.
Willows or Sallows , Salixvitellina is a shrub tree native of northern hemisphere. The bark saps are abundantly watery and are rich in salicylic acid. The flowers blossom before the leaves grow and are orange or purple in color after opening. BFR from the flower has the potential to correct a person from envying others and self-sympathy.
Notwithstanding the fact that Bach remedies are in vogue for about nine decades, the health benefits attributed to them have not yet been clinically proved by scientists. There are experiments being conducted to confirm varied claims about the usefulness of BFR.