Bach flower remedies

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  1. Alternative Medical Systems
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Woman looking at Bach Flower remedies

Bach flower remedies are extreme dilutions of flower material developed by Edward Bach, an English homeopath, in the 1930s.[1] Bach believed that dew found on flower petals retain healing properties of that plant.[2] The remedies are intended primarily for emotional and spiritual conditions, including but not limited to depression, anxiety, insomnia and stress.

The remedies contain a very small amount of flower material in a 50:50 solution of brandy and water. Because the remedies are extremely diluted they do not have a characteristic scent or taste of the plant. As this dilution process results in the statistical likelihood that little more than a single molecule may remain, it is claimed that the remedies contain "energetic" or "vibrational" nature of the flower and that this can be transmitted to the user.[3] Bach flower remedies are considered vibrational medicines, and rely on a concept of water memory. They are often labeled as homeopathic because they are extremely diluted in water, but are not true homeopathy as they do not follow other homeopathic precepts such as the law of similars or the belief that curative "powers" are enhanced by shaking and repeated diluting ("succussion").

Systematic reviews of clinical trials of Bach flower remedies have found no efficacy beyond a placebo effect.[3][4]

Use[edit]

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 pets and domestic animals. Remedies are usually taken orally.

Remedies may be recommended by a naturopath or by a trained Bach flower practitioner after an interview. An individual may also choose the combination they feel best suits their situation. Some vendors recommend dowsing to select a remedy.

The best known flower remedy product is the Rescue Remedy combination,[5] 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 Remedy is a trademark and other companies produce the same formula under other names, such as Five Flower Remedy.[6]

Rescue Cream contains the same remedies in a cream form, with the addition of Crab Apple, a remedy Bach associated with feelings of contamination and unsightliness. It is applied externally in response to minor skin problems such as itches, cuts, stings, pimples and burns.

Philosophy[edit]

Bach thought of illness as the result of a conflict between the purposes of the soul and the personality's actions and outlook. This internal war, according to Bach, leads to negative moods and to "energy blocking", thought to cause a lack of "harmony", thus leading to physical diseases.[7][8]:9–10

Rather than using research based on scientific methods, Bach derived his flower remedies intuitively[9] and based on his perceived psychic connections to the plants.[10]p. 185 If Bach felt a negative emotion, he would hold his hand over different plants, and if one alleviated the emotion, he would ascribe the power to heal that emotional problem to that plant. He believed that early-morning sunlight passing through dew-drops on flower petals transferred the healing power of the flower onto the water,[11] so he would collect the dew drops from the plants and preserve the dew with an equal amount of brandy to produce a mother tincture which would be further diluted before use.[12] Later, he found that the amount of dew he could collect was not sufficient, so he would suspend flowers in spring water and allow the sun's rays to pass through them.[11]

Effectiveness[edit]

In a 2002 database review of randomized trials Edzard Ernst concluded:

The hypothesis that flower remedies are associated with effects beyond a placebo response is not supported by data from rigorous clinical trials.[4]

All randomized double-blind studies, whether finding for or against the remedies, have suffered from small cohort sizes but the studies using the best methodology were the ones that found no effect over placebo.[13][14] 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.[4]

A systematic review in 2009 concluded:

Most of the available evidence regarding the efficacy and safety of BFRs has a high risk of bias. We conclude that, based on the reported adverse events in these six trials, BFRs are probably safe. Few controlled prospective trials of BFRs for psychological problems and pain exist. Our analysis of the four controlled trials of BFRs for examination anxiety and ADHD indicates that there is no evidence of benefit compared with a placebo intervention.[3]

A newer systematic review published in 2010 by Ernst concluded

All placebo-controlled trials failed to demonstrate efficacy. It is concluded that the most reliable clinical trials do not show any differences between flower remedies and placebos.[15]

According to Cancer Research UK, flower remedies are sometimes promoted as being capable of boosting the immune system, but "there is no scientific evidence to prove that flower remedies can control, cure or prevent any type of disease, including cancer".[16]

Production[edit]

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 was impractical due to lack of sunlight or other reasons, he decided the flowers may be boiled.

The result of this process Bach termed the "mother tincture", which is then 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 beneficent magnetic healing.[17]

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."

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Edward Bach's family name was mispronounced /ˈbæ/ Batch by his fellow students when he went to London to study medicine. The remedies are still pronounced as "Batch flower remedies". See The Bach Centre web site.
  2. ^ D. S. Vohra (2002). Bach flower remedies : a comprehensive study. New Delhi: Health Harmony. p. 258. OCLC 428012690. 
  3. ^ a b c Thaler K, Kaminski A, Chapman A, Langley T, Gartlehner G (26 May 2009). "Bach Flower Remedies for psychological problems and pain: a systematic review". BMC Complement Altern Med 9: 16. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-9-16. PMC 2695424. PMID 19470153. 
  4. ^ a b c Ernst E (2002). ""Flower remedies": a systematic review of the clinical evidence". Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift 114 (23–24): 963–966. PMID 12635462. 
  5. ^ Candee, Andrea (2003). Gentle Healing for Baby and Child: A Parent's Guide to Child-Friendly Herbs and Other Natural Remedies for Common Ailments and Injuries. Simon & Schuster. p. 288. ISBN 0-7434-9725-2. 
  6. ^ Gaeddert, Andrew (2004). Healing Digestive Disorders: Natural Treatments for Gastrointestinal Conditions. North Atlantic Books. p. 300. ISBN 1-55643-508-8. 
  7. ^ Bach, Edward (1931). Heal thyself : an explanation of the real cause and cure of disease. London: C.W. Daniel. OCLC 16651016. [verification needed]
  8. ^ Wheeler, F.; Bach, Edward; Dr. Edward Bach Centre (1997). The Bach flower remedies. Los Angeles: Keats Pub. ISBN 978-0-87983-869-0. OCLC 37322293. 
  9. ^ Graham, Helen (1999). Complementary Therapies in Context: The Psychology of Healing. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. p. 254. ISBN 1-85302-640-9. 
  10. ^ Wood, Matthew (2000). Vitalism: The History of Herbalism, Homeopathy and Flower Essences. Richmond, Calif: North Atlantic Books. ISBN 1-55643-340-9. 
  11. ^ a b Larimore Walt, O'Mathuna Donal (2007). Alternative medicine: The Christian handbook, updated and expanded. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan. p. 293. ISBN 0-310-26999-7. 
  12. ^ Robson, Terry (2004). An introduction to complementary medicine. Allen & Unwin Academic. pp. 184–5. ISBN 1-74114-054-4. 
  13. ^ Walach H, Rilling C, Engelke U (2001). "Efficacy of Bach-flower remedies in test anxiety: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial with partial crossover". J Anxiety Disord 15 (4): 359–66. doi:10.1016/S0887-6185(01)00069-X. PMID 11474820. 
  14. ^ 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. doi:10.1016/j.ejpn.2005.08.001. PMID 16257245. 16257245. 
  15. ^ Edzard Ernst (24 August 2010). "Bach flower remedies: a systematic review of randomised clinical trials". Swiss Med Wkly 140: w13079. doi:10.4414/smw.2010.13079. 
  16. ^ "Flower remedies". Cancer Research UK. Retrieved September 2013. 
  17. ^ Barnard, Julian (2004). Bach Flower Remedies. Great Barrington, MA: Lindisfarne Books. p. 64. ISBN 1-58420-024-3. 

External links[edit]