Bach flowers

Natural healing powers stand for gentle effects without side effects – a trend that more and more doctors and pharmacists are following. Bach flowers are also finding more and more followers. They are named after the doctor Dr. Edward Bach and help with anxiety,  jealousy  or insecurity, i.e. negative mental states. According to Bach, these are the deeper causes of physical and mental illnesses.

Panic, desperation, despondency – emergency drops in the medicine cabinet

Have you ever heard of the emergency drops (rescue drops)? Quite a few people swear by it: before exams, before going to the dentist, when children come into the house with chafed knees or after nightmares. If you ask in pharmacies today about what is perhaps the most commonly used remedy from Bach flower therapy, you will certainly not be looked at in disbelief.

The emergency drops are an aqueous extract from five flower preparations:

  1. Impatiens (glandular balsam)
  2. Star of Bethlehem (Doldiger Milk Star)
  3. Cherry Plum (Kirschpflaume)
  4. Rock Rose (Yellow Rock Rose)
  5. Clematis (White Clematis)

They should  provide first aid  and calm down in case of panic  or  shock .  But they also have a preventive effect. However, they do not replace a visit to the doctor to treat wounds, for example.

Bach as a pioneer of psychosomatic medicine

Edward Bach (1886 – 1931) is considered a pioneer of psychosomatic medicine. His teaching is based on the principle that all physical illnesses have psychological causes that can be positively influenced in a preventative manner. Bach was convinced that it was not the plant’s ingredients, but rather its “vibrations” and “energies” that were helpful to humans.

The Bach flowers include a total of  38 different essences,  which are assigned to groups of seven different emotions. For example, yellow rockrose – see Emergency Drops – is  associated with fear  , essence of wild aspen (Wild Oat) with insecurity, and Larch (Larch) supports self-confidence. The “tolerance flower” red beech is said to help overly critical people to have more empathy and compassion.

Unusual extraction

If there weren’t so many convinced followers of Bach flowers and alternative therapies in general, one might think that the process used to extract the essences came from a herbal witch’s handbook. Essences of the plants are made according to this ritual: before nine in the morning, the flowers of the plants must be picked on a sunny day and placed in spring water for three hours. The liquid is preserved with cognac or brandy, diluted in a ratio of 1:240.

These stock solutions are then filled into so-called stock  bottles. In further dilution stages, the Bach flower remedies are then made from them, which the patients can take. Essences from trees or shrubs are obtained by decoction of the stalks and leaves.

Emotional support from Bach flowers

The Bach flower therapy is not only used for  self-medication,  but also by specialists such as psychologists, holistic medicine-oriented doctors or naturopaths as mental support for other  therapeutic options  . Depending on the character and symptoms, very individual flower mixtures are the result.

Interestingly, Bach flowers are  also used in veterinary medicine  . The Bach flower concentrates are intended to help harmonize mental disorders. Particularly good results are achieved – this is assured by animal naturopaths in particular – in the treatment of acute mental disorders, such as fears and aggressiveness, behavioral disorders such as uncleanliness, in all kinds of emergencies and as emotional support in difficult situations such as visiting the vet.

What Bach flowers definitely cannot do is heal serious and chronic diseases – they are not a substitute for conventional medical procedures.

No scientific proof of the effect

So far there is no scientifically proven evidence for the effect of the Bach flower therapy. Bach flowers are also not recognized as  medicines  and therapies are not paid for by health insurance companies. The effect could not be proven in several studies. The various Bach flower essences cannot be distinguished chemically, since the few plant substances that have passed into the spring water are extremely diluted.

Professor Edzard Ernst from the British University of Exeter carried out such a study a few years ago. He administered the emergency drops to selected students under exam stress. Half of the participants took Bach flower essences according to a precisely worked out therapy plan, the other half got a  placebo . Stress  was measured  before and after ingestion.

The result: All participants were about equally stressed the night before the exam. “However, we have certainly not shown that all Bach flower essences are ineffective for all medical applications,” Edzard Ernst restricts the results. And: The placebo effect,  which works according to the principle “Faith moves mountains”, is undisputed and scientifically proven many times over  .


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