Updated: Jul 11
Studying Naturopathic Medicine was brain bliss for me. Very heavy on the sciences which satisfied my logical, evidence-needing, science-loving brain - chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology (processes of disease and injury). When we went on to nutritional therapy and herbal medicines, we had it drummed into us the need for hard evidence in the form of published research and studies when we were putting our cases together. Again, big tick for the science brain.
Naturopathic Medicine is founded on traditions that have been around since the dawn of time. Tribal wisdom passed down, often through the women, as to which plants to choose for different ailments way before scientists came along in their white coats doing studies and tests on “mice and man”. Science has caught up to traditional herbal medicines now and identified many of their constituents that create the beneficial and powerful physiological effects we see, which is a boon for evidence-based naturopaths. There are literally thousands of studies confirming what the herbalists of time gone by had learned from their elders, now explaining why.
Then… just when I was all scientifically comfortable and sure of myself, we had a few areas of study that didn’t have thousands of studies behind them but had long tradition, one of which was flower essences. I got very uncomfortable, a bit cynical and was then given some serious schooling in evidence. There is a place for study-based research but there is also a place for clinical-based evidence - meaning, if countless practitioners, over countless years are all getting similar beneficial results with their clients then this evidence MUST NOT be ignored. Well! I was firmly put in my place and told to keep an open mind … but secretly remained cynical.
Flower essences have been used for millennia. There is evidence from Egyptian reign (3000 years ago) and most ancient cultures. We see written record of the specific use of flower essences for particular conditions and emotions by abbey nuns during the early middle ages and physicians in the 1500s, amongst others. Flower essences were formally presented and more readily available during the 1930s when Dr Edward Bach, English immunologist, created a set aligning different fresh flower essences with different emotional states (you may have heard of his most famous blend - Rescue Remedy). And… this is why it is impossible to study flower essences effectively; they work on emotional state which is almost 100% subjective with no measurable biochemical marker.
So, back to studying… we studied the intricacies of over 100 flowers and blends and the emotional states they help bring balance to but I had so many questions zipping around my mind. How on earth was I going to explain this to clients? How do these work? DO they work? I knew that the only way I was going to get to the bottom of all of this was to get experimenting on myself and start giving them out in clinic, obtaining feedback from those who took them.
Turns out, they’re not really that hard to explain from a scientific level at all, it’s how they work that leaves us all guessing. We are more than scientific explanations anyway, but that’s a whole other article. In the spirit of quantum physics, the explanation starts at an atomic level with an understanding that we, and everything around us, are all just a bunch of atoms, vibrating with energy (electrons spinning around neutrons). The vibration of the atoms that make up the flower are transferred and held in the spring water in which they are steeped. This energy is then imparted to the user which in turn impacts (somehow) their own atomic vibrational energy. Emotions (release of various combinations of neurotransmitters) are also energy… have a think about that one!
Enough of the poor attempts at scientific explanation - it’s hard, right? What do you do with flower essences? Think of a negative emotional trait that you are dealing with or a positive emotional state that you would like to work towards. While I was studying, my negative traits were around stress, distraction, lack of focus and concentration, worry. I wanted to be able to stick at my reading all day, find the right words in assignment writing, and feel confident in myself that I would pass. My first attempt at a custom blend based for me was a disturbingly huge success. I felt motivated, could stay on task, was less snappy at the kids and had solid blocks of feeling like I was going to get through the mountain of work. Was this the flower essence drops or placebo? Rookie luck? Honestly, I didn’t really care because the results I got were what I wanted.
I’d been told that children, in particular, respond very well to flower essences, so they were my target for case studies. Children, especially those under five, have no preconceived ideas or walls to put up in objection to the use of a therapy such as flower essences. Most children are close to perfect - they haven't had 40+ years of drama, grief and embarrassments to craft their emotions. It’s much more basic. This, I believe, is why they respond so well to essences (and very small doses of other herbal and nutritional medicines, actually). It’s like a suggestive emotional nudge to which they respond like a star. Think fear of the dark, separation anxiety, jealousy, increased confidence at kindy, easier communication, confident class presentations, fostering security in anxious children. The list goes on and on. I was particularly struck when my aggressive, frustrated 13 year old came to me one evening and apologised for his recent behaviour. This was made more profound by the fact that apologising was practically against his personal religion. His empathy towards my feelings seemed to have been switched on. I was hooked!
There are many many sets of flowers essences available now from all over the world. Being in Australia, I use Australian Bush Flower Essences which are based on 69 of Australia’s unique flora. Flower essences are used in hospitals all over the world (the open minded ones) to support the emotional toll of illness and surgery. This is enabled due to their complete safety and lack of interaction with pharmaceuticals. A few drops are taken under the tongue twice a day or even in a drink bottle for up to three weeks (one bottle). At this stage treatment stops or new emotions can be addressed.
Custom blends are created based on your own personal struggles and goals. Having trouble coming to grips with the passing of a loved on or pet? Dreading the stomach churning with those work presentations? Have an unjustified fear that you’d like to overcome? Is the fear of commitment getting in the way of a happy relationship? Just want to feel a bit more confidence when you’re out with the girls on Fridays? Spending some time discussing what you’re going through will help to bring awareness to the emotions that you’d like to work on.
Share with me the emotions which are holding you back or getting in the way and start your journey to taking charge again. Book a 15 minute Flower Essence consultation and a customised “you only” flower essence blend for only $49. BOOK HERE
Cobden, C, ND, History of Flower Essences, One Garden Divine Flower and Nature Essences.
Rivas-Suárez, Saira R., Jaime Águila-Vázquez, Bárbara Suárez-Rodríguez, Lázaro Vázquez-León, Margarita Casanova-Giral, Roberto Morales-Morales, and Boris C. Rodríguez-Martín. 2017. “Exploring the Effectiveness of External Use of Bach Flower Remedies on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Pilot Study.” Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine 22 (1): 18–24.
Walia, A. 2104. “Nothing Is Solid & Everything Is Energy – Scientists Explain The World of Quantum Physics”, Collective Evolution, https://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/09/27/this-is-the-world-of-quantum-physics-nothing-is-solid-and-everything-is-energy/
photo credits: www.ausflowers.com.au , www.pexels.com.au