Bach flower remedies
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Bach flower essence method, Bach flower essence system, Bach flower essences, Bach flower remedies, Dr. Edward Bach, Five Flower Remedy®, flower remedies, Rescue Remedy®, water-brandy mixture.
Dr. Edward Bach (1886-1936) was a British physician who believed that illness is the result of disharmony between the body and mind and that symptoms of an illness are the external expression of negative emotional states. The term "flower remedies" refers to a set of preparations developed by Dr. Bach. Flower essences are also products derived from Dr. Bach's work.
Dr. Bach classified various emotions into seven principal categories. These categories were further divided into 38 negative feelings, each of which was associated with a particular therapeutic plant. He also developed a compound of five flowers called Rescue Remedy® to be used in emergency situations for trauma. Bach flower remedies are most often used for treating stress or anxiety.
Bach flower remedies are usually consumed as alcohol-based preparations, but they are also available as creams. Australian bush remedies, Alaskan flower remedies, and treatments made from Brazilian rain forest plants are believed by some to be therapeutically similar to Bach flower remedies.
Bach flower remedies are not listed on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list. However, Bach flower therapy uses essential oils extracted from various plants that may be listed on the GRAS list.
Bach flower remedies is a therapeutic system that uses specially prepared plant infusions to balance physical and emotional disturbances. It is believed that every Bach flower remedy is related to an area on the surface of the body. Negative moods are thought to change the energetic structure in these places, which may be accompanied by pain and disturbing sensations. A flower diagnosis may be obtained by pinpointing the appropriate area on the body map.
The production of Bach flower remedies is handled in two ways. In the first method, the "sun method," flowers are picked on a warm summer day in full sunshine, placed in a glass bowl with fresh water, preferably taken from a spring close to the location of the flower. The bowl is then placed in the sun for two to four hours. According to Dr. Bach, the sun transfers the vibration of the flowers into the medium of the water, which then becomes energetically infused. The flowers are then removed from the water, and an equal portion of alcohol is added for preservation. (Bach originally used brandy.) This solution is stored in a stock bottle. During treatment, the remedy is usually diluted with water and is consumed as an alcohol-based preparation, although it may also be available as a cream.
The second method of preparation is the "cooking method." Because not all flowers, shrubs, bushes, and trees bloom at a time of year with plenty of sunshine, this approach is considered necessary. In the cooking method, flowers and buds are picked according to the sun method and boiled down. The extract is filtered several times and then mixed with an equal portion of alcohol as a preservative.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
A small number of studies report that the effects of Bach flower remedies are similar to the effects of placebo for the treatment of anxiety. Additional research is needed before a firm conclusion may be drawn.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Little human data are available on the effects of Bach flower remedies on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. More research is needed before a conclusion may be made.
Major depressive disorder
Depression is one of the major uses of Bach flower remedies. Currently, there is not enough high-quality scientific evidence supporting this use.
Early, low-quality studies suggest that Bach flower may benefit patients experiencing physical pain. More research is needed in this area.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Cleansing, confidence, exhaustion, impatience, mania, phobias, physical exhaustion, pregnancy preparation, psychological conditions, stress, trauma.
Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
In general, Bach flower remedies appear to lack adverse effects. Treatment with Bach flower remedies should not delay consultation with a healthcare provider for a potentially severe illness.
Use caution in those taking metronidazole (Flagyl®) or disulfiram (Antabuse®), as many Bach flower remedies contain alcohol, which may cause nausea and vomiting if taken with these agents.
Most warnings associated with Bach flower remedies are related to the alcohol content of many of the preparations.
Alcohol may cause drowsiness and should be used cautiously if driving or operating heavy machinery.
Avoid use in recovering alcoholics, as many Bach flower remedies contain alcohol.
Avoid use in pregnant or breastfeeding women, as many Bach flower remedies contain alcohol.
Avoid use in those allergic to certain plants or flowers that may be used in Bach flower remedies, although only a small amount of plant material may be present in the solution.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Alex, D, Bach, TJ, Chye ML. Expression of Brassica juncea 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl CoA synthase is developmentally regulated and stress-responsive. Plant J 2000;Jun, 22(5):415-426. View Abstract
Armstrong, NC. and Ernst, E. A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of a Bach Flower Remedy. Complement Ther Nurs.Midwifery 2001;7(4):215-221. View Abstract
Armstrong, NC, Ernst, E. A. randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trial of a Bach Flower Remedy. Perfusion 1999;11:440-446. View Abstract
Downey, RP. Healing with flower essences. Beginnings 2002;Jul-Aug, 22(4):11-12. View Abstract
Ernst, E. "Flower remedies": a systematic review of the clinical evidence. Wien.Klin Wochenschr. 12-30-2002;114(23-24):963-966. View Abstract
Ernst, EE. Ernst's rejoiner to P. Mittman and D. Ullman on the Bach flower remedy study. Altern Health Pract 2001;6(3):247-248. No PMID.
Howard, J. Do Bach flower remedies have a role to play in pain control? A critical analysis investigating therapeutic value beyond the placebo effect, and the potential of Bach flower remedies as a psychological method of pain relief. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2007;13(3):174-183. View Abstract
Hyland, ME., Geraghty, A. W., Joy, O. E., and Turner, S. I. Spirituality predicts outcome independently of expectancy following flower essence self-treatment. J Psychosom.Res 2006;60(1):53-58. View Abstract
LaTorre, M. A. Integrative perspectives. Integrating Bach flower remedies into a therapeutic practice. Perspect.Psychiatr.Care 2006;42(2):140-143. View Abstract
Long, L, Huntley, A, Ernst, E. Which complementary and alternative therapies benefit which conditions? A survey of the opinions of 223 professional organizations. Complement Ther Med 2001;9(3):178-185. View Abstract
Masi, MP. Bach flower therapy in the treatment of chronic major depressive disorder. Altern Ther Health Med 2003;9(6):112, 108-112, 110. View Abstract
Mantle, F. Bach flower remedies. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery 1997;3(5):142-144. View Abstract
Pintov, S, Hochman, M, Livne, A, et al. Bach flower remedies used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children--a prospective double blind controlled study. Eur J Paediatr.Neurol. 2005;9(6):395-398. View Abstract
Szterenfeld, C. Country watch: Brazil. AIDS STD Health Promot.Exch. 1995;(4):8-9. View Abstract
Walach, H, Rilling, C, Engelke, U. Efficacy of Bach-flower remedies in test anxiety: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial with partial crossover. J Anxiety.Disord. 2001;15(4):359-366. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017