What are the Flower Essences Developed by Dr. Bach?

Approximately 75 years ago Dr. Edward Bach (pronounced “Batch”), an English physician and bacteriologist, developed a new system of improving health known as flower essences. Bach spent most of his career working as a doctor in a traditional hospital practice and as a scientist completing medical research. Over the years, he saw the limitations in treating only the physical aspects of a patient’s illness and came to believe that the root cause of physical disease was emotional imbalance. In 1930, he gave up his practice in the city and returned to the countryside to seek out substances within nature which would heal mental, emotional and spiritual unrest.


During his search, Dr. Bach not only discovered specific wild-growing plants, trees and bushes that addressed emotional states he developed brand new ways to prepare them. One of the methods, called the sun method, mimics the way drops of moisture (dew) on a plant interact with the sun. The method creates an energetic imprint of the plant in the water, no physical substance from the plant remains. The result is a liquid product with the ability to gently transform unwanted negative emotions such as fear, depression or lack of confidence into peace and well-being.

38 Single Essences and One Combination Formula Called Rescue Remedy

During this period of his life, Bach developed 38 single ingredient preparations and one combination formula. Thirty-seven of the single ingredient preparations are made from 1) the blossoms of one species of flowering plant or the buds or leaves of one species of tree 2) water and 3) alcohol (as a preservative). The 38th single ingredient preparation, Rock Water, is based on water from a spring with healing properties. Dr. Bach combined five of the 38 single essences into what he called the rescue remedy. The final stock essence of the products has been diluted several times. It no longer contains any physical plant material, just an energetic signature of the plant or water remains.

Why use Bach Flower Essences for Horses, Dogs and People?

The Bach Flower essences are inexpensive, liquid products known for their ability to balance the emotional states of both people and animals. I’ve used them since 1985 on myself and friends as well as dogs and horses in my horse training and rehabilitation practice. The essences have helped me soothe nervous, even hysterical horses at shows and clinics, build confidence in a performer and tone down a bully, reduce the grieving of an orphan foal and keep everyone calm during stressful situations. The essences can also help traumatized animals who have shut down emotionally or become hyper-alert due to previous abuse or injury. And while the Bach flower essences are not a substitute for veterinary medical care I’ve used them to bring animals out of shock following injury.

The Bach Flower Essences Are Not Tranquilizers

While they are very effective calming agents, the flower essences do not sedate an animal or person like a chemical tranquilizer. They seem to balance the animal’s emotional state and, in doing so, change behavior in a positive way.

For example, an emotionally balanced horse does not go into full hysteria when treated appropriately by a veterinarian. A horse that is already frightened or belligerent, however, is likely to become difficult to handle with the added stress of a medical treatment situation. This horse’s core emotional balance is out of sorts and so his behavioral response to the stress of the veterinarian’s visit will be over-reactive. If we dose him with flower essences to defuse his underlying tension and reactivity, the horse will be able to handle the additional stress of the visit from the veterinarian without losing control.

FDA Status

The sale and use of the Bach flower essences in the United States is governed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Their present status is OTC (over-the-counter). This means they can be purchased in stores without a prescription. They are in the “GRAS” category, which means “generally recognized as safe”. This is the same category as human food products. In this context, they are listed as Bach flower essences. In England, they are labeled as Bach flower remedies. The Bach flowers are also listed in the HPUS, the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States. This is where all of the homeopathic remedies accepted by the USA are listed.

Who can use Flower Essences?   Can You Harm The Animal?

Anyone can use the flower essence formulas. There are lay and practitioner training offered by various educational organizations but no state licensing exists. Because of their benign nature and “microdose” preparation, the Bach Flower essences are completely safe. You cannot create harm by overdosing or picking the “wrong” flowers. The remedies are safe to use at the same time the animal is on prescription medication, herbs or nutritional supplements. Horse and dog owners as well as professional equine and canine body workers, veterinarians, horse trainers, dog trainers and farriers can all benefit from the calming influence the products provide.

How do the Essences Work?

It’s not scientifically known how flower essences work. Dr. Bach urged users not to worry about the mechanism with which the essences healed because they so clearly did bring about positive results. He focused on describing the flowers themselves and their ability to bring about emotional peace and harmony. He offered hundreds of case histories describing the medical and emotional states of patients he helped using the flower essences.

Nora Weeks in her book The Medical Discoveries of Edward Bach, Physician (1973) stated: “From 1930 until his death in 1936, Bach used the herbal remedies alone in the treatment of all cases of disease and sickness that came to him, and the results fully justified his conviction that the true healing agents are contained in the beneficent plants and trees of nature. “

Do the Bach Flower Essences have any Side Effects?

One of Dr. Bach’s goals in developing the flower essences was to find remedies which would assist in healing with no painful reactions. Dr. Bach wanted them to be so easy and safe to use that they be kept in every home’s medicine cabinet for family use. As a result the 38 flower essences he finally chose heal gently. There are no side effects reported in their use and no fear of ill effects from overdosing or from incorrect choices. The remedies can be safely used in conjunction with other types of treatments both pharmaceutical and herbal in nature.

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