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Flower Essences - Homoeopathy


Robin Grenfell CowanRSHom, MNWCH, BA (Oxon)

Homoeopathic Physician


Tel: 0151-306-4587 Mob: 07855-375564

Flower Essences – Acupuncturists graduation lecture May 2018

This is the second time I have had the privilege and honour of speaking at the Acupuncturists Graduation day and the core of this lecture is about the philosophy and usage of Flower Essences. I’ve based it on Dr Edward Bach who only lived for fifty years between 1886-1936 but is the father of modern day Flower Essence prescribing and the man most associated with popularising Flower Essences in the UK and indeed around the world.

It is only a general introduction designed to stimulate your interest and to offer you the facilities to go elsewhere with your exploration of these fantastic healing remedies if your curiosity is piqued enough after you’ve hear me on the topic. But there are a couple of therapeutic tips, too, that I hope you may find of use in your own future professional practices as well.

But firstly let me say to you simply to those of you who are graduating: Congratulations – you have worked hard and will have grown emotionally and spiritually these past four years in your successful quest to become graduates and skilled practitioners in one of the great traditions of Energy Medicine. The House of Lords Select Committee Report into Complementary Medicines in 2000 graded you as one of the top 5 serious professional Alternative Therapies alongside Osteopathy, Homoeopathy, Chiropractic and Herbal Medicine.

Be prepared, however, for those who meet you socially and do not grasp the finer points, to use a needling pun, of Chi and meridians, for those who think you are unorthodox and hippy dippy or most likely masseuses.

But if you are at least professional, how about those of us who say we are Flower Essence Prescribers – I always hastily add “and I’m a homeopath, too” as if that will give me further credence to the sceptics or the innocent who always ask me if I make my own Essential Oils with which I can rub their feet or bodies.

And perhaps more relevantly to this lecture, why should you, as competent acupuncturists and practitioners of this fantastic, powerful, complex and complete medical system with which you know you can treat any condition, be interested in also using other Complementary remedies to help your patients ?

I take as one text for the day the opening lines of The Organon of Medicine, Sasmuel Hahnemann (the founder of Homeopathy) great philosophical and methodological text on homeopathy:

“The Physician’s high and only duty is to heal the sick, to cure as it is termed.”

You may not be allopathic doctors but you are legally entitled to call yourselves Physicians and in German the word for high, heile, also means holy. So if you practice as a physician, you are accepting a moral and spiritual imperative that it is your role to help the patient heal. And sometimes a little helping hand from another methodology in our toolbox can be of great assistance to the practitioner.

And also you will find in practice that your patients expect an omniscience from you on other CM skills – nutrition, vitamin supplementation, meditation, yoga et alia. Once your patients have chosen you as their practitioner and trust your healing skills, they often look in their vulnerability to you for guidance on many areas in their lives: do not let them become dependent on you but it is good to have a few signposts you can float in front of them for them to choose their own personal direction and route to follow in life. I have a network of physical therapists to whom I regularly refer patients and also receive in return referrals back. And I can also do swaps with them for my own healing needs and that way I can truly work out who is really good at what their website claims they do and guide my patients with some degree of experience and authority.

A word of warning, however, as to which methodologies you choose to mix with acupuncture. When I was a homeopathic student in Manchester we were told several times that acupuncture and homeopathy don’t work well together but no-one I asked amongst my lecturers knew where this tit bit of information came from or why it should be so prescribed. Having had a strong reaction to a homoeopathic remedy, I decided to see what would happen if I had a shiatsu treatment a day later: I am not a fan of healing aggravations or crises due to overstimulation of a patient’s Vital Force or Chi – the five standpoints of Homeopathic cure are that it should be:




Permanent and

Its methodology easily explicable under clearly comprehensible principles.

So my conclusion after a couple of days of what might tactfully be described as “severe gastric irritations and fluxes” is that Homeopathy and acupuncture do indeed vibrate at the same energetic frequencies of auric resonance and are not necessarily healthy bedfellows when used in combination in too close a timescale since they overstimulate the patients vitality and innate inner healing.

Flower essences, however, are a different matter and work well in combination with homeopathic remedies. In explaining to my patients the differing way in which they affect you, I have always said that Homeopathy works on the level of your spirit but Flower essences are subtler and finer – they work on your soul. And as Bach himself said: Health depends on being in harmony with our souls

There are links betwee4n Bach and Hahnemann. Bach started his professional life as a doctor before specialising in homeopathy and finally creating his range of Flower Essences. And like Hahnemann before him, Bach borrowed a lot of ideas from the great medieval mystic and healer Paracelsus. Bach, though was gentler than Hahnemann in his approach to life and to others - Hahnemann fell out with his university colleagues and renounced the practice of orthodox medicine “so that I might no longer do harm to my patients” whereas Bach became dissatisfied because he believed he was palliating rather than curing his clientele.

The main reason for the failure of the modern medical science is that it is dealing with results and not causes. Nothing more than the patching up of those attacked and the burying of those who are slain, without a thought being given to the real strong hold.

He was’ however, very clear that the role of the healer is a spiritual calling and that you have a duty to get on with it:

People like ourselves who have tasted the glory of self-sacrifice, the glory of helping our brothers, once we have been given a jewel of such magnitude, nothing can deviate us from our path of love and duty to displaying its lustre, pure and unadorned to the people of the world. Edward Bach

  1. What is a Flower Essence and what is its purpose? Wikepedia

Rather than being based on medical research, using the scientific method, Bach's flower remedies were intuitivelyderived and based on his perceived psychicconnections to the plants. If he 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, so he would collect the dew drops from the plants and preserve the dew with an equal amount of brandyto produce a mother tincturewhich would be further diluted before use. Later, he found that the amount of dew he could collect was not sufficient, so he would suspend flowers in spring waterand allow the sun's rays to pass through them.

It is not without significance that flowers are the most developed part of a plant and so it could be argued are the highest point of its development, the full expression of the blooming of a personality, the very essence of a plant.

  1. So why did Bach develop them ?

There is no true healing unless there is a change in outlook, peace of mind and inner happiness

In order to answer this question, you have to know a bit about Bach himself who was not always the easiest of souls. An extremely bright and sensitive man with a great intellect but slightly frail disposition, he was pronounced too unfit for active service in the First World War but worked on the wards in the UK, treating injured soldiers who had returned from France. In 1917 aged 31 he collapsed with a haemorrhage and had a severe brain tumour removed. Given a prognosis of 3 months to live, he got out of his bed as soon as he was physically able so to do and returned to his laboratories since he had things to do before shuffling off the mortal coil. But he recovered to live another 17 years which he put down to his having a deep sense of purpose and a divinely ordained role to fulfil in life – this was not an arrogance: he believed simply that this tenet applies to every human being on the planet.

He had a considerable reputation as a homeopathic doctor – his nickname amongst some in the homeopathic world was “The Second Hahnemann” - who specialised with a colleague called Patterson on a group of remedies called bowel nosodes – basically working on the enzymes, proteins, peptides and internal flora of the gut and bowel to cure various physical conditions such as candida, malnutrition due to malabsorption and eczema, the gut as you will all be well aware being viewed as being the internal skin of the body. He was interested on 2 things – simplicity and balance.

‘I wish it were possible that we could present to you seven herbs instead of seven groups of bacteria’ he wrote in a homeopathic mecdical lecture but he finally found the solution to his dilemma:‘yet there is one thing lacking in the effort to avoid using bacterial nosodes, this vital point is polarity. The remedies of the meadow and nature, when potentized are of a positive polarity; whereas those which have been associated with disease are of the reverse type… Science is tending to show that life is harmony - a state of being in tune - and that disease is discord or a condition when a part of the whole is not vibrating in unison’.

And this desire to find harmony and polarity is reflected in his final definitive booklet on the 38 Essences where each one is subdivided into the Negative emotional issues that need to be healed and the Positive outcome that the remedy produces in its healing powers.

From the end of 1929 Bach finished his orthodox medical career, smashed his laboratory equipment fled London and went off to North Wales before settling between Oxfordshire in Spring and Summer where he experimented upon his plants and made the remedies and Cromer in East Anglia where he lived in the autumn and winter and practised upon patients. Like Hahnemann, though perhaps more intuitive, he experimented and observed with great scientific precision, preparing and testing thousands of plants to make the choice of his 38 essences.

Doctrine of Signatures (Lobeliain homeopathy – alveolae, Hypericum Perfoliatumnerve/capilliary damage): Holly, Oak

He gave up all methods of treatment except‘the pure and simple herbs of the field’ and eventually found that there were 12 groups or predominant states of mind. These he related to the types of karmic lessons people need to work through in life.

The 38 remedies were finally placed under the following seven headings:

  1. For Fear

  2. For Uncertainty

  3. For Insufficient Interest in Present Circumstances

  4. For Loneliness

  5. For Those Over-sensitive to Influences and Ideas

  6. For Despondency or Despair

  7. For Over-Care for Welfare of Others

So truly these are problems of the Soul.

Bach had his own emotional traumas to resolve but as he moved more and more into a spiritual life, following intuition rather than rationalism, his sensitivity heightened until he felt truly aware of the intrinsic properties of plants. He also had and purposefully developed the ability truly to sense the vibrational energies of his patient’s emotional disturbance and, like a healing empath in almost medieval sin eater style, take on their central disturbance and then feel/find a plant of a corresponding vibrational energy frequency in order to match the two together for the purpose of healing the spiritual upset inherent in the patient’s life.

  1. How remedies are made - Bach Centre website

Two methods are used to make remedies. Most of the more delicate flowers are prepared using the sun method. This involves floating the flower heads in pure water for three hours, in direct sunlight.

Woodier plants, and those that bloom when the sun is weak, are generally prepared by the boiling method- i.e. boiling the flowering parts of the plant for half an hour in pure water.

In both cases once heat has transferred the energy in the flowers to the water, the energised water is mixed with an equal quantity of brandy. This mix is the mother tincture.

Mother tincture is further diluted into brandy (at a ratio of two drops of mother tincture to 30 ml of brandy) to make the stock bottles that you see in the shops.

An individual remedy is then made in a further dropper bottle which is filled with 90 pct spring water and 10 pct brandy or vodka as a preservative (store remedies away from bright sunlight and advise patients not to let the dropper touch their tongue when administering the dosage so as to avoid bacterial contamination developing within the bottle) and to which 3, 4 or 7 drops of the mother tincture (different ranges of Essence makers prescribers use different methodologies) are added and then 3,4 or 7 drops are taken 2, 3 or 4 times a day. It generally takes about 3-4 weeks for a patient to use a 30ml stock bottle and it is then time to revaluate the case and represcribe if/as necessary.

  1. How are they prescribed ?

Seek the outstanding mental conflict in the person, give him the remedy that will overcome that conflict and all the hope and encouragement you can, then the virtue within him will itself do all the rest.


Bach used to say 'I want it to be as simple as this,' 'I am hungry, I will go and pull a lettuce from the garden for my tea; I am frightened and ill, I will take a dose of Mimulus.'

There are guiding notes and books produced by all the manufacturers of the essences. Once you have studied the Essences and worked with them, you will get a real sense as to what you can do with them.

For a left brained business man like me to say this, it feels a bit peculiar to seek to explain but you need to be mainly intuitive and empirical in your prescribing and not overly rational and reductionist: I’d say you tune in to the central core upset, feel your way towards a group of essences and then bring the logical mind into play to fine tune your diagnosis or, if you have the natural gifts (and I don’t but I’m working on it (or relaxing into it…) …) become further attuned to your right brain and fully intuit the correct choice of essence. Many practitioners also use Muscle testing or kinesiology to verify their prescriptions.

  1. What different sorts are there ? And how do you chose which range to use ? And how do you learn about them ?

I use 5 types:

  1. Bach for the typical English patient; reserved but sensitive

Bach Centre in Oxfordshire. Ainsworths in London – Carole Pinkus Gregory.

  1. Australian Bush Flower Essences, Ian White. People who are more energetically “out there” and alive and kicking in the Aussie GDAY MATE style

Ian White, Founder B.Sc., N.D., D.B.M. The Bush Essences are a system of healing that anyone can use for themselves or prescribe for others. Although Flower Remedies have been used by many cultures for thousands of years, the Australian Bush Flower Essences meet the great need for remedies that help people address the issues of the 21st century - sexuality, communication skills and spirituality to name but a few. The answer to this need (which has come from the Australian plants), has been developed and researched by Naturopath, Ian White, a fifth generation Australian herbalist. Ian grew up in the Australian bush. As a young boy his grandmother, like her mother before her, specialised in using Australian plants and would often take him bush walking. From her deep understanding she would point out the many healing plants and flowers. He learned a profound respect for nature through her and went on to become a practitioner and a pioneer working with and researching the rare remedial qualities of Australian native plants. Australia has the world's oldest and highest number of flowering plants exhibiting tremendous beauty and strength. Also Australia is relatively unpolluted and metaphysically has a very wise, old energy. At this time there is a tremendous new vitality in this country. This, combined with the inherent power of the land, is why the Australian Bush Flower Essences are unique. Practitioners and prescribers world wide are now incorporating the Australian Essences to form an integral part of their therapy. The Bush Remedies not only help to give clarity to one's life but also the courage, strength and commitment to follow and pursue one's goals and dreams. They help to develop a higher level of intuition, self esteem, spirituality, creativity and fun. The more the Essences are used, the more one is likely to experience greater awareness and happiness in one's life. Then everyone benefits....the individual, society and the planet. The effect of these Essences is similar to that of meditation in that they enable the person to access the wisdom of their Higher Self. This releases negative beliefs held in the subconscious mind and allows the positive virtues of the Higher Self - love, joy, faith, courage etc. to flood their being. When this happens the negative beliefs and thoughts are dissolved, balance is restored and true healing occurs.

  1. Baileys in Ikley; People expressly on a spiritual journey

Over 50 years ago, Arthur Bailey began making his range of over 100 Bailey Essences.

Some years later, local Homeopath and Flower Essence Practitioner, Jenny Howarth began making her range of Verbeia Essences, sourced from the famous Ilkley Moor and named after the Celtic Goddess of Wharfedale. Jenny made contact with the Bailey family to advise them of her new venture.

When Arthur died in 2008, his wife Chris and daughter Becca continued to produce the Bailey Essences. They approached Jenny in 2016 with the idea of her taking over the production, and Yorkshire Flower Essences Ltd was created to oversee both Bailey and Verbeia Essences.

Yorkshire Flower Essences Ltd is owned and managed by Jenny Howarth and fellow local Homeopath, Nicky Whitehead. They have been colleagues and friends for many years, both offering complementary therapies from Ilkley Complementary Therapies.

The company still produces Bailey Essences in Ilkley, in the same way as they have always been produced by Arthur and his family. It also produces the Verbeia range of essences and bodycare, offering the energy of Ilkley Moor to help you through the day.

Since its inception, Yorkshire Flower Essences Ltd has been developing a new range of essences, Scintilla – the name representing the tiny spark providing a catalyst for change, the purpose of our flower essences. The first set of Scintilla Essences has been tailored for and trialled for animals and was launched in May 2017 at the World Animal Energy Conference. There are more to come!

  1. Aquarius in Devon; More hippy dippy style spiritualists – Chakra Essences

  1. Lightbringer in Cumbria. Rachel Singleton. Purity

The LightBringer Essences, co-created by Rachel Singleton, are a range of wild flower essences, gem essences and environmental essences from the wild and mountainous regions of Europe, produced using organic ingredients. They originated in the Lake District, England, and now include flower essences made from rare plants and pristine environments in the Col du Lauteret in France ('the botanical garden of the Alps'), the Orkney islands, the Cairngorms, the North West of Scotland and the Hebridean Islands.

LightBringer Essences are created through a unique ceremonial process of attunement and intent which enables some rare and very unusual flowers to be used without picking or interfering with them. By working with the living energy of the flowers in this way, it has also been possible to more deeply harness the vitality and subtlety of their healing energies.

These lesser known flowers that grow in out-of-the-way places, away from human habitation and contact, offer a specific energy signature which is pertinent for these times. Their seclusion, their access to pure air and the stillness that pervades the often harsh climates and conditions in which they grow, imbue them with qualities of endurance, strength, individuality, purity, and clarity. Taking these flower essences helps us connect with these qualities within ourselves.

From the start of the process through to the finish, the essences have been made with respect for and love of the environment and with the aim of creating wild flower essences that are pure in energy and of the highest quality

  1. Do you need any qualifications to prescribe them ?

No, you do not but I would recommend taking a course on them if you are interested in prescribing them. Not only will you learn how to use them subtly and effectively but you owe a duty of care to your patients to be professional in your healing. Do I practise what I preach ? 4 days with Ian White; sat in on homoeopaths in student clinics who also prescribed them; lot of self study and reading.

  1. Quick Therapeutic Tips

  • Rescue Remedy / Emergency Essence

  • Confidessence

  • Radiotherapy/Chemotherapy side effects

Aubrey Westlake’s Radiation Remedy (Bach Combination of Cherry Plum. Gentian, Rock Rose, Star of Bethlehem, Vine, Walnut, Wild Oat) 4 x 4 drops

  • Australian Bush Flower Essences 7 drops morning and night

Adrenal Burn Out – Macrocarpa

Burnt Out Carer – Alpine Mint Bush

Exhausted Despair and Dark Night of the Soul Waratah

Grief - Red Suva Frangipani, Sturt Desert Pea

  • Chakra Disorders: Aquarius 3 x 3 drops

  • Base, Sacral, Solar Plexus, Heart, High Heart, Throat, Brow, Crown

  • Yin/Yang disorders Baileys Yin, Yang

  • Boosting self love in times of hurt and grief: Lightbringer Heart Balm spray

  1. Where do you get them from ?

Ainsworths T 01883 340322 Caterham 0207 935 3550 New Cavendish Street London. Carole Pinkus Gregory

Aquarius Newton Abbot, Devon

T 01686 854289 Simon France

Baileys – Yorkshire Flower Essences, Ilkley. www.yorkshirefloweressences.comT 01493 432012 Jenny Howarth, Nicky Whitehead

Healthlines in Kendal 01539 824776 Adam Rubinstein, Angie Jackson

International Flower Essence Repertoire, Isle of Gingha, Scotland. www.healingorchids.comT 01583 505385 Don Dennis

Lightbringer Essences, Cumbria 015394 37427 Rachel Singleton

Neal’s Yard Stock Australian Bush Flower Remedies

Boots for Rescue Remedy

And may we ever have gratitude in hearts that the great Creator in all His glory has placed the herbs in the field for our healing.


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