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The Bach Flower Remedies

Cat in a Silver Birch Tree

Dr Edward Bach was a physician and homeopath living and working in London in the early 1900s. He came to believe that physical disease is the result of disease of the spirit, and that addressing the emotions is essential in treating disease. The Bach Flower Remedies were his life’s work. They are designed to address and harmonise the emotional state in order to support the physical healing of the patient. They are also useful in treating an individual’s emotional wellbeing and thereby preventing more serious physical disease. They do not address physical symptoms directly, only the underlying emotional imbalance.

Emotions, behaviour and physical health

Like us, the emotional wellbeing of our animal friends has a profound effect on their physical health. Both behavioural and physical problems can be common expressions of emotional disharmony. It is important to recognise what are the best conditions supporting emotional good health in our animals, and how to recognise and treat an imbalance when it starts to show itself.

Bach Flower Remedies have been shown to be very useful in the treatment of animals and plants as well as human beings. I find them very helpful in animals for supporting the treatment of behavioural problems and for the underlying emotional triggers of physical disease.

Each of the 38 Bach Flower Remedies has been formulated using pure water and the essence of a particular wild flower or tree blossom, apart from Rock Water, which comes from the water of a natural spring.

The remedies cover emotional imbalances within seven groups: fear, uncertainty, lack of interest, loneliness, over-sensitivity, despair and over-concern for the welfare of others. These are further divided into 38 individual remedies addressing specific states of mind. The 39th remedy is the Rescue Remedy, which is a combination of several remedies, and designed particularly for shock, trauma and emergencies.

Bela the Dog

The remedies are designed to harmonise each particular emotional pattern, that is, to transform it from a less helpful to a more helpful state of mind. For example, the remedy Honeysuckle has the potential to transform an inability to let go of the past into an ability to live fully in the present and to move forward in life without regrets.

Remedies are chosen to treat an individual based on their emotional symptoms. A combination of remedies may be safely used and is often helpful. There is no risk of harm if the correct remedy is not chosen for an individual, because if an inappropriate remedy is used then there is no effect.

Remedies for animals

In animals, remedies can be given in food or water, or directly into the mouth. Remedies are supplied as stock solutions, which are formulated in pure water and preserved with alcohol. They are best used diluted because of sensitivity of particular individuals to alcohol, and this is particularly true of cats and small mammals. The remedies are safe to use alone, or with any other medication or therapy. They can be used alongside conventional or complementary veterinary treatment.

For individual remedies the recommended dose in food or water for most animals is two drops of each stock solution (or four drops for rescue remedy). Alternatively they can be diluted in a treatment bottle and given directly into the mouth. To do this, put two drops of each remedy into a 30ml bottle filled with still mineral water (30ml treatment bottles can be bought from Bach suppliers) and dose four drops from this bottle four times daily. The bottles have a glass pipette and it may be safer to drop the remedy onto a small piece of food, or directly onto your animal’s nose or ears to be licked off.

Chico the Dog

Some animals wear their heart on their sleeve and do let us know when they are unhappy. They will do this in various ways, some of them quite intrusive! Be aware that others will internalise problems and may keep them hidden for long periods, until they reach quite a serious point. See the section on Five Element Acupuncture for more information on emotional and behavioural patterns in cats and dogs.

Some of the individual Bach remedies useful in animals include:

  • Aspen – for fears of unknown origin
  • Beech – intolerance of others, arrogance
  • Cherry Plum – loss of control, explosive behaviour
  • Chestnut Bud – inability to learn from past experience and make progress
  • Chicory – possessiveness, over-protectiveness, manipulation of others
  • Clematis – lack of interest or energy, dreaminess, absentmindedness
  • Crab Apple – obsession with cleanliness, over-grooming
  • Elm – overwhelmed by responsibility or workload
  • Gentian – discouragement, despondency, easily disheartened
  • Gorse – for hopelessness and despair
  • Heather – neediness, self concern, constant vocalising
  • Holly – envy, jealousy, hatred or insecurity
  • Honeysuckle – an inability to let go of the past, homesickness, unresolved grief
  • Hornbeam – mental weariness or lack of enthusiasm
  • Impatiens – impatience, irritation, restlessness, brief flare-ups of temper
  • Larch – for lack of confidence
  • Mimulus – for fear of known things
  • Olive – lack of energy, exhaustion, need for a lot of sleep
  • Pine – for guilt, blaming oneself
  • Red Chestnut – fear or over-concern for others, worry
  • Rock Rose – for terror, usually related to a particular crisis
  • Star of Bethlehem – after effects of mental or physical shock
  • Vervain – over-enthusiasm, highly strung nature, inability to relax
  • Vine – assertive, inflexible, dominant and aggressive behaviour
  • Walnut – for protection from change and outside influences
  • Water Violet – private, proud, aloof behaviour
  • Wild Rose – resignation, apathy, lack of energy
  • Willow – for self-pity and resentment.

Rescue Remedy is useful to have on hand for sudden injuries, stressful events or fearful situations.

Cat in a Tree

Bach Flower Remedies can be purchased from some chemists and many whole food stores. I would recommend buying only the Nelsons brand of original remedies, or alternatively the Bach remedies made by Ainsworths, which can also be ordered online. Ainsworths Recovery Plus is the original Rescue Remedy with the addition of Aspen and Mimulus for fear, and White Chestnut for obsessive thinking. It is also available as an alcohol free spray for fast and direct application into the mouth in emergencies.

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