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Blooming marvellous; Mel Hunter looks at the value of flower remedies that can be bought over the counter.

Byline: Mel Hunter

Are you one of those people who goes through phases of of worrying about every little thing? Or do you feel all your inner strength has just been zapped out of you? Perhaps you are finding it hard to accept a change in your life, or feel emotionally battered after an illness or big upheaval.

It is emotions like these which wear us all down at some point in our lives, but often it feels like there is nothing we can do about it.

Oh yes, we could go and see a counsellor or, in these touchy-feely noughties, seek a life affirming kick up the backside from a lifestyle trainer. The one thing it does not seem that we are allowed to do anymore is to help ourselves.

Enter Bach (pronounced 'batch') Flower Remedies, which work by addressing the emotional imbalances which affect us all. Available from Boots and individual pharmacies, the only thing we need to use them is the ability to recognise how we are feeling and then using a handy in-store guide, match those feelings to the specific remedies.

'People know how they are feeling already,' says Bach Foundation registered practitioner Lynn Macwhinnie, 'They say I am feeling tearful or angry or exhausted.'

She believes the beauty of the Bach remedies is that people do not have to see a practitioner and can just make their own choices from the remedies.

'So many therapies are about the therapists being in the role of the expert. The power is with the therapist and not with the client. It is quite empowering for the client to feel they can be actively involved in their own healing process.'

Used by the likes of Liz Hurley, Daryl Hannah and Ruby Wax, the Bach Flower Remedies were created by Dr Edward Bach, a Harley Street doctor, in the 1930s.

Despite the success of his work with orthodox medicine, Dr Bach felt dissatisfied with the way that doctors focused on the physical illness, often disregarding the patients' emotional reaction to their condition.

In 1930 he left London determined to devote the rest of his life to the new system of medicine he felt sure could be found in nature.

Drawing on his medical and homeopathic research, as well as his intuition, one by one he found the remedies he wanted, each aimed at a particular mental state or emotion. His life followed a seasonal pattern, during the spring and summer he would look for the remedies and during the winter he would help all those who came seeking advice.

He found that when he treated the personalities and feeling of his patients their unhappiness and physical distress would be alleviated as the natural healing potential in their bodies was unblocked.

In 1934 Dr Bach moved to Mount Vernon in Sotwell, Oxfordshire. It was in the lanes and fields around his home that he round the remaining 19 remedies that he needed to complete the series. He would suffer the emotional state that he needed to cure and then try plants and flowers until he found one which could help him. In this way he completed his life's work before he died, aged 50, in 1936.

The legacy he left was 38 plant or flower-based remedies to treat 38 different emotional states. Although none treat, or claim to treat, physical conditions, because they have no side effects and can be taken alongside conventional medicines they are perfect to help alleviate the emotional fallout of feeling under the weather.

They set to work specifically on the emotional state of the individual. Thus two people with the same physical complaint, but with different attitudes towards their illness, may benefit from two different remedies.

Whether someone is physically ill or just emotionally under strain when they start taking the remedies, they will not find that their negative feelings are suppressed, but rather transformed into positive emotions, releasing the body's own potential to heal itself.

Taking the remedies is easy. First of all make sure you choose the remedies with the Doctor Bach's signature on the label - then you know you are getting the genuine article.

Then just dilute two drops in a glass of water and sip at intervals throughout the day or until you feel better. For longer term use, add two drops to a 30ml mixing bottle, top up with mineral water and take a minimum of four drops from the solution four times a day. Up to six remedies may be taken together if needed.

Mount Vernon has remained the Dr Edward Bach Centre and is where many of the tinctures and remedies are still made according to Dr Bach's instructions and where regular courses are held to establish a register of professional therapists, doctors and counsellors who will incorporate the remedies into their work.

Lynn first became interested when a book about flower remedies appeared in the San Francisco publishing company where she worked 25 years ago.

'To me it was the missing link in medicine and health care. It was the first time anyone addressed the emotions in the healing process,' she says.

She sees the remedies as the key to restoring our natural equilibrium.

'We all have the potential to achieve that inner balance and we all do achieve it at some point. But then life happens and throws us out of balance again.'

Lynn herself takes the flower remedies when she is feeling 'out of kilter.' For her that is often before a big presentation or when she has a plane journey.

'It is just what I do. It is like brushing my teeth really,' she says.

What is important, she says, is that people can use the flower remedies without practitioner advice.

Specialist knowledge, however, may help them find the combination of remedies which is right for them.

Lynn has reams of case studies which show the power of the flower tinctures. She remembers one woman she found herself sitting next to on a flight, who was petrified of flying.

'As it was only a short flight to Europe she thought she could manage it,' says Lynn.

'She said to me 'You are really calm' so I told her I took these flower remedies. I offered her some Rescue Remedy.

'She took some with her drink and she gently calmed down and relaxed, taking her tight grip off the armrests. On landing she said it was the best flight she had ever experienced.

'I said to her she had better keep the Rescue Remedy for the way back. I figured she needed it more than me.'

oFor more information about Bach flower remedies try the website on

Top Ten: Bach Flower Remedies

Olive: If you have run out of all reserves of strengths and feel exhausted to the point of tears

White chestnut: If you have constant worrying thoughts

Larch: If you feel inferior to others and do not attempt something because you feel sure it will fail

Mimulus: If you have everyday fears such as going to the dentist, spiders, flying

Walnut: If you find it hard to accept major life changes

Crab apple: If you have feelings of self disgust, uncleanliness

Star of Bethlehem: If you are feeling mental or physical side effects of shock as the result of an accident or bad news

Impatiens: If you are easily irritated and feel impatient with others or with circumstances

Rock Rose: If you feel acutely threatened or terrified due to an accident or illness

Holly: If you are suspicious and aggressive with anger towards others and lacking the ability to love
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Title Annotation:Health
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 18, 2000
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