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Flowers to the rescue.

Jillian was hysterical. Between long bouts of crying, I was able to understand why. Her beloved dog, Thor, had run full-steam into a recently washed sliding-glass door and had died in her arms from the injuries. I told her I'd be over in a few minutes, picked up a bottle of Rescue Remedy flower essence formula I keep handy for emergencies, and drove to her home.

Jillian was sitting with her best friend and was crying so hard she could barely speak. I told her to open her mouth, placed four drops of the flower formula tincture in it, and waited. Within a few minutes, she had calmed down enough to talk. While I was with Jillian, I gave her additional drops of Rescue Remedy whenever her voice started to sound hysterical. She calmed down each time. Flower essences provided her with the relief she needed at this very difficult time.

Rescue Remedy is one of a number of formulas made from five particular flower essences that has been used for decades for trauma. It works equally on people and animals. One brand is called Rescue Remedy; another is called Five Flower Formula. They contain the same flower essences prepared in the same manner. I keep a small vial of either formula in my purse and in my medicine chest. I won't travel without it. I've found it invaluable for emergencies on camping trips and vacations when people were injured or traumatized.

How flower essences originated

In the 1930s, English pathologist and bacteriologist Edward Bach discovered that small quantities of water infused with plant essences could affect the health of people with particular personalities. He stopped making vaccines for physicians and spent the rest of his life learning about the healing properties of flowers and how they affected various moods. It was this combination of mind/body medicine that resulted in the 38 individual flower essences known today as the Bach Flower Remedies.

How the flower remedies work

Dr. Bach spent hours examining the habits and characteristics of flowers and trees and came to the conclusion that plants and flowers had different vibrations, and that diseases could not co-exist with some of them. While many plants had medicinal qualities, Bach found only a few healed the emotions, resulting in physical healing. He noticed that when a person's outlook became positive and peaceful, healing was accelerated.

Bach was not the first doctor to realize that a person's emotional state affects the function of organs, glands, and tissues. By restoring the emotions to harmony and balance, the body could heal itself more rapidly. His theory has been borne out over the past 70 years of using his information and flower essences. I've been using Dr. Bach's essences for 40 years on myself, a few friends, and occasional patients. I find an immediate effect as soon as I place the drops in my mouth, although some people find it takes a little longer

Bach's five flower combination

There are 38 different flower essences in the Bach flower repertory and numerous combinations you can make from them. The primary combination that's commonly sold under the names Rescue Remedy or Five Flower Formula consists of:

Star of Bethlehem--For shock and trauma. Shocking news like the death of a loved one or the fear from narrowly escaping an accident are situations where this essence can help. It can also be used to comfort someone who refuses to be consoled.

Rock Rose--For terror and panic. This essence is useful in emergencies even when the situation appears to be hopeless. Use it for accidents, sudden illnesses, or when feeling terrified.

Impatiens--For physical and mental tension and irritability. As its name implies, this essence can help reduce feelings of impatience.

Cherry Plum--For fear of losing control. Useful when you feel overwhelmed, heading for a nervous breakdown, or are afraid you'll do something you'll later regret.

Clematis--For a tendency to pass out from stress. This essence helps when you feel detached from reality, are daydreaming, or feel indifferent.

It's safe for animals

My parrot, Pancho, and I lived in Los Angeles when the last big earthquake occurred. The house shook constantly for several long and terrifying minutes, and I heard Pancho's wings flapping as she flew off her perch. When the shaking stopped, I put her in her cage. Her eyes wide open with fear, Pancho climbed around and around inside her cage. I used to be a veterinary assistant and knew that fear could kill a bird, so I reached for my bottle of Rescue Remedy.

I managed to get a drop of it into her beak and almost instantly she became calm and rested on her perch. She still wasn't looking completely normal, but was greatly improved. I put another drop of the tincture in her water and soon she was fine.

If you have a pet that is experiencing anxiety, put one or two drops of this remedy in its mouth or water dish. If you have an injured pet that's in shock, this is an appropriate remedy. Use it if you're transporting your pet by car or plane, especially if the animal tends to get motion sickness.

How to take it

I usually put two to four drops in a little water and hold it in my mouth for a few seconds before swallowing it, or place a drop or two under my tongue. Some people recommend you place four drops of the tincture in a small glass of water, juice, or cup of tea and sip it slowly, drinking it within 15 minutes. If necessary, repeat.

Instead of the drops, you can use a cream containing these flower essences. The cream is excellent for infants and adults alike. Rub a small amount on the inside of the wrists, the neck, or ankle--any place with thin skin will do--and the effect is the same as with the drops.

Where to find it

Tincture Formula: Most natural food stores sell the Bach Rescue Remedy. A 10 ml (small) bottle costs around $10.95, while a larger bottle (20 ml) sells for $15.95.

Five Flower Essences can be found in natural food stores, or call the maker at 800-548-0075 for a store near you. They will also ship you a 1/4 oz bottle for $5.50 or a 1 oz bottle for $8.95 (plus $5 shipping for orders under $100).

Cream: Bach's Rescue Remedy Cream can be found in or ordered through natural food stores and sells for between $6-$12 for .9 oz (27 grams). An herbalist friend of mine, Gail Julian, also makes this cream with additional essential oils to increase its potency. You can get a small container of it from her for just $5 including shipping and handling (707-829-8923; 5423 Volkerts Road, Sebastopol, CA 95472).

Final words

These combinations of flower essences are not to be used instead of emergency treatment, but for those times when it's unavailable. And it's wonderful for life's little emergencies.

When to Use It

* Before and after surgery and dental appointments

* Before going to the doctor

* After any argument with family or friends

* Before confronting anyone

* Before and during a funeral or court appearance

* Before an airplane flight

* After any fall or accident

* After bruises, burns, sunburn, or insect bites

* After receiving bad news

Scheffer, Mechthild. Bach Flower Therapy, Theory and Practice, Thorsons Publishers, Rochester, VT, 1987.

Scheffer, Mechtild. The Encyclopedia of Bach Flower Therapy, Healing Arts Press, Rochester, VT, 2001.

Weeks, Nora. The Medical Discoveries of Edward Bach, Physian, C.W. Daniel Company, Ltd, Essex, England, 1969.
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Publication:Women's Health Letter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2002
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