Bach flowers. Guide to the remedies

Selecting remedies
Dr Bach wanted his system to be easy to use. Anyone can select and take remedies without professional advice. You don't need special techniques or mystical abilities. Here's what to do.

Physical problems

Suppose you are suffering from asthma. There is no Bach remedy for asthma, since this is a physical complaint. So the first step is to forget about the physical problem. Instead of concentrating on the asthma, think about how you feel emotionally, and about the sort of person you are.

Similarly, when it comes to selecting Bach remeides you should ignore any physical symptoms. They are not relevant to which Bach remedies you need.

The remedies work on a emotional level. If you need help with a physical problem you should consult a qualified medical advisor in addition to taking Bach remedies.

Your current feelings

Start by thinking about the way you feel at the moment. Perhaps your son is about to start school and quite without cause you are frightened that he will be bullied? - Red Chestnut is the remedy for the fear that something bad will happen to loved ones. Perhaps you have been working too hard and are exhausted? - this would indicate the need for Olive.

Consult the list of remedies - there are only 38 - and see which ones best match your current feelings.

If you do have a physical problem, consider how it makes you feel emotionally. Do you feel frustrated, annoyed, resentful, discouraged, resigned about the condition? Are you always thinking it about it? Does it make you feel anxious?

As before, look through the list of remedies and find those that best match how you feel.

Your personality

You could also think about your basic personality - the sort of person you are underneath everything else.

Perhaps you are someone who tends to be quiet, shy and timid, and doesn't like meeting new new people? - This might indicate that you are a Mimulus type.

On the other hand, maybe you recognise yourself as a Vervain person, full of enthusiasm and energy, and committed to justice for others? Or you might be something of a loner, liking quiet pursuits and your own company, reserved and upright? - That would be a Water Violet personality.

Don't worry if you can't find a personality remedy right away, though. The important thing is to select remedies for your current emotions.

Narrowing the choice

You can select up to six or seven different remedies in this way. Don't worry if you make a wrong selection, because if a remedy is not needed it won't do anything - it certainly won't make things worse.

Experience has shown, however, that too many remedies taken at one time tends to lessen the effect. This means that there is no point mixing all 38 to zap everything at once!

If you find you have more than seven or eight remedies in your mix, you are probably including some that are not needed. Leave out any that relate to feelings that are in the past, and any that aren't really needed because another remedy is more accurate.

For example, if you have several fear remedies in your mix - such as Mimulus, Aspen, Rock Rose - it may be better to concentrate on the remedy that most accurately represents the quality of your anxiety.

Guide to the remedies

Each of the 38 remedies discovered by Dr Bach is directed at a particular characteristic or emotional state. To select the remedies you need, think about the sort of person you are and the way you are feeling.

For more information on each remedy in this list click the relevant link. It might help to read some case studies first to see how they work.

Agrimony - mental torture behind a cheerful face

Aspen - fear of unknown things

Beech - intolerance

Centaury - the inability to say 'no'

Cerato - lack of trust in one's own decisions

Cherry Plum - fear of the mind giving way

Chestnut Bud - failure to learn from mistakes

Chicory - selfish, possessive love

Clematis - dreaming of the future without working in the present

Crab Apple - the cleansing remedy, also for self-hatred

Elm - overwhelmed by responsibility
Gentian - discouragement after a setback

Gorse - hopelessness and despair

Heather - self-centredness and self-concern

Holly - hatred, envy and jealousy

Honeysuckle - living in the past

Hornbeam - tiredness at the thought of doing something

Impatiens - impatience

Larch - lack of confidence

Mimulus - fear of known things

Mustard - deep gloom for no reason

Oak - the plodder who keeps going past the point of exhaustion

Olive - exhaustion following mental or physical effort

Pine - guilt

Red Chestnut - over-concern for the welfare of loved ones

Rock Rose - terror and fright

Rock Water - self-denial, rigidity and self-repression

Scleranthus - inability to choose between alternatives

Star of Bethlehem - shock

Sweet Chestnut - Extreme mental anguish, when everything has been tried and there is no light left

Vervain - over-enthusiasm

Vine - dominance and inflexibility

Walnut - protection from change and unwanted influences

Water Violet - pride and aloofness

White Chestnut - unwanted thoughts and mental arguments

Wild Oat - uncertainty over one's direction in life

Wild Rose - drifting, resignation, apathy

Willow - self-pity and resentment

The original system also includes an emergency combination remedy. Other pre-mixed combinations are offered by many remedy producers, but they tend to be ineffective because they are not chosen individually.

Dr Bach's crisis formula
The traditional crisis remedy the most famous of the remedies, but in fact is not 'a remedy' at all. Instead it's a blend of five different remedies:

Rock Rose
Cherry Plum
Star of Bethlehem
This mix was created by Dr Bach to deal with emergencies and crises - the moments when there is no time to make a proper individual selection of remedies. It can be used to help us get through any stressful moments, from last-minute exam nerves to the aftermath of an accident.

The best-known make of the crisis formula is sold under the brand name Rescue Remedy - but every remedy maker has its own version of this formula.

The crisis formula is designed to help deal with immediate problems. If you are working through an underlying problem - or if you need rescuing every day - you will find a longer-term solution by selecting a personal blend of remedies.

The cream version
...of the crisis formula contains the same five remedies as the liquid, with the addition of Crab Apple, the cleansing remedy. This formula dates from the early 1960s and was put together by Dr Bach's assistant, Nora Weeks.
The cream is also an emergency combination, and a convenient way of applying the crisis formula externally to bumps and bruises of all kinds.

Most remedy makers produce a version of the cream. Again, the best known brand is sold under the name Rescue.

Other premixed formulas
Some remedy manufacturers offer premixed combinations that claim to treat specific problems such as sleeplessness, tiredness, exam stress and even weight and relationship issues.

Be wary of these products. The traditional crisis formula has shown over time that it contains something helpful for almost any emergency. The same isn't true of situation- and symptom-specific mixes. They tend to be ineffective because they are not chosen for the individual.

For example, insomnia may be caused by many remedy states, including those associated with Vervain, Aspen, Mimulus, Agrimony and Red Chestnut. Yet the most popular of the premixed blends against sleeplessness contains none of these remedies.