The History and Development of Bach Flower Remedies

Dr. Edward Bach
Dr. Edward Bach

Some Background

If you’ve never heard of Bach flower remedies, let me first assure you that they have nothing to do with classical music or anyone named Johann Sebastian. They are homeopathic medicines developed in the late 1920’s and early 30’s by a London bacteriologist and pathologist named Dr. Edward Bach.

Edward Bach received his medical training at University Hospital in London, served on the staff there, and maintained a private practice in Harley Street. His ideas about natural flower essences grew out of his interest in homeopathic medicine and his work with vaccines. An early proponent of the mind-body connection, Bach came to the conclusion that physical illness was often caused by emotional states and thought that physicians should spend more time dealing with the mental states which were the root cause of disease rather than concentrating solely on symptoms of the illness itself. He felt that healing properties were to be found in plants and developed a way to preserve these “essences” in a way that could be useful to humans. Each of Bach’s flower remedies corresponds to a particular human feeling or mood.

The Bach Centre
The Bach Centre

Dr. Bach's Remedies

Dr. Bach developed his flower remedies through a process that involved identifying and harvesting the appropriate wild flowers, putting them in spring-water, then through sun drying or boiling, transferring the healing properties from the flower to the water. The resulting liquid was bottled with brandy as a preservative.

Though he started working on his remedies in the late 1920’s, it was not until 1930 that Dr. Bach closed his London office in order to devote his full attention to them. His new direction was really a complete system of healing that relied less on science and more on nature and the gifts of the individual healer. Not surprisingly, his more conventional colleagues were less than impressed. Undeterred, Dr. Bach refined his techniques and developed more and more flower remedies and treated more and more patients. He develped quite a following. He died at his home in Oxfordshire in 1936 at the age of 50. Dr. Bach’s former home is now the Bach Centre which offers courses and training, books, tapes, tours and serves as the headquarters of the Dr. Edward Bach Healing Foundation.

The Placebo Effect

Conventional medicine is no more sympathetic to Dr. Bach’s ideas today than it was in the 1930’s. However, with the rise of alternative therapies and the interest in herbal medicine that has taken place in the last decade or so, there has been a big resurgence of interest in Bach Flower Remedies. Dr. Bach’s early recognition of the mind/body connection has found great favor with contemporary New Age practitioners in particular, as it fits in well with New Age concepts.

The problem is, that since these remedies are used to change mood, and not to cure a specific physical condition, it is very hard to measure their effectiveness. It is highly possible that their efficacy has more to do with belief on the part of the user than anything else. There has been at least one study in Germany, which tried to measure the effectiveness of Bach Flower Remedies in lessening “exam clutch” in students The results were inconclusive. No appreciable difference in nervousness was found between students who used Bach Flower Remedies and a control group.

Personally, I don’t think that placebos are necessarily a bad thing. Of course it can be dangerous to treat pneumonia or clinical depression with a placebo, but using flower essences to enhance creativity, increase sensitivity, or promote feelings of serenity can do no harm and may actually help,especially if the patient believes it will. Besides, herbs and flowers have a long history of medicinal use all over the world. It’s wise to keep an open mind. To use or not to use Bach Flower Remedies is a personal decision. Compared to anti-depressants they are not costly. They have no reported side effects and they just might make you feel better. After all, in the eighteenth century people thought the idea that lemons could cure scurvy was mad. Today's crazy idea is tomorrow's medical breakthrough. With the new emphasis on alternative and complimentary treatments, Dr. Bach may turn out to have been a medical pioneer who was ahead of his time.

More on Bach Flower Remedies

Many practitioners and users have written online about Bach Flower Remedies. Here are a few recommended links for those who want to explore a bit more.

Bio Med Central -- an excellent article on the use of Bach Flower Remedies for psychological problems and pain posted on a well known site for alternative and complimentary medicine

314 user reviews of Rescue Remedy. Who found it useful, who didn't and more. Add your one review if you like on this very interesting forum.

Check out Bach Flower Remedies on Facebook.

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Comments 44 comments

Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

As I'm still researching all there is to know for my Master Herbalist thesis on "flower power" I whole heartedly believe in the benefits of Bachs flower remedies.

Nice hub Robie. regards Zsuzsy

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Hi Zsuzsy. I have friends who swear by them and others who sniff--I basically have an open mind. I've never used them myself, but am not opposed--just never felt the need. Good luck with your thesis. I think that herbal remedies are an important part of healing that western medicine has ignored for all too long. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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pgrundy 8 years ago

Thanks for another great hub! I've always found the idea of a placebo odd---I mean, often, placebo effects are as good or better than medication, so in those cases, to my mind they aren't placebos? I don't know. I've never used Rescue Remedy but the realtor who sold us this house swore by it. I'd try it if I felt like I needed it. Most of the time I feel pretty good just the way I am.

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

When is a placebo not a placebo?lol I think Dr,. Bach must have been a rather interesting and unusual character. I would have liked to have met him.. I too have a friend who is a Rescue Remedy fan. I don't know if it's the actual remedy or the placebo effect that helps her and I don't really think it matters much if it does the job.

pjdscott profile image

pjdscott 8 years ago from Durham, UK

I wholeheartedy agree with your placebo musings and in years to come they will be justified. Beside which, the alternative is to treat our body with unnatural chemical cocktails. It's silly when the only function of certain prescribed tablets is to counteract the side effects of others!

Great hub thanks.

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Hi pj :-) Good to see you. Always very happy when someone shares my opinionLOL

TetonRose profile image

TetonRose 8 years ago from Utah

Great hub! We always need more information on alternative healing, in my opinion.

I was introduced to the Bach Flower Remedies some 20 years ago and found them highly effective. I was/am especially impressed with Rescue Remedy.

Are you familiar with the "California Flowers" remedies? They come from Nevada City, California, USA. I've also been interested in them, although they are supposed to work on a little different basis than the Bach Flowers. I'd love to see some more information on them.

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Thanks for reading and commenting TetonRose--don't know anything about the California Flowers-- but perhaps I'll go have a "google":-)

amy jane profile image

amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

Great hub, Robie! I used the Rescue Remedy on and off for a while, unable to really determine if it did anything at all :) I am quite sensitive to all types of medication, traditional and non-traditional alike. This is one that I guess I will never be sure about! At least I am not alone... :)

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Thanks for putting up the request, AmyJane. It was fun to do. I have a friend who swears by Rescue Remedy so I did the hub because I was curious to find out more about these remedies she raves about. Very interesting, but for the moment I'm sticking with chocolate as a stress reducer:-)

Raven King profile image

Raven King 8 years ago from Cabin Fever

Now you are talking...hmm..Chocolate as a stress reducer sounds yummy. I'm a Lindt fan which is your favorite brand?

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Well, I'm trying to stick with that dark chocolate that is supposed to be good for you but for real stress reduction there is nothing like one of those big, triangular Toblorone chocolate bars with nuts<drool> but I'm a Lindt fan too and I'm sending you a virtual Lindt bar with hazelnuts<chomp chomp> Thanks for commenting, Raven King

SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

I think you are right about how placebos are good for minor ailments. To me the Bach Flower Remedies seems similar to drinking a cup of peppermint tea, which helps to sooth the nerves and alleviate minor aches and pains. When people drink a calming tea or take a calming herbal supplement, I think it makes people relax and stop stressing.

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

I think so too, Sweetie Pie:-)

VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 8 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

This is perfect timing that I checked your hub! My s/o has the complete Bach remedy set and I have started to take them. The kit comes with a questionare and based on the replies, Bach flowers essences are recommended. Have taken Rescue Remedy for my overall well being. I don't know yet if its working, but will be observing to see how this stuff works.

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

I'll be interested in hearing what your experience is--keep us all posted and thanks for stopping by. Always good to see you VS:-)

SparklingJewel profile image

SparklingJewel 8 years ago from upper midwest

Great Hub Robie, I love the Bach essences. I believe they are/can be an important part of a wholistic healing.

I think they can be placebo-like for some, but for others the actual molecular structure can be important as well, as something the body is in need of to facilitate the mental/emotional state.

In the wholistic perspective, we are a beings of spiritual, mental, emotional and physical awareness. All aspects need to be dealt with to attain balance in living.

I can't wait until more people get on the bandwagon of learning to understand their individual power of consciousness, not only to heal, but to change the world. Just think what we could do if we all got on the same page about things. Power multiplied! :)

Our individual God given powers to create ! But I gaurantee the answers will not come only from mainstream science perception...there needs to be an integration of science and spiritual knowledge...and an even better understanding of each.

It is exciting to know there is so much more to know!

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

I like your ideas,SJ, and your zest for life--I to to keep an open mind--so little is really certain and there are more things in heaven and earth etc. etc.--the tricky part is that getting everyone on the same page part you mentioned :-) I think there are a lot of pages to choose from these days soooooooooo.......thanksfor reading and for your really thoughtful comment.

Lisa K profile image

Lisa K 8 years ago from Wales, United Kingdom

I have used rescue remedy, one occasion I got really stressed half way down the mountain while ski-ing, there was no other option but to ski down and my dad gave me rescue remedy which calmed me down and I was able to carry on and the second time was when my grandad was ill and I was so worried that I wasn´t sleeping, rescue remedy calmed me down then as well. So the 2 times I have used it it has worked, I have also heard of people using it to help them get on planes or stressful times at work etc.

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author


robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Hi Lisa-- thanks for adding a personal testimonial. I have several friends who have used Rescue Remedy and like you, got real relief from it.

cgull8m profile image

cgull8m 8 years ago from North Carolina

I also used Bach remedy for a stomach ailment, it worked great. Didn't have any side effects or any problems. Great Hub.

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Thanks for another testimonial,cgull. I'll be interested to see if others who have used the Bach flower remedies weigh in here. Opinion on them seems to vary widely.I'm glad they helped your tummy:-)

rmr profile image

rmr 8 years ago from Livonia, MI

As so many alternative healing practices are being taken more seriously now, I think it is only a matter of time before the placebo effect is seen for what I believe it to be. I think it is a testimonial to the mind's ability to heal the body. Sure, it would be unwise to try to heal cancer by placebo, but if it can reduce pain, or improve your mood, where's the harm? Thanks for bringing this product to light!

marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

I wonder if we can think ourselves to "wellness?" It's a thought. great hub =)

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Hi rmr and marisue. Thanks for your comments. I think it is always wise to keep an open mind on these things. I don't think that most of us can "think ourselves to wellness" and there are a lot of charletons out there. On the other hand there is a powerful connection between body,mind, and spirit and there is healing to be had on many levels. Western doctors sometimes concentrate so much on science of medicine they forget about the art of healing. I'm really enjoying seeing the variety of comments I'm getting to this hub.

vrajavala profile image

vrajavala 8 years ago from Port St. Lucie

According to a very recent major study released in February the SSRIs are no more effective in treating depression than placebos and this was a clinical trial.

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

I'm not surprised--I think we've come to depend too much on anti-depreseents without looking at all the issues involved. I remember the '70's too when every doctor in the world was passing out valium like it was candy and then ooops, it turned out to be addictive. Personally, I try to avoid pharmeceuticals and when they are necessary, I prefer the ones that have been around for at least 20 years:-)

In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California


I guess I simply have pioneers on my mind lately but your reference to Dr Edward Bach as a medical pioneer stuck in my mind. Holistic health is a very positive change in the health industry, with a focus on mind-body connections. I have always believed that the mind is a powerful agent in healing. These Bach flower remedies are a completely new concept for me, but it is very interesting. Have you tried any of them? Which do you prefer?

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Hi Doghouse--well someone gave me Rescue Remedy once and frankly it didn't seem to do much for me, but I have friends who swear by it real or a placebo. I don't know and does it matter anyway?

I don't use them myself, but love the concept and like to keep an open mind. Also I think Dr. Bach was a very interesting fellow

Like you I think the mind is a powerful component in healing--mind, body and spirit are all one IMHO

Sanjib Sarkar 8 years ago

Interesting article on Bach Flower Remedies. It is kind of hard to measure these type of medicines effectiveness.

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Hard to measure indeed-- thanks for reading and commenting Sanjib.

Hope Wilbanks profile image

Hope Wilbanks 8 years ago from Louisiana

Interesting Hub. I have the Rescue Remedy set, too, but can never remember to take them. So I don't know my opinion on them yet. I'm usually pretty open and willing to try "different" things, within reason. However, just like traditional medicine, I don't like to rely on any one thing to make me feel better. I think a lot of it has to do with mental status.

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Thanks for your comment Hope-- I agree that mental attitude has a lot to do with healing of all sorts which is why I can't see what the problem is with placebos-- if a placebo gets rid of your headache because you think it will-- what's wrong with that LOL--good to see you. Thanks for stopping by.

Francesca 8 years ago

Placebos are very real as hormones are released as a result. If the treatment is relatively cheap, it might be worth taking it just for the placebo effect (or change to something even cheaper like a long walk...) as long as it doesn't cause any harm. I wonder whether there's a sceptical effect, whether someone who is suspicious of a treatment releases hormones or chemicals that affect one's health.

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Couldn't agree more, Francesca. Interesting point about the "skeptical effect"-- worth considering. I do think mental attitude makes a big difference. BTW I like your blog:-)

LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 8 years ago from London

Rescue Remedy is quite high in alochol, maybe that helps (-:

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

ROTFL-- I'll have a double, thanks:-)

camlo profile image

camlo 6 years ago from Cologne, Germany

I tried Bach Flower Essences a few years back, and was extremely sceptical. Friends noticed a 'change' in me before I ever did, which then convinced me the essences do, indeed, work.

Enjoyed the read!

All the best, Camlo

robie2 profile image

robie2 6 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

I am glad to hear the BAch Flower Essences helped you, camlo and thank you for sharing your experience with them. BTW I went and checked out your YouTube Channel-- you have a great voice-- really enjoyed your singing.

camlo profile image

camlo 6 years ago from Cologne, Germany

Thank you, Robie!

I used Larch. Had I not, I may never have got to make those videos. Who knows?

Thanks again for a very big compliment!

kamal 4 years ago

Hi , Has anyone used these bach flower remedy for their kids to do well in the studies.

robie2 profile image

robie2 4 years ago from Central New Jersey Author

Interesting question, kamal-- I'll be interested in any answers that surface. My daughter in law has used Bach Flower Remedies on her pets but as for kids? I dunno.

Tom 3 years ago

I too am trained as a master herbalist and as well as working with herbs and flowers I have created a range of vibrational essences for people and pets. It's inspired by Dr Masaru Emoto's water experiments and very interesting.

Check it out:

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