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Flower Essences for Depression and Grief
by Marlene Keel
Editor's Note from Christine Breen: Marlene is an experienced Flower Essence practitioner and here she offers her insights into how flower essences can assist in the treatment of grief and depression.
Depression, sadness and grief are emotions experienced by many people at different times in their lives. How severe the feelings and how long they last varies between individuals. However most people suffering from depression or sadness can attest to the difficult or debilitating effects such emotions have on them and their lives.
Often people suffering from these feelings will look for assistance to help them cope and/or recover. Prescription medicines, such as Prozac, are nowadays commonly used to treat depression. A number of people seek relief via a “buzz”, hence might embark on some “retail therapy”, a holiday or some such other pleasant experience to give themselves a “boost”. Some people prefer to embrace other approaches to gain relief, such as counseling, meditation, even sport, especially those which provide a “natural high” through the release of endorphins. Others choose to numb the pain, and may turn to drink, drugs, overworking etc to try and deaden the painful feelings.
Flower Essence Therapy is a Wholistic Therapeutic Approach
A wholistic approach more people are becoming aware of and adopting is that of flower essence therapy. For those not familiar with flower essences, these are natural remedies made from flowers, with their healing properties derived from the life force, vibration, of the flowers. Flower essences address negative emotions/states (and sometimes physical ailments.) By thus dissolving and alleviating negative emotions, one’s overall health and well-being is strengthened and enhanced.
There are available today a great many flower essences that can be used for depression, sadness and also grief. One of the most popular and most widely available is Borage (Borago officinalis). It instills courage and helps one overcome grief, sadness, depression and discouragement*. Another very popular essence is Zinnia (Zinnia elegans) which promotes cheer, laughter and joy. Bach’s Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is also a favourite for sufferers of depression. It stimulates vitality, enthusiasm and motivation.
Gentian (Gentiana amarelle) can help those who are easily discouraged, get depressed and disheartened. It’s suitable for when one experiences doubt and lack of faith, melancholy, skepticism and disappointment.
At times, the cause of one’s sadness or depressed state may not be obvious (or immediately obvious.) Mustard (Sinapis arvensis) can be of assistance at such times. It is for depression gloom or melancholy that comes for no apparent reason
Some people also can become disheartened by world events and their relationship to them e.g. the effect these may have on them. To deal with the pessimism or despair that arises, Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius) can be taken as it instills the tenacity, optimism and perseverance to help one cope with such feelings.
Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron divergens) is recommended for those who suffer from deep depression and negative thought patterns. It uplifts and brings clarity, lightness, openness, cheerfulness, and a positive desire toward change. Desert Sunflower (Geraea canescens) is also an uplifting remedy, as is African Daisy (Osteospermum species) which draws one to the core of one’s emotional - mental state and helps one make a positive choice as to how they want to be and feel. Wild Cherry (Prunus avium) is another important flower essence to help one create a serene and optimistic view of life, hence is ideal for those who are pessimistic and gloomy, seeing only the negative side of things.
Some Other Essences which may be Beneficial for Individuals Include:
* Daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus), suitable for those experiencing depression, self-criticism, self-hatred, frustration;
* Felicia (Felicia aethiopica), for feelings of unhappiness, disconnectedness, insignificance;
* Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles japonica) for despair, hopelessness, depressed anger, pain; and
* Cucumber (Cucurbita sativus) which address’s pessimism, defeatism, feelings of not belonging resulting in withdrawal.
* Mimosa (Acacia dealbata), also associated with the issue of withdrawal, Mimosa is an essence recommended for timid, introverted, independent people who close off from others and consequently can suffer from feelings of depression.
* Kinehe (Bidens torta), the uplifting essence, can prove beneficial for those seeking an essence to give one a “boost” and impart enthusiasm, the uplifting essence.
Grief and Depression
In many situations, grief is often experienced alongside depression. Both are often felt, for example, following the break-up of a relationship or the loss of a loved one through death. In such difficult, painful situations, Hawthorn-May/English Hawthorne (Crataegus oxyacantha) can bring support- it softens the pain of separation and grief and helps relieve sorrow. Wild Rose (Rosa arizonace*) helps restore a vital sense of living and assists one to face the deepest pains especially associated with “heartaches. It is recommended for those who show indifference, lack of interest, unresponsiveness, unconcern, and / or have little or no emotion and seem “spiritless”. Wild Onion (Allium stellatum) is an essence that connects us to the root cause of grief and offers protection.
It is also helpful to recognize that at times depression (or sadness or grief) may be “masking” other deeper emotions. For example, someone with melancholy may on a deep level still be experiencing shock from an old trauma. Such a person would also benefit from essences (or other forms of assistance) to deal with the shock and trauma i.e. the cause of the depression. One such essence is Peach (Prunus persica), ideal for deep-seated melancholy, for the effects of past trauma or grief which continue to affect the present.
Importantly, on a different level, depression can at times also be a symptom of a physical illness and if this is so, the illness of course needs to be addressed, medically. Alongside the appropriate medical treatment, for any depression accompanying lingering illness’s, Wild Rose (Rosa canina*) can be used. Furthermore, for those suffering from apathy and who are often ill or ailing due to repressed emotions, Bell Gardenia (Rothmannia globosa) can often help bring emotional issues into consciousness and restore vitality
There are several methods one can use to select which essences to use: reading flower essence descriptions and deciding which is/are appropriate, muscle testing (kinesiology), dowsing, intuition etc. Directions for using the essences can usually be found on the label or accompanying literature.
What to Expect from Flower Essences
One of the beauties of flower essences is that, unlike many pharmaceutical drugs, flower essences, do not have side effects due to their constituents (unless one is allergic to preservative e.g. alcohol). For many people, flower essence therapy, as well as being a helpful and healing experience, is one that does not “interrupt” their daily life as the effects are subtle. However, it’s important to be aware that sometimes when one uses essences, the emotions the essences are addressing can become more obvious for a while. When marked / intense, this is called a “healing crisis”- i.e. symptoms get worse before they get better - and it indicates the remedy is working. If a healing crisis should occur, stop taking the essences and talk to your essence supplier re possibly continuing on an adjusted dose. If one is considering or replacing ones pharmaceutical drugs with flower essences, its important to always make an informed decision regarding this. Whilst flower essences can be taken for depression, one needs to approach ceasing drugs sensibly. First, discuss discontinuing any drug with your doctor in case it's important the drug be continued, either for a period of time or indefinitely. Perhaps get a second opinion regarding this also... Furthermore, if one decides to cease a drug, withdrawal needs to be carried out correctly, to avoid possible complications. Discuss this also with your doctor before ceasing any drug/medication.
Flower remedies are very easy to use – simply take them straight from the bottle, place a dose in a cup of water, place several drops in the bath or purchase them either in spritzer form and spray them around the room, or in cream form and apply as directed.
Today many people seeking a convenient, natural (and cost effective) way to ease and overcome their heavy-heartedness are embracing flower remedies - with their many wonderful healing qualities they can provide support for symptoms experienced and, if applicable, assistance with the healing of any patterns that may be creating or aggravating these symptoms . And for many sufferers, that is indeed welcome and cheering news!
"Flower essences should not replace important medical attention. The purpose of the information provided above is not to diagnose, prescribe, treat or cure. No medical claims are made."
* nb. some plants species have a number of varieties e.g. in the Chamomile family, one can find the botanical varieties Matricaria chamomilla, Matricaria recutita and Anthemia nobilis. With regard to flower essences, it’s important to understand the qualities of the flowers belonging to the different varieties can have slightly different properties. Hence when ordering an essence based on its description, it's important to check the botanical (latin) name of the flower essence is that which you are after.
** Furthermore, many flower essences have multi- healing qualities. Please understand that for the purposes of this article, only the relevant qualities are stated.
© Tranquil Path P/L 2007
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About the Author
Marlene Keel is a Reiki practitioner, flower essence therapist, and director of the Flower Essence Center based in Victoria, Australia.