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Why a Homeopath May also Offer Bach Flower Remedies
by Tessa Jordan RSHom
This is the first question many homeopaths ask me when they hear of the flower remedies in my homeopathic practice. As homeopaths, we have a large and increasing materia medica, and using classical prescriptions can be so effective. Why would we want to bring in another modality? My personal response is to share my experiences of how the support of Bach flowers has helped me through times of stress and trauma. My professional experience brings in many examples of the way the flower remedies have actually changed people’s lives.
Dr. Edward Bach–Founder of Bach Flower Remedies
Dr. Bach’s own journey took him through conventional medical training; a specialist narrowing of focus as a bacteriologist; work at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital (with “exposure” to Hahnemann’s influence); the development of the Bowel Nosodes; and to a final realisation that the key to illness and disease was actually the emotional state of the patient.
This is not far from the homeopath’s understanding of mental symptoms when taking a case. As homeopaths we will always take particular note of an emotional trauma or shock that precedes the onset of physical symptoms. Many of us will seek a remedy to support the release of the emotional picture, knowing that this is likely to be a maintaining cause and once this is cleared, then the physical symptoms will also dissipate. Hering’s Law of Cure leads us to anticipate effective and lasting healing when improvement moves from mentals to physicals.
Over time Dr. Bach concluded, from experience and practice with the remedies, that his system of healing with flower remedies was “the most perfect which has been given to mankind within living memory…. As the Herbs heal our fears, our anxieties, our worries, our faults and our feelings, it is these we must seek, and then the disease, no matter what it is, will leave us.” (The Twelve Healers and other remedies )
Conventional medicine acknowledges the relevance of stress in triggering or aggravating medical conditions. Other than anti-depressant medication, the drug armoury has little to offer in treating emotional and mental aspects of stress. Psoriasis, IBS and migraines are clear examples of physical problems which have links to emotional pressure. Rather than try to suppress the physical evidence of disease, we can support our patients more effectively by addressing the emotional causes. Each of us has a ‘weak spot –a vulnerable area physically–which can be like our safety valve. If the emotional pressure builds too much, the physical symptoms erupt as a safety release.
Symptoms are Messages to be Listened To
Our body is always on our side. If we ignore symptoms, or the quieter messages, and do not make changes or adapt our lifestyles then louder messages are necessary. This is evident when people ignore “minor” chest pains until their body has to have a full heart attack to evoke a response. Underlying this process are our emotions. They are difficult to measure and yet as individuals we are aware of their power to affect us. Happy feelings have a positive effect on our health whereas negative feelings (guilt, fear, anger, resignation, etc) have a harmful effect on our health and wellbeing.
The understanding of the importance of our emotions lies at the core of Dr. Bach’s system of flower remedies. His message was a simple one: “….bringing about harmony between the Soul and Mind, will eradicate the very basic cause of disease, and then allow such physical means to be used as may be necessary to complete the cure of the body.” (Heal Thyself)
Dr. Bach admired Hahnemann’s work. He wrote, “A hundred years ago the Homeopathy of Hahnemann was as the first streak of the morning light after a long night of darkness, and it may play a big part in the medicine of the future.” And it is certain that Dr. Bach’s experiences of homeopathy at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital influenced his work in the quest for the real cause of illness.
By 1936, Dr. Bach had discovered 38 individual remedies. He knew his work was completed and he was then ready to die peacefully. Nineteen years previously he had suffered an abdominal haemorrhage and surgeons estimated he had only three months left to live. It was his sense of purpose and drive to seek the cause of disease, which kept him focussed and alive. He was living proof of his simple philosophy and his belief that “….every being is here to develop his own evolution according to dictates of his Soul, and his Soul alone.”
Dr. Bach developed 38 remedies and the crisis mix often known as Rescue Remedy (of 5 individual remedies chosen for immediate support as a combination when we need emotional rescuing). This seems few when compared with the Homeopathic Materia Medica. Yet the Bach system allows for individually chosen mixes of remedies to match the individual needs of patients. Usually we restrict the number of remedies chosen to 6 or 7 to ensure a clear connection with the patient’s mood and emotional state. Records show that on a very few occasions Dr. Bach mixed up to 9 remedies together. From the 38 Bach flower remedies it is possible to prepare almost 293,000,000 different mixes. This means we can ensure our choice of remedies for each patient is personal and relevant. We could liken this personal mix to a true homeopathic simillimum–on a purely emotional level.
In my homeopathic practice it is the case presented by my patient which determines whether I offer a Bach flower mix, or a homeopathic remedy–or even both. This is the way I meet their individual need.
When under acute or extreme stress, patients are using all their energy to survive, as that is their instinctive priority. They therefore have few spare resources to work with the energy of a homeopathic remedy and so progress can be slow or even seem stagnated. By offering individual support with Bach flowers, we can help our patients balance their emotional energy and they then respond more quickly to homeopathic remedies.
Sometimes it is a negative emotion which is the actual block to cure. One example of this was a case of a woman who had been abused in childhood and because of that trauma, she felt tainted and soiled. She was convinced that her womb was infected and was therefore no place for the miracle of conception. Conventional checks showed there were no physical causes for her infertility and it was the emotional block which was preventing conception and therefore was more powerful. After considering her case in detail, we agreed to mix Star of Bethlehem (to help ease the shock and trauma); Crab Apple (for her sense of worthlessness and self disgust); Walnut (her husband and all the medical "experts" were having a strong influence on her, making it difficult to stay connected to her own sense of what was right for her); Mimulus (for the fears of medical intervention) and Larch (because she had little self confidence). This was a very personal choice to match her current emotional state and support her through a very difficult time.
We are familiar with the idea of somatic symptoms, where the body expresses physical symptoms as a reflection of an emotional state. As homeopaths we will take the case as an entirety and may give added weight to the mentals when choosing a remedy. The Bach flowers offer an extra resource which can be tailored for each individual by selecting and combining up to seven remedies.
Experience in my practice has shown that often patients respond more readily to the homeopathic simillimum once they have been taking a personal mix of Bach flowers. I also find that the patient begins to feel support from the Bach mix before the homeopathic simillimum has started to act, especially if the homeopathic remedy is a slower acting one.
The flower remedies can be equally helpful when the case is particularly complex and confusing, especially with a new patient. We are building a professional relationship of trust and over time get to know our patients and their cases in more detail. By supporting them emotionally and easing any fears, that relationship can grow stronger. My practice is long-standing and successful. My aim is to meet each of my patient’s needs and to support them as individuals. Using homeopathic or Bach remedies alone or concurrently makes that aim possible.
Editor's Note: Hering's Law of Cure states:
From above downwards.
From within outwards.
From a more important organ to a less important one.
In the reverse order of their coming.
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About the Author
Tessa Jordan, RSHom has practised homeopathy full-time for over 20 years and for 18 of them has used Bach flowers as part of her practice. She is registered with the Society of Homeopaths and with the Dr Edward Bach Foundation. Since 1996, Tessa has been an international trainer, approved by the Bach Centre. She also offers a course in the Bach flower remedies specifically designed for homeopaths. The next three day course in central London is on 25th March, 1st and 2nd April 2011. For more details check out her website or contact Tessa.