The calming power of flowers

Once I was holding a friend’s mare for the farrier when she started jumping around. We couldn’t calm her until I squirted Rescue Remedy spray – a combination of flower essences – into her mouth. Within minutes she was calm enough to shoe.

Sceptics dismiss any effect from these natural remedies as placebo. But their effect on animals, which I have witnessed time and again over many years, seems to gainsay that.

A friend whose aged parents are very ill told me how grateful she is to have discovered Bach Original Flower Remedies, which help her cope with the distress and pressure. ‘I feel a sense of calm when I take them. It is like dialling down anxiety and taking the edge off negative feelings.’ And the actor Hugh Grant takes Rescue Remedy to help with crippling stage fright.

Flower remedies can help 'dial down anxiety' 
Flower remedies can help ‘dial down anxiety’ 

Edward Bach was a doctor, bacteriologist and pathologist whose primary research before the First World War was in vaccines ( Despite being diagnosed in 1917 with an incurable illness, he recovered and decided to follow a holistic approach to medicine, treating the person not just the disease. That quest led him to homeopathy and then, in the 1930s, to the use of flowers to ameliorate negative emotions. Dr Bach created 38 flower remedies plus Rescue Remedy. He died in 1936.

‘Flower remedies act as a tool to support our emotions and restore harmony,’ according to GP and former prison doctor Dr Andrew Tresidder, who also teaches health and self-care to health professionals for the British Medical Association.

‘Everything is composed of vibrations. Nature – like music – provides these vibrations in harmonious patterns. Flower remedies are the healing vibrations of a plant,’ he explains. If that seems wacky, consider a compact disc. That flat piece of plastic contains a vibrational imprint, which gives us sounds – and we take that for granted.

Bach Original Flower Remedies, £7.79 for 20ml
Bach Original Flower Remedies, £7.79 for 20ml

Rescue Remedy is a blend of flower essences to comfort and reassure: impatiens, clematis, star of Bethlehem, cherry plum and rock rose. A friend turns to white chestnut (also in Rescue Night) for racing thoughts.

For Dr Tresidder, ‘Holly was the essence that proved to me they were not working at a placebo level. My two-year-old daughter was suffering from toddler jealousy and nothing seemed to help. Finally, after three weeks, we gave her Holly in her beaker. After two days she was a changed child, full of love and happiness again.’

Flower essence therapist Chris Phillips has written Treating Depression Naturally: How Flower Essences Can Help Rebalance Your Life (Floris Books, £12.99*), which comes recommended by Dr Tresidder.

Bach Original Flower Remedies, each £7.79 for 20ml; Rescue Remedy Spray, £7.29 for 7ml, and Rescue Night Spray, £9.99 for 20ml, all