Practitioner Bulletin no. 24, March/April 1999

Only 38?

Why are there only 38 flower remedies, given that there are many more flowers in nature?

There are only 38 remedies because Dr Bach found that there are only 38 basic mental states. Any negative state of mind of any human being who ever lived (or will live) can be made up from these thirty eight elements. In exactly the same way, the 38 remedies can be combined in order to treat that negative state.

This claim sounds unbelievable until you consider that with 38 remedies (plus the crisis ‘rescue’ formula, which is often considered as the 39th remedy) you have nearly 293 million possible combinations. And it is less surprising still when you think that all the colours in the universe are a mix of just three – red, blue and yellow.

Of course there are now tens of thousands of new essences, made with some of the millions of plants that Dr Bach did not use. It’s possible to classify these newer essences according to what they claim to do. The following headings apply:

  1. they duplicate the action of remedies already in Dr Bach’s system – in which case of course they are not necessary within the system;
  2. they treat ‘secondary’ emotions such as ‘feeling blocked’ or ‘dislike of being touched’ – in this case we would want to ask questions such as ‘why do you feel blocked’ or ‘why do you dislike being touched’, in order to identify the elements that make up that state of mind, and so identify which of the 38 would apply;
  3. they treat specific physical problems, such as baldness or stomach pains – in this case, and leaving aside the question of whether or not they actually work, they have no connection with Dr Bach’s conception of medicine, which is specifically designed to work on the personality/emotional level;
  4. they promise various improvements that will help to change you from who you are into someone better, faster, more sexually attractive, or more spiritually advanced – again this has no connection with Dr Bach’s system, which is aimed at helping you be who you are, so that you can learn from your life.

There may well be other plants in the world that will do some of the above things, but they either do not improve the original system (adding more plants that do the same thing only makes it more complicated) or they have nothing to do with that system (they are based on a different philosophical/medical model). That is why there are only 38 remedies in Dr Bach’s system.

New book out this month…

Bach Flower Remedies for Animals is published this month by The CW Daniel Co. To help you decide whether the book can help you, here is an excerpt:

Reading animal behaviour

All adult human beings are actors. We grow up learning how to suppress the way we really feel. We bite our tongues rather than give offence; we pretend enthusiasm when we feel dispirited; we smile politely when we feel like murder.

Over time the layers of our pretence build up, and some of us become so adept at concealment that we really have forgotten who we are. Our personalities appear entirely different from our true nature, and by the time this out of balance approach to life leads to the offices of a Bach practitioner there are multiple layers of hardened emotion to be got through before the real person underneath can even begin to emerge.

Animals are in general less complex. The layers of deceit have not built up. Some may still hide their emotions, perhaps in the Agrimony way, by playing the clown when there is torture inside, or perhaps in the Water Violet way of withdrawing from companions to deal with things alone. But as a rule Water Violet and Agrimony animals are what they appear: Water Violet and Agrimony animals. They are less likely to be harbouring twenty other mental states hidden under this first layer.

If this general rule is true then selecting remedies for animals really is a simple process of empathy and understanding, as Nora Weeks used to point out. Where it becomes harder is at those points where communication between species breaks down – in other words, when we misread or simply fail to read what an animal is telling us.

For example, two dogs start to bark. One may be aggressive or barking in anger, and the other may bark just as loudly due to fear or excitement. How do we know the difference? How do we determine whether our dog (or cat or rabbit) is defensive and angry, or defensive and frightened?

Human beings communicate using a mixture of verbal and non-verbal communication. So do animals. With us verbal communication is the most important system, or at least is generally taken to be so (although it could be argued that it is not as reliable as body language, since it is harder to lie using the latter). With animals the opposite is true: most communication is through body language. This means that to be able to select remedies for animals with real confidence we need to take time to learn a little about how animals use their bodies to communicate.

Lets imagine an actual case and how the selection process might work. Suppose your dog, who is usually happy, playful and loving towards you, suddenly begins moping around, tail between its legs, and shies away whenever you show concern or affection. You know immediately from this change in manner that something is troubling him. He cannot tell you what is wrong, so you have to observe him and make a judgement based on his current behaviour pattern and apparent mood, compared with his usual temperament and nature.

The first thing to note is the way he shies away from you, wants to be by himself, resisting consolation, interference or affection. This desire for solitude is a strong indicator for the remedy Water Violet. Secondly, the drooping tail gives away a depressed mood, so perhaps he needs Gentian or Gorse or Sweet Chestnut, or maybe Willow or Mustard. To determine which it is, you will need to think about what might have caused the mood in the first place. It occurs to you that he has been like this since your neighbours moved away, and you remember how well he got on with their children. You conclude that he is missing them and finding it hard to adjust. You therefore select Walnut (for the change in circumstances) and Honeysuckle (for longing thoughts of the past) as these two remedies address the cause of the depressed mood. Water Violet addresses the individual way of dealing with it. These three remedies together would be the most appropriate personal remedy mixture for your dog.

Welcome to…

Since the last (January) issue was prepared, 23 new practitioners have joined the register:

  • in Belgium, Michael Lindsay;
  • in Brazil, Tetrazini Chuichmam Ribeiro dos Anjos, Claudete Carneiro Guimaraes, Maria Alice Ribas Cavalcanti, Maria Inez Carvalho de Oliveira, Maria Aparecida Das Neves, Josef Tlach, Eliane Scarabotto Padovani Delben, Sandra Regina Santos, and Rosa Maria Dias Bueno;
  • in Germany, Britta Cierniak;
  • in Italy, Giusi Moretta;
  • in Spain, Francisco Zotano Pomares;
  • in the UK, Margaret Hall, Kate Treacher, Barbara Helm, Janice Cracknell, Frankie Boyes, Catherine Thomas, Brian Williams, and Kate Anderson;
  • and in the USA, Haripriya Dillon, and Helene Ginian.

There are now 557 practitioners on the register.

Your letters

Every time I receive the Bulletin I’m motivated to send you a remedy story… and then I don’t get around to it. This time I’m doing it – I’ve been taking Hornbeam recently – and here it is.

A girl friend of mine was visiting me for a coffee and was in the process of deciding whether to visit her homeland, Namibia. She was completely indecisive. She has two children; organising to leave the family for three weeks seemed difficult, but she really wanted to go. She knew of the remedies, but had never taken any.

During our conversation my youngest daughter got hold of a stock bottle. She let it fall, and it broke. I cleared it up, mourning the precious loss, and making a mental note which remedy had just been ‘killed’. The smell of the alcohol filled the room, along with the essence itself.

Twenty minutes later, after she had left, the phone rang. It was my friend: ‘I’m at the travel agents, I’ve just booked a flight to Namibia!’

What was the stuff that Yvonne broke? You’ve guessed – it really was Scleranthus.

Nicola Vogel

We want you to use this bulletin to keep in touch with each other. If anything wonderful, funny, interesting or just plain typical has happened to you in your work with the remedies, or if there are any questions that have been nagging away at you, or if you simply want to say hello, please write to us at the Bach Centre, marking your letter clearly as being ‘FOR PUBLICATION’.

We can’t promise to print every letter in the bulletin, but even if we don’t use your contribution we always love to hear from you.


A simple competition this time, and we apologise right away for using the word ‘millennium’…

To win, write and tell us in no more than 50 words what remedies you expect to be taking at midnight 31st December 1999.

We’ll print the best answers, and the overall winner will be invited to choose an item of his or her choice from the Bach Centre Collection.

Good luck!

Rescuing the day and the night

by Haripriya Dillon

My teenage son Janaka and his friend Andrew were playing In the back yard one afternoon. I heard a scream, and both boys rushed into the house. Janaka was limping and hopping, his face contorted in pain and shock. He was crying and moaning, quite distressed. His normal behaviour was “all boy” and he wasn’t a cry baby, so I knew It had to be serious. That’s when I noticed his bloody toe. The nail was torn half off, and I imagined the pain to be excruciating.

Quickly I grabbed my trusty bottle of Rescue Remedy. I put a few drops on my son’s toe and then had him take a few drops orally. I repeated the treatment several times in the next 2 or 3 minutes. Janaka suddenly relaxed, sighed deeply and with a silly giggle imitating a drunk said “Wow! What’s in that stuff?” He could taste the brandy preservative and thought I had given him something to drink. Andrew piped up “Well, I want some too!” So I joined In the fun and gave Andrew his share too. In a few seconds the pair were laughing and running, quite forgetful of the crisis, pain and tears. I sat down and breathed a sigh of relief and had a few drops for myself. As many times as I had used the remedy it still astonished me how quickly it can work.

The sequel to that little drama took place one month later at an evening seminar I was attending. As I walked down a poorly lit path to the area where the lectures were being held I stumbled on some loose gravel, stubbing my toe severely. A piercing pain shot through my foot causing me to yell loudly. Several people saw me stumble and immediately came to assist me. They helped me as I hopped to a nearby cabin where I sat to take the pressure off my foot.

The pain had increased two-fold by this time and It took all the control I could muster not to cry. I managed to ask if anyone had any Rescue Remedy handy. Somewhat to my surprise and good fortune a lady had a small bottle of it in her purse. She said that she always carried it with her whenever she left her house. Though it was nearly empty there was enough for me to apply a few drops on my toe and take some orally. I did this several times, and remembered my son’s experience when he bruised his toe and the transformation which seemed to occur just after the treatment. I was pleased to notice the pain in my toe subsiding and disappearing within five minutes.

The pain did not recur. I was able to walk normally to the seminar. I thought it an unusual coincidence that my son and I would both so severely stub our toes, apply Rescue Remedy, and experience immediate physical and emotional relief from the painful bruise. It saved the day for my son … and it saved the night for me. Thank you Dr Bach!

This archive material has been edited to remove some out-of-date advice and information.