Theory, belief & research

How do the remedies actually work?

Dr Bach used a metaphor to describe how the remedies work. He said, ‘they are able, like beautiful music, or any gloriously uplifting thing which gives us inspiration, to raise our very natures, and bring us nearer to our Souls: and by that very act, to bring us peace, and relieve our sufferings.’

Just as a beautiful sunset or a photograph can move us so that we feel more at peace, so taking a remedy uplifts us in a gentle way and helps us be the best we are.

There are many theories about the mechanism the remedies use to achieve this. Most believe the active ingredient in the remedies is a kind of energy or vibration that is transferred from the living flower to the water during the process of making the mother tinctures.

Some believe the energy forms a pattern in the water; others talk of quantum mechanics and spiritual vibrations. Attempts to capture this energy have produced beautiful Kirlian photographs showing distinct patterns and colours for different remedies – but little hard research has been done. Any firm conclusions are just speculation.

The real proof that these flower energies exist, however, is the effect they have on people. Taking Mimulus when we are afraid is just a more specific form of the emotional reaction we feel when we listen to Beethoven or gaze up at the stars.

Dr Bach’s work was fine in the ’30’s – but don’t modern times call for modern remedies?

It’s true that times have changed and that we have new things to be afraid of and new freedoms and responsibilities. People in Dr Bach’s day did not have to fear AIDS and nuclear warfare, or worry about global warming and genetic engineering.

Does this mean that we need new remedies? We don’t think it does, because the remedies don’t treat the triggers for our emotions but the emotions themselves. Fear is the same now as it has always been; and so are love, understanding and kindness. Our modern emotions are no more complex than those described by Shakespeare, Dante and the authors of the Bible.

Many of the best things about new age spirituality are rediscoveries of old beliefs and practices that bring us more in touch with our roots and remind us of our relationship to the world and to nature. The remedies can be seen in that context: not as something outmoded but as something eternally renewed and timeless.

The 38 remeides put us in touch with our higher, spiritual self – and in this way give us the freedom to develop at our own pace, whatever that pace may be, in perfect freedom from our ego’s greed for immediate enlightenment.

Why doesn’t the Bach Centre support dowsing and kinesiology as ways of selecting remedies?

Dr Bach made his system simple and easy to understand. He wanted people from all walks of life to use by as a way of healing themselves.

When a practitioner uses the basic consultation technique for selecting remedies – which amounts to listening to what the client has to say – this is something that everyone can understand. Once the client sees that the remedies are chosen on the basis of how he feels and the sort of person he is, then he can go on treating himself in the future.

When dowsing, kinesiology or any other mechanical or purely intuitive selection method is used this introduces a barrier. Most people do not know how to dowse or muscle-test, so they feel obliged to go back to the practitioner every time they want to select a remedy.

Also, if the dowsing etc. works it will go straight to the heart of the problem before the client is necessarily ready to go that far. This means that self-knowledge, which is one of the aims of using with the remedies, is never attained properly.

We believe growth should go at the client’s speed, not the practitioner’s, and this is why all practitioners registered with the Bach Centre have signed a Code of Practice which commits them to select remedies using the classic interview technique that Dr Bach preferred.

Why doesn’t the Bach Centre approve the use of other flower essence systems?

Dr Bach wanted his work to be kept simple so that everyone could use it. Before he died he warned that attempts would be made to change his work and make it more complicated, and his assistants promised always to uphold the simplicity and purity of his methods.

We believe the 38 remedies are enough when used in combination to treat every conceivable range of human emotions. This is why the current team at the Centre continue to work only with the 38 remedies in the original system.

This isn’t a criticism of other flower remedy systems; everything useful will find its place. But we believe the simplicity of the original system is something worth preserving.

What promises do Bach Foundation Registered Practitioners make regarding how they work?

The full answer to this lies in reading the full Code of Practice, but a short summary of the main points is that BFRPs promise to:

  • Work with the remedies using Dr Bach’s own methods
  • Present the 38 remedies as a separate system – i.e. not confuse it with other approaches to health, including other flower essence systems
  • Teach their clients how to use the remedies for themselves
  • Talk about and use the remedies in a simple, straightforward way

All of these promises reflect Dr Bach’s ideals of self-help and simplicity.

I’ve read things Dr Bach wrote about helpers and healers and possible links between remedies and astrology. Why doesn’t the Bach Centre talk about these things or republish these writings of Dr Bach?

Dr Bach considered many theories and ideas during his career and wrote notes, articles, and letters on them. But at every stage of his work, he was keen to leave behind anything that was no longer relevant.

For example, he discontinued the use of succussion in preparing remedies. Investigated and discounted links between remedy types and astrology. Gave up diagnosis by physical symptom, and abandoned as unnecessary the idea of different remedies working on different planes.

He could be quite emphatic about such excess baggage! When he decided to leave London in 1930 and devote himself to flower remedies. He made a bonfire and burned all his outdated pamphlets and papers. Later, at Mount Vernon, when the system was finished, he built a further bonfire in the garden to destroy what he referred to as ‘scaffolding’.

In the same vein, he issued strict instructions to his publishers to destroy old editions of The Twelve Healers each time that a new edition was ready for the press. He didn’t want old editions republished. This is because they contained remedy descriptions and concepts that he no longer used in his work. He felt that these discarded ideas would be seized on by people who might look to complicate the system.

The Bach Centre’s role was set out in a letter Dr Bach sent to Victor Bullen shortly before his death. ‘Our work is steadfastly to adhere to the simplicity and purity of this method of healing,’ he wrote.

We try to remain true to our founder’s wishes. Books like The Original Writings of Edward Bach, published with our blessing, are presented as historical documents. With the context explained and old remedy descriptions edited out, as Dr Bach wanted.

Despite our efforts, older versions of The Twelve Healers were republished in the 1980s and are now widely available. As Dr. Bach predicted these out-of-date concepts are occasionally referred to by writers and Bach therapists, and not always in a proper historical context. All we can do is point to the system as Dr Bach left it and remind people that the finished system is more perfect – and far simpler – than its earlier incarnations.

How can 38 remedies cover all known states of mind?

A useful analogy is with the world of colour. There are only three basic colours (red, blue yellow), yet every visible colour can be produced when they are combined.

In the same way there are 38 basic states of mind. Combining them gives hundreds of millions of variations.

Has the efficacy of the remedies been proven scientifically?

When Dr Bach entrusted his work to Nora and Victor, and in so doing set up the Bach Centre. He instructed them to keep their lives simple and their work with the remedies simple as well. We don’t see it as our role to ‘prove’ that the remedies work. Instead we simply demonstrate how to use them and let people prove the effect on themselves.

Having said that, people have done studies on the remedies over the years. All of them are of limited value due to their small scale and, sometimes, significant methodological inconsistencies.

Here are some links to research and writings about research published since 2000: