Nature's Healing Miracle: Flower Remedies
by Dr. Gaia J. Mather Naturopathic Physician
My friend is one of those people who is entirely convinced that animals are incapable of expressing emotions. "Listen," I tell her, "just because my dog can't speak doesn't mean that he isn't capable of expressing emotions." His high pitched bark and body gyrations when he greets me at the door clearly say," I am soooo glad to see you!!" This is just as much an expression of joy as when I see him running through the park head up and tail held high. The mailman has no doubt about the angry bark of a dog who is saying, "You come onto my property buster and I'll have you for lunch!" For those of us who feel a deep connection with our pets, we have experienced their joy, their love, their grief, their anger and all of their other emotions.
Like a child who is happy, healthy and contented a pet who is healthy and contented is a joy to be around. But when health issues or other problems create a state of mind that is unhappy, our lives and the lives of our pet's can be miserable. What do you do, when Roscoe gets so anxious each time you leave that he chews up the furniture? Or how do you recapture the innocent playfulness of your sweet kitty when she is grieving the loss of her older pet companion? Some have resorted to the equivalent of "Pet Prozac" to alleviate the troublesome symptoms. However, similar to their human counterparts, these drugs may alleviate anxiety and other problems but leave your pet with unwanted side effects. Help for you and your pet may be closer and easier than you think. As a Naturopathic physician, I have used homeopathic remedies and flower essences over the years with remarkable results for both the physical and emotional problems of my patients. Both of these natural treatment methods work upon the principle, "like cures like". If a certain substance, given in a sufficiently large quantity, can produce symptoms in a healthy person, the same substance given in a minute dose can cure the same symptoms. For instance, if you cut up an onion, what happens? Your eyes tear and burn and your nose may run. If a person came to me with hay fever symptoms similar to these, I may give them the homeopathic remedy Allium cepa (red onion) to neutralize the symptoms.
Flower essences are like a cousin to homeopathic remedies, however, they work mainly on the emotional level. Dr. Edward Bach, a British physician and researcher (1886-1936), studied homeopathy in his quest to relieve the suffering of his patients. But not being entirely satisfied with a system of medicine which sometimes uses toxic substances (although in minute doses), he looked to the flowers of the field to find cures which were entirely gentle. He believed that all disease manifests first on the mental (thought) and emotional levels before becoming physical. And so he sought remedies which gently treated the source of all illness, which he supposed to be the mental and emotional imbalances.
Dr. Bach was so sensitive that he could pick a flower, hold it in his hand, and feel the healing properties of the flower. He soon became aware that the dew, when touched by the sun's rays, concentrated the healing potential of the flowers. Unable to collect sufficient amounts of dew for his experiments, he resorted to gathering fresh flowers, setting them in bowls of spring water and allowing the sun's rays to shine upon the flowers, imparting the healing properties to the water. To this day, the same technique is used to produce the Bach Flower Essences in England. The flower essence water is then prepared homeopathically and preserved with a small amount of brandy before bottling. Before his death in 1936, Dr. Bach researched and produced a total of 39 flower essences - 38 single flower essences and one combination remedy made up of several flower essences, called Rescue Remedy. Each flower essence has a specific emotional "flavor" associated with it. For instance, Impatiens is used for those who are impatient. Other attributes may be found along with impatience - such as irritability and nervousness. The Larch personality lacks self-confidence, which can lead to discouragement and depression. Vine is for the domineering and inflexible personality. The remedies can be used individually or mixed in combination with each other. It is generally not recommended to mix more than 5 or 6 remedies together at one time.
Perhaps the most widely used Bach flower essence is the Rescue Remedy. It is a combination of five separate remedies: Impatiens, Star of Bethlehem, Cherry Plum, Rock Rose and Clematis. Rescue Remedy is used during times of trauma, fright, shock, severe emotional distress, etc. I have used this with great success with animals who are traveling, moving, after accidents or surgery, after the loss of a pet or human companion, when bringing new animals into a pet's established home, even when adding new fish to my fish tank! Pets who have separation anxiety, who bark or dig (or you name it), while the owner is gone may respond very well to the use of Rescue Remedy. It can help to prevent shock in cases of injury and accident. I have also seen it used to quicken healing after giving birth. If your pet has been injured, first contact your veterinarian to determine the best action to take. Then, as soon as possible dilute 4 drops of Rescue Remedy into a small glass of water. Administer small amounts by mouth frequently to your pet (by spoon, or dropper, or by dipping your finger into the liquid and having the animal lick your finger). Never give liquids by mouth to anyone that is unconscious. If your pet is unconscious you can lightly moisten the lips, nose and pads. I keep a one-ounce bottle with distilled water and several drops of Rescue Remedy in my refrigerator at all times in case of emergency.
Rescue Remedy cream can be used for external applications to speed up healing of bites, stings, minor burns, sprains and mild lacerations. It is also used after surgery once the dressings are removed to aid in healing. It has been used to successfully treat cases of eczema that worsen with stress. I have even heard of Rescue Remedy cream being used on newborns who are struggling to make the transition into this world. Rescue Remedy can be used for all pets, from birds to cats, dogs, ferrets, horses - even fish! You can even use it to help transplanted trees and plants thrive. In discovering his 39 flower essences, Dr. Edward Bach truly fulfilled his goal of finding a gentle yet effective way to bring people into a greater balance of health. And those of us who love animals have found the Bach flower remedies to be an invaluable tool in assisting our friends to better health. I hope you will discover for yourself and your animal companions the incredible healing benefits of the Bach flower essences.
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