Bach flower remedies are tinctures of water and wild plant extracts. While there is no evidence that these are effective, some people use these remedies as alternative or complementary therapies.

Edward Bach, a doctor and homeopath, believed that energy from flowers and plants could reduce negative emotions. In the early 1900s, he created these remedies as a way to improve well-being.

He compiled a list of 38 flowers and trees and ascribed a mental health use for each.

For example, he claimed that impatiens could decrease impatience, and willow could decrease resentment. However, there is no evidence showing that these remedies actually work.

Read on to learn about Bach remedies, how they purport to work, and more.

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Edward Bach developed the flower remedies in the 1920s and 1930s. According to a 2010 review article, Bach claimed that negative states of mind, such as fear and anxiety, are the cause of most illnesses. Although modern medicine has clearly shown this is not the case, the remedies were popular treatments in the early 1900s.

Bach identified 38 plants that he believed contained energy that could alleviate negative emotions.

To make the remedies, he would place fresh flowers or plants into natural spring water. He would then expose this mixture to light or boil it. Finally, he would filter the liquid — to yield the “mother tincture” — and mix it with brandy, which acted as a preservative.

Older research from 2009 provides the below information on Bach flower and plant essences and their purported uses. They include the following:

agrimonymental pain behind a cheerful face
aspenfear of unknown things
beechperfectionism or intolerance
centazryinability to say no
ceratolack of trust in one’s choices
cherry plumfear of losing control
chestnut budinability to learn from mistakes
chicorypossessive love or selfishness
crab applepoor body image
gorsedespair and hopelessness
hollyenvy and jealousy
honeysuckleliving in the past
hornbeamtiredness or procrastination
larchfear of failure
mimulusshyness or nervousness
mustarddeep gloom
oakgoing past the point of exhaustion
oliveexhaustion following physical or mental effort
pineself-blame or guilt
red chestnutexcessive concern for the welfare of loved ones
rock rosenightmares
rock waterself-repression or self-denial
scleranthusinability to choose
star-of-Bethlehemloss, trauma, shock, or bereavement
sweet chestnutextreme mental anguish
vervainperfectionism or over-enthusiasm
vineinflexibility and dominance
walnutprotection from change
water violetaloofness and pride
white chestnutunable to concentrate
wild oatuncertainty over one’s direction in life
wild roseresignation or apathy
willowresentment and self-pity
rescue remedycombination of rock rose, star-of-Bethlehem, clematis, and cherry plum for emergencies to combat shock, panic, and fear

The remedies do not contain enough flower constituents for researchers to consider them pharmacologically relevant. This means any effect they have is likely a result of the placebo effect.

To evaluate the effectiveness of the remedies for relieving negative emotions, the authors of a 2010 review looked at seven clinical trials that explored their benefits. The groups of participants included people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and people with stress. An analysis of the results indicated that the remedies were not effective.

As the tinctures do not include any actual material from the plants, they are not likely to cause side effects.

However, the remedies contain brandy, so a person taking disulfiram (Antabuse) for alcohol use disorder should avoid them. People who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also not use the remedies.

Bach flower remedies date back to the 1920s and 1930s when the British doctor Edward Bach developed them. He believed that flowers and plants contain energy that can heal emotional issues.

Research does not indicate they are effective in alleviating negative emotions, and most research does not support their use.