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.
Read on to learn about Bach remedies, how they purport to work, and more.
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.
|agrimony||mental pain behind a cheerful face|
|aspen||fear of unknown things|
|beech||perfectionism or intolerance|
|centazry||inability to say no|
|cerato||lack of trust in one’s choices|
|cherry plum||fear of losing control|
|chestnut bud||inability to learn from mistakes|
|chicory||possessive love or selfishness|
|crab apple||poor body image|
|gorse||despair and hopelessness|
|holly||envy and jealousy|
|honeysuckle||living in the past|
|hornbeam||tiredness or procrastination|
|larch||fear of failure|
|mimulus||shyness or nervousness|
|oak||going past the point of exhaustion|
|olive||exhaustion following physical or mental effort|
|pine||self-blame or guilt|
|red chestnut||excessive concern for the welfare of loved ones|
|rock water||self-repression or self-denial|
|scleranthus||inability to choose|
|star-of-Bethlehem||loss, trauma, shock, or bereavement|
|sweet chestnut||extreme mental anguish|
|vervain||perfectionism or over-enthusiasm|
|vine||inflexibility and dominance|
|walnut||protection from change|
|water violet||aloofness and pride|
|white chestnut||unable to concentrate|
|wild oat||uncertainty over one’s direction in life|
|wild rose||resignation or apathy|
|willow||resentment and self-pity|
|rescue remedy||combination 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.