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Learning to use and prescribe flower remedies

No two people are identical. We may share similar physical characteris­tics, behavioural tendencies and personality traits but deep down each of us is unique. Our individuality determines the ways in which we cope with and react to any kind of stress in our lives.

Two people may exhibit typical symptoms associated with a frazzled nervous system. Each may be anxious, irritable, on edge and suffering from sleeping problems, indigestion and butterflies in the stomach, but each will be this way for entirely different reasons. One may be going through a marriage break-up while the other may be experiencing a conflict at work. Delve deeper and it will become clear that their problems arise from a certain personality trait or a particular behavioural pattern. For this reason it is essential to treat each person as a unique whole, rather than just addressing his or her symptoms or illness. The beauty of flower essences is that they help us to become aware of elements in our nature which are undermining our sense of well­being. They do not work on us, but with us. They bring our attention to any imbalance that exists within, then lend their energetic sup­port so we can release it gently from our lives. In this way we can begin to take responsibility for our own health and happiness.



As you begin to use flower remedies, you will be embarking on an exciting adventure of self-discovery which will enable you to understand yourself, why you think and act in certain ways. As the remedies get to work your self-awareness will continue to grow, bringing with it a new freedom to do whatever you wish in life.

In the Encyclopaedia section you will see that there are literally hundreds of flower essences from all over the world to choose from. Each is associated with particular qual­ities or properties. The real art lies in selecting the essences that are best for you. To do this you need to devote some time to thinking about yourself. This may sound narcissistic, but it is an essential part of self-healing.

Reflecting on your own personality is a good starting point. Although this is as indi­vidual as your thumbprint, there are certain personality traits or tendencies which prevail in human nature. These characteristics have a strong influence on how you handle and react to stress.


Dr Edward Bach identified 12 key personality traits, and the first flowers he searched for related to these:



Mental torture or worry

Indifference or boredom

Doubt or discouragement







Pride or aloofness

Take Impatiens, for example. As its name suggests, this flower is for people whose outstanding characteristic is impatience. They tend to rush around and are critical of other people's shortcomings. As a result they are prone to irritability, nervous tension, over-exertion and accidents.

In contrast, Clematis relates to quiet, dreamy, absent-minded people who are wrapped up in their own thoughts and fantasies. Their predominant characteristic is indifference. They tend to lack concentration and are susceptible to clumsiness and sleepiness.

Bach often saw human characteristics reflected in the plants themselves. In each flower family you will find remedies describing many permutations of the basic personality traits. Although some may seem very similar, if you read the descriptions carefully you will see there are subtle differences. You should look for flower essences whose qualities reflect the way in which you see yourself. The remedies will help to emphasize your positive characteristics while tempering negative tendencies which can lead you into trouble.

It is important to remember that such tendencies are not fixed. With the help of flower essences we can alter certain aspects of our personality for the better.

A welcome side-effect of cultivating your better qualities and tempering the less attractive ones is that your relationships with others will be easier and more fulfilling. Many people seem to end up in partnerships that begin beautifully but then, when the magic has faded, become unworkable. When you become truer to yourself, you will automatically draw to you the sort of people who possess qualities you genuinely admire and find attractive. All relationships, be they intimate or purely platonic, will be fun and mutually satisfying.

While personality affects the way we handle other people and life in general, our constitu­tion determines how resilient or susceptible we are to becoming ill. Constitution is best defined as temperament and state of health. It is your genetic inheritance which has been modified by experiences in life and the environment. While a strong constitution can with­stand considerable pressure without flagging, a weaker one is more susceptible to illness.

If, for example, all your grandparents died of old age and your parents have been healthy all their lives; if your mother was healthy throughout her pregnancy (she didn't smoke, drink, etc.), if your parents' marriage was happy and your birth uneventful, you should be blessed with a strong constitution.

If, on the other hand, your grandparents died at early ages of cancer or heart disease, one of your parents had tuberculosis as a child and the other suffered from asthma and eczema, then your chances of inheriting a weak constitution are far greater.

Take heart, you can still escape the worst of a poor inheritance if your parents were happily married, they took good care of their health and brought you up with plenty of love and a nourishing diet.

Similarly, you may have inherited a potentially strong constitution but if your parents were always arguing and your emotional needs were neglected, your susceptibility to illness will have increased.

In any case, there is no reason to feel lumbered with a flimsy constitution. Flower essences can improve your resilience to every sort of illness in two ways. First, certain essences help to eliminate, at the vibrational level, the inherited genetic weaknesses known as miasms (see Chapter 3). Secondly, they can clear away the residual effects of any past traumas as well as the long, slow shock of, for instance, an unhappy childhood, which may have weakened your inherent constitution.


Making your own case history is a good way of finding out why you are not feeling as well as you could be.

You should list any physical symptoms and psychological problems you would like to treat. These are signs that your mind, body and spirit are out of balance, so it is important to write them all down, no matter how trivial some may seem. They are an expression of need, a call for help from your body.

A thorough case history should take into account your personality, constitution, stress - both past and present - to help you to recognize any underlying patterns.

In addition to noting any symptoms you have at present, it is important to consider your health as a child. Systems that are inherently weak often show up quite early in life. If you frequently caught colds, or suffered from sore throats or ear infections which were treated with antibiotics, your immune system is likely to be a weak area. An allergy to dust mites, pollens or certain foods is another tell-tale sign. Such immune system weakness does not go away on its own accord although your symptoms may shift to give you that impression.

When a weakness in one system exists, others will compensate for it. Over the years these systems may also begin to exhibit symp­toms of upset because they have been overworked or over-loaded. Adding stress of any kind may precipitate or exacerbate such symptoms because stress plays on any inherent weakness. If you are not sure what your symptoms are telling you, refer to Chapter 6 to discover which systems may not be functioning as well as they should.


Name Date

Age Date of birth

Occupation Marital status



Health problems of a) mother b) father

Illnesses running in the family

Your health as a child

Your health problems as an adult

Past operations, accidents, injuries

If you are a mother, how did you feel during your pregnancy?

Birth - was it trouble free or difficult?


Write down as many different personality traits -good and bad - you can think of that best describe you. For example:

- are you impatient or easy going?

- do you prefer to be alone or crave the company of others?

Be as honest and, if possible, ask someone whom you trust and respect to comment on your character assessment.


Stress levels at home

- low (not noticeable)

- moderate (manageable)

- high (struggling to cope)

- excessive (not coping)

Stress levels at work

- low (not noticeable)

- moderate (manageable)

- high (struggling to cope)

- excessive (not coping)


- past

- present

Assess your energy levels

- plentiful

- sufficient

- lacking

- totally drained

Best time of the day

Worst time of the day

Do you smoke?

Do you drink alcohol?

If so how often and how much?

Are you taking or have you recently taken prescribed meditation?


Alcohol sugar/sweet foods

tobacco chocolate

coffee tea



With your mother father

Spouse or partner Children


Physical - do you suffer from recurring health problems?

If so list symptoms, for example: colds and flu (how often, seasonal or consistent throughout the year)

- headaches

- digestive problems

- poor circulation

- poor elimination

- sleeping difficulties

- breathing difficulties

- blood pressure (high or low?)

For women only - describe your menstrual cycle. Are your periods regular, do you experience any pain, pre-menstrual symptoms, mood swings, any other abnormalities?

Mental - do you have difficulty thinking clearly?

If so, list problems, for example:

poor concentration weak memory

mental fatigue absent-mindedness

forgetfulness learning difficulties

mental chatter

Emotional - do you feel emotionally calm and content?

If not, list your predominant feelings, for example:

anger confusion

lack of confidence depression

irritability mood swings

tearfulness night fears

Spiritual - are you happy with and feel in control of your life?

If not, list reasons why, for example:

feeling unfulfilled or empty

not knowing which path to follow

confusion about beliefs

disillusionment with life and others


Give each subject a score of between 0 and 10

0 = no problem 10 = serious problem

Stress Trauma

Sleep Health

Fear Self-esteem

Thoughts Emotions

Life changes State of energy

Outside influences Childhood

Motivation Sexuality

Fulfilment Crisis

Relationships Other



By now you may be wondering how many different flower essences you are going to need to deal with your problems.

Go through your personal case history again and underline those symptoms that stand out clearly and strongly. It is best to leave vague and unclear symptoms alone for the moment - you may refer to them later if you cannot make up your mind about which is the most appropriate remedy for you. If you are new to taking flower essences, begin with your psychological and physical symptoms before attempting to deal with any spiritual issues.

Chapter 7 discusses in some detail the different emotional and spiritual symptoms that can indicate the deeper cause of any imbal­ance or problem you may be experiencing. The Ailment Chart (Chapter 5), too, will show you at a glance which essences are indicated for a whole variety of physical, psychological and spiritual problems.

If, for instance, you are suffering from insomnia you will see 10 essences listed in the Ailment Chart. Taking each one in turn, refer to the Encyclopaedia section where you will find a fuller description of the essence. You may end up with just one or two that are best suited to your particular type of insomnia.


Read the essence descriptions and determine which ones feel right for you. If you are not entirely sure, follow your intuition. Learn to recognize your instinctive 'yes' to some and 'no' to others. Usually certain essences will tend to catch your eye straight away. They are often flowers you naturally prefer. You may already have chosen them for your garden or they may be the kind you most often buy for your home. These may be the ones you will end up choosing for your combination.

Don't try choosing your essences when you are tired and confused. Come back to it when you are feeling more refreshed and relaxed. Taking a few drops of one of the Emergency or Rescue Remedies beforehand can help you calm down.


If you feel confident about using a pendulum you can dowse for your essences. Most people find they can become reasonably proficient with a little practice.

A pendulum can be anything from a ring to a quartz crystal on a thin chain or string. Its movements provide answers to the questions you choose to ask.

To dowse, hold your pendulum between your thumb and forefinger so that it hangs downwards. Swing it gently back and forth. With practice you will find that when you concentrate or think 'yes' the pendulum will start to move in one direction. When you change this to a 'no' it will start to move in another, probably the opposite direction. It may swing back and forth or in circles - there are no hard and fast rules.

Once you have your positive and negative responses when you ask your pendulum certain questions (such as "Is this an appropriate essence for me at this time?") it should give you either a yes or no. If it is indecisive, there may be no clear-cut answer.



Ideally you should select no more than seven flower essences for your personal prescription. These should be the ones you feel will be most helpful at this particular time.

When purchasing a flower essence from any supplier you will be getting what is known as the Stock Essence. This is a concentrated form which will need to be diluted to the proper dosage level to make your personal prescription. (Full directions for making up your personal prescription are given in Chapter 6.)



Self-healing is invariably a slow and gradual process, so it is important to be patient.

It may have taken many years for negative behavioural patterns or deeply ingrained emotional states to have become a part of your life, so you cannot expect them to vanish overnight. Similarly, physical problems do not appear without warning. Tiredness and mood changes are early warning signs that our internal balance is disturbed, and other symptoms will follow if we do not take stock of our current situation.

Flower essences are not magic bullets - they are subtle remedies which act as catalysts for change. Don't be concerned if you become more aware of your physical or emotional symptoms when you start the course of treatment. This is natural and shows that the remedies have begun their conversation with the blueprint. My clients often report that a part of them (the Higher Self) is watching the whole process, making them more aware of what their symptoms are telling them.

Often a physical condition or emotional state will clear, only for a deeper emotion to surface. This particular emotion may be associated with an earlier stressful experience or trauma in your life. It is often important to retrace your steps, as if going back in time in order to release that emotion, before you can move forward. This is nothing to be alarmed about. You will not have to relive the emotional intensity or pain of the experience. It is more like being a passive observer who remains detached from what is happening.

Those using the flower essences for physical and psychological problems may find that as time goes on they are drawn to the more spiritually-orientated remedies. It is rather like peeling back the petals of a rosebud until you finally get to the real source of your problems.



Flower essences are wonderful remedies for babies, young children, animals and even plants because they are so gentle and free from harmful side-effects. They are incredibly effective - and you do not necessarily have to believe in them to reap their benefits!

As babies and animals cannot say how they are feeling, you will have to use your intuition and read the signs to select the most appropriate flower essences. This is not difficult. After all, mothers instinctively know when their children are anxious, irritable, insecure, frustrated or angry.

For babies and young children you will find symptoms such as teething, restlessness, disturbed sleep, night terrors, temper tantrums and colic listed in the Ailment Chart (Chapter 5). Flower essences for these conditions are often best used individually. If you are making a combination, it is best to keep it simple - a mix of two or three flower essences is plenty. It is helpful, too, to have an all-purpose Emergency or Rescue Remedy (see page 80) on hand for minor accidents or traumas which end in tears, such as falling over or being given routine inoculations.

Pets and other animals can also benefit from being given flower essences, especially those that are deemed to be neurotic or aggressive. It is worth bearing in mind that most animals are very sensitive to the emotional states of their owners, so if you are giving remedies to your cat, dog or horse, it may be a good idea to take some yourself as well.

In the Himalayan Aditi Flower family (see pages 100-104) you will find specific remedies for plants, to aid their growth, reduce infection and minimize the shock of transplanting, pruning or any harm brought on by poor weather or accident.



It is important to get into the habit of taking a remedy regularly to reap its full benefits. Take two to three drops in the morning (on rising) and in the evening (on retiring). At these times your mind is usually most relaxed and receptive to the essences. It may be a good idea to keep your chosen remedy beside your bed so you remember to take it as you wake up and before you go to sleep.

Some people find it helpful to focus on the positive qualities of the essence and visualize their symptoms lifting as they take their remedy.

For severe cases you may need to take the remedy more frequently. In addition to your morning and evening dose, take another one at midday. If the symptoms become more intense or get worse - particularly those of a physical nature such as headaches or skin problems - double the number of drops you would normally take until they clear. Towards the end of the two-month treatment course you may find you need to take the essence less frequently. You may even forget to take it altogether, signifying that you no longer need that particular essence or combination of essences.



These flower essences are vibrational remedies, so the best way to experience their effects is to surround ourselves with them, both inside and out.


The traditional way of taking flower essences (diluted to the dosage level) is to drop them under the tongue. Placing them under the tongue seems to enhance their absorption. This method also hearkens back nicely to the way ancient healers would sip the dewdrops of flowers to cull their precious benefits.

  • Try to avoid letting the dropper touch your mouth, as this tends to create bacterial growth in the essence.
  • The drops can also be added to drinks such as herbal teas, spring water and juices, but on no account to coffee or tea.
  • You may dilute the remedies quite a bit. Rather like homeopathic remedies, flower essences are equally effective, if not more so, when they are very dilute.


Flower essences can also be beneficial when gently rubbed onto the skin. Good places to apply them are your forehead, lips, wrists, soles of the feet and palms of the hands.

This method is useful if someone is unable to take the essences by mouth. He or she may, for instance, be unconscious, in which case it may be helpful to give an emergency, first-aid essence to ease the state of shock (see page 211).

Another way to apply the flower essences is to add them, usually at Stock concentration, to compresses, body packs, creams, lotions, ointments and oils.

To enhance the effectiveness of a relaxing massage, add a few drops of one or two of the soothing flower essences to your body oil.

Good ones to try are Chamomile ( Cal ), Dandelion, Lavender ( Fes ), or Yellow Ginger (Haii).

Another idea is to add a few drops to your favourite moisturizer or skin cream, one you use every day. Some flower essences are particularly helpful for revitalizing and rejuvenating tired, ageing skin (see page 178).


You can create a remedy bath by adding a few drops of flower essence to your bath and soaking for up to 30 minutes. In these relaxing conditions the energy of the remedy is readily absorbed into the system.

Choose one that is most appropriate to your needs at that particular time. After a fraught day at work you may benefit from an essence to clear your mind and promote relaxation (such as White Chestnut , Chamomile [ Cal ], or Five Flower Rescue [Bach]). If in need of a morning pick-me-up, it is best to choose an essence that helps counter lethargy (such as Morning Glory [Cal; Haii]). A good way to enhance the benefits of the essences is to add a few handfuls of pure sea salt to the bath as it is running.

For a curative night-time treatment, add five drops of your personal prescription to the bath. Stay in the water for 30 minutes.


Splashing or spraying your body with flower essences (diluted with pure spring water) is an effective way of treating sensitive skin conditions such as eczema, cold sores, blisters, blemishes and surface grazes.

Add seven drops of essence to a bowl of spring water and, if possible, leave out in the sun for a day. Splash the potentized flower water onto the part of your body needing treatment and allow it to dry naturally. Alternatively you could use an atomizer to spray the diluted essences onto your skin.

For burns, insect stings, animal bites or cuts where there is an element of shock or trauma combine a few drops of an emergency/first-aid combination with an appropriate flower essence (see pages 211). Spray night and morning, or more frequently for shock.

Another way to benefit from the essences is to spray your clothes and pillow cases before ironing them. For those who have sleeping problems such as insomnia or nightmares, it may be a good idea to place a few drops of an essence on your pillow before going to bed. This can be particularly helpful for babies and children who have a tendency to wake during the night because of nightmares.


Spraying flower essences into the air is an excellent way to improve the atmosphere of any room. Add 4-5 drops to a 250-ml plant spray filled with still spring water and spray the mixture around the room every couple of hours.

Cleansing and protecting essences are beneficial for city environments as well as offices filled with cigarette smoke and chemicals given off by photocopiers and so forth (see page 180 of the Ailment Chart).

This method of using the flower essences is also recommended if you have a cold or influenza, as well as for breathing difficulties brought on by asthma or hay-fever. An essence for boosting the immune system can help to protect you from infection if a bacterial or viral epidemic has broken out in your place of work. Some essences are particularly helpful for improving the general atmosphere. (See pages 209-10)



It is important to remember that these remedies are pure energy. They are activated and will start to work on your energy system the moment the combination is made up and the spring water is added.

Being "vibrationally alive", they are highly susceptible to negative influences in the environment. Always store the essences in tinted glass dropper bottles to protect them from sunlight. Keep them away from any electrical- or radiation-emitting appliance such as a television, radio or computer.

Don't leave them on your dressing table or in your medicine cabinet next to prescribed medication, essential oils, perfume or herbs. If stored in these conditions the liquid may go cloudy, or a mucus-type substance or tiny specks of impurities may form. If this happens, throw it away.

The best place to keep your personal prescription is beside your bed, provided again it is not sharing a space with a clock-radio or other appliance!


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The Practitioner's ENCYCLOPEDIA
of Flower Remedies

The definitive practical guide to their making & uses

by Clare G Harvey

LIVING BETTER: Flower Essences
a new book of remedies & inspirations for well-being

by Clare G Harvey