A Better Alternative: Bach Flower Remedies

Cocktail or healing concoction? Liz Barnard investigates the impact of flower-water-alcohol remedies on horses and humans alike.

As promised last week, this week I’m giving you all my take on Bach Flower Remedies.

First off, what the heck are they?

Developed by Edward Bach in the 1930s, the Flower Remedies are a sort of cross between herbs and homeopathy.  Based on the idea that dew drops from flowers could contain the healing properties of those flowers, each Flower Remedy is a solution of water that has been steeped in the plant material in the sun and alcohol.

Each of the 38 different remedies works on an emotional level.  From The Bach Centre:

The Bach remedies don’t treat physical complaints directly. Instead they help by treating the negative emotional states that provoke or worsen illnesses.

This means the way to select the correct remedies is always to think about the sort of person you are and about your current emotional state, and forget the physical symptoms.”

Wikipedia explains further:

Bach flower remedies are not dependent on the theory of successive dilutions, and are not based on the Law of Similars of Homeopathy. The Bach remedies, unlike homeopathic remedies, are all derived from non-toxic substances, with the idea that a ‘positive energy’ can redirect or neutralize ‘negative energy.’ ”

The scientific evidence weighs in about the same as in homeopathy.  A few trials looked promising, but when placed under scrutiny they don’t hold up.  From an experimental standpoint, the Bach Flower Remedies seem no different from a placebo.

All the research I did showed the only possible side effect would be a reaction to the alcohol used to preserve the remedy.  If you put the drops on the tongue, the alcohol taste is quite strong (I did try it).  It is also accepted to dilute the drops in a glass of water.  However, for a horse this may not be quite as practical.

Over the weekend I did my own little experiment with the Rescue Remedy®.  I gave four drops per the directions on the tongue of my three-year-old gelding Saturday morning before riding him in a clinic.  He has about 45 rides on him, maybe.  The clinic was held at the same arena where he was started.  Although the location was familiar to him, there were many more horses working in the arena than he had been accustomed to, and most of them were not horses he was familiar with.

Due to other commitments, I was only able to ride for half the day on Saturday.  For the most part, he was as focused as he has been at home and did not seem too concerned about the other horses.

I rode the whole day on Sunday, but didn’t give him any drops of the Rescue Remedy® that day.  While he worked well and did great for his first time working cattle, he was much more concerned with the comings and goings of the other horses than he had been the day before.

There were a few other things that were different between Saturday and Sunday – the first day I had hauled another horse in and left her tied by the arena.  It may be that she gave him a little more sense of security.  I left her at home on Sunday; maybe her presence had helped to settle him more than I thought.  Or, maybe the drops of the Rescue Remedy® had made some difference.

I paid a little over $20 with tax for the bottle I found.  In my little trial, it certainly showed some promise.  I cannot be positive that those four drops were the difference in his focus, but it could not have hurt.

At this point, I don’t know that I would recommend the whole system to anyone: Again, the science doesn’t support any purported effectiveness.  However, since I have a bottle of the Rescue Remedy®, I’m likely to try it a few more times.  Most likely on the horses and on myself.  If it helps, it helps.  If not, I’m out twenty bucks.

Photo via flickr.com user hjw223

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