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Frequently-asked questions

We find that the same questions seem to come up over and over again when people are
talking about the remedies. So we are putting together a list of the most frequently-asked
questions to help people find the answers more quickly. If you can't find the answer you
want here then you can always contact us for a personal reply.

Help with using the remedies

What should I take to help my asthma?

Bach Flower Remedies don't treat physical complaints directly. However, asthma is often
triggered by stress, and as the remedies treat negative emotional states they may well be
useful. But the way to select them is always to think about the sort of person you are and
about your current emotional state, and forget the physical symptoms.

Where can I find an accredited Bach practitioner?


How does one use a remedy? Drink it? Sniff it? Apply it to the skin?

The remedies come as a liquid, preserved in brandy. To take them, you dilute two drops
of each remedy that you need into a 30ml dropper bottle, top up with mineral water, and
take four drops four times a day. Alternatively you can put the two drops into a glass of
water, and sip from that at intervals.

I have heard that the remedies work faster if you don't dilute them. Is this true?

There is no difference in potency or speed of effect between taking the four drops from a
treatment bottle and taking neat stock remedy. The brandy in the stock bottle will
however taste stronger and this psychologically may give the impression that the essences
are stronger. This isn't the case.
Is it safe to take the remedies if you are pregnant? I am not at the moment but am
hoping to be in the months ahead, and I know the remedies have brandy in them.

Yes, it is safe; but if you have any worries on this score we would always advise that you
talk to your doctor or midwife.

As for the alcohol, the small amount that you take when you take a remedy should not be
a problem - although again ask your doctor if you are in doubt.

How soon does Rescue Remedy take effect? How soon do the other remedies make a

Rescue Remedy usually works quite quickly, because it is taken for emergency situations
rather than deep-rooted problems. The other remedies can also work quickly, but if you
are dealing with something that has been around a long time then it can take weeks or
even months to see a real difference.

I know that is correct to put maximum five remedies in the same bottle.But I want
to know what is the right thing to do if someone needs more than five remedies? Is it
right to put the extra remedies in another bottle and take them alternatively? What
do you suggest?

In fact it's quite usual to give six or seven remedies together at the same time, and this is
the maximum we suggest people work with. Dr Bach is known to have given nine
remedies together on two occasions, but remember he was seeing thousands of people
over a period of many years.

It's quite common for people to feel they need many more than this number - 12, 15, 20
remedies or more. The answer to this is not to make up two treatment bottles with say, six
remedies in each, but instead to get the number of remedies down to six or seven. The
way to do this is to think about how you feel now and treat that. So if your twelve
remedies include five that are really for things you felt yesterday or last week or ten years
ago, then those are the ones you can leave out at this stage. Treat the main feelings you
have now, and when the remedies have dealt with these you can then move on to the
issues that were in the background.

What is the likelihood of reactions and rashes, eg to Star of Bethlehem, Crab Apple,
and how are they caused?

The Bach Flower Remedies work by flooding out negative feelings and emotions.
Sometimes the emotions that are dealt with have been repressed for some time and in
order to clear them they have to be cleansed from the system. On very rare occasions this
can take the form of a rash, or unexpected feelings may be stirred up. Where such things
do occur they can be disregarded and there is no reason to stop taking the remedies.
Are there other ready-mixed remedies apart from Rescue Remedy?
The only ready-mixed remedy is the Rescue Remedy, which was prepared by Dr Bach to
cover all the usual reactions people would have to crises and emergencies. But it was
intended as an emotional first-aid kit and not as a quick replacement for the 38 individual
remedies, so after the immediate crisis is over the correct thing to do is to look at the
individual response rather than go on giving Rescue Remedy indefinitely.

In the same way it would be quite wrong to, for example, make up a mixture for everyone
preparing for an examination or for everyone who felt depressed, because no two people
will ever react in exactly the same way and the most effective help is always to select
remedies for the individual rather than generalising.

Someone said I should take Star of Bethlehem at the same time as Rescue Remedy. I
thought Star of Bethlehem was one of the things in Rescue Remedy, so why should I
take both?

Rescue Remedy is a crisis remedy - something ready to hand when things have gone
wrong. So if you have just received bad news you might take Rescue because it's more
likely to be in your pocket. Then if it appeared that the shock was the outstanding
emotion you might switch to Star of Bethlehem alone. You could take both right away - it
wouldn't do any harm - but Rescue alone would be sufficient for the initial crisis.
An occasion where you might take both, perhaps mixed in a treatment bottle, is if you
were suffering from regular panic attacks (Rescue Remedy) and could these back to a
trauma in the past (Star of Bethlehem). There would then be clear indications for both

Generally speaking you should think of Rescue Remedy as a single remedy with its own
indications, rather than as a mix of five remedies.

I'm using Rescue Cream for a finger with ezcema. At the moment it's got worse -
should I stop using it?

Some ezcemas do not respond well to any cream. If the Rescue Cream is making it worse
stop using the cream and instead add Rescue Remedy and Crab Apple to water and use
that to clean the area a couple of times a day.

I am thinking about taking Vervain for muscle tension - would that be a wise

Vervain is for people who are over-enthusiastic about what they do, or get wrapped up in
causes and fighting for principles, or have a burning desire for justice. All of these things
can leave them unable to switch off and relax. If that is the cause of your muscle tension
then Vervain is the right remedy. But if muscle tension is actually caused by fear, for
example, then Aspen or Mimulus are the remedies to choose.
If impatience is the reason, the you need Impatiens. If you are tense because you drive
yourself too hard you might need Oak or Rock Water or Elm. In other words, the way to
decide on your remedy is to ignore the physical symptom - the muscle tension - and look
only at how you feel about things and the type of person you are.

How would you determine which remedies are right for someone, if that person
were sitting with you?

Just by talking and listening. The key to selecting remedies is to ask how the person feels
right now (rather than yesterday or last year) and also to consider the type of person he or
she is. Then simply select the remedies that match.

For example, imagine someone who says that she is anxious about a job interview and is
displaying her anxiety by becoming irritated with her family whenever they don't do
things the way she would. The remedies would be Mimulus to deal with the anxiety and
fear, and Beech to deal with the intolerance.

I occassionally have fears during the night - of an imagined intruder or ghost, etc. -
which make it difficult for me to sleep. Is this Rock Rose, or Aspen, or both? My
fears include being afraid of the dark. Is this Aspen or Mimulus?

The answer is 'it depends'...

If you hear a noise and think that it might be an intruder, then that would be a known fear
and you would take Mimulus, or Rock Rose if you were truly terrified. But if the fear is
purely imaginary - you check the house and find nobody, but still feel afraid that
'something' is there - then that begins to be Aspen.

As for fear of the dark, that is a known fear and so indicates Mimulus. But again, part of
the fear could be fear of 'something' in the dark, or of something that you cannot name
happening to you while you cannot see - and again that is an Aspen fear.

In practice it may be right to take both at once, since elements of both fear can be present
at the same time.

I'm looking for help in clarifying my understanding of the remedy Sweet Chestnut.
How does the depression of Sweet Chestnut compare to that of Mustard? And how
does it compare to the hopelessness of Gorse and Gentian's lack of faith?

Gentian is for a mild despondency after a setback. For example, you might have applied
for a job and failed to get it. You say 'I might as well give up' - but then, with a heavy
heart, you fill in another application form for a different job.
Gorse is when you feel very pessimistic. Something has gone wrong and you decide to
give up because there is no point trying again. To use the same example, you apply for a
job and fail to get it. In a Gorse state you say 'that's it, I give up' and tear up the other
application form.

Sweet Chestnut is a different thing altogether. Dr Bach listed Gentian and Gorse in his
'Uncertainty' group, because in both instances the problem is not genuine despair but
rather a lack of faith. If only Gentian and Gorse were more certain of their success they
would not be depressed at all. The Sweet Chestnut state comes when all avenues really
are closed off. Imagine someone who has tried and tried to get a job. All the time he is out
of work the rent remains unpaid. His wife and children are starving. He has no money to
travel to an interview and his clothes are too ragged for him to get work in any case. Then
the bailiffs arrive to kick them out of the house. This is absolute despair, the dark night of
the soul, when all possible ways forward are cut off. Even suicide would not be a solution
because it would mean abandoning his wife and children.

When you look at Sweet Chestnut like this you can see at once the clear difference
between it and Gentian and Gorse.

Finally, Mustard is the remedy for when everything in life is fine but we still feel gloomy,
as if there is a cloud hanging over us. To use the same example, you might have actually
got the job that you really want. You should be excited, but your spirits are low. When
people say 'why are you so down?' you can only shrug your shoulders.

Can you take Bach Flower Remedies in tea, coffee and so on?

You can put the remedies in tea, coffee, fizzy drinks etc., and in this respect they are not
like homoeopathic remedies.

I would like to know if I can place the remedy drops into hot drinks without
destroying their healing properties.

Yes, you can put the drops into hot drinks - water, tea, coffee etc. This will not affect the
potency of the remedies, and because the heat will evaporate the alcohol in the remedies it
is a method we sometimes recommend to people who for one reason or another dislike
the alcohol content.

A couple of months ago I dropped a bottle of Rescue and the glass broke into two
pieces near the top, but the liquid stayed inside. I've kept it like this, covered but of
course the air can go in. Is is still usable?

The air won't spoil the remedy, though the brandy might start to taste less pleasant... the
only concern I'd have would be over splinters of glass. The best thing would be to filter
the remedy into a spare treatment bottle. An ordinary coffee filter will do.
I have heard that if you take Pine for too long you will experience the negative state
of Pine.

This is not true. The remedies are entirely positive and cannot under any circumstances
cause the negative state to appear.

Do you need to add alcohol to a treatment bottle?

The standard way of mixing the remedies into a treatment bottle is to put two drops of
each selected remedy into an empty 30ml dropper bottle, and then top this up with still
mineral water. If you keep this cool - preferably in the fridge - and if you are careful not
to let the dropper touch your tongue, then the water will stay fresh for the two to three
weeks that the treatment bottle will last.

You only need to add alcohol if the bottle will not be kept cool - if, say, you intend to
carry it about in your pocket all the time. The only reason you need the alcohol is to help
stop the water from going off. A teaspoon of brandy - about 5mls - is enough for this
purpose. Alternatively you can use cider vinegar or vegetable glycerine.

When does one stop taking the remedies?

When the problem that is being treated has gone. There is no need to continue taking
them in case it comes back and of course no need to wean oneself off the remedies
gradually, as you have to do with some conventional drugs like steroids and beta-
blockers. Nor do you need to take a complete course of doses over a specific number of
days, as you do with antibiotics.

If things get worse once you start taking a the remedies, should you stop taking
them or continue?

The Bach Flower Remedies do not cause side-effects or aggravations, but it may be that
the remedies are stirring up repressed feelings that need to be cleansed before complete
healing can be achieved. If you feel this is the case then you can look to see if there is a
need for any other remedies instead of or as well as the ones you are currently taking.
Where things are getting worse in spite of the remedies this may mean one of two things.
Either the remedies have not yet had time to work (two or more months or even years of
regular dosage may be needed to deal with deep-rooted problems) or the selection was

In any case, the remedies will not themselves cause any symptoms or problems that are
not already in you and are entirely beneficient in their effects. This means that there is no
need to stop taking the remedies, and even if the wrong ones are being taken this only
means that they will not improve things - they will never make them worse.
Is it always better to select as few remedies as possible?

In a sense it is better to select fewer remedies. The normal guideline is to try to use no
more than six or seven at a time, since experience has shown that more than this number
is hardly ever necessary if a little thought goes into the selection process. Taking more
remedies than are actually needed means that the focus is lost, and the ones that are
necessary will not work as well or quickly as they might otherwise have done.

However, it is not true that three remedies are always better than four, or that the ideal
treatment is a single remedy: if six (or eight, or even nine) remedies really are necessary,
that is how many you should take.

Are there any combinations of remedies that should never be used?

No. Even the remedies that might appear to be direct opposites (Vervain and Wild Rose,
for example, or Vine and Centaury) may occasionally be needed at once by the same
person. It all depends on the personality and current emotional states of the person being

Is it safe to take the Bach Flower Remedies if you are a recovering alcoholic, given
the brandy content?

If the remedies are mixed into treatment bottles and taken four drops at a time in the
approved way the amount of alcohol taken in is actually very small. Nevertheless, taking
even a minute quantity of alcohol may have a psychological impact on someone who has
decided to give up completely. In addition there is a very powerful drug (known as
Antabuse) which causes a violent reaction in someone drinking even a tiny quantity of
alcohol. For both these reasons it is best in these circumstances to consult your qualified
medical practitioner before taking the remedies.

When you do so you might explain the dilution process and mention that if the remedies
are dropped into a hot drink most of the alcohol will evaporate, and it is of course
possible to administer the remedies externally by rubbing them on the pulse points. But if
in doubt, ask for advice.

Is the effectiveness of Bach Flower Remedies affected if they are stored near
aromatherapy oils?

No. The brandy used to preserve the remedies may be affected and may taste a little
strange, but the actions of the remedies are not affected in any way.

Are the remedies adversely affected by going through x-ray machines and so on?

Why not mix all the remedies together and have a single mix for every problem?

This was an idea suggested in Dr Bach's day, and he did in fact try this but found that it
simply didn't work. The simplest and most direct path was the one he recommended - in
other words, selection of a few remedies according to the personality and emotional state.

Why is it four drops of Rescue Remedy and two drops of everything else?

Rescue Remedy is a composite remedy and contains fewer drops of each individual
mother tincture than a single stock bottle would. So in order to get the right amount of the
remedy the dose is doubled.

Why is it two drops in treatment bottles and in a glass of water - surely the person
taking the glass of water will get more remedy?

This is true, but the amount of remedy is not important as long as the minimum dose is
taken - and the minimum dose is the amount you get if you take four drops from a
treatment bottle. When putting the remedies in a glass of water you are taking more than
you need, but by putting in two drops you can be sure that even if one drop sticks to the
side of the glass you will have enough remedy in the water for it to be effective. It also
means that you can sip from a glass of water without worrying about how big the glass is
or how much water is in it (see below) or how much of the water you have drunk, because
even a few sips from the largest glassful will give you the minimum dose.

I get so confused how many drops to take out of different sizes of bottle. Help!
You always take two drops out of a single remedy stock bottle, whether you are putting it
in your mouth or in a glass or in a treatment bottle. You always take four drops out of
Rescue Remedy, again whether you are putting it in your mouth or in a glass or in a
treatment bottle. And you always take four drops out of a mixed treatment bottle. Simple!

Buying things

How do I get hold of the Bach Flower Remedies?


Can I order the remedies direct from the Bach Centre through the internet?
We don't export remedies directly from the Bach Centre: the place here is too small to
cope with the work involved. Instead we operate through official national distributors.
How can I be sure I'm buying genuine Bach Flower Remedies, made by the Bach

The way to tell the real Bach Flower Remedies is to look for the Bach signature on the
label, and the logo of a flower in a circle.

How do I get hold of the Bach Centre's Newsletter?

Even easier!

Theory, belief, research

Bach Flower Remedies were fine in the '30's - but don't modern times call for
modern remedies?

It's true that times have changed and that we have new things to be afraid of, new
concerns, and new freedoms and responsibilities. People in Dr Bach's day did not have to
fear AIDS and nuclear warfare, or worry about global warming or campaign against
genetic engineering.

Does this mean that we need new remedies? We don't think it does, because the remedies
don't treat the triggers for our emotions but the emotions themselves. Fear is the same
now as it has always been; and so are love, understanding and kindness. We do not
believe that our emotions are somehow more complex than those of Shakespeare, Da
Vinci or Dante.

Also, it is worth noting that many of the best things about new age spirituality are actually
rebirths of old beliefs and practices. These bring us more in touch with our roots and
remind us of our relationship to the world, nature and God. The remedies can be seen in
that context: not as something somehow outmoded but as something eternally renewed
and timeless. They put us in touch with our higher, spiritual self - and in this way give us
the freedom to develop at our own pace, whatever that pace may be, in perfect freedom
from our ego's greed for immediate enlightenment.

Why doesn't the Bach Centre support dowsing and kiniesology as ways of selecting

Dr Bach made his system as simple and easy to use as possible. This was because he
wanted it to be used by people from all walks of life as a way of healing themselves.
When a practitioner uses the basic consultation technique for selecting remedies - which
amounts to listening to what the client has to say - this is something that everyone can
Once the client understands that the remedies are being chosen on the basis of how he
feels and the sort of person he is, then he can go on treating himself in the future.

When dowsing, kinesiology or any other mechanical or purely intuitive selection method
is used the situation is very different. Most people do not know how to dowse or muscle-
test, so they have to go back to the practitioner every time they want to select a remedy.
They are never in a position to help themselves. And if the dowsing or what-have-you
works, it will go straight to the heart of the problem before the client is ready to go that
far. This means that self-knowledge, which is one of the aims of treatment with the Bach
Flower Remedies, is never attained properly. Treatment should go at the client's speed,
not the practitioner's, and this is why all practitioners registered with the Dr Edward Bach
Foundation have signed a Code of Practice which commits them to only selecting
remedies using the classic interview technique that Dr Bach preferred.

Why doesn't the Bach Centre approve the use of other flower essences?

Interestingly, some of the essences that have been produced in recent times have been
made using plants and flowers that Dr Bach specifically excluded, or plants that he tried
and rejected for one reason or another. Others seem to be old herbal remedies
"rejuvenated" by being prepared using Dr Bach's methods.

Dr Bach wanted his work to be kept simple so that everyone could use it, and the 38
remedies he found are enough when used in combination to treat every conceivable range
of human emotions. Before he died he warned that attempts would be made to change his
work and make it more complicated, and his assistants promised always to uphold the
simplicity and purity of his methods. The same promise was made in turn by the current
curators of the Centre who are proud to continue this work.

How can 38 remedies cover all known states of mind?

People sometimes understand this to mean that there are only 38 states of mind, but it
would be more exact to say that there are 38 basic states of mind which can in
combination with each other make hundreds of millions of variations.

A useful analogy is with the world of colour. There are only three basic colours (red, blue
yellow), yet all kinds and variations can be produced when they are used in combination.
Has the efficacy of the Bach Flower Remedies been proven scientifically?

There have not been any proper clinical trials on the actions of the remedies. There was a
study done in California as part of a doctoral thesis, but the methodology followed was
questionable both in scientific terms and in terms of the assumptions made about the
remedies, so we would not produce this study as 'evidence' even though it claimed to
show that the remedies work. And there have been other, small-scale studies in different
parts of the world, but again nothing that would convince a determined sceptic.
As for us, we have never set up experiments, and we don't document the help we give to
people. When Dr Bach entrusted his work to Nora and Victor, and in so doing set up the
Bach Centre, he instructed them to keep their lives simple and their work with the
remedies simple as well. We don't see it as our role to 'prove' that the remedies work -
instead we simply demonstrate how to use them and let people prove the effect on

About Dr Bach

What did Dr Bach die of, and why did he die so young?

Dr Bach had cancer, but in fact died of exhaustion rather than because of the disease
itself. Because he was only 50 when he died people have sometimes asked why he wasn't
able to cure himself. What this question ignores is the fact that in 1917 he was given just
3 months to live. The truth is that he was curing himself, every day, for nineteen years -
all the time it took for him to complete his work.

Why doesn't the Bach Centre talk more about Edward Bach's personal life, his
marriages and family?

There are two reasons: a) we don't know a great deal, because Dr Bach didn't leave many
personal papers and Nora Weeks never talked about Dr Bach's personal life precisely
because it was personal and b) his personal life had nothing to do with the remedies, and
that's always been our main concern.

For the record, though, Dr Bach was married twice. His first wife died. He had a daughter
by his second wife; that marriage failed some time before he left London in 1930.
I've read that Dr Bach met Rudolph Steiner, who predicted that flowers would
become a great tool of healing).

There are parallels between Bach's beliefs and those of Steiner. But as far as we know
they never met and there is no evidence to back up this assertion. (We do get a bit
sceptical sometimes about the stories that go around about Dr Bach. We have even heard
it claimed that Dr Bach was actually a woman...)

Doesn't the Bach Centre sometimes make Dr Bach out to be some kind of god, as if
he were the object of a cult?

Absolutely not! Dr Bach was no more divine than the rest of us. He was human, with
human faults (a workaholic, a failed marriage, short tempered sometimes) and human
qualities (courage, persistence, selflessness). He was a great teacher and found a precious
gift that he shared with others, but that doesn't make him more than human. We tend to
think that 'just human' is more than enough!
Did Dr Bach actually practice homeopathy?

We don't have his case notes from the 1920's (he destroyed his notes when he left
London) so can't really say exactly what medicines he used. What we do know is that
while working at the London Homoeopathic Hospital he continued to see patients at his
consulting rooms at Harley St and Nottingham Place, and certainly he used the seven
bowel nosodes on some of them, and these were homoeopathic remedies. The answer
would seem to be that he used a mix of homoeopathic and allopathic medicines up until
the time when he began to use the flower remedies alone.


I read somewhere that the Bach remedies are approved by the World Health
Organisation. Is this true?

This idea seems to come from a report that mentioned the Bach remedies, along with
other forms of complementary medicine, as examples of the kind of complementary
techniques that were being used around the world. It seems that somebody misread this
passing renfernece as being an official statement of approval, and this mistaken belief
ended up being put in a book. From there, other authors have quoted the same statement
to the point where the idea is quite wide spread, particularly in Spanish-speaking

As far as we know there is no truth in this statement. Indeed, to our knowledge the World
Health Organisation doesn't approve or licence any treatments, so the question should not
even arise.

Are there any authorised correspondence courses in Bach Flower Remedies?

We have just introduced an introductory distance learning course that is equivalent to the
Bach International Education Programme's level 1 course.

Why do Bach Flower Remedies have a use-by date now? Should they be discarded
after this date?

By law things like the stock bottles of remedies have to carry a use-by date. The standard
we adopted was five years, which is in fact the use-by date of the brandy. The remedies
themselves will keep their properties indefinitely (although the brandy may begin to taste
a little strange) - the Bach Centre still has some of Dr Bach's original mother tinctures,
which are still as potent as ever.
What are the sun and boiling methods?

The sun method involves floating flowerheads in a clear glass bowl filled with natural
spring water. This is left in bright sunlight for three hours, then the flowerheads are
removed and the energised water is mixed half and half with brandy.

The boiling method involves putting flowering twigs into a pan of spring water and
boiling them for half an hour. The pan is then left to cool, the plant matter removed, and
again the water is mixed half and half with brandy.

In both cases the resulting mix is the mother tincture, which is further diluted to make the
stock bottles sold in the shops.

How do you get to the Bach Centre?

We are in a village called Sotwell, just outside a town called Wallingford, in the county
of Oxfordshire (Oxon for short - don't ask us why!). If you are driving from London, take
the M4 west out of London and turn off at the junction to Henley on Thames. Follow the
road into Henley, turning right at the traffic lights in the town and onto the road to
Wallingford. Keep on this road all the way into and then through Wallingford. On the
other side of Wallingford is a roundabout; go straight on towards Didcot but then take the
next turn on the left (signed to Brightwell-cum-Sotwell). Follow the road around to the
right. When you come to a fork in the road take the right-hand fork, again follow the road
around to the right and you will see us right in front of you.

If you are coming by train, go from Paddington in London to Didcot Parkway station, and
from there take a taxi to us in Sotwell.

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