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? Easy! 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 difference? 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 remedies. 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 choice? 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 betablockers. 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 wrong. 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 treated. 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? No.

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? Easy! 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 Centre? 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 remedies? 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 understand.

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 muscletest, 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 themselves.

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 countries. 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. Go back to the Centre Index. Go back to the main home page.

The Foundation: Education and Registration // The Trust: Preservation and Donation

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