Tag Archives: Bach flower remedies

Flower essences – are they the same as Bach flowers?

Because I’m using an emotional nutrition range in my practice, which are mixtures of flower essences and homeopathics, I have been getting asked questions about them – which is great!

People refer to them as Bach flowers, and this isn’t entirely correct.

Dr Edward Bach worked in England in the years 1930 to 1935 on his flower remedies and when he died in 1936, his system of 38 remedies in total were fully documented.  These are the true Bach flower remedies.  The most notable combination is Rescue Remedy which is widely used today in both humans and animals.

He began collecting plants and flowers – the most highly-developed part of a plant – in the hope of replacing nosodes with a series of gentler remedies.  In his research, he matched a flower essence to a particular emotional state.  Here are a few examples:

  • Gentian – for discouragement after a setback
  • Mimulus – fear of known things
  • Vine – dominance and inflexibility

The Bach flower remedies should feature the Bach signature label  (made in England) which looks like this:

Bach flower logo

The remedies are made by infusing the flowers in spring water, either by the sun-steeped method or by boiling. The remedies contain a grape-based brandy as a preservative and there are alcohol free versions which are preserved in glycerin made from sunflowers

Following on from Dr Bach’s work on flower essences, there are other flower essences that have been developed from flowers growing in other parts of the world.  For example, there’s a whole range of essences extracted from Australian bush flowers.

So when people ask me about using flower essences, I remind them that there’s a difference between essential oils and flower essences and I also explain that not all flower essences are Bach flowers.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced DogChristchurch, New Zealand

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The differences between flower essences and essential oils

I have found that there is often confusion between essential oils and flower essences.  This isn’t surprising – both evoke connotations of fresh smells and flowers.  However, it’s important to understand the difference and the use of these products when caring for your dog.

Essential oils are a fundamental part of aromatherapy.  They are often diffused in a burner of some sort, such as the traditional one with a tea candle below the area where the oil is placed, or in the newer modern version – ultrasonic diffusers.

When used for massages, the essential oils (which are very strong) are diluted in carrier oil such as sweet almond oil or in a waxier, balm-like base.  Most of my human massage therapist colleagues use essential oils in their practices in this way – lavender is very common, for example, for relaxing human clients!

Essential oils are very much for use outside the body (not to be ingested).

Now here’s the thing:  I am generally not a fan of using essential oils in dog care. 

These oils are quite powerful.  And for the same reason that I don’t like chemical sprays for air fresheners and fly control (See:  Before you install these devices, consider your dog), I don’t think they are useful with dogs.  If dogs have a sense of smell that is 100,000 times more powerful than ours, how can we be sure that we aren’t driving them crazy with the odour of these oils?  I don’t believe we can.

Flower essences are a whole other ball game.  The most famous of the flower essences is Bach’s Rescue Remedy, which is a blend of flower essences designed to help with stress and anxiety.   Dogs can be given Rescue Remedy in times of need  – such as fireworks season.

Because of the popularity of Rescue Remedy, many dog owners don’t realise that there are a wide range of flower essences (some of which technically come from trees) which can be used for emotional and other imbalances.  Dr Edward Bach, an English doctor and homeopath, originally studied and documented flower essences in the 1930s.  For this reason, they are often referred to as Bach Flower Remedies.  However, there are other essences such as those that come from Australian wild flowers which cannot be attributed to Dr Bach.

Flower essences are made by infusing the plant material using a heat source (often sunshine) and air into water.  The infusion is then preserved with something like brandy and stored – ready for use.  Flower essences contain the natural energy of the plant material (not the plant material itself) and we can use these, internally – unlike essential oils –  to help with imbalances.

The principle behind flower essences is that they are based on energy and so if your dog doesn’t need that particular energy, nothing will happen.  But by matching the right essence to their condition, flower essences can help.

The only thing that ‘smells’ about a flower essence is the alcohol preservative in the mixture.  This is a major difference between the essences and essential oils and is key to why I am happy to use them in my practice.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Christmas stress and dogs

It’s that time of year again –  Christmas (followed closely by New Year).  And if the traffic is anything to go by (and I am a mobile practitioner, so I’m on the road fairly often), holiday preparations are in full swing.  The schools have let out for summer, and the shopping intensity is increasing.  So, too, are the rates of pre-Christmas stress.

Holiday plans, parties, travel, new guests coming to stay, and presents and food to buy and prepare should be happy things, but a lot of  people get stressed by them, too.

Have you ever thought about the impact of Christmas on your dog?

Feliz Naughty Dog

Our dogs also suffer stress.   With the changes in routine and surroundings that Christmas brings, we shouldn’t be surprised if our dogs get stressed.

Some will become destructive, such as unwrapping presents under the tree or chewing on ornaments/lights.  (These are also a health hazard, of course.)   Others may show their stress through lip-licking and yawning, backing away, going off their food, pacing, tucking their tail under, etc.

It’s important to know the signs of a stressed dog and to do something to lower your dog’s anxiety.

Ensure your dog has a safe space at home – like a crate or a bedroom – where they can retreat when they have had enough.

Play calming music, spray the room with calming mixtures of essential oils, Bach flower remedies, or Adaptil.

And do your very best to keep your dog on a regular routine.  Meal times and walks are things that your dog has come to count on at certain times of the day. Don’t mess about with these ‘certains’ in their life – it helps to keep stress in check.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand