A new client recently called me to say she was feeling worse rather than better since taking her Bach flower remedies. This happens in my practice just a few times per year. The situation calls for sensitive consideration, but in most cases it is cause for optimism rather than concern.
Though most people notice a steady improvement within a week of starting treatment with Bach flowers, a minority complain of worsening of their original complaints, or the emergence of new symptoms. There may be psychological ones such as heightened anxiety, irritabilty or nightmares; physical ones such as skin ‘break-outs’ or looser bowels; or the worsening of a pre-existing medical problem, arthritis for example. Such symptoms suggest a so-called ‘healing reaction’, which shows that the remedy is resonating with the person. Most healing reactions only last a few days and are likely to be followed by a good response in the longer term.
Healing reactions are best explained in terms of cleansing out of suppressed feelings, a kind of detoxification process, for the remedies themselves have no side-effects and cannot introduce anything negative which is not already there. They may also represent a change in perception of the symptoms or a change of attitude towards them, as the flower remedies reveal hidden layers of emotion and personality (‘peeling the onion’). A similar effect can be found with other types of natural therapy too; in homeopathy it is called an ‘aggravation’.
It is always important to consider other diagnostic possibilities. If there are physical symptoms such as a gastric upset, maybe the mixture has become infected – this could happen if it was not prepared hygienically, has been kept longer than the recommended three weeks, not kept cool, or if the dropper has been touched onto the tongue. Or, the symptoms may be due to some other cause unconnected with the remedies, and need medical assessment.
Healing reactions can be seen with any of the 38 flowers, but several times in my own practice I have seen them resulting from mixtures which contain Agrimony. Dr Bach recommended this for ‘ .. people who love peace and are distressed by argument or quarrel … though generally they have troubles and are tormented and restless and worried in mind or in body, they hide their cares behind their humour and jesting … ‘ Such people often conceal their anxieties from themselves as well as others, sometimes with the aid of drink or drugs or comfort eating, but may be restless at night. The remedy enables more open acknowledgement of emotions, and this can be uncomfortable at first.
Some practitioners do not tell their clients about the possibility of a healing reaction to their clients, but I prefer to explain it, because if they develop a reaction without warning they may assume the remedy does not suit them and stop taking it. If a healing reaction does occur I encourage them to persevere with treatment but to reduce the dose for a while, and may suggest using the Rescue Remedy for a few days.
4 thoughts on “Healing reactions with Bach flower remedies”
I didn’t know much about Bach flowers until my mother introduced them to me. I had been going through some struggles and was offered to try them. I would kind of “pick” one out of a bag, to kind of intuit the one that I needed. I found that I would react quite strongly to most of them, not aways positive but never anything that felt out of control and would wear off in a few days if it wasn’t right. I’m not sure exactly what causes these aggravations since supposedly if one isn’t right it won’t do anything. What if you are in a highly sensitive state when you take a bach flower? I have diagnosed PTSD, depression and a dissociate type disorder. I’m wondering if being in these highly sensitive emotional states can cause a person to react more strongly to a bach flower, at least notice their effects more. I took a bach flower that had a very strange effect on me – and completely felt like it through off my energy centers. I have been to several sites all saying that bach flowers can never harm you and only work with you, But after I took it I started to feel very depressed and impulsively suicidal. It was an overwealming feeling in me and I felt as though I would take my own life. It is like I felt it had numbed a part of me and making decisions about anything has become very difficult. This was a remedy designed to help you make a decision, so I am wondering why this has happened to me. I know that I am a highly sensitive individual, but before this I was depressed and anxious and had various problems but did not want to take my life – I had a some hope. I just wish that someone had explained to me how potent bach flowers can be. Another thing that happened was I reacted to another person taking a bach flower in the same room as me. This is the level of sensitivity that I am talking about – and this is coming from someone who didn’t think bach flowers did much of anything. Why would this have happened to me? It appears the remedy has harmed me in some way – even though most sites state that they will only “uplift”. Is this a massive healing crisis? Because I’m unsure. I phoned a number on a website for anyone that had any questions concerning bach flowers and they seemed dumbfounded that I had had such a strong reaction and asked “was there anything else I took that could have caused this?” I am not on any medications and the reaction the the remedy was immediate.
I too have a mood disorder and am highly sensitive. I would suggest working with a homeopathic doctor. I have had reactions I didn’t like (although not as bad as yours) to taking a Bach remedy I didn’t need at that time. I have been working with a homeopathic doctor to treat my depression for about 2 years and only taking the Bach remedies for about 1 year. I have noticed there are many similarities between how the two different modalities work and it is my belief you can have a flare up with flower essences in the same way you can with homeopathic remedies. In homeopathy the theory is, if you have any reaction at all you probably need the remedy on some level, however it is good to have someone who is trained to help you through the healing process. For example, I took a homeopathic remedy which I thought was for depression and ended up having homicidal thoughts, which I had never experienced before. That is why I started working with a trained ND who specializes in homeopathy and have never had a reaction like that since. When your simptoms are acute you will have a dramatic result using energetic medicine. I wouldn’t be discouraged, but I would use caution when taking the remedies. Also note: if this should happen again, strong caffeine (especially that in coffee) negates the effects of energetic medicine. You could try that if you don’t have a trusted medical professional to turn to in an emergency like the one you had.
I am glad you shared your experience. I am studying the Bach system and would like to help others manage theri moods with the essences so it is good to know that there are people who can have sever reactions to them.
Best of luck to you!
I realise this post and comments are quite a few years old… but my dog has been having the same level of severe sensitivity with Bach flowers. He too is affected if either myself of my other dog has them too. It is kind of a relief to hear that he is not the only one to experience this – I have contacted vets and practitioners around the world, but they claim they have not heard of such a case before. One person gave the advice he could be picking up on the energies of others in the home and that they should take the essences, not him, but as I say, if others take it, he reacts just as bad. Have you heard any more cases like this? Or how to deal with them? Thank you.
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Maybe try giving him 4 drops of Rescue Remedy when he gets upset?