Comparing Bach flowers and homeopathy

What is the relationship between Bach flower remedies and homeopathic ones? Both are “energy medicines”, prepared from natural substances in dilutions too small to measure by chemical analysis.  Their mode of action is not understood, so as far as I know it is not possible to say what basic difference – if any – exists between them. Dr Edward Bach had studied homeopathy before discovering his flower remedies, and the two modalities certainly have some features in common. There are also several points of contrast, as listed below. It will be clear from what follows that the Bach system is much simpler than the homeopathic one.

* Bach flowers are prescribed on the basis of current emotional state, whereas the choice of homeopathic remedies requires a more detailed consultation taking both physical and psychological factors, both past and present, into account.

* Homeopathic remedies for particular disorders are identified on the basis of “provings”, according to the principle of “like treats like”. For example, if taking a certain remedy causes healthy volunteers to develop itching, that remedy might be effective for treating an itchy skin complaint. The Bach flowers, in contrast, were identified in a purely intuitive way by Edward Bach, who would experience a certain feeling such as anxiety or despair and then seek for a plant which would alleviate it.  

* There are thousands of homeopathic remedies to choose from, but only 38 Bach flowers.

* Homeopathic remedies may be derived from animal, plant or mineral sources, some of which are toxic in their original form. The Bach flowers are all (with the exception of Rock Water) made from non-poisonous plants.

* With classical homeopathy, the aim is to identify the single remedy which best resonates with the client. With Bach flowers, although there are some “type remedies” appropriate for different personalities, it is usual practice to choose a combination of several remedies up to a maximum of six.

* Homeopathic remedies are prescribed in a range of potencies and dosage regimes, whereas Bach flowers are taken on a simple standard schedule (4 drops 4 times a day).

Some practitioners say both systems can be used together, because they act at different “levels”, others believe they should be kept separate.

I am not a trained homeopath myself but have made some informal study of the system, and both Bach flowers and homeopathic remedies play a part in the plots of my three short novels.

 

Bach flowers in fiction

In 1934 Edward Bach wrote a short piece called The Story of the Travellers about a group of sixteen people who have lost their way on a woodland walk. Each one of them responds differently to their predicament depending on their personality type, for example Oak is determined to struggle on to the end despite his exhaustion, Rock Rose gets into a panic, whereas Chicory is more concerned about the welfare of his companions than anything else.

Stories provide an excellent way of learning about the different flower remedies, and I remember that many of the exercises on my practitioner training course were based on characters from films and novels, or real-life personal accounts in magazines.

I have heard of three novels which feature the Bach flowers: The Pillow Boy of the Lady Onogoro by Alison Fell, Valis by Philip K Dick, and one by Mary Tabor which is currently out of print but may soon be posted on the Bach Centre website. And I’ve just published a novella in the ‘romantic suspense’ genre, Carmen’s Roses, in which the remedies play a minor role. If anyone knows of other relevant books I would be interested to hear about them.