Healing Solutions For You - Alternative and Integrative Healing Practices

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Flower Essences vs. Homeopathy

Flower essences and homeopathy are two popular holistic therapies. When people become acquainted with both, they often wonder what the difference is between the two. Aren’t they essentially the same, they wonder? No, they are not the same but do have similarities.


The father of homeopathy, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, lived from 1755 to1843. He was searching for a gentler, more effective way to treat patients. Medicine at the time was rather barbaric. Patients were commonly bled to “bleed out the poison” and were given toxic substances to ingest. His response to the then medical practices was the creation of homeopathy. In the 1920’s and 30‘s, Dr. Edward Bach was also searching for a gentler, more effective form of medicine. He was a renowned homeopathist himself, having created seven new, effective homeopathic remedies from strains of bacteria. He thought if he could address the psyche and emotional patterns of patients he could create a more permanent, effective change within them. This led to the 38 Bach Flower Essences which he created over the course of a decade before his death in 1936.


The Greeks created the theory “like cures like” thousands of years ago; using this theory, Dr. Hahnemann developed the therapy we know as homeopathy today. He observed how substances which caused certain reactions in a healthy person could resolve the very same indications in a sick patient. He used these findings known as “provings” to create remedies. Essences, however, are allopathic. This means that they follow the conventional western way of treating symptoms: if you have problem A you take substance B to fix it.

Making and Mechanism

Homeopathy and flower essence therapy are both energy medicines. In both cases, the original substance is taken and diluted over and over again until little or even no physical substance (in the case of higher strength homeopathics) remain in the remedies. What is left is the universal life force, known as chi in Chinese medicine, from the original substance. It is this chi that is the active ingredient in both essences and homeopathy. In the first step to make a homeopathic, the substance is powdered, then steeped in alcohol or mixed with powdered lactose. The first step to an essence is to place the picked blossoms of the flower in a bowl of water outside to be “sun charged” or, in the case of more woody plants, boiled in water. Then, homeopathics are diluted again by adding more water and alcohol or lactose to the original diluted powder or liquid; essences are diluted by adding water and alcohol, glycerin and/or apple cider vinegar to the original boiled or suncharged liquid. Dilutions for either type of remedies are made in precise ratios for example: one part substance to 99 parts additive. They will continue to be diluted more and more times in this manner to farther concentrate the energy. Homeopathics are available in many different strengths whereas flower essences are diluted to 5X potency (too complicated to explain.) The further a substance is diluted, the more concentrated the energy becomes. The reason essences are not farther diluted is because it would cause emotional reactions which would be too intense and overwhelming to handle.

Source & Form

There are essences and homeopathics made with flowers, animal and mineral substances. Where the two diverge is that essences are also made with color, water, weather patterns and seasons and homeopathics are also made with other plants and bacteria. Homeopathic remedies are available as liquid drops, topical ointments and little lactose pellets which the patient melts under their tongue. Flower essences are most commonly taken as drops under the tongue. They are less commonly used in a mist, cream, added to a bath or drinking water. The 5X strength essence bottles found in health food stores are called mother tinctures. A client can take drops from the mother tincture bottle. The alternative is to add one or more mother tinctures to water and alcohol in a mixing bottle. Flower essence practitioners usually prepare mixing bottles for their clients. This allows them to create a custom, more precise blend for their clients. More drops need to be taken from a mixing bottle, however, it makes it much more convenient than taking drops from six different mother tincture bottles. Mixing bottles also make more economic sense because they stretch out the mother tinctures which makes them last longer.


Dr. Hahnemann and Dr. Bach both recognized how certain groups of patients displayed similar disease symptoms and common personality patterns. Therefore, both homeopathy and essences address body, mind and spirit. I find that homeopathy works best, however, primarily on the physical level, secondarily on mental and spiritual states. The therapist will primarily consider the symptoms the patient is experiencing and then match a remedy which also fits this patient’s personality profile. Essences work best primarily on the mental-emotional-spiritual levels, secondarily on the physical level. The therapist will first consider the client’s personality characteristics and emotional state then match a remedy that meets their physical symptoms as well. When working with either kind of therapy, you discover how intertwined all levels are and how it can become a chicken-or-the-egg situation; emotional states cause many physical ailments whereas disease can cause us to become mentally distressed! On the other hand, both therapies can work well on any level depending on the situation.

In the Clinic

There are thousands of different homeopathic and flower remedies. Each one has many different applications and indications and the differences can be subtle. For example, an essence client who is depressed because of low self-esteem will get a different remedy combination from a client who is depressed because of setbacks. A homeopathic practitioner will give a different remedy to a child who has a raspy cough as apposed to one who has a hacking cough. Remedy selection needs to be very precise or it will not be effective. Therefore, a practitioner must be extremely well-versed in his craft. It often takes many years to master the art of either therapy. The good news is that both of these therapies are very gentle. They do not produce side effects or interact with medications. The worse that can happen is that the wrong remedy was selected and it simply doesn’t work. Finally, they work with the body to generate healing from within rather than simply covering up symptoms. This allows the body to truly heal from an illness instead of suppressing its urge to purge. When symptoms are suppressed the body finds other ways to purge in the form of other problems, often seemingly unrelated, which later emerge. The more suppression happens, the more the body resists “creating” bigger and bigger side problems. As with any kind of holistic medicine, however, “healing crises” occasionally occur. The body’s natural method of healing is to push out sickness and toxins so when a remedy is taken this process is heightened. Sometimes a client may feel ill or uncomfortable. A flower essence client may feel more emotional than usual and wonder what’s going on. It can feel as if they are having a reaction but really it’s just part of the healing process. It usually lasts no more than a few days after which they feel very refreshed and renewed.


Homeopathy and flower essence therapy are two fascinating, useful forms of medicine. They each have their areas of strength and application. Both have a rich history. Though they share many similarities, they are distinct. I invite you to try both of these now. There is so much to be gained!

Bibliographical references

“Educational Information.” NatraBio Botanical Laboratories. <http://www.natrabio.com/edu.asp>.

Scheffer, Mechthild. The Encyclopedia of Bach Flower Therapy. 1999. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press, 2001

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