Flower Essences

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Flower Essences

During the New Age Movement of the 1970s and 1980s, many discovered aromatherapy, the fragrant essences of certain plants that are believed to assist the healing process and the opening to spiritual awareness. So in like measure, many discovered the healing powers of flower extracts, substances first isolated by British homeopathic physician Edward Bach (1886-1936) in the 1920s. During his early years at the Homeopathic Hospital in London, Bach's observation of a patient he was asked to diagnose led him to believe that there were 12 basic personality types. Each personality type was distinguished by a common set of moods, states of mind, and underlying weaknesses. He began a search to find substances that could treat these personality peculiarities that ultimately allowed dis-ease to exist.

He discovered the first of these remedies in 1929. He next developed the process of extracting from the plant its healing substance and doing it in such a way as to enhance its properties. He went on to isolate 11 additional plant essences, all like the first located in flowering plants. His discoveries were introduced to the world in a 1931 text, Heal Thyself. Having found the 12 basic substances, he turned his search to additional essences that could help people with specific problems. Through the 1930s, 26 such essences were isolated. Periodically as a set of new discoveries was made, he published a new edition of his book, the last appearing in 1936 as the Twelve Healers and Other Remedies: A Simple Herbal Treatment. He died shortly thereafter and his remedies were largely unnoticed through the war years. His work was carried on by several close associates who worked out of his home, which had been transformed into the Dr. Edward Bach Healing Center.

The idea of flower essences was rediscovered in the 1960s by an American herbalist, Leslie J. Kaslof, who created an American affiliate to the Bach Centre and is largely responsible for making flower essences known in North America. Through the 1970s the Bach remedies were integrated into the larger holistic health movement. Among those influenced by Kaslof was Richard Katz, who began to experiment on a set of uniquely California flowers from which he extracted an additional set of remedies. In 1979, he founded the Flower Essence Society to publicize the new remedies.

The spread of the message of the Flower Essence Society suggested that flowers from a number of different locations could be the source of equally potent remedies, and through the 1980s and 1990s, other enterprises such as Alaskan Flower Remedies and Pegasus Products (Colorado) were founded. Second, the original observation of Bach that there were 12 personality types was suggestive of a possible correlation between flower remedies and astrology. In fact, astrologers, such as Donna Cunningham, discovered such to be the case, and through the 1990s various astrologers found them a meaning supplement to their work.

Cynthia Kemp, an astrologer, founded Desert Alchemy to provide specific lower remedies related to specific events noted in a chart. Another astrologer, John Stowe, founded Earth-friends to produce both flower remedies and aromatherapy products. As astrological remedies, flower essences have enjoyed a heretofore unprecedented popularity.


Bach, Edward. The Twelve Healers and Other Remedies: A Simple Herbal Treatment. 3rd ed. London: C. E. W. Daniel, 1936.

Chancellor, Philip M. Handbook of the Bach Flower Remedies. New Canaan, Conn.: Keats Health Books, 1980.

Cunningham, Donna. Flower Remedies Handbook. New York: Sterling Products, 1992.