Updated July 25, 2021
Aromatherapists and herbalists use essential oils, herbs and flower essences. I’m a trained aromatherapist, but I have allergies, so I use flower essences instead of essential oils, which are quite potent. I am also very sensitive to energy modalities, so I respond to the emotional energy of flower essences.
Flower essences are subtle liquid extracts of wildflowers or organic garden flowers, diluted in water and infused in the sun. The extreme dilution produces a vibrational essence that carries the imprint of the flower or plant. The extremely diluted flower water is preserved in brandy.
For those in recovery, or for those who prefer not to ingest alcohol, there are flower essences prepared in alternative bases with our alcohol. Two companies that make alcohol-free blends are Tree Frog Farm and Green Hope Farm. Flower essences work on a subtle energy level, much like homeopathy and energy modalities such as Reiki.
The energy modalities are controversial and there’s alot of research on some of the modalities to support their use. Because I developed the Reiki Volunteer Program at the Cancer Center at Mountainside Hospital, I’m very familiar with the body of literature that supports the use of Reiki.
Reiki is a subtle energy modality and is used in hospitals throughout the United States. Reiki has been extensively researched and has been shown to stimulate the relaxation response in the autonomic nervous system, impacting measures such as blood pressure and heart rate, improve the symptoms of depression, anxiety and improve quality of life measurements.
Frankly, some people think the concept of flower essences is pretty out there. Subtle energy is a controversial subject. There is much less research on flower essences than there is on Reiki or on the actions of herbs and essential oils in the body.
Essential oils and herbs are composed of molecular constituents with physical chemical properties with known physical actions that can be quantified and studied. The molecule action of essential oils and herbs and how they bond to human cells can be observed under a microscope. In addition, there’s lots of clinical research conducted in hospital and other treatment settings to see how people react to the molecular constituents of different herbs and essential oils.
I’m a science chick and want evidence-based tools for myself and my clients. So I researched flower essences in the medical libraries and yes, there is some research on flower essences. But most of the research shows that flower essences have the same effect as a placebo.
However, there is some research that shows positive effects on anxiety and depression. The studies all are from very small sample sizes. But I’ll link you out to the research round-ups and you can decide for yourself. The Bach Center’s round-up of research is here, and the Flower Essences Services (FES) round-up of depression studies is here. The FES website also has numerous clinical case studies to read up on. In short, flower essences have been researched for several decades and despite the mixed research results, they’re in high use in hospitals by holistic nurses and hospitals around the world. Australia, in particular, has a very active flower essence holistic group.
In my counseling sessions, I also suggest flower essences for emotional support, if my clients are open to it. If not, that’s ok, too. Individualized blends work best, but the list below encompasses some of the flower essences I use often.
Of course, never go off your prescribed medication for your mental health. Flower essences are for adjunctive use only.
1. Immediately After Shock or Trauma
Five Flower Formula – Healing from shock or trauma, especially for immediate use
2. Chronic Shock or Trauma
Black Eyed Susan – Emotional avoidance due to emotional pain and trauma, release shadow aspects of the self
Star of Bethlehem – healing the effects of past trauma
3. Transition to Motherhood
Alpine Lily – experiencing motherhood as rewarding
Buttercup – feeling that being a mom is less than your other roles
Calendula (Mary’s Flower) – maternal warmth and compassion
Mariposa Lily – instilling positive motherhood archetype, helping to create feelings you were loved maternally as a child, healing past maternal attachment trauma
Star Tulip – build confidence in one’s ability to mother
Zinnia – contact the joy in motherhood and in contact with one’s own inner child
Baby Blue Eyes – feeing cynical, help to make positive contact
Larch – confidence, fear of failure
Pine – helps mitigate feelings of failure, that one is to blame
Elm– helps one feel like one can fulfill your life responsibilities and expectations
Gorse – relief form feelings of hopelesness
Wild Oat – despair about fining one’s vocation
Cherry Plum – reducing acute tension and stress, balancing rigidity
Holly – Supports feelings of inclusiveness and and unity, reduces feelings of rage and separateness
Willow – receive feelings of feeling sorry for yourself as in seeing yourself as the victim
Honeysuckle – helps one to accept and let go and live life after a loss
8. Self Actualization
Baby Blue Eyes – feel at ease with yourself
Echinacea – self acceptance
Mimulus – Helps reduce feelings of basic fear
Self-heal – supports healing and actualization of the self
Sunflower – develop a sense of your own needs and moving towards fulfilling those needs
Larch – fear of failure
Mimulus – excessive anxiety and fear about everyday life
Party Time – bringing the joy back to your life
Scarlet Monkeyflower – awareness and releasing suppressed “darker” emotions of power and anger
12. Integration of the Self
Star of Bethlehem – deeply restorative to development of the self