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Flower remedies

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This page tells you about flower remedies (such as Bach flower remedies) for people with cancer. There is information about


What flower remedies are

Flower remedies are highly diluted extracts from the flowers of wild plants. These extracts are known as tinctures and you take them by mouth. You either drop them straight on to your tongue, or mix them with water and drink them.

A British doctor and microbiologist called Edward Bach developed these remedies in the early 1900s. He believed that illness happened when the mind and body aren’t in tune with each other. In other words, our emotions strongly influence our health. Bach thought that negative emotions such as anger and sadness cause illness. Flower remedies aim to help get rid of these emotions and so treat the illness. There are many different flower remedies, and each is said to help cope with a specific mood or emotion.


Why people with cancer use flower remedies

Therapists promote flower remedies as a natural way to help you relax and cope with feelings such as stress, anxiety fear and panic. Generally, therapists believe that flower remedies can help lift your mood, so you are better able to cope with emotional problems. But there is no evidence to prove that using flower remedies will help to control, prevent or cure cancer. 

Some people claim that flower remedies can help to boost your immune system. There is no scientific evidence to prove this. But many people report that flower remedies are helpful for reducing emotions such as fear, anxiety or depression.

There is more general information about why people with cancer use complementary therapies in our about complementary therapy section.


Research into flower remedies

There is no scientific evidence to prove that flower remedies can control, cure or prevent any type of disease, including cancer. A review of flower remedies in 2002 looked at the published results of several randomised controlled trials. These were trials of flower remedies for any medical condition. The researchers pulled all the information together to draw their conclusions. The review concluded that there was no evidence to show that flower remedies worked beyond having a placebo effect.

In 2009 a review of studies looked at whether Bach flower remedies were safe and worked as a treatment for psychological problems and pain. Six studies had been carried out and all had more than 30 people taking part. Half the people in the studies took flower remedies and half took a placebo remedy. The studies looked at whether people had less pain, an improvement in symptoms, or any side effects from the flower remedy. The review found that the flower remedies caused few side effects. There were only 6 reports of mild side effects – 3 in people taking flower remedies and 3 in people taking the placebo. So the authors said that the remedies are safe. But the remedies did not work better than the placebo in reducing pain or psychological problems. 

In 2010 a review looked at 7 studies that used flower remedies to relieve particular symptoms such as anxiety, stress, or pregnancy over the due date. It found that the flower remedies worked no better than placebo but that they were safe to take. 

You can read more information about these studies on the Cochrane Library website. Type 'flower remedies' into the search box.  

There is general information about research into complementary therapies and cancer in this section.


What using flower remedies involves

You can buy and use flower remedies yourself without help from a qualified therapist. The remedies come mixed with very small amount of brandy. You can dilute them with water, in line with the instructions on the bottles. Or you can put the drops directly under your tongue without diluting them. The makers say the remedies may work straightaway or within a week or so.

Many people are familiar with Rescue Remedy, which is a combination of 5 flower essences. People may use it to try and keep calm in stressful situations, for example, taking an exam or coping with a phobia. This is the only ready mixed Bach remedy – you take the others separately.

There are registered therapists who can suggest the best remedies for your particular problem. They decide which ones to use by looking at your emotional state, not your illness. Your therapist will ask you how you feel right now, not how you have felt in the past. They will also consider your personality type. They may suggest you take 6 or 7 remedies at one time to get the most benefit. They don’t usually recommend combining more remedies than this.


The cost of flower remedies

Most pharmacies and health food shops sell flower remedies. They usually cost about £6 for a small bottle, but can be more expensive. It depends on the manufacturer and where you buy them. If you see a flower remedy therapist, you will need to pay them a fee for the session.


Side effects

The remedies appear to be safe if you use them as instructed. If you are trying to avoid alcohol remember that the remedies contain very small amounts of brandy. Even though the remedies are claimed to be harmless, we suggest that you check with your doctor before using any type of complementary therapy.

Look in our about complementary therapy section for more information about why you should tell your doctor if you are using any type of therapy.


Finding a reputable therapist

Currently there is no single professional UK organisation to regulate flower remedy therapists. But many therapists throughout the world register with the Dr Edward Bach Foundation. This means that they have a certificate of registration from the Foundation and they can use the Foundation’s logos to advertise their work. All registered therapists must follow the Foundation’s code of practice. The foundation can help you find a registered therapist in your area.

There is information in this section about finding a complementary therapist.


Flower remedy organisations

There is one main flower remedy organisation that we know of in the UK.

The Dr. Edward Bach Centre and Foundation
Mount Vernon
Bakers Lane
Brightwell cum Sotwell
OX10 0PZ
Phone: 01491 834678

As well as having a register of therapists, this organisation can provide information about remedy use, including which remedies to take and how to take them.

British Flower & Vibrational Essences Association

This association gives further information on flower remedies, and training to be an essence practitioner. 


Flower Essence Society
Web site:

This is an American site that has information about flower remedies.

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Updated: 3 January 2013