Notes From a Practitioner: Bach Flower Essences
Bach Flower Essences have been part of the naturopathic arsenal for over 70 years. For those unfamiliar with Dr. Edward Bach, he was a prominent bacteriologist and homeopath in early twentieth century London and was an inspired - many believe Divinely inspired - individual of exceptional intuitive, scientific and philosophic caliber. This is important. In holistic realms where it is recognized that 'like begets like,' wouldn't it follow that the noted life's work he brought forward, a simple system of 38 flower essences mapped together with brilliant correspondences of emotional and mental traits, would be of a similar significant caliber? In fact, Dr. Bach considered these particular essences 'high healers', that is, of more than merely therapeutic value, and none are derived from noxious or poisonous plants. He chose only flowers, shrubs and trees that grew wild for his tinctures, and this too is important. Wildness, although frightening in some forms, has individuality and potency as its underpinnings. In my own words: these essences are workers! Strong in often subtle ways, they are here for us and are to be used.
My own first solution of Bach essences brought such extraordinary emotional, and consequently physical, relief from an injury I had sustained that from there on I was devoted to gaining a deep working knowledge of them, subsequently undertaking the comprehensive training with the Bach Foundation to become a Registered Practitioner. Over the past five years, my personal experience with Bach flowers has been extensive, and as one of the 'Keepers of the Horses' I would like to share in this article how I use these gifts of nature with my equine friends. What follows are my routines of administering the essences to my own horses, which have brought meaningful, positive responses. I will also add a few of my observations along the way.
If I impart nothing else, ever, to those who use the essences, humans or animals, it would be this: Rapid repetition of small doses is the key! Flower essences influence our vibrational level, essentially prompting a change of consciousness. Thus, to have the best effect, the current vibratory state needs to be impacted on a rapidly repeated basis until a change is noticed. As there are numerous texts available covering selection of the essences, I will address here specific essences only as related to certain experiences and impressions I have had with them.
My most favored method of administration: The
1-ounce Dropper Bottle
For use with horses, I remove the eyedropper so I have just the bottle and its cap. I fill with water (always preferably spring water, but if not available I use what I have) to shoulder of bottle and add 2 drops of each essence selected (4 drops for Rescue Remedy) with a maximum of 6-7 essences at one time. I cap bottle, shake gently in a vertical direction several times, uncap and place bottle opening in the corner of the horse's mouth and pour in a small amount (or I pour in trough of lower lip if my horse is resisting the bottle in the corner of the mouth). This constitutes one dose.
When starting a new solution of essences, I give initial doses at intervals of approximately every thirty seconds to one minute, five or six times. This serves to really boost the new vibratory influence into the system, and from my education and experience, I consider this to be the crux of generating an effective response with the essences. I also always dose this way in emergencies using Rescue Remedy. My observation in my horses is that this immediately repeated, concentrated dosing can achieve a significant 'breakthrough effect' evidenced by any number of responses individual to the animal, e.g., a softened eye, a big sigh, 'shaking it off' from head to tail. I stay alert for a breakthrough effect that might entail more vigorous horse behavior but know that once past the moment of release the horse will be free of that particular tension in its system and reactions will subside. After the initial introduction of the solution, I continue to dose my horse another few times as I groom or as I work around him, offering it again after I finish riding, then finally pouring whatever may be left in the bottle into the water bucket. Thus, each day I am using an entire one-ounce bottle of solution per horse.
I perform this routine with a new solution for three consecutive days as a standard protocol, then continue with the solution in a less intensive way for approximately a week or as my intuition directs. Because the essences are completely safe, there is no consideration of "too much" or "over-dosing". They may also be used along with any other kind of treatment or medication.
My second most favored method of administration:
The small bowl of water
I keep a cereal-sized plastic bowl in my tack trunk, fill it with water and add approximately 6 drops of each selected essence. With my hand or pouring from the bowl itself, I wet the horse with the solution, starting at the front of the chest, then the jugular, the withers, down the back, on the legs, also the forehead. I evaluate any reaction, then continue, usually using the entire bowl. The essences are nearly as effective simply getting them on the physical body as they are by ingesting them, although taking them internally is the ideal. One of my horses will drink from the bowl, which is great, as it allows both internal and external administration. This is an easy, efficient method that I use mostly with Rescue Remedy in the summer time.
Note: Rescue Remedy should be on hand for all emergencies and injuries to people or horses. I have found it particularly effective for heat stress!
I also use this "bath" idea when I want to really impress a certain essence into my horse's system. Once again, I stay alert for 'larger' release reactions with a more overall administration like this, and if I am introducing an essence to the animal for the first time, I like to administer it several times by mouth before wetting the horse's body. During the summer, I use both the dropper bottle with whatever specific solution I have chosen and the water bowl of Rescue Remedy. I utilize a routine solution of several essences for each horse that addresses his basic personality, then administer others as situations or climatic conditions might indicate.
Other methods of administration:
Water bucket: 9-12 drops of each selected essence into water bucket
Spritzer bottle: Approximately 9-12 drops in a large spray bottle, less in a smaller bottle. I spritz the horse, particularly on front chest and jugular. This I find great for Rescue Remedy in the summer.
Miscellaneous notes and observations:
After riding, I pour Rescue Remedy solution on the saddle area of the back to help remove any saddle/ rider/ tension stress and also rub it along the horse's spine. I personally feel much stress is stored in the spine. I will do this for my older horse before I saddle him, to help loosen him up and often include rubbing his ankle and knee joints with it. I also pour Rescue Remedy solution on leg tendons when footing seems questionable.
I personally do not use Centaury in the animal world. This flower essence addresses a 'victimized' state, and in the animal world of instinctive behavior, one can potentially get a horse or pet really hurt by changing leader/ follower dynamics without a way to 'talk them through' their conflicts. It is healthy and natural for animals to have 'pecking orders'. I am also thoughtful about using Walnut with horses. Walnut has an action of "breaking the link" with others or environments to fortify one's own individuality, and I would want to evaluate how herd-bound or secure a particular horse is before "breaking links" for him. It is healthy and natural for horses to be herd-bound.
I have found White Chestnut and Agrimony to be highly effective for cribbing, an obsessive, inner worrying state. Aspen and Mimulus combine well for a horse who is spooky, addressing both fear of the known and the unknown, which have a cross-over. Red Chestnut is really effective for horses sensitive to storms, and I use Schleranthus as well during weather changes, and during season changes when everything seems out of balance.
Beech has become a favorite of mine for horses. It appears to alleviate many behavior symptoms that look like nervousness in the horse world but, I feel, are actually intolerance problems toward other animals, as these herd creatures, who by nature need wide-ranging space, are crowded together in the different ways we organize for them. I have also noticed some improvement in irritation from bugs with Beech.
There are many wonderful holistic methods for addressing our horses' well-being, and for me this is one of the finest. My horses take a solution of one or more flower essences every day I am with them and have for years. As with people, personality type disposes animals to variations on a theme of behavior, and when these typical response patterns are regularly transformed (in the realm of Bach flower essences, ‘healing’ is ‘transcending’), just like people the animal can achieve an ever higher level of inner balance and, perhaps, evolution. The need for a ‘type’ essence will lessen over time, yet usually not disappear altogether.
I believe, too, that we subject prey animals such as horses, whose natural defense instinct is flight, to inherent daily stress the moment we confine them in any way and seek to adapt them to our own purposes. We are, after all, predators to them, and I think we disturb them more than we want to recognize with our focused agendas and interpersonal exchanges. My selections each time are guided by knowledge, observation and intuition, and I often receive wonderful confirmation that my horse welcomes the new or familiar essence when he pricks his ears toward or licks the bottle as it nears him!
Perhaps at one time these particular vibrations were available to horses in their natural habitat and certainly are available now in the wild in certain areas, but not to the majority of our horses who are kept in often over-used and limited environments. I will always provide them to myself and my animal companions on a routine basis if for no other reason than I have seen and felt their power to transform.
In closing, we have come to understand that physical wellness begins with energetic wellness. Bach flower essences offer a way toward energetic strength through promoting states of inner peace and harmony. To me, all creatures have natural privilege to such an existence.
Bach Flower Essences are not intended as a substitute for medical or veterinary treatment. I am not a medical or veterinary practitioner and do not diagnose, treat or prescribe. Should symptoms persist, you are advised to consult your medical or veterinary practitioner. This article is for educational purposes only.
About the author:
Esther Sager, MS, BFRP, has a holistic practice in Ephrata, PA and is available by appointment for Bach Flower Essence consultations in person or by telephone. She is also available for group presentations. Other credentials include Tera-Mai Seichem Reiki Master, Master's Degree in Metaphysics, Certified Member of the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and Animal Communications.