Bach's Rescue Remedy, a popular stress-relieving treatment, has been helping people chill out for decades. But if you asked regular users what's in it, most would get it wrong. It's a blend of five flower essences, but like all remedies used in flower essence therapy, it contains no physical part of the flower.
Flower essences are odorless, tasteless infusions of flower blossoms. Originally developed in the 1930s by British physician Edward Bach, they're designed to treat emotional imbalances caused by temporary troubles such as fear, anxiety, or panic, or by long-term problems with your love life or career. Bach crafted 38 remedies that bear his name and are still used; hundreds of other versions have been created by independent flower-essence makers all over the world. (They are especially popular in Cuba, where they're covered by the national health care system.)
Practitioners of the therapy acknowledge that by the standards of Western medicine, it's hard to see how something so diluted could have healing effects. But Richard Katz, founder of the Flower Essence Society, based in Nevada City, California, says a different paradigm applies: "Flower essence therapy is based on the idea that a human being is more than biochemistry. We have a soul and an energy field." Katz says the essences work on a subtle level. "The vibrational quality of the flowers elicits different healing responses in the body," he says, "just as the vibrations from different types of music will elicit different responses."
Most essences work best in monthlong treatments, taken up to four times a day. Place them under your tongue or dilute them in a glass of water; dab them on the pulse points on your wrists or neck; or swirl them into your bath. Choosing the right essence is key, so find a practitioner who will take a detailed inventory of your emotional state, work life, and relationships. The Flower Essence Society (www.flowersociety.org) can provide referrals.