Flower Essences and Animals

By Mary K. Birkholz

From the beginning of recorded history, and most probably a long time before that, man has recognized the healing properties of the plant kingdom. Nature has provided the cures for all of man’s illnesses (and their animals as well), both mental and physical, and also the means for maintaining good health. Dr. Edward Bach (1886-1936), a physician, was a healing pioneer in the field of medicine. He discovered that emotional well-being aided in recovery of patients with disease, and that good health had a direct correlation to a balance of body, mind, and soul. His strong endeavor to “cure” his patients, and not merely palliate led him into nature. Through truly inspired research Dr. Bach created one of the most comprehensive state-of-the-art systems of healing widely known today as the Bach Flower Remedies. The Bach Flower Remedies, there are 38 in all, are prepared from the flowers of wild plants, bushes, and trees. The essences do not directly treat physical disease, but help stabilize the emotional and psychological stresses, such as fear, loneliness, worry, jealousy, and insecurity, which Dr. Bach believed were the root cause of physical dis-ease. Today many others have followed in Dr. Bach’s footsteps and have discovered literally hundreds of other plants that also offer healing properties.

Here at Caring For Creatures animal sanctuary ­ home to just under 200 dogs and cats ­ flower essences are used to ease, calm, and balance. Many of the animals that arrive at the sanctuary have been lost, abandoned, or surrendered by their humans. Many express a great deal of fear, loneliness, anger, sadness, and insecurity. By close observation of an animal as well as through the assistance of an animal communicator, we attempt to determine the true cause of their responses and we then match a remedy to the cause. Animals in humane societies and similar facilities can be eased with essences. Exposure to disease is less the cause of illness than emotional trauma in these animals. If the animals had not been terrified, stressed, and lost, the same dis-ease (bacteria, virus, etc.) would pass them by without harm. Traditional physicians are now admitting that stress and crisis have a profound effect on health and that negative emotions can lower resistance to disease.

At one time or another we have used all of the Bach Flower Remedies as well as some of the more recently discovered flower essences. Following is a listing of some of our favorite tried and true remedies and the destructive emotional/mental states that they help ease:

  1. Rescue Remedy: This is a combination of five of the Bach flower essences and is known as the emergency first aid remedy. Hardly a week goes by that we do not utilize this remedy for either an animal or ourselves! It quickly eases panic, terror, and states of shock. Some of the situations we use it for are: new animals arriving at the sanctuary; following an altercation between two animals; before a trip to the vet; to ease the fear of thunderstorms; on birds that fly into windows and are in a state of shock; after an animal has been hit by a car to help prevent the animal from slipping into shock before they can be transported to a vet, assists animals experiencing an epileptic seizure ­ the uses seem endless. Although the Rescue Remedy helps to develop emotional and psychological balance, it is not a panacea or a replacement for orthodox medical care. In fact, many medical doctors and other health care professionals carry it in their emergency kits or on their person for use in such circumstances. If you were to only purchase one remedy, this would be the one to get!
  2. Mimulus: For fear of particular things or circumstances such as thunderstorms, vacuum cleaners, trips to the vet, etc. When fear turns to terror­ use Rescue Remedy.
  3. Aspen: For the nervous, fearful dog, especially in new circumstances. Can assist dogs harshly disciplined in the past. Also for the “fraidy” cat that is always slinking from safe place to safe place; startles at any sound or horses that spook.
  4. Honeysuckle: For the animal whose primary person has been removed. If the animal acts withdrawn, subdued, unenthusiastic towards people. For homesickness.
  5. Star of Bethlehem: For the physically or emotionally traumatized animal, either currently or in the past­ abused.
  6. Beech: For the cat that has no tolerance for another animal or certain people. Can be effective with Walnut to assist in keeping the peace between two cats who always seem to be fighting; or for an animal that has a new baby in the home.
  7. Gorse: For animals with terminal illness or those who will have a long recovery from a serious physical condition; the feeling of hopelessness, despair.
  8. Crab Apple: for birds that pull out their feathers; animals recovering from bladder and similar infections; eases the feelings of “unclean” and “impure”.
  9. Tiger Lily: Eases the overly aggressive, competitive, and hostile attitudes.
    Tomato: A cleansing essence; assists the body in shattering and throwing off that which is causing infection.
  10. Celery: Restores balance of immune system during times when it is being stressed and during long-term viral or bacterial infections.
  11. Sweet Bell Pepper: Stabilizes body/soul balance during times of stress; we regularly use a combination of this essence along with tomato and celery in the water bowls in the sanctuary catteries if we suspect one of the cats is throwing off an upper respiratory virus or during change of seasons when a respiratory outbreak is more common.

These are just a few of the flower essences that we use. The remedies are self-adjusting, which means that when the remedy is incorrect, it simply has no effect. If, for example, we choose to administer a flower essence or combination of essences by putting them in a water bowl used by more than one animal, should one animal’s system not require the essence, it will have no effect on that animal. The essences are not habit-forming and can be used in conjunction with other medications. Flower essences are available in most health food stores and/or directly from the producers (see below for a partial listing of suppliers) and they are quite affordable.

If you haven’t utilized flower essences with your animals (or yourself!), we highly recommend you that you give them a try. There are many books available on the subject. Our experience is that flower essences make a positive difference in the lives of our animal friends and can even be life saving!

SOURCES: Bach Flower Essences, Holmes, PA – (800) 314-2224; Flower Essence Society, Nevada City, CA – (800) 548-0075; Perelandra Center for Nature Research, Warrenton, VA – (703) 937-2153; Global Health Alternatives, Portland, ME – (800) 4223-2256. Many health food stores and grocers carry flower essences: in Charlottesville area try Whole Foods Market, Rebecca’s Natural Foods, and Integral Yoga.