Flower Power! How Flower Essences Complement
Flower essences have been
used for thousands of years - but, like so many other natural therapies
being rediscovered, they are just now making inroads into Western
healing practices. Although still on the far fringes of allopathic
medicine, flower essences - water infused with the vibration of
specific types of flowers, which effects healing on the emotional,
or energetic, level - are being increasingly utilized by massage
and energy-work therapists to aid clients' whole-body health. Some
therapists are training to become flower-essence practitioners,
and offering complete essence consultations as an adjunct to massage.
Others apply essences by misting, or by blending them into massage
lotion. Another option is to offer pre-made flower-essence tinctures
and kits for client use at home.
isn't surprising that spas are leading the way in the use of flower
essences, as the spa industry often pioneers the use of natural therapies
that promote body/mind/spirit healing. Massage therapists find the
therapy fun, productive and profitable, and clients rave about the
effects of flower essences combined with massage. Flower-essence experts
say that adding this treatment to your menu of services - whether
you're in private practice or at a spa - is sure to result in both
improved session outcomes and increased bookings.
Mention the term "flower essence," and
people are likely to think you're talking about aromatherapy. Both
therapies are based on the healing properties of plants - but there
the similarity stops. The essential oils used in aromatherapy are
made from cold-pressing or distilling plant material, including
the roots, stem, bark, seeds, fruit and flower. In contrast, flower
essences are created by placing the head of a flower in water and
exposing this mixture to strong sunlight. The particular energetic
vibration (essence) of the flower is thus captured in the water.
The flower itself is discarded, and the mixture of flower essence
and water is then preserved, usually with alcohol, and sold as a
tincture. Oftentimes two or more types of essences are blended to
address specific client issues.
"Flower essences are
a subtle energy medicine made exclusively from the solar infusion
of flowering plants," says Patricia Kaminski, executive director
of the Flower Essence Society in Nevada City, California, and author
of Flower Essence Repertory and Flowers That Heal - How to Use Flower
Essences. "The essences are made in such a way that all four
elements - earth, air, fire and water - come together to create
an exquisite archetypal medicine from the plant.
"The flower essences
have the unique ability to work in the interface between body and
mind," Kaminski continues. "They are chosen not by diagnosing
physical symptoms, but by determining the basic emotions and mental
attitudes that are affecting the overall health of the individual."
Aromatherapy oils are usually
applied through inhalation or in a lotion during massage. Flower-essence
tinctures are dropped under the tongue or added to water and drunk
by the client; they can also be sprayed over the client's body or
blended into lotion. And unlike aromatherapy, which effects healing
through the olfactory system, flower essences have no aroma. Instead,
say flower-essence experts, they work on the level of the human
energy system. The simplified explanation is that the vibratory
qualities of the flowers interact with our own vibrations to effect
Proving Essences' Effects
The skeptics among you might think the concept of vibratory healing
sounds far-fetched; however, according to those deeply entrenched
in the world of flower essences - both practitioners and recipients
- there's no question that they work. Exactly how, though, has yet
to be discovered. Although clinical studies on aromatherapy have
scientifically proven its benefits, flower essences have yet to
undergo rigorous testing. According to essence experts, this is
simply a matter of contemporary science catching up to physics.
"Modern physics has known
for nearly a century that matter and consciousness are intertwined,"
Kaminski says. "However, medical science still generally works
with a 19th-century model of the human being as a mechanism in a
world of machines.
"We expect that in the
coming century medical science will develop ways of studying the
impact of consciousness on health, and we will learn more about
the ways in which flower essences work," she continues. "Meanwhile,
empirical research, which consists of the collection of case studies
and practitioner reports, will remain the primary source of knowledge
about how flower essences work."
Bach flower-essence practitioner
Alicia Sirkin, of Miami, Florida, offers this analogy: "We
believe that flower essences carry the energetic blueprint, or life-force
energy, from the flower from which it's prepared. If you think of
your car battery, [it] carries an electrical charge in the water
that helps the car go. In much the same way, the flower-essence
liquid holds energy that restores energy to our emotions when we've
lost it through sadness, through anger, through impatience."
It might help skeptics to
know that the current interest in flower essences was pioneered
by the work of a conventionally trained physician whose ideas were,
perhaps, simply ahead of his time.
Edward Bach, Medical Pioneer
Although flower essences were first used in indigenous healing practices,
it was English physician Edward Bach, M.D., (1886-1936) who established
the system of flower-essence therapy most in use throughout the
According to several sources,
Bach displayed a degree of insight uncommon to early-20th-century
Western medicine. Early in his career as a physician, Bach noticed
that each patient's personality and emotional reactions affected
the efficacy of treatment received. Bach developed an increasing
distrust of conventional medicine, noting that the treatment was
oftentimes more painful than the condition itself. In 1919 he took
a position at a homeopathic hospital and began to create homeopathic
remedies, taking into account patients' personalities and emotional
states when prescribing. His experiments led him to discover that
certain remedies had energetic polarities that are opposite those
of certain diseases, and as such, were effective treatments. In
the 1930s Bach found that heat, in the form of sunlight, applied
to the dew of flower petals strengthened the dew's healing power.
"The earth to nurture
the plant, the air from which it feeds, the sun or fire to enable
it to impart its power, and water to collect and be enriched with
its beneficent magnetic healing," Bach wrote of this process.
Bach believed that when the
emotions were made healthy, the body would naturally correct itself.
With his years of knowledge based on patient observation, medical
treatment and homeopathy, he went on to create his 38 Bach Flower
Essences, to be used alone or in combination, to address those emotions
that he identified as problematic: fear, worry, indecision, uncertainty,
indifference, apathy, discouragement, over-caring, loneliness, impatience,
doubt, over-enthusiasm, pride and aloofness.
"Bach essences work by
helping people to manage their negative emotions," says Judy
Ramsell Howard, managing director of the Bach Centre in Oxon, England.
"They help to dispel emotions such as fear, worry, despondency,
irritation and guilt - all the things that stand in our way of living
a happy, carefree life.
"They are also the things
that, if left unchecked, can grow and 'eat away' at us, and eventually
manifest in ill health," she continues. "Bach's philosophy
was to treat the person rather than the disease, the cause rather
than the effect."
Bach purists - those who have trained in the use of the essence
recipes created by Bach - believe that the "Bach 38,"
taken alone or in combination, are all that are needed to address
any possible type of emotional condition, by anyone, anywhere in
However, many people involved
in the creation and distribution of flower essences say that since
each type of flower has its own distinct vibration, the healing
potential of essences shouldn't be limited to just 38 types of essences.
Today there are countless types of flower essences gathered from
every continent. One touch-therapist and flower-essence consultant
says she draws from a personal pharmacy of "thousands"
of essences gathered from more than 75 flower-essence companies
worldwide. Branded blends include those from Australia, Alaska,
California, Europe, and various forests throughout the world.
One thing everyone involved
in flower essences agrees upon is that this therapy effects positive
change on the energetic and emotional levels, opening the client
up to engage in deeper healing through hands-on work.
"The flower essences
give me a way to deepen the work I do by helping clients access
the emotional, psychological and spiritual concerns that are always
associated with physical symptoms," says John Stowe, a massage
therapist in Decatur, Georgia. "I use them throughout the session,
where they seem to smooth the way, help the client to go deeper,
and be able to integrate the healing process. The essences are especially
helpful when the physical work brings up emotional issues that have
been carried within the body."
Reiki master teacher Cheryl
Stroup, of Sanger, California, says, "Adding flower essences
to a reiki session is like blending heaven (reiki) with earth (flower
essences). Many people believe that spirit is separate from matter,
so it can be challenging to recognize the material world as a sacred,
holy creation. Because flower essences are born from nature, they
provide easily assimilated reminders that spirit and matter are
Flower Essences In Action
Exactly how flower essences are applied in session varies from one
practitioner to another. Flower-essence
consultants, those who have completed training and offer stand-alone
flower-essence sessions, will have the client describe what she
is experiencing in her emotional life, and then suggest specific
essences, or blends of up to seven essences, delivered in a tincture.
The client chooses a blend, then uses an eyedropper to squeeze four
drops of the tincture under her tongue or into a glass of water,
four times a day.
The only contraindications
to flower essences, say experts, is client sensitivity to alcohol
(used to preserve the tinctures) and client use of Antabuse, an
"Because flower essences
are vibrational substances, they can be used easily by people of
all ages, the elderly, pregnant women, children and even our pets,"
says flower-essence practitioner Maggie Smith, of Felton, California.
"What is good about them is that they are not chemicals. They
contain no physical substance that will conflict with any other
medications or cause allergic reactions."
stress that they do not diagnose nor treat clients, but rather that
they educate people so they can make their own decisions about using
Sirkin says that during a
consultation she asks the client to go inside to see where she feels
stuck or negative. "We have an intuitive part inside of us
that just knows what's wrong," Sirkin explains. "What
I do is I just pick out my client's own words that happen to be
the keywords for those essences that will rebalance the emotional
"It's about self-empowerment,"
she continues. "I'm empowering my client with the education
they need to self-prescribe the essences they need."
therapists who have not trained as flower-essence consultants but
who use essences in session usually apply a flower-essence tincture
to their massage lotion or to the palms of their hands prior to
beginning the massage. Some therapists put a tincture in a spray
bottle and mist the client's body before and during massage. Still
others spray their session rooms before and/or after the client
arrives, as a way of neutralizing the previous client's energy and
preparing the room.
"I encourage therapists
to spray their work rooms before and after clients with appropriate
essence sprays - perhaps a calming and relaxing spray before the
session and a space-clearing spray afterwards," says Rhonda
Marando, a massage therapist and flower-essence consultant in Portland,
Oregon. "Because these sprays can be created with no scenting,
they can be used without creating objections from odor-sensitive
clients. They can also, of course, be added to oils and lotions
and applied to the client’s skin."
Sirkin cautions that for flower
essences to take effect in a short one-hour massage session, it
is necessary to dose frequently. "The customary, bare-minimum
dose in order to get results is four doses per day," she says.
"Therefore, in session, essences should be applied often. Every
three to five minutes is not too much."
At Spa St. Charles in St.
Charles, Missouri, flower essences are a key element included in
the spa's signature treatment, Rainbow Massage, which also includes
aromatherapy and polarity therapy.
"During the Rainbow Massage,
most clients enter a trance or dream state," says Maggie Fenimore,
a massage therapist and Bach flower practitioner at the spa. "Clients
who have experienced this ask for this massage service repeatedly,
although it is the most expensive treatment on our menu."
The Massage Connection
As with any therapy, results of flower essences vary from one client
to another. In general, though, massage- and touch-therapists who
use flower essences in session say that the result is a "deeper"
massage; a session in which the client connects to his or her emotional
state more completely, relaxes more, and thereby allows the massage
to work more effectively. Beyond each session, regular use of essences
by clients results in overall stress reduction and relaxation, therapists
"So many of today's health
problems are caused by emotional and mental stress," explains
Fenimore. "Flower essences go directly to the source of the
problem to help alleviate the cause. When the root of the problem
has been remedied, it is much easier to correct the physical situation."
Flower essences can be used
for many purposes during a massage session, according to Peter Archer,
a flower-essence practitioner and manufacturer in Christchurch,
New Zealand. "There are essences that are specifically for
helping muscles relax; there are also essences that are specifically
for helping the body release emotional energy, for balancing the
energy of the body [or] of the energy anatomy, and so on - and any
of these when added to the massage oil will greatly enhance a massage
session," he says.
Eric Love, Ph.D., who has
practiced both massage therapy and Bach flower-essence consultations
for 34 years, believes that the two therapies should always be used
"I would never, never,
never give massage without Bach [flower essences]," he says.
"With massage you don't want to just treat 'something,' you
want to treat the whole person - the emotions, the spirit. If you
believe in holistic medicine, you must search out the emotional
component, the spiritual component. Learn to take care of the emotional
and spiritual components first, then learn new (hands-on) techniques."
Here's an example of how one
specific flower essence - in this case, dandelion - can work in
unison with massage: "Dandelion essence allows someone to access
their zest for life and connect to their flow of effortless energy,
and is indicated when someone has become overly tense and hard-driving,"
explains flower-essence practitioner and reiki master Cathy Kinnaird,
of Sandy, Oregon.
"The [dandelion] essence
teaches an individual how to listen to their body’s needs
and honor the inner needs of their soul. As [clients] are able to
attune with their inner needs, it becomes possible to elegantly
balance outside demands with their inner world. The body relaxes
and a graceful flow of energy returns," she continues. "It
is powerful to have this benefit at the energetic level of the body
as a massage therapist is addressing the muscles directly in the
Massage and flower-essence
client Gillian Page, who is a practicing veterinary nurse in West
Lothian, Scotland, has received flower-essence treatments for four
years. Anxiety and panic attacks are what led her to seek out the
therapy - although she had to first overcome her own skepticism.
"Coming from a science
background, I was extremely skeptical about flower essences,"
Page explains. "[But] in 1999, I felt my quality of life was
very poor with panic attacks, and I felt desperate. My husband and
[a] friend suggested flower essences. I felt upset that they thought
something like 'flower drops' could help my situation. I didn't
think they knew just how bad I was feeling.
"I decided to give them
a try at my husband's and friend's insistence, and could not believe
the results in three days," she continues. "I feel now
no fear of [panic] attacks. I have something that helps, without
doubt. I never question my quality of life now and have total confidence
in myself. I can only say to people that if they have helped me,
they can help anyone. I cannot imagine being without these flower
Flower-essence practitioners charge anywhere from $20 to $75 per
hour-long session, which includes consultation and at least one
tincture. Adding flower essences to a massage, in the form of lotion
or spray, can boost the price of a session by at least $10.
Retail is another area where
flower essences can help your business. Spas, especially, are big
on selling retail products to clients, and most massage therapists
in private practice can do so, as wellhowever, because laws
regulating massage-therapy practice vary from place to place, therapists
should check their local and state regulations before offering a
new therapy or products for sale.
"Clients who go away
with a bottle of essences made up for a particular need always comment
on how this has helped them," says Dace Praulins, a massage
therapist in South Lanarkshire, Scotland.
Many clients love making flower
essences a part of their lives, says Janet Fernandez, a massage
therapist at 5 Elements Spa in Barcelona, Spain. "We normally
make a blend for the client to take home - and the effect is lasting
because they are not just receiving the benefits at the moment of
the session but for many weeks afterward.
"Flower essences benefit
a spa's business by creating a loyal following," Fernandez
continues. "They are the key, in my opinion, to creating an
atmosphere of relaxation and acceptance. We want our clients to
feel cared for and loved, and we provide flower essences because
they express this without the need for words."
A Flowery Future
Training in flower essences can be as involved as a two-year certification
course, or as easy as purchasing a ready-made kit containing flower-essence
tinctures already formulated to address specific emotions, along
with instructions on blending tinctures.
Several experts recommend
apprenticing with a practicing flower-essence consultant to learn
about essences in-depth. Almost all said that the very best way
of learning about the benefits of flower essences is to use them
"One of the most important
ways therapists can pursue the use of essences is to consistently
use them in their personal lives," Marando says. "When
we are personally clear, stable and balanced, our work with our
clients is much more profound."
In-depth information about
flower-essence training programs and education is available through
Essence Society, Bach
International Education Programme and the Bach
Centre. For additional resources, click
With flower essences' growing
popularity, therapists are sure to see a surge in clients inquiring
about this therapy. And those who believe in flower essences' healing
ability are nothing but enthusiastic about the future of their field.
"Among the latest generation
of flower essences - the new ones that are being produced right
now, for the 21st century - there are many that are specifically
for helping with physical health," says Archer. "Over
the next few years, some really amazing things will emerge in regard
to many forms of natural therapies, and flower essences will be
right there at the forefront of this exciting new era."
In the meantime, today's flower
essences offer an effective means of helping clients achieve whole-body
healing. As Cathy Kinnaird says, "My clients' healing journeys
have become much more grace-filled and gentle. They still must make
the journey, but now they have a powerful support that smoothes
the path a bit."
Karen Menahan is the editor at MASSAGE
Magazine since 1994.