Flower remedies are a natural protocol used to bring balance to emotional states at the root of many physical issues. At the Chalkboard, we’re always fascinated to learn more about these types of natural remedies – and love that our readers are too. Although flower remedies may sound too sweet to be good medicine – and are still far outside the bounds of most folk’s ideas about conventional treatments – we were happy to gain more insight on the subject from someone at the forefront of the, er, flower field!
Alexis Smart is somewhat of a superstar in our books, having been featured in every publication from Vogue to Vanity Fair for her famously effective flower remedies and, well, amazingly cool personality. Quintessentially Californian, Alexis is as gentle and lovely a soul as you may imagine a woman to be whose passion is of the flowering kind. Through attentive in-depth consultations with clients, Alexis helps identify undealt with emotional issues and other lingering factors that “like the layers of an onion” must be peeled away to return a client to vibrant health. Alexis links emotional issues with fitting blends of flower remedies that her clients take home until they experience change – a phenomenon that happens much more quickly than you may expect. We asked Alexis to start from the beginning and explain to us a little about these unusual remedies and how she came upon them…
The Chalkboard Magazine: For those out there who aren’t familiar, what are flower remedies?
Alexis Smart: Flower remedies are healing essences made from the flowering part of a flower or tree. They are taken internally as drops under the tongue. Not to be confused with aromatherapy, flower remedies are scentless, and are used for balancing emotional conditions on a very deep level. They were discovered by British M.D. and bacteriologist, Dr. Edward Bach, in the 1930s.
During his years working in hospitals, he observed that the patients who were unhappy returned again and again with recurrent illness. He sought a healing method that could treat the patient on a spiritual level, thereby encouraging the body to heal itself, and discovered the power contained in the blossoms of flowers.
TCM: How do flower remedies work?
AS: Flower remedies are considered vibrational medicine, similar to acupuncture and homeopathy, as they are very dilute and work on the subtle, bioenergetic field.
The Bach remedies have a total of 38 individual essences and are prescribed according to the mood and personality of the patient, never for the physical complaint. Simply, taking them raises your vibration and makes you feel happy. Rather than suppressing negative emotions or symptoms (as we are accustomed to in conventional medicine and with conventional drugs), the remedies work by flooding us with the good feelings and virtues we need to overcome our negative emotional state.
Technically speaking, the way flower remedies work can be understood more from a quantum science theory and a principle called “sympathetic resonance.” Just as everything living vibrates at a specific frequency, emotions and thoughts have a specific vibrational frequency too. So, imagine if you are experiencing jealousy and hatred. This would have a frequency which might look like a big wave. Then you take holly flower essence (which is specifically for those emotions). The vibrational frequency of that essence is a match to the frequency of that particular emotional state and it balances out the negative feelings.
TCM: How did you begin working with flower remedies?
AS: I began my work with flower remedies as a patient. I had been suffering for a long time with many physical symptoms, as well as emotional things I could not seem to overcome, despite years of therapy as well as every alternative modality under the sun.
I saw a practitioner of Bach flower remedies and in three weeks I let go of all of these negative patterns I’d had since childhood. I had believed these traits were part of my character and I would just have to learn to live with them, so it was quite a profound experience to be proven wrong in the best way.
It inspired me to learn everything I could about flower remedies. For a few years I studied, went to workshops and treated family and friends. I practiced on them for free in exchange for detailed feedback. This was invaluable, because you can learn all you want from books, but the clinical experience is what makes a good practitioner.
I knew I had a calling when, at cocktail parties, someone would chat with me and I would secretly diagnose them: “Hmm, happy and jokey, but perhaps hiding a secret worry…Agrimony? Very responsible. Maybe he needs Oak?” My friends were having great results and started sending people to me and insisted that I charge for my services, and the next thing I knew this was my job!
I studied homeopathy as well, but after a few years, I realized flower remedies were my true love.
TCM: You mentioned homeopathy – which can require a lot of patience! Are flower remedies one of those super-subtle natural remedies that take a good amount of patience as well?
AS: Flower remedies can work in minutes for something that is of recent onset. For example, if you have a near accident or a fright from some kind of trauma and you take a remedy, you can feel it right away. If you have a chronic or long-standing condition – say you have been shy since you were a child – it will take three weeks to notice changes. That isn’t a long time when we’re talking about changing lifelong pattern. (If this seems too long, then you should take some Impatiens, the remedy for impatience). Flower remedies are only ‘subtle’ in that they are harmless and have no side effects, but they are anything but subtle in their life-changing abilities! Most people experience the effect of flower remedies, properly prescribed, very quickly.
TCM: Who are flower remedies best for? Are there any special conditions that benefit especially from them?
AS: You don’t need to be a New Age hippie for these to work on you. They work on CEOs, misanthropes, cats, babies and even non-believers.
There is a remedy for every type of person and every emotional condition you may encounter as a human being. I have never felt that something was missing from the range of 38 remedies.
I often encounter new patients who are new parents – folks running themselves into the ground, perhaps neglecting their own needs because of what is required of them. They can’t get away to rest, since the whole family is relying on them, so they just keep driving themselves – but they experience chronic exhaustion. It’s easy to get a short fuse and feel easily overwhelmed at this point in life. The flower remedies can help. New parenthood is a time in life where you can’t change the external conditions much. You have that baby and they needs you. But if you take a formula like LifeSaver, it removes that feeling of being overwhelmed by responsibility, that it’s ‘all on your shoulders’. You stop putting so much stress and effort into everything, but you still manage to do exactly what you were doing before, just with a different outlook. Calm is restored, your strength comes back, and your thought processes no longer operate in that high stress, fight-or-flight way any longer.
One young woman recently came to me with depression. She didn’t know the cause and she was told she had a chemical imbalance. She was prescribed anti-depressants (which then caused anxiety) but they were not effective against her depression. She was then prescribed an anti-anxiety medicine, which made her tired, but did not remove her anxiety. So, now, she had depression, anxiety, and side effects from medication! During our session, I let her talk and found out through her story that her mother had died ten years ago. She didn’t think this was the cause of the depression, as it happened such a long time ago and she said she didn’t feel sad about it. But it was clear to me that she had suppressed her grief at the time of her mother’s death. She had had to be strong to take care of her little sister. As a person, she never cried or asked for help, always kept a stiff upper lip and stayed strong. This was how she was raised and she thought it was virtue. I gave her a remedy for buried grief and shock (Star of Bethlehem) and Water Violet, her ‘type’ remedy, which is for those that may hold in tears, who like to be alone and rarely ask for help. Within a month she was off all of her medication and was happy and joyful. She did report that she cried non-stop for the first three days on the remedy but that it felt amazing and that all the tension left her body. She said that after that, she felt life force and energy moving through her and the depression lifting. So, the story to me is very important. Anyone could have just thrown some mustard flower remedy at the poor girl (for depression with no known cause), but when you really listen to a person’s story, they reveal exactly what needs to be healed.
TCM: Flower remedies aim to bring people back to their original state. Tell us a little about that?
AS: Well, first of all, the whole philosophy of Dr. Bach and this system is that we are born perfect beings and that our natural state is happiness. (What? You mean I don’t have to suffer and toil and make a lot of money before I can be happy?) Unhappiness is the result of not being in alignment with our true selves and our purpose. Life happens to us – trauma, disappointment – and we build up layers on top of our true selves, coping mechanisms, habits and protective devices. So in flower remedy therapy, there is a kind of “peeling of the onion” (I wish someone would find a better metaphor for this phenomenon). When you start, you may take remedies for a while to remove some of those outer layers, but then eventually, you may say “I feel a lot like I did when I was four: very outgoing and sure of myself,” or however you may have been before these events happened to you.
I liken it to what DaVinci said when asked how he created his statue of David, the image of human perfection. He said that he simply chiseled away everything that was not David. I feel that is what flower remedies do.
TCM: Flower remedies are not mainstream. You must enjoy seeing a first-time client really experience a healthy change for the first time! Tell us about that.
AS: Oh, it’s so gratifying. Especially when it’s someone who was skeptical. You have to just let them take it and not force the experience on them. It’s so great to watch someone experience. Sometimes even I can feel down about the possibility that things can change, and then when a client tells me how their life has changed and what a miracle it is, I am reminded of the magic of it all.
TCM: What is a good place to start for those who would like to try out the remedies?
AS: I would say First Aid Kit (Dr. Bach’s rescue combo with the addition of Crab Apple) is a remedy everyone should have on them, in the purse or glove compartment. It’s an all-purpose stress reliever and is fast-acting. My Personal Assistant is another one. It’s energizing and motivating, for that ‘Monday morning feeling’ any day of the week!
Have you ever used flower remedies or do you know of someone who has? Leave us your comments below! We want to hear all about it…