Physical illness and disability; mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and dementia; bereavement; feeling useless and a burden to others; and social difficulties such as poverty and isolation are common. These issues have increased manifold, thanks to the modern era. Although Bach flower remedies cannot cure these problems, they can help to relieve the emotional distress associated with them. The remedies are safe, easy to take, and may reduce the need for pharmaceutical drugs. These advantages are especially important for older people.
About the Bach flower remedies
The Bach flower remedies are ‘energy medicines’ which are used worldwide as an aid to balancing emotions and personality. A survey revealed that over 80 per cent users reported to find this therapy helpful. Though the remedies do not aim to directly cure medical conditions, they help to better the symptoms—physical and mental.
They were discovered in the 1920s and 1930s by a British doctor, Edward Bach, a pioneer of mind-body medicine and the holistic approach to healing. He quit his orthodox practice, as he wanted to find a natural and toxin-free system of mitigating symptoms and also attack the root cause of the disease. He believed that certain wild flowers carried vibrations corresponding to different psychological states, and could stimulate feelings of hope, courage, tolerance etc.
The concoctions are prepared by either laying petals soaked in spring water in the sun or by boiling. Later, brandy is added to the fluid which is then diluted to make the alcohol content minimal. The final liquid is stored in ‘stock bottles’ which are later sold at pharmacies and online. People, who are averse to alcohol for personal reasons, can avail of preparations that use glycerin instead.
The remedy is customised to suit the emotional temperament of the individual. They are supposed to be taken orally in a dosage of 4 drops 4 times daily. The stock bottles need to be kept in a cool and dry place and should be used in less than three weeks.
One can have this flower solution along with almost any other medication. The effect of the remedies depends upon the severity of the problem; more serious the illness, longer it takes for the remedies to work. Although they have no toxic side-effects, they do sometimes give rise to ‘healing reactions.’ The best explanation for these reactions is that they are the repressed negative emotions surfacing before being replaced by positive ones. This shows that the medication is working, however if they prolong and hurt, one can stop the dosage till the reactions subside.
Any of the 38 remedies might be suitable for an older person but here are some examples of those commonly used.
Anxiety, worry and fear
In old age people tend to be more worried about their own wellbeing as well as of those around them. They are constantly watching out for bad things that might affect them leading to sleepless nights and loss of health. Mimulus is the remedy for ‘fear of known things’, in other words for anxieties related to understandable causes such as worrying about the wellbeing of a loved one, anticipatory anxiety about a surgery, or not having enough money to pay the bills. In contrast, Aspen is more suitable when fear and apprehension arise for no obvious reason. Sometimes anxiety is being felt on behalf of another person, perhaps a close relative who is sick or in trouble, and in this case Red Chestnut is indicated. Many anxious people experience repetitive worrying thoughts, often keeping them awake at night, and White Chestnut is the remedy for this. When there is extreme anxiety or panic, consider Cherry Plum for the fear of losing control and doing something bizarre, or Rock Rose for terror and nightmares.
Depression, sadness and despair
The hormonal changes that happen in old age can cause emotions to go haywire. This often leads to a gloomy state of mind that can interfere with daily functioning. Gentian benefits those who have been discouraged and disheartened by a setback in life. If there is a longstanding problem such as a chronic illness, and the person has no hope for a better life, Gorse would be useful. For people suffering from despondency and misery, Sweet Chestnut is recommended. And for depression that arises with no cause, like a black cloud, Mustard is suggested. These deep depressive states carry serious risks, including suicide, so patients should seek professional mental health care rather than relying on Bach flower remedies alone.
Adjustment to change and loss
Old people are known to be fixed in their ways of living. So they are not very welcoming about any changes—however big or small they may be. Most of the life changes that old people experience are negative ones, not of their own choosing. The combination Rescue Remedy is suitable for short–term use during any kind of crisis. Walnut is helpful when adjusting to new circumstances, such as having to move into a new accommodation. Losses, such as death of the partner or being diagnosed with a serious illness, are common and Star of Bethlehem is the remedy for shock, bad news and grief. Honeysuckle benefits those who are primarily lost in the past happenings, especially those who are nostalgic about the happier times.
Appropriate use of the Bach flower remedies can promote the positive aspects of old age. More information about them, and about Dr Bach’s own writings, can be found on the Bach Centre website www.bachcentre.com