Making Bach Flower Remedies
The order in which Bach found the remedies is of interest. The first twelve formed a distinct group and then seven more were added, then the second nineteen. The preparation of these remedies was of two kinds; by what Bach called The Sun Method and The Boiling Method. The first nineteen remedies with the addition of White Chestnut (found in 1935) were all prepared by the sun method. The last group of remedies, eighteen of them, were all boilers. There has been a little confusion over this matter of how remedies are prepared. Nothing will make the matter clearer than quoting Bachs own description as published originally in The Twelve Healers & Other Remedies.31 Bach wanted this information to be generally known as indeed he wanted all his writing to be widely available.
METHODS OF PREPARATION
Two methods are used to prepare the remedies.
A thin glass bowl is taken and almost filled with the purest water obtainable, if possible from a spring nearby,
The blooms of the plant are picked and immediately floated on the surface of the water, so as to cover it, and then left in the bright sunshine for three or four hours, or less time if the blooms begin to show signs of fading. The blossoms are then carefully lifted out and the water poured into bottles so as to half fill them. The bottles are then filled up with brandy to preserve the remedy. These bottles are stock, and are not used direct for giving doses. A few drops are taken from these to another bottle, from which the patient is treated, so that the stocks contain a large supply. The supplies from the chemists should be used in the same way.
The following remedies were prepared as above: Agrimony, Centaury, Cerato, Chicory, Clematis, Gentian, Gorse, Heather, Impatiens, Mimulus, Oak, Olive, Rock Rose, Rock Water, Scleranthus, Wild Oat, Vervain, Vine, Water Violet, White Chestnut Blossom.
Rock Water. It has long been known that certain wells and spring waters have had the power to heal some people, and such wells or springs have become renowned for this property. Any well or any spring which has been known to have had healing power and which is still left free in its natural state, unhampered by the shrines of man, may be used.
THE BOILING METHOD
The remaining remedies were prepared by boiling as follows:
The specimens, as about to be described, were boiled for half an hour in clean pure water.
The fluid strained off, poured into bottles until half filled, and then, when cold, brandy added as before to fill up and preserve.
Chestnut Bud. For this remedy the buds are gathered from the White Chestnut tree, just before bursting into leaf. In others the blossoms should be used, together with small pieces of stem or stalk, and, when present, young fresh leaves.
All the remedies given can be found growing naturally in the British Isles, except Vine, Olive, Cerato, although some are true natives of other countries along middle and southern Europe to northern India and Tibet.
There follows a list of English and botanical names as is generally known.
Nora Weeks and Victor Bullen shared the ideals that Dr Bach had embodied in his work. One such might be characterised by his phrase to gain freedom, give freedom (Free Thyself Ch:X). For that reason they published the illustrated guide on how to prepare the Bach Flower Remedies. [In The Bach Remedy Newsletter, January 1964, Nora Weeks states explicitly her wish that people should enjoy preparing their own Essences; Vol 3 No.9] It is not possible to quote directly from this book but the directions given there elaborate and clarify Dr Bach's notes. For the present purpose the following observations can be made.
Bachs notes are unclear in respect of the three stages in preparing the remedies: these stages are:
1. Preparing the Essence.
2. Dilution of the essence to Stock - 2 drops of essence make up into 30ml of stock.
3. Dilution of the stock to Medicine Strength - 2 drops of stock make up into 30ml of medicine strength remedy.
When preparing essence it is important to check that the plant is the correct one (more on this below), the flowers should be in perfect bloom and be collected about 9am on a fine bright morning, from as many different plants as possible which are growing in the wild where they have seeded naturally.
Make the remedy near where the plants grow. No shadow should interrupt the clear sunlight (nor cloud) so the place is important. Fill the thin glass bowl with good spring water and cover the surface with flowers. Avoid touching the flowers by either putting the bowl beneath the plant or covering your hand with a broad leaf and carrying them on that. Leave the bowl in clear sunlight as Bach directs. When removing the flowers use stem from the same plant and not your fingers! The essence should then be poured into a sterilised bottle that is half filled with brandy. A sterile jug or funnel may be helpful.
The same conditions apply to this method. Use a clean saucepan, fill it three quarters full with flowering sprays, leaves and twigs then put the lid on. The boiling is best done at home but make no delay. Cover with two pints of spring water and simmer for thirty minutes. Use a twig from the same plant to press the contents below the water. Afterwards let the contents cool, then remove the twigs and filter the essence. Again half fill the bottle with brandy and half with essence.
These notes are sketchy but the best that can be done at the present time.
Now this essence will make a very large volume of stock. Only a few drops are required to potentise an ounce of brandy in another bottle (stock) and when making up a medicine strength bottle it is diluted again so if we make the essence we have a lot more than is needed individually. That is one thing. Another is this. Some of these plants are now scarce so let us not pillage nature: a flower that is picked cannot become a seed. And thirdly it is important to use the right plant.
Dr Bach tested a great many different plants and concluded that these were the ones that satisfied his intentions. If we find others they too will have a life force that has a notable virtue but it may not be the one that we want or think it is. There can be no doubt that mistakes are easily made. If, for instance, we were to prepare an essence from Bryony thinking it to be Clematis what would be the effect? Bryony is a poisonous creeper that in some ways mimics Clematis but a remedy prepared from the flowers would be rather different and with properties that might not be so pleasant. So care is needed.