History of the Bach Flower Essences

Flower essences were first prepared in England in the 1930s by Dr. Edward Bach. Bach was a visionary healer who recognized the soul-spiritual dimensions of healing, decades before this awareness gained public acceptance. Bach was trained in conventional medicine, but knew that the physical symptoms he treated were intimately related to the emotional and mental conditions of his patients. He sought a natural, non-toxic method of addressing inner levels of human experience. Although widely recognized as an outstanding bacteriologist and homeopathic medical doctor, Bach left his practice to develop a new healing modality derived from the fresh blossoms of plants. During the time the world was suffering from the Great Depression, Fascism and Nazism, Bach developed a set of 38 flower remedies which could help the human soul overcome fear, despair, and depression.

After Bach’s death in 1936, the preparation of the flower remedies was continued by his devoted assistant, Nora Weeks. She directed the Bach Centre, and dispensed Dr. Bach’s remedies to a small but dedicated group of practitioners around the world. Nickie Murray began working with Nora Weeks in 1962, and was trained in essence preparation and selection, including the identification of proper plant species and habitats. In 1978, Nora Weeks died, giving responsibility for carrying out Bach’s work to Nickie Murray with the help of her brother John Ramsell. Nickie Murray left the Bach Centre in 1988 to pursue spiritual service, and subsequently died in 1997. In 1988, Julian Barnard, who learned the preparation of Dr. Bach’s remedies from Nickie Murray, began his own separate company, Healingherbs, to prepare flower remedies following the traditional methods of Dr. Bach. In 1991, the homeopathic company A. Nelson & Company, Ltd. (Nelsons), took over bottling and distribution of the Bach Remedies, and formally acquired the Bach Centre’s business in 1993. Nelsons sells the flower remedies through their subsidiary NelsonBach, using the trade name “Bach Flower Essences.”

Julian Barnard, the founder of Healingherbs Flower Essences, is a professional counselor, teacher, writer, and herbalist who has a deep connection with the flower essence plants and their messages of health and wellbeing. Born into a family with connections to the great English botanists John Henslow and Joseph Hooker, he was brought up with a love of plants. Julian was educated at Oxford, and studied architecture and design, and subsequently journalism. He trained as a medical herbalist in Australia, taught in a Waldorf school in England, and worked as a counselor for an agency specializing in social healing. 

Julian has been a student and scholar of Dr. Bach’s work for over a quarter century. In 1978, he wrote A Guide to the Bach Flower Remedies, and for a number of years gave many lectures and seminars in cooperation with the Bach Centre. His next book, Patterns of Life Force, is an analysis of Dr. Bach’s life within the cultural-historical context of flower essence therapy; Collected Writings of Edward Bach is a complete anthology of Bach’s written works and public speeches; The Healing Herbs of Edward Bach is the first thorough investigation of the botanical and environmental qualities of Bach’s original flower remedies. Julian’s most recent book is Bach Flower Remedies: Form & Function, a substantive contribution in which Barnard’s own original research and insights are artfully woven with a detailed rendition of Bach’s own words and deeds. Julian Barnard is recognized today as the leading expert on the flower remedies of Dr. Bach, and he is a frequent presenter at conferences and seminars throughout the world.

Since 1991, Flower Essence Services has been proud to be the North American distributor for Julian Barnard’s Healingherbs flower essences. We recognize Julian Barnard’s integrity and dedication to the legacy of Dr. Bach. Our research in collaboration with thousands of practitioners around the world confirms that the Healingherbs flower remedies have the same potency, efficacy and vibrancy as those originally developed by Dr. Edward Bach. Julian Barnard writes: Healingherbs was established in 1988 to prepare flower remedies to the highest standards, precisely according to the original directions of Dr. Edward Bach. That is why we place such emphasis upon preparing the mother tinctures in a natural environment, on perfect sunny days, using the trees and plants which are healthy and in full bloom. We are a small company where people work together in purpose-made buildings, isolated in the Herefordshire countryside, in harmony with our surroundings. We put the living forces of nature at the heart of our production process.

There are many changes in the original sites Dr. Bach used to prepare his remedies in the 1930s. Some have been overrun by development, others are polluted or disease-infested. Julian Barnard has a living connection to Dr. Bach’s work and uses discrimination and sensitivity to select the proper environments for today’s floral medicines. Often this involves many miles of travel and many days of patient observation. Each essence is made at a time when the plants are at the perfection of their bloom, in an environment in which all the life forces are in balance. The English Elm (Ulmus procera), for example, has been ravaged by the Dutch Elm disease. The epidemic reached a climax in 1935, the year Bach prepared the Elm flower remedy. Barnard comments, “The thought that such handsome and majestic trees should be laid low by a passing fungus seems ironical, but the strongest of us can be assailed by weakness. That is the quality of the remedy state — it is for those who are succeeding in life but experience a temporary despondency when they feel they have more responsibility than they can carry and there seems to be a prospect of failure.” (From The Healing Herbs of Edward Bach.) Julian Barnard travels to the very north of the country to make the Elm essence because it is the last area of England not affected by the Dutch Elm disease. Some have suggested using the Wych Elm (Ulmus glabra), which is mostly unaffected by the disease. However, the Wych Elm is broad and fan-shaped, whereas the English Elm has a tall columnar trunk. Barnard knows that it is important to use the tall, upright-standing Elm to capture the particular quality of inner strength and “uprightness” needed for this plant medicine.

Different therapeutic principles Flower essences and homeopathic remedies belong to a larger classification of healing substances that are “energetic” or “vibrational.” However, these two healing modalities are distinct and should not be confused. Dr. Bach was a well-recognized homeopathic physician who left his profession to found flower essence therapy. In an address to his homeopathic colleagues, Bach emphatically stated that flower essences are a departure from homeopathy because they do not work by the Law of Similars. This central principle of homeopathy dictates that substances are chosen to produce symptoms that match the condition of the client. On the other hand, flower essences work by introducing positive archetypes that stimulate conscious choices and self-awareness within the mental and emotional realms. As Dr. Bach emphasized, the method for choosing flower essences and the therapeutic goals and outcome are uniquely directed toward the soul life of the client. A different method of preparation In addition to a distinct therapeutic goal, flower essences are also prepared in an entirely new manner. The mother essence is made by an energetic imprint of the whole blossom into native water, embraced by a matrix of living forces found only at the peak of blossom, including the four elements and other environmental influences. By contrast, a homeopathic mother tincture is prepared by extracting properties from desiccated or pulverized minerals and stones, animal or human substances, or various plant parts, such as the root, bark, leaf, fruit or flower, which are then macerated in alcohol for several weeks. Homeopathic medicines are generally processed indoors in a laboratory setting and do not involve the “living” context required for flower essence preparation. Classified as herbal supplements, not homeopathic drugs Based on this unique method of preparation, the HealingherbsTM English Flower Essences are not labeled or prepared as homeopathic drugs, as are some brands of “Bach” remedies. Rather, they are prepared by Bach’s original methods, and labeled as herbal supplements.

The name “Bach Flower Remedies” is a generic term used by writers and therapists across the world to refer to the particular plant discoveries of Dr. Bach. Dr. Bach himself did not give his work a brand name. However, Bach’s name was trademarked in 1979 by the company, Bach Flower Remedies, Ltd. to designate their particular brand of the flower remedies. (BFR, Ltd., is now owned by Nelson & Co. Limited.) A 2008 decision by the European Trade Marks Registry in the matter of registered trade marks owned by Nelsons (Bach Flower Remedies Ltd) ruled that “Bach” refers to Dr. Bach and “Bach Flower Remedies” refers to the flower remedies which Dr. Bach discovered and not exclusively to the branded products of one manufacturer. Read the legal document here. Legal history of the UK Bach Flower Trademark The appropriation of Dr. Bach’s name as a commercial trademark was successfully challenged in court by Julian Barnard. The judgment was upheld on appeal, and again by the British House of Lords in a final appeal in 2000. The term “Bach Flower Remedies” is no longer a trademark in the United Kingdom. This ruling provides legal clarification that no company can claim exclusive ownership of Dr. Bach’s name and legacy, which he intended to give freely to the world. Since Dr. Bach died in 1936, it is apparent that there are no more “original” Bach remedies being made. The question becomes: who makes the medicines in such a way that the legacy of Dr. Bach is honored? Julian Barnard has devoted his life to carrying on Dr. Bach’s work by walking the fields and meadows to find the flowers blooming at the right time and place, with vibrant healing forces that make potent flower remedies. Healingherbs flower essences are made from the same plant species and with the original methods employed by Dr. Edward Bach in the 1930s. The appropriation of Dr. Bach’s name as a commercial trademark was successfully challenged in court by Julian Barnard. To read the full text of the judgment, which contains a very informative historical review, click here. Note, this is a large file and may take some time to load. The judgment was upheld on appeal. The House of Lords also upheld the final appeal.

The mother essence is prepared in one of two ways: in the sun method, fresh flowers are gathered at the peak of bloom where they grow in abundance, without interference from pollution or environmental disturbance. They are placed in a bowl of fresh spring water in the early morning of a sunny day, in the environment where the plants are growing. After several hours, the essence is gathered and preserved with organic grape brandy. Following Dr. Bach’s indications, some of the essences — particularly many of the tree flowers — are prepared by the boiling method, in which freshly gathered flowering twigs are simmered in spring water and then placed in their natural habitat. The mother essence is then prepared as stock by Flower Essence Services, under license from Healingherbs, using Biodynamic/organic brandy as a preservative. Stock bottles are sold in natural food stores or directly to home users and health practitioners. Flower essences can be taken directly from the stock bottle, mixed with water, diluted into a dosage bottle (dropper bottle) or spray bottle, mixed in creams or oils for topical application, or added to bath water.

In the above video, Julian Barnard and the late Nickie Murray, discuss the attributes of the Agrimony flower remedy.

Choosing Bach Flower Essences

Follow the step by step guide at the link above to choose your personal essence combination.

Create your own essence combination using either the 12-7-19 method or choose from the 7 emotional groups.

Flower Essence Services is the distributor of the Healingherbs flower essences in North America only. If you live elsewhere, please visit their website to search for a distributor in your country, or to shop online.

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