Biography of Edward Bach
Edward Bach grew up in Bermingham, and as a boy is said to have shown a keen concern for human suffering. He worked in his father's brass foundry and observed the loneliness, alienation and apathy that appeared to affect the general health of many of his co-workers. He decided that this was not to become his profession, and considered to become a minister or medical doctor. With the financial support of his father, he eventually chose the latter.
He studied medicine at the University College Hospital, London, and was a House Surgeon there. According to his biographers he was a rather peculiar medicine student, because he soon revealed more interest for patients than for their illnesses: he sat at their bedside and let them talk. He thus discovered that the real cause of their illness was worries: the woman who suffered from acute asthma, for instance, was a very frightened person, as he learnt when she told him that her only son had moved three months before to northern England, for work reasons, and since then had been out of touch. The woman feared he had been victim of an accident or that he was dead, but when her son one day went to visit her and told her he had found a new job near home, she started to get better and in the space of a few days recovered completely: she didn't need to hold her breath for her son any longer.
The man who had been diagnosed with a stomach ulcer had many worries: he had been fired, his wife couldn't work and he had to support two children, but when he could resume his former activity he completely recovered.
Hospital physician goes to Harley Street
Bach obtained a Diploma of Public Health (DPH) at Cambridge the first year of the twentieth century. In 1913, he took a post at University College Hospital as the casualty medical officer: In 1914 he was forced to leave his leadership of important medical services due to illness, but was in charge of 400 war beds during World War I. It was here that he began to observe the effects of stress and trauma in relationship to the recovery potential of his patients. He also worked in the National Temperance Hospital and had a successful practice on Harley Street.
Bach's clinical results were recorded in several medical journals, including the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine. Despite the success of his work with orthodox medicine he felt dissatisfied with the way doctors were expected to concentrate on diseases and ignore the people who were suffering them. He felt that the vaccines he had developed were still too crude in composition, and when he accepted a new post at the London Homeopathic Hospital, he eventually developed seven bacterial nosodes. These were homeopathically diluted and "potentized" vaccines still known as the seven Bach nosodes. The bacteria were classified according to their reactions on four sugars. The nosodes were: Proteus, Dysentery, Morgan, Faecalis alkaligenes, Coli mutabile, Gärtner and Bacillus No. 7. The Morgan nosode was indicated for individuals with deperession, anxiety and nervousness as outstanding characteristics. The Proteus and Faecalis alkaligenes traits included irritability, anger, impatience and nervous strain. The Coli mutabile group qualities of changeability and vacillation, whereas the Bacillus No. 7 group was characterized by nonalertness and sleepiness.
These nosodes received rapid recognition and were used widely throughout Europe and America and to this day are included in the standard homeopathic pharmacopoeia. As Bach became increasingly sensitized to the emotional and mental issues presented by his patients, he sought remedies that could act with greater depth and harmony than did the bacterial nosodes. He was especially influenced by the vitalist tradition in healing, philosophy based on a belief that the functions of a living organism are derived from a vital principle beyond mere physio-chemical forces with an emphasis on a stronger relationship to nature cures and herbal medicine.
Flowers to the people
So in 1930, at the age of 43, Bach gave up his lucrative Harley Street practice and left London to work in Wales and the English countryside, determined to devote the rest of his life to the new system of medicine that he was sure could be found in nature.
Just as he had abandoned his old home, office and work, he abandoned the scientific methods he had used up until now. Instead he chose to rely on his natural gifts as a healer, and use his intuition to guide him. One by one he found the remedies he wanted, each aimed at a particular mental state or emotion. His life followed a seasonal pattern: the spring and summer spent looking for and preparing the remedies, the winter spent giving help and advice to all who came looking for them. He found that when he treated the personalities and feelings of his patients their unhappiness and physical distress would be alleviated as the natural healing potential in their bodies was unblocked and allowed to work once more.
The winter months were usually spent treating patients who were charged no fees. By 1932 he had discovered the first of his 12 remedies and these he used on the many patients who came to him for treatment. Bach decided to spread his knowledge among the people. He advertised his herbal remedies in two of the daily newspapers and this brought him numerous inquiries from the public and also a letter from the General Medical Council who disapproved strongly with his advertising and would hold him answerable to charges if it continued.
In 1934 Dr Bach moved to Mount Vernon in Oxfordshire. It was in the lanes and fields round about that he found the remaining 19 remedies that he needed to complete the series. He would suffer the emotional state that he needed to cure and then try various plants and flowers until he found the one single plant that could help him. In this way, through great personal suffering and sacrifice, he completed his life's work.
Dr Bach died on the evening of November 27th, 1936, only 50 years old
Disease will never be cured or eradicated by present materialistic methods, for the simple reason that disease in its origin is not material . . . Disease is in essence the rresult of conflict between the Soul and Mind and will never be eradicated except by spiritual and mental effort.
In his seminal treatise, Heal Thyself,
One of Edward Bach's admirers in an article Flower Essences - an evolutionary science published on the Flowerbase Web Site, writes:
Since the thirties, the flower essence science has much evolved, and we are faced with far more complex emotional issues, especially when one considers the astrological changes which have occurred since then. While Dr. Bach had a complete system for treating the darker side of our nature (which came about with the discovery of Pluto around that time), new astrological discoveries (e.g., the planet Chiron in 1977) have reflected new emerging soul issues, which Dr. Bach's remedies cannot remedy. As a consequence, new ranges of remedies have manifested at the right time to deal with the new issues which we find in our day to day patients, amounting to over 400 new mainstream remedies.
This will probably be applauded by The International The Earth is Flat Movemenet.
The Dr. Edward Bach Centre in the UK presents this list of the 38 remedies discovered by Dr Bach and directed at a particular characteristic or emotional state.
Agrimony - mental torture behind a cheerful face
Aspen - fear of unknown things
Beech - intolerance
Centaury - the inability to say 'no'
Cerato - lack of trust in one's own decisions
Cherry Plum - fear of the mind giving way
Chestnut Bud - failure to learn from mistakes
Chicory - selfish, possessive love
Clematis - dreaming of the future without working in the present
Crab Apple - the cleansing remedy, also for self-hatred
Elm - overwhelmed by responsibility
Gentian - discouragement after a setback
Gorse - hopelessness and despair
Heather - self-centredness and self-concern
Holly - hatred, envy and jealousy
Honeysuckle - living in the past
Hornbeam - procrastination, tiredness at the thought of doing something
Impatiens - impatience
Larch - lack of confidence
Mimulus - fear of known things
Mustard - deep gloom for no reason
Oak - the plodder who keeps going past the point of exhaustion
Olive - exhaustion following mental or physical effort
Pine - guilt
Red Chestnut - over-concern for the welfare of loved ones
Rock Rose - terror and fright
Rock Water - self-denial, rigidity and self-repression
Scleranthus - inability to choose between alternatives
Star of Bethlehem - shock
Sweet Chestnut - Extreme mental anguish, when everything has been tried and there is no light left
Vervain - over-enthusiasm
Vine - dominance and inflexibility
Walnut - protection from change and unwanted influences
Water Violet - pride and aloofness
White Chestnut - unwanted thoughts and mental arguments
Wild Oat - uncertainty over one's direction in life
Wild Rose - drifting, resignation, apathy
Willow - self-pity and resentment
There is also a Rescue Remedy, which is a combination remedy made up of five different remedies.
- Heal Thyself. Still in print.
The Internet bookstore Amazon has a long list of books on how to use Bach's flower remedies to heal thyself, your children and your dog.
- Nora Weeks:
Edward Bach. Hugendubel verlag, München.
Nora Weeks was Bach's closest collaboartor and his successor.