Richard G. Petty, MD

Non-pharmacological and Lifestyle Approaches to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: 9. Flower Essences

The original flower essences were created by a Welsh physician named Edward Bach. He passed away in 1936 at the age of forty-nine and in many ways he was well ahead of his time. He was a firm believer not only in psychosomatic medicine, but also in the impact of the soul on the body.

He used a combination of scientific knowledge, intuition and clinical practice to find and refine the use of the flower essences. He walked all over Great Britain to find the correct remedies, and prepared them by taking flowers at the peak of their blossoming, and placing them in a bowl of pure water in sunlight. The water then became the raw material from which the remedies were created. Each is bottled, and a small amount of brandy added to “preserve” the remedy, which is then administered, usually diluted in water or fruit juice.

Originally there were 38 “Bach Flower Essences” together with a 39th called Rescue Remedy, which is a combination of five of them.

As time has gone by, new remedies have been created in Europe, the Continental United States, Alaska and Australia. The appearance of these “new” remedies has caused a great deal of controversy amongst traditionalists who believe that there can only be the 38 remedies discovered by Dr. Bach.

Yet people change as they move to new regions of the earth, and it is to be expected that new remedies will be waiting for them wherever they go.

Before I came to the United States I was a dyed-in-the-wool Bach Remedies person. Although I had been using them for two decades, I soon realized that people in North America often needed a different approach, and within months of my arrival I started to try the remedies created in North America with great success. (Over on the left hand side of this blog you will find some suppliers of the remedies).

So what is the evidence that flower essences are of any value in treating ADHD? There is the evidence of case reports, but precious little in the way of controlled studies. A study from Israel failed to show any benefit in 44 children with ADHD treated with Bach Flower Essences.

However, there are experts throughout the world who continue to use them for ADHD and who claim good rates of success. They aim to treat not only the attentional symptom, but also the whole person. So in deciding on a remedy they look at all the associated symptoms. I give some examples of what they look for below.

These are the main English and American remedies that have been found in practice to help some people with ADHD. Some practitioners use them in place of medications, but it is difficult to be comfortable to do that, given the problems that can occur when young people or adults have ADHD and are left untreated.

Agrimony: The child who might be helped by this remedy looks cheerful and easy going but is often filled with inner torment. The child may have great difficulty in reading if he is in a group

Aspen: These people are anxious, apprehensive and tremulous. Their fears and anxieties have no readily apparent cause. They tend to be overly receptive to the emotions of other people. They can become very worried about the unknown, fearing that there are some dark forces that will engulf them. These people often engage in magical thinking, and the fear make them feel “paranoid.”

California Wild Rose: Children who might benefit from this tend to have low vitality, poor appetite and a lack of interest in food

Calendula: People who might benefit are typically argumentative poor listeners who have communication problems in relationships. They tend to have a lot of difficulty in receiving and acting on what others are saying

Chamomile: These children tend to be contrary, fussy and agitated. They often suffer from tension in the stomach area with related digestive disturbances. They usually have continuous emotional tension that interferes with learning and concentration

Chestnut Bud:
These children often lag behind others, have difficulty with learning, repeat mistakes and have difficulty focusing on and retaining what they study

Chicory: These children demand a lot of attention because of their negative behavior. They may have temper tantrums, be overly fussy and easily get irritated if they do not get the attention that thy want. Then they tend to cling or feel sorry for themselves

Clematis: These children are daydreamers who escapes from the present by fantasizing about the future

Cosmos: These children and some adults have overly active minds that are flooded by too many ideas at once. They get so overwhelmed that they are unable to focus. This becomes very obvious when they try to think and talk at the same time. They feel overwhelmed by the overwhelming amount of information and find it hard to be articulate

Dill: These children are easily overwhelmed by new projects or when life moves too fast for them. They can feel also be overwhelmed by change

Elm: This is another remedy for people who easily feel overwhelmed. Not only do they have the feelings of being overwhelmed, they also feel over-extended and isolated

Filaree: These children get lost in details and worries. The find it very difficult to see a lose broad perspective, so they over-focus on details and can when they are be overcome by anxieties about them

Gentian: These children are not good at persevering with a project and easily get discourage. If they encounter some setback or difficulty, they find it difficult to bounce back. Gentian helps overcome discouragement after rejection or failure and makes it easier for them to get on with life without ruminating over the problem

Golden Yarrow:
People who may benefit from this typically have performance anxiety. The essence may instill confidence and enable them to perform at their best

Goldenrod: These children are unsure of their own values and beliefs, so that group and family ties may easily influence them. They may become overly reliant on social approval and vulnerable to peer pressure and social expectations. Some create barriers between themselves and others by anti-social or obnoxious behavior

Holly: The child who might benefit from Holly tends to be jealous, envious and to have sibling rivalry. They tend to see any change or disruption as a threat. They are very sensitive to minor occurrences that most other people would not even notice. They may be angry, agitated, aggressive and intolerant. They are often quick to perceive others as threatening and are easily influenced

Impatiens: This can often be very helpful for children who are restless and impulsive and who eat too quickly. They often become easily frustrated and can be impatient, angry and intolerant with fiery temperaments. Some children – and adults – who might benefit form Impatiens may even become abusive or violent

Indian Pink:
This is especially valuable for children with have attentional problems and are living in disorganized homes. The disorganization in their environments may make them nervous and they may have particular difficulties in staying calm and focused in the midst of emotionally intense and turbulent times. The remedy can help them focus and feel more grounded, calm and self-disciplined

Iris: People with ADHD who feel frustrated that they cannot express their creativity. Instead of being creative they feel weighed down by ordinariness of the world, which seems dull, colorless and uninteresting. They are usually hyperactive, and may easily become hypoglycemic and to crave candy and other sweets

Larch: For people who may benefit form this remedy, their symptoms stem from crushing doubt about themselves and their abilities. This lack of self-confidence comes out in many ways. They fear being ridiculed by other people, they are anxious and have a fear of failure. The lack of confidence may make them bad procrastinators and give them an “inferiority complex.” If this is the right remedy, it can help instill confidence in self-expression or performing in public

Lavender: People who might benefit form Lavender are typically nervous and high strung. They are very sensitive to sensation, not only from the five senses but also form spiritual influences. They tend to be light sleepers with very active minds and a strong attraction to spiritual practices. The tension in them often comes out in the neck and shoulders, as well as headaches and visual problems

Madia: These people are easily distracted, unable to focus, have scattered thinking and an inability to manage details. They are often dull and listless and can easily become “spacey.” They often have a great fear of public speaking. For the right person Madia enhances the ability to focus and concentrate and to be precise in his or her thinking

Mallow: These people not only have problems with attention, they also find it difficult to make and maintain social contacts and friendships. Their social insecurity and fear of reaching out to others means that they often suffer from feelings of isolation and abandonment. The remedy may help them become more accepting and to develop self-esteem, warmth and trust

Mariposa Lily:
These children often feel alienated from their mother. In adults with attentional problems this remedy may be helpful in the healing of childhood traumas, including abandonment and abuse

Mimulus: These children are shy and have a lot of fears and phobias about concrete fearful events, objects, or people. They may have a fear of heights, flying, illness, dentists or almost anything else. This constant dread, worry and fear makes it hard for them to face the challenges of daily life. These children are often physically sensitive, shy and introverted, though they may talk a lot or puff themselves up to hide their fear

Morning Glory: These people tend to be dull and constantly toxic, especially in the mornings. Some engage in addictive behavior, have irregular habits and an erratic lifestyle typify. These are the children who crave junk food and stimulants, engage in late-night bingeing and suffer from nervous problems. Many of them have attachment problems during development and they often grind their teeth at night

Peppermint: These children can be dull and sluggish as a result of metabolic imbalances that leave them feeling sleepy they have eaten. They have difficulty maintaining mental attention and difficulty using and focusing their mental abilities. For the right child, the remedy can make them mindful and it promotes mental clarity and alertness

Pine: These children tend to be introverted, conscientious, self-critical, filled with guilt and always hard on themselves. They set unrealistically high standards for themselves and may become perfectionist or even obsessive about doing things correctly. They take on responsibility for the mistakes of others

Pink Monkeyflower:
These are usually highly sensitive people who have groundless feelings of guilt, shame or unworthiness. These feelings together with a sense of vulnerability, makes them afraid of being hurt and they create barriers between themselves and the world outside. They want to hide and avoid attention. They have difficulty expressing their true feelings, which they hold deep inside

Poison Oak: These children are hypersensitive and fearful. The often come across as irritable, impatient and hostile, but it is a defense against their inner vulnerability. They are often afraid of contact with others and protective of their personal boundaries. They tend to be distant and to have difficulty in forming relationships

Quaking Grass: These children tend to have a lot of trouble in social settings. They find it difficult to listen and communicate, mainly because they find it difficult to filter out sensory impressions and find it difficult t strike a balance between their own sense of Self and the demands of a group

Rabbitbrush: These people are easily confused and overwhelmed by too many details or too much going on at once. They have trouble multitasking and need to be more alert, mentally adaptable and able to synthesize and incorporate their experiences

Rescue Remedy (Five-Flower Remedy): This combination remedy may help with acute anxiety, crisis, panic or trauma, when both the child and the situation seem totally out of control. So it is often useful during extreme stress. (Regular readers will recall the recent study about the use of Rescue remedy in acute anxiety)

Rosemary: These people tend to be forgetful and lack physical and emotional warmth. They are often prone to hypoglycemia. It often helps give them more vitality, particularly in children who are sleepy or forgetful during the day. It is a classic remedy for poor memory, and it may help people with a sluggish digestion

Shasta Daisy: This remedy promotes awareness, concentration and insight. It often helps people who over-intellectualize but have scattered thoughts. It may enhance mental clarity, especially for people who are unable to put the pieces together into a cohesive whole

Shooting Star: These people have a profound feeling of alienation, especially not feeling at home on Earth. As children they often talk about space and other planets. They may be ambivalent and apathetic

Snapdragon: Children who might benefit from Snapdragon tend to get irritated, hostile and aggressive if they feel challenged or attacked. They are angry and argumentative when communicating with others. These children may even be verbally abuse and make derogatory comments. Some may even bite!

Vine: These people are often bullies who always have to be in control of the situation and will put their own wishes before those of others

Yarrow: These people are extremely vulnerable to other people and to the environment. They are easily depleted and are overly absorbent of negative influences. They can get real “people poisoning” or psychic toxicity if they are around a lot of people.

Flower Essence Society Pink Yarrow: This one can often be helpful for people who have a tendency to absorb the emotions of others

Deciding on the correct essence to use is a matter of clinical experience and taking a very careful history that looks at the physical, psychological, social, subtle and spiritual dimensions of the individual.

The essences are not known to have any side effects, and they may help in selected individuals despite the lack of any objective data to support their use.

“The earth laughs in flower.”
–William Blake (English Poet, Painter and Mystic, 1757-1827)

“Flowers are words which even a baby can understand.”
–Arthur C. Coxe (American Bishop, Poet and Writer, 1818-1896)

“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made and forgot to put a soul into.”
–Henry Ward Beecher (American Congregational Minister and Writer, 1813-1887)

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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