Monkey Flower PictureThe Enigma of Dr. Edward Bach and the
Flower Remedies

A Spagyric View
Ivor Hughes

The Man and His Work.
Dr. Edward Bach was born on the 24th of September 1886. In the suburb of Moseley, Birmingham, England. He died peacefully on the evening of November 27th, 1936. He was only 50 years old. One presumes that his mission stood completed.

He studied medicine at Birmingham University and completed his training at University College Hospital in London, where he subsequently obtained his degree in medicine. He became interested in immunology and worked as Assistant Bacteriologist at London's University College Hospital. His orthodox medical career was as varied as it was successful. He also worked as a General Practitioner, maintaining a practice in Harley Street London. Whilst working as a bacteriologist and pathologist he helped in the development of various vaccines. He also studied Homeopathy, and produced a set of Homeopathic nosodes, which carry his name. However his monument is the gift of the 'Flower  Remedies'. A natural modality that is derived from Spagyric and Homeopathic practices. They work on emotional states by anti-doting them 'Similia Similibus Curantur'. Modern Psychiatric (Crude and Barbaric) treatment uses brain chemicals for the same purpose.

Much of what we know of Edward Bach the man, or that which has passed into folklore, has been passed on from a small circle of people, who surrounded him whilst he worked on the remedies. I am asked to accept that some few days before his death, he burnt most of his working papers. Therefore any analysis of his work and it's intentions must necessarily be based on speculation. Informed speculation is the basis of circumstantial evidence.

Circumstantial Profile.
Edward Bach was born during, and lived through the Victorian and Edwardian Era. Homeopathy still fresh from it's stunning success during the London Cholera epidemic of the mid 1850's, stood on an equal footing before the law with that of the orthodox school of medicine. It was common to find doctors of the orthodox school, training in, and practicing Homeopathy. In fact most of the distinguished doctors of that era did.

The nature of orthodox training was quite authoritarian. You know the method, "Memorise those 200 bones during your lunch hour, your anatomy test is after lunch". We know nothing of Dr. Bach's emotional entanglement., however his attitude towards women is testified by his choice of personal assistant in Nora Weeks. That he was a polymath there is no doubt. The boundaries that orthodox medical training had placed around him, were courageously pushed back. This at a time when the merest whiff of 'Vitalism' would earn one a good boiling in scientific oil.

Perhaps this is an explanation for his move to the ruralities? Dr. Bach seemed to have had a talent for putting his foot in it. A man of principle! We may well understand that his written initial work along Spagyric lines, i.e.  The 12 Healers, would have not sat well in polite, orthodox, Christian society. Such matters were considered to be the work of the Devil, and were anathematised by the religious hardliners.

In Dr. Bach's day, the corner Chemist shop was a familiar sight in Britain. The Pharmacist was also trained in the art of Homeopathic Pharmacy. In addition to the chemicals, a number of plant drugs were also official. His task was to fill the doctors prescription. This according to the Pharmacopoeia standards. Informed of course by the Pharmaceutical Society. In other words they held the legal monopoly. They stocked the recommended patent medicines but they would not stock anything that they thought was snake oil. Bach chose to take his remedies to a Homeopathic Pharmacy. I believe he did so for pragmatic reasons. He was Homeopathic Physician and that he was selling homeopathic potencies of his remedies, more on this later.

Hints of Dr Bach's Cosmology.

In 1931 the first edition of 'Heal Thyself", the seminal work of the flower remedy school, was published. In it we may see his Spiritual outreach and the framework within which the remedies were developed. In Edward Bach's own words:

"One of the exceptions to materialistic methods in modern science is that of the great Hahnemann, the founder of Homeopathy, who with his realisation of the beneficent love of the Creator and of the divinity which resides within man, by studying the mental attitude of his patients toward life, environment and their respective  diseases, sought to find in the herbs of the field and in the realms of nature the remedy which would not only heal their bodies but would at the same time uplift their mental outlook."**

"May his science be extended and developed by those true physicians who have the love of humanity at heart"**. Five hundred years before Christ some physicians of ancient India, working under the influence of the Lord Buddha, advanced the art of healing to so perfect a state that  they were able to abolish surgery, although the surgery of their time was as efficient, or more so, than that of the present day."

"Such men as Hippocrates with his mighty ideals of healing, Paracelsus with his certainty of the divinity of man, and Hahnemann realised that disease originated in a plane above the physical-all these knew much of the real nature and remedy of suffering.**

"What untold misery would have been spared during the last twenty or twenty-five centuries had the teaching,  of these great masters of the art been followed.** but, as in other things, materialism has appealed too strongly to the Western world, and for so long a time, that the voices of the practical obstructors have risen above the advice of those who knew the truth."

** My emphasis. I feel that the first paragraph was almost a mirror image of Bach himself. Indeed Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) was Dr. Edward Bach's model. Who could have wished for a more apt pupil?

His original work 'The 12 Healers' was based upon the 12 Astrological types. In a later edition of the book of the same title he introduced a further 26 remedies to the Materia Medica. Interestingly enough the emotional states to be treated were classified under 7 headings. Now it is interesting to speculate, that he went about his search in one of two ways. Firstly by the classical method of a healthy prover. Or secondly, that he himself suffered from those mental and emotional storms and strode the countryside seeking relief. There are 7 inner planets and 7 days in a week. Thus we may see that much of his earlier writing is replete in Hermetic teaching and symbolism.

Dr. Bach's Approach.
We are informed that Edward Bach used the Classical Homeopathic approach to the proving's, and like all genuine physicians he first tried the substances on himself. Like cures like, therefore one presumes that the substances which he tested, produced in him the malaise which it was intended to antidote. Or that it antidoted the malaise. He then reduced the actual amount of the active substance by dilution. Up to now this sounds like homeopathy. He was a Homeopathic Physician. Dr.Hahnemann had already signposted the way. It led to Paracelsus. There we find the root of Homeopathy. There we find the moon distilled drop that mingles with the dew drops on plants. And at dawn a little natural lense pointed at the Sun. The lense was a magnifying lense. The heat generated by the early morning sun through the lense, acts like a hot poultice, and draws to the surface of the petal and then absorbs its medicinal potential. This was living essence direct from the flower. This was an Anabolic process. The effect of the Sun on an anabolic process is stimulant rather than destructive.

The early Spagyric practitioners would draw muslin cloths across stands of wild plants of the same specie, an hours or so past dawn. The collected liquid is then potentised by rotation through the influences of sun and moon for a period of 7 days. It was enclosed in a sealed opaque container to protect it from the rays of the sun., this was left outdoors. The heating effect of the sun , sets up a flux of evaporation and condensation. Thus we have a rhythmic natural rotation, which slows to almost  imperceptible during the hours of night.

We are informed that Bach used an eye dropper to collect the sun ripened dew drops. This because he had no need of the quantities of dew that were needed before the time of Hahnemannn. For example 5 ml (Imperial 84.5 minims) added to 50 ml of dilutent would produce the first 55 ml of a 1:10 Homeopathic Mother Tincture.

If we proceed on the basis of Hahnemanns Centesimal Scale (C) 1 ml of mother tincture is added to 100 mil of the diluting medium and sucussed. That is 1 C or 2x on the Hering scale. Then 1 ml of the 1 C is added to another 100 ml of dilutent. Each 1 ml of potency becomes 100 ml of the next potency. Therefore the original 55 ml of mother tincture increases by 100 increments at each level of potency. On a good day a 5 ml eye dropper represents about 30 minutes work. By hand a 30 C (60x) potency will take circa 3 hours to produce. However as a homeopathic physician he would have been more than familiar with the variety of mechanical sucussion apparatus that was available at that time. So it will be well understood, that neither quantity of the original substance, or the labour involved in potentising presented any kind of problem.

The 'Nelsons' Connection.
Let Nelsons introduce themselves, the following is taken from their website

In 1860, a young pharmacist and student of Samuel Hahnemann, Ernst Louis Ambrecht, came to London and opened a homeopathic pharmacy in Ryder Street where he could put into practice the principles learned from his teacher. The pharmacy soon outgrew its original premises and in 1890 it was moved to Duke Street where it remains today supplying homeopathic medicines to customers all over the world. Ernst's son Nelson, who changed the name of the company to A. Nelson and Co succeeded him. As its reputation has grown so has the demand for its products. As Europe's oldest and the UK's largest manufacturer of homeopathic medicines, Nelsons now produces the most comprehensive range in Britain from its specialised manufacturing laboratories in Wimbledon.

Nelsons has two laboratories licensed by the Medicines Control Agency (MCA), where all of its remedies are produced. Top quality plant materials are sourced from around the world. The ingredients are all thoroughly tested under strict quality controls.

Nelsons is distinguished as the oldest Homeopathic Pharmacy in Europe with over 140 years of knowledge relating to Dr. Hahnemanns system of medicine in all of its aspects.

Enter Dr. Bach
I would imagine that Edward Bach was well received at Nelsons. With him he would have taken a sample of his products. His provings, and very importantly, his original clinical case notes. Without  which Nelsons would not have entertained Dr. Bach. The Bach Centre copy has disappeared, perhaps Nelsons still have the case files in their archives? Perhaps they were selling Dr. Bach's new homeopathic remedies? Again a search of the company archives would settle the question.

The Enigma.
The names of 'Hippocrates, Paracelsus and Hahnemann, roll from Bach's pen like a eulogy. He plainly states that they 'knew the truth' Dr. Bach was a trained Homeopathic Physician. He thought as a Hermetic Scientist he was a 'Vitalist'. He of all people, would have understood the importance of the strict procedural method of producing a remedy. Without which, reproduction of a remedy is not possible, for very common sense reasons, which will be explained.

We are given to understand that the Dr. Bach method for producing these remedies is of two orders. (1) The Sun Method (2) The Boiling Method. Let us look at both methodologies. Reproduced below is 2 communications from 'Nelsons USA' The American distributors of the 'Bach Flower Remedies'.

From Nelson USA
17th of October 2002

Dear Ivor Hughes,
My apologies for the delay in responding to your email. I was waiting on the answer from our mother company in England since I myself was not sure on the ratio. They responded; for the sun method a 500 ml bowl is filled with spring water and covered with flowers The boil method, a stainless steel saucepan is filled with the flowering twigs or specified part of the plant, covered with water.
The exact ratio of plant to water in each case is not specified in Dr. Bach's writing, although a ratio of 50:1 for sun method and 10:1 for the boil method was given by the Bach Center
I hope this answers your question. If you need to talk to me please call

Kind regards
Denise M. Eaton
Retail Training Coordinator
[email protected]

This was a follow up on the above email.

There are two methods of preparing the Mother Tinctures for the Bach Flower Essences �
The Sun Method: Dr. Bach used this method to make 20 of the Essences �, most of which are delicate blooms in the height of summer.

The Boiling Method: Dr. Bach used this method to prepare the remaining 18 Essences �, from trees and bushes and plants, most of which flower in the early part of the year

A three step process - preparing the Bach Flower Essences �.

Step One - Mother tinctures are prepared from plant material and natural spring water using either the sun or boiling method as defined by Dr. Bach's instructions.

Step Two - The mother tincture is made up of the energized spring water (Step one) mixed with an equal quantity of 40% brandy. The brandy acts purely as a preservative for the water.

Step Three - To make the stock bottle, two drops of mother tincture are added to 30 ml of 27% brandy, which is also known as 'grape alcohol'.

Bach flower Essences � are produced exactly according to the methods set out by Dr. Edward Bach. The Essences � are energized by the sun or boiling method. No further potentisation is carried out.

My overall reaction on reading this was one of disbelief. Is this it? The sum total of Dr. Edward Bach's lifetime work? Dr. Bach's working papers have disappeared, therefore, we have no means of verifying if the above was his intention or not. Unless of course Nelson's still have the original formula monographs?

My most overwhelming impression was that  the instructions for steps 1, 2 and 3 have been very carefully worded from a legal angle. The words raise some question marks.

The word 'Essence' as applied in pharmacy can apply either to an essential oil, or if the term is used in the USA, to a spirituous suspension of the oil. That being the case, the 18 'Decoctions' produced by the boiling method can hardly be designated as essences, or can they? I am not sure that the Sun 'infusions' would be accepted as an essence either.

The first email states, that the Bach Centre, had informed Nelsons USA, that the ratio of plants to water for the Sun method is 50:1 and for the boiling method 10:1. Now that means 50 parts or 10 parts respectively to 1 part of water. That is a physical impossibility. So are we to assume that the Bach Centre do not know what they are doing, or have thy made a mistake?  I think what the Bach Flower Centre meant, 1:50 for the sun method and 1:10 for the boiling method. If my supposition is correct, we are then left with a large discrepancy of ingredient in solvent, between the Sun and the Boiling method, this by w/v. In terms of the 38 remedies this is a nonsense which cannot be explained away in any kind of satisfactory manner. The ratio of dilutions that follow the procedure clearly demonstrates that this is also nonsense. Therefore I must now proceed on the basis, that both methods are prepared to the standard vibrational medicine mother tincture of 1:10.

It will also be seen, from the preparation instructions from the Bach Centre,  that they use a 500 ml bowl. (1 pint approximates 568 ml) this mean 50 grams of fresh petals per 500 ml of water. The drying ratio of flower petals is a ratio of 10:1 theoretically the 50 grams of petals contain 45 ml of water. However this is not a fixed quantity but will vary according to the weather conditions such as wet and gorged with water or parched from lack of rain. Therefore the integrity of the menstruum which in this case is water is called into question. Further information on menstruum integrity may be obtained from my articles on pharmacy on the main page of the website .

The integrity of the menstruum is further compromised by the addition of an equal amount of 40% by volume Brandy. This will produce a 20% by volume alcoholic menstruum. This means that the original 1:50 mother tincture is now 1:100. Then unbelievably we are further informed that a stock bottle is comprised of 2 drops of the 1:100 tincture which are added to 30 ml of 27% Brandy. So far the menstruum has been changed 3 times. If there are any soluble constituents in a solution and one changes the composition of the solution precipitation will occur. On that basis of Vibrational Medicine, as in homeopathy, we could assume that there is some kind of magnetic precipitation.

Vibrational or Energy Medicines are potentised in a menstruum or a solid,  which retains the molecular memory or information of the original substance that it contained. If one then changes the menstruum the information is also altered. . On that same basis it may be seen that the mix and match system advocated e.g., The Rescue Remedy would also produce a confused energy field which would antidote the remedy. Nelsons then further inform us as follows;

Rescue Remedy
"Dr. Bach created an emergency combination containing five flower remedies - Impatiens, Star of Bethlehem, Cherry Plum, Rock Rose and Clematis.

Rescue Remedy combines these five Bach Flower Remedies and can be used to help you cope with immediate everyday situations such as going to the dentist, interviews, making a complaint or wedding day nerves. It can also help in times of crisis or trauma such as bereavement, a relationship breakdown or redundancy."

I can find no other reference that Dr. Bach was responsible for the creation of the 'Rescue Remedy' Neither do I believe that as a physician, he would have clamed such a wide ranging action. 'Shot Gun Remedies' have a very poor reputation. It is Spagyric and Classical Homeopathic insistence on a single remedy that if a complex of symptoms are present, that the remedies are given individually with a suitable interval between each. Approaching the malaise rather like peeling and onion.

If Bach were responsible, then he is also guilty of committing every beginners mistake, that of combining 2 or more herbs of the same therapeutic class. Yet he was a trained physician. To even think that he would advocate that his precious remedies be treated as though they were a box of mixed chocolates, is ludicrous in the extreme.

So What is Wrong?
Based on the matters already placed before you, I believe that Dr. Bach was producing Spagyric remedies incorporating Dr. Hahnemanns methodology.

Bach would have been fully aware that his dropper method of collecting dew from living flowers was far superior to producing a sun infusion of maimed and dying flower petals. Yet we are given stories of crystal bowls, flower petals, and pure spring water being gently potentised by the sun.

There is no pure natural water anywhere on the planet. The planet is contaminated from pole to pole with hormone and endocrine disrupters. The composition of spring water also depends on the strata through which it has risen so its composition will vary from location to location. Its chemical variability will affect the composition of the substance it contains. That is the 'why' of using distilled water. Distilled water may be energised by the correct rotation procedures.

Metabolism is of two orders Anabolism or the building up of complex structures, and Catabolism which is the breaking down of complex structures. Tissue, either plant or human, when it is dying, is in the catabolic state, There is some polygraph evidence that plants react to pain. So the type of vibration being absorbed into the spring water is not of health, but the sounds of dying. This in an order of vibrations of many magnitudes above that of the standard tincture or extract.

Direct sunlight accelerates the catabolic process that is why medicinals are stored in amber bottles. However when the mother substance is collected by a dropper from the living flower, it is an Anabolic process. This is common sense.

Irrespective of ones personal concept of what constitutes vibrational medicine, one may not escape the physical constraints placed upon the matrix or menstruum that holds that energy. The physical state of the solvent has an effect for good or detriment upon the substance which is dissolved in it. If you change the menstruum one changes the nature of the remedy, This is common sense . Dr. Bach would have been fully aware of those constraints. Therefore it does not make sense, that he would fly in the face of his experience, and abruptly change the physical nature of the solvent, by diluting it half and half with 40% brandy. That is also the reverse of the procedures followed by Dr. Hahnemann. Bach quite clearly states that Hahnemann 'knew the truth' and then further, "May his science be extended and developed by those true physicians who have the love of humanity at heart"

I am quite sure that Dr. Edward Bach would not consider the methodology described by The Bach Centre, or Nelsons, to be a development of Dr. Hahnemanns work. Quite the opposite in fact.

The so called boiling method is called a 'Decoction' There are definite rules that need to be followed for such preparations. Decoctions are still official in many Pharmacopoeias. Once again the methodology is based on the physical constraints of the plant part being treated. Decoctions are water extracts of barks and woods and seeds. They are not vibrational Medicine.

I dread to think, what such a process would inflict on such a delicate structure as spring blossom. After all we are not boiling potatoes. We are supposedly preparing a potentised  energy medicine.

The Spagyric Method of Flower Remedies.
Each drop of dew that is harvested by the dropper method would contain ethereal traces of essential oils alcohols and esters. Accordingly the Menstruum should be a minimum of 90% alcohol by volume.

The alcohol must be prepared from the green parts of the plant from which the flowers were taken. This requires some forethought for spring blossom, because the alcohol must be prepared from the leaves of the plant in early summer. Therefore it must be prepared in the previous season.

In this way the molecular integrity of plant memory is maintained throughout the process. 1 ml of the collected flower dew is added to 10 ml of the alcohol. That is the 1:10 mother tincture. This is the mother tincture  and may be prepared in any units of ten e.g. 1 litre of dew in 10 litres of alcohol. The spagyric mother tincture is potentised by  the Hahnemann method of sucussion to the 3 C potency, that means that the original 1 ml will produce many litres.

In Conclusion
There are many people for whom the Bach Flower Essences just do not work. On the other hand there are many for whom they do. The short answer to that is 'Placebo'.

I feel that Dr. Bach's work has been ideologically sanitised and corrupted. I note from the Bach Centre FAQ's that they are of low church and that a Devil's Advocate will not deter them from the simplicity of their methods. 

I for one, do not believe that the methods described, are those that Dr. Bach used. This for all of the reasons that I have stated. I also feel that 'Nelsons Homeopathic Pharmacy" owe everyone that uses those products an explanation. Not from the retail training coordinator, but rather from the Pharmaceutical Head of Nelsons Laboratory. I would be most interested to hear how he/she feels that a 'Decoction' which has been diluted many  times, and this without potentisation, can have such a far ranging effect upon an individuals emotional state. Perhaps that pharmacist knows something that no one else is privy to?

Ivor Hughes
Auckland NZ Dec 2002  

Addendum July 13th 2008
Regarding the potentising of the Homeopathic 1:10 Mother tincture by the succussion method to ensure information transfer  .. that the process is magnetic in nature appears to be the front runner. What I did not mention was that because of the delicacy of these floral spirits suspended in a menstruum which which they have an affinity .. the Spagyric method of potentisation is by gentle rotation under Sun and Moon .. the Earth is represented by the essence of the plant. The knack here is that each potency is achieved by a step of 7 .. so the mother tincture needs to be made to a ratio of 1:7 .. the next step is the first potency that comprises of a 7 day rotation under sun and moon .. to increase its potency .. this then proceeds in increments of 7 days of rotation .. 14, 21, 28 up to a maximum of 42 days which is assumed to be the the philosophic month .. what this means is that we can have small quantities  of the 28, 35, and 42 potencies available for when required plus the energy levels to meet the most prevalent conditions met by the therapist .. the water based essences although effacious deteriorate quite rapidly