The Mood-Boosting Power of Flower Essence Therapy

Learn all about this holistic practice with some potential emotional benefits.

A flower essence is an extract from a botanical that is thought to contain mood-enhancing, beautifying, and healing capabilities. Flower essence therapy generally refers to a type of therapy that uses bespoke flower essences for emotional health and balance. However, there are several types of flower therapy that may or may not incorporate flower essence. We spoke with a spiritual counselor to learn more about flower therapy and how flower essence can potentially improve our well-being.

What Is Flower Therapy?

Flower therapy is a multidimensional approach to healing that includes exposure to botanicals to improve our emotional state. "Flower therapy can be the use of beautifully arranged bouquets of flowers to achieve healing properties and to improve mental health," says Allison Chawla, a licensed clinical psychotherapist, spiritual counselor, and certified life coach. "This [healing] can take many forms: the effect [flowers] have on our mental state visually, their aromas, oils they provide, or healing fragrant waters or tinctures that can be created from them."

In some cases, just being around flowers is enough to lift people's moods. "Many studies show that the feelings of gratitude and happiness appear in an instant," Chawla says. This benefit applies whether you receive a bouquet, buy yourself a bouquet, or opt to mix some flower essence remedies into your morning water.

How Flower Essence Therapy Works

While there's some debate about the efficacy of flower essence as therapy, there's a growing trend worldwide that supports natural healthcare products (and complementary or alternative therapies). Many alternative therapies (including flower therapy) have been tested through the years and are based on a long history of traditional use.

"There is research that [...] supports the use of flower therapy as a homeopathic technique for managing psychological suffering and difficult emotions within individuals," says Chawla. While the mechanisms of action are up for debate, many anecdotal reports show that flower therapy and flower essence can help improve conditions like anhedonia, anxiety, and depression.

Known Benefits

A study from 2007 found that certain flower remedies played a role in pain control. Results of another study from 2001 "strongly suggest that flower essences may be used adjunctively to facilitate the resolution of mild to moderate depression."

Sometimes the possibility of feeling better with the help of natural remedies, even if it's potentially a placebo, is a welcome alternative to try.

Potential Drawbacks

There is limited current scientific evidence to support the benefits of flower essence therapy compared to a placebo (and no evidence to prove it can treat physical pain or illness). Most of the clinical research includes anecdotal case reports. There have also been some studies where adverse effects were reported, so it's important to weigh the risks on a personal case-by-case basis.

How to Use Flower Essences at Home

Bach Original Flower Remedies is the best-known system of flower medicine. It was founded and developed by a British physician and homeopath named Edward Bach in the 1920s and 1930s. The Bach Flowers are organized around 38 English wildflowers and plants that Dr. Bach determined to have a positive calming effect on emotional imbalances. The flower remedies use dilutions based on traditional homeopathic practice, each of which was crafted by Dr. Bach to help balance a specific feeling or emotion like fear, uncertainty, lack of confidence, or doubt.

Popular Options

Bachs' flower essence works like Jo Malone scents: You can use them individually or combine them for a totally personalized approach. "We recommend blending up to seven remedies together," says Kim Knoblauch, Bach's director of marketing. "Think about that—literally millions of different combinations that can be personalized to you to support whatever you're feeling. There's also Rescue Remedy, a blend of five of the most popular Bach flowers to support and relieve everyday emotional stress." Simply add the indicated number of drops to a drink or directly into your mouth at intervals throughout the day.

Of the 38 options, the most popular remedies include:

  • White Chestnut to calm a restless mind, so you can fall asleep naturally
  • Star of Bethlehem to neutralize grief (think those who've experienced a shock like bereavement, illness, or bad news)
  • Mimulus to help face fears like public speaking, flying, heights, or darkness

Just as with any type of complementary therapy, you might have to play around with what works best for you and try out various combinations based on researched effects. And in some cases, the results can be pretty immediate.

Flower Arrangement Healing Potential

If you don't think flower essence is for you, you could still benefit from adding a flower arrangement to your home. Choosing flowers that ease the difficult emotional or psychological state you're experiencing can be incredibly beneficial, especially if those flowers last a long time. "For example, if you're feeling very agitated or anxious, you can try a bundle of flowers that have very subtle and calming colors like off-white, light peach, or very soft yellow," says Chawla. "These colors are proven to help ease a heightened mood and bring calmness."

If you're experiencing depression, try something with brighter colors. "Tiger Lilies, sunflowers, bright reds, oranges, and greens, and select flowers that provide a pleasant scent to fill the room and inspire your mood," Chawla says. "I would also suggest something healing that can be carried around, like a fragrance water or oil, to apply throughout the day if you cannot stay by their arrangement."

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  1. Howard J. Do Bach flower remedies have a role to play in pain control? A critical analysis investigating therapeutic value beyond the placebo effect, and the potential of Bach flower remedies as a psychological method of pain reliefComplement Ther Clin Pract. 2007;13(3):174-183. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2007.03.001

  2. International Journal of Healing and Caring. Flower Essence Therapy in the Treatment of Major Depression: Preliminary Findings.

  3. Thaler K, Kaminski A, Chapman A, et al. Bach Flower Remedies for psychological problems and pain: a systematic reviewBMC Complement Altern Med. 2009;9:16. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-9-16

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