Flower essences are quite different from both hydrosols and herbal extracts. Flower essences are prepared by infusing flower petals at the peak of their bloom in spring water.
A common preparation method for flower essences is for water petals to be soaked in spring or artesian well water and placed in direct sunlight for around three hours. Sometimes the bowls are left out to absorb energy from the moon and the stars. This infusion is believed to hold a plant's healing vibrational energy or life-force.
The English physician Dr. Edward Bach was instrumental in the development and use of flower remedies essences as we know them today. He developed thirty eight flower remedies that he believed encompassed all possible mental conditions. Over the years, remedies or essences have been developed from various parts of the world from not just flowers, but also gems and other elements.
There is a commonly held belief that essences prepared from flowers in the area a person resides are more effective. Bach flower essences are the most well-known and readily available but feel free to experiment with other brands and varieties as one might more closely match your cat's energy. In other words, do not give up if you try a particular brand and do not see results even after a certain length of time.
How do Flower Essences work?
Flower essences work in subtle ways to undo negative influences, energy, or characteristics in a person or cat. In some cases, the effect of flower essences can be observed within minutes e.g The Bach flower essence Rescue Remedy can help cats suffering from shock or trauma calm down very quickly. However in most cases, flower essences elicit subtle changes over a period of time usually a few weeks.
There are several books available on the topic of flower essences including more than one excellent repertory by the founders of FES with detailed information for remedy selection. The table in this chapter shows a list of Bach and FES individual flower essences and the emotional conditions addressed.
Abandonment issues Mariposa Lily (F)
Tiger Lily (F); Vine (B)
Crab Apple (B)
Fear of Known Things
Mimulus (B); Aspen (F)
Fear of Unknown Things (includes visits to the vet)
Red Clover (F)
Bleeding Heart (F); Honeysuckle (B)
Beech (B); Yellow Star Tulip (F)
Irritability (including high strung behavior)
Chamomile (F); Impatiens (B and F); Lavender (F)
Chicory (B and F); Holly (F)
Despair (including depression)
Borage (F); Mustard (B); Sweet Chestnut (B); Gorse (B)
Shock and trauma
Rescue Remedy (B); Quaking Grass (F)
Water Violet (B)
Larch, Centaury, and Heather (B)
(B) – Bach Flower remedies (F) FES Flower essences
Flower essences are a gentle and effective way to help your cat deal with difficult situations such as visits to the veterinarian, additions to the family, and other life changes. Sometimes physical problems can manifest themselves as emotional, and vice versa. A cat who is excessively grooming his lower belly might have a bladder infection, and needs to be seen by a veterinarian. Giving his a flower essence for stress will not work if the underlying physical problem is not resolved.
Similarly a cat upset with a new addition to the family might start urinating outside the litter box. In situations like this, a flower essence should help a cat feel less stressed out and hopefully end the spraying or inappropriate urination. Do take appropriate precautions such as cleaning up the areas of the house where your cat urinated to get the smell out completely or else pure instinct will cause your cat to keep going back to eliminate in the same areas as before.
How to use flower essences
Flower essences are stored in dark bottles, and preserved in brandy. If you wish to avoid alcohol altogether, you can use brands made with vegetable glycerin, apple cider vinegar, or the Japanese herb red shiso e.g. Green Hope Farms. Other excellent brands (albeit with alcohol) are Australian Bush Flower, Master's by Lila Devi Stone, & FES.
[Essences soothe Trikki, our quick-tempered Persian rescue, at vet visits]
Essences soothe Trikki, our quick-tempered Persian rescue, at vet visits
Essences can be used alone or in combination with one or more flower essences. Regardless of whether one is using a single essence or a combination of essences, a popular technique is to prepare a stock bottle from one or more flower essences.
This can be done by filling a 1 ounce cobalt or dark brown colored dropper bottle with spring water. Two to three drops from the original flower essence bottle(s) can be added to the dropper bottle.
This stock bottle now has a diluted alcohol amount, and can be used to administer flower essences to your cat by mouth. Try to give as close to a full dropper of this diluted mix, but don't get hung up on the number of mls/ccs.
For outside/stray/feral cats that are difficult to handle, flower essences can be added to their drinking water or in diluted form to their food if they are raw-fed and don't drink much water. For indoor cats, brands of essences that do not contain alcohol e.g. Green Hope Farms or the "pet" & child versions of Bach's Rescue Remedy, can be rubbed on your cat's gums. For cats that are hard to dose by mouth, essences can be applied to exposed areas such their paw pads, ears, and nose leather.
In large multi-cat households, one can also spray a mist of diluted essences e.g. FES' Cosmos plus a lavender hydrosol to help with calming. One shouldn't count on a sprayed mist being as effective, but it's better than nothing. I've used it as an adjunct to individual dosing.
For acute situations such as trauma, one or more doses might be all that is required. In chronic conditions, several doses each day for 4-6 weeks might be needed before you see results from a flower essence. For the first few days, give your cat five or six equally spaced apart doses. Then taper off to three or four doses a day, and as you continue to see improvement, one or two doses a day should be sufficient. Flower essences can be discontinued when your cat is back to his or her normal emotional state.
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