The soil, in return for her service, keeps the tree tied to her; the sky asks nothing and leaves it free.
– Rabindranath Tagore
We may credit Welsh doctor Edward Bach, who left his medical practice in London in 1930, with the discovery of flower essences, or flower remedies as they are sometimes called. Seeking an inexpensive and painless means of curing his patients, Dr. Bach evolved a simple healing approach over the next six years that addressed their mental and emotional states rather than treating their physical symptoms. He was a truly holistic doctor, ahead of his time. Correct the psychological state, he reasoned, and the physical body stands a better chance of overcoming its ailments.
Employing Bach’s method of preparation, I developed the Spirit-in-Nature Essences in 1977, the second oldest essence line in the world today. These essences were initially interpreted by an internationally renowned teacher from India named Paramhansa Yogananda. He asserted that fresh fruits and vegetables heal us on psychological as well as nutritional levels. Eat cherries for cheerfulness, he recommended, and pears for their peacefulness. These defi- nitions have provided the cornerstone for the twenty Spirit-in-Nature Essences, extracted from the blossoms of organic fruit trees and vegetable plants.
Flower essences are prepared through a simple method employing pure spring water, sunlight, and freshly picked blossoms. The flowers are floated in a plain crystal or glass bowl filled with pure spring water for three to four hours in direct morning sunlight with no interference from clouds. The blossoms are then removed, and the water is stored in a dark bottle to prevent further exposure to sunlight, half filled with brandy as a preservative. This preparation is called mother essence. (Stock and Dosage bottle directions follow later in this chapter under “Administering an Essence.”)
Easy to use and quick-acting, these essences help restore people, animals, and even other plants to their natural state of balance. Seemingly irreversible negative behaviors can be improved or, more often, completely dissolved. Flower essences are completely safe. There are no such things as overdoses, side effects, or contraindications. In the best-case scenario, “miracles” happen—meaning one is returned to a state of wholeness; in the worst case, there is no noticeable response. Please remember: Flower essences do not directly treat physical ailments, nor are they meant to replace proper medical or veterinary care. They will, however, nurture and support your pet’s healing process.
Basically, flower essences reestablish an animal’s link with his own natu- ral ability to heal himself. In returning him to a state of equilibrium, flower essences simply allow him to do what comes naturally: to be well again. In treating the underlying cause of the illness, we see the opposite of a vicious cycle: The animal’s improved psychological health affects his physical state for the better, and vice versa. Or better yet, flower essences can be used to strengthen the animal to prevent illness in the first place!
Your pet’s behavioral imbalances, which flower essences address so directly, are often clues and precursors to physical illness. This is not to say that all emotional imbalances eventually become physical illnesses. Oftentimes, it is enough to treat the animal’s obvious unhappiness, uneasiness, or fear so as to avoid any physical expression of these symptoms at a later time. As we know, we ourselves are far more likely to be well when we live relatively stress-free, harmonious, and loving lives.
What, then, are the mental and emotional states that affect an animal’s wellness? This is the special focus of Flower Essences for Animals. Many common pet issues are addressed in this book, with recommendations for remedies, including Pear Essence, to restore stability, security, and equilibrium; Grape Essence, for loneliness, abandonment, jealousy, and the time of a pet’s passing; Spinach Essence, for the various stresses of domesticated life, for abuse, especially for strays, and for premature weaning; and Tomato Essence, for the many fears that animals (and we as well) may experience. Flower essences have been proven through countless case histories and testimonials to foster happy and healthy animals and our richly rewarding relationships with them. (Please note: The capitalized plant or food refers to the flower essence, to distinguish it from the food source.)
Animals in Our Lives
Consider these stories. A cat, hearing a burglar breaking into the house at 2 a.m., awakens her owner, who then turns on the light, scaring off the thief. A dog sits by the window every evening, precisely ten minutes before his owner’s arrival home, even though the man’s work schedule is completely irregular. A gorilla in a Chicago zoo makes front-page news for carrying to safety a stunned child who had fallen over a railing and had plummeted two stories down a concrete cliff into a pit below. On video for all the world to see, an amateur photographer filmed the young gorilla mother gathering up the unconscious three-year-old boy. Not only did she protect the boy from other gorillas as she knuckle-walked him to safety, but she then gently laid him down near the cage door where the zookeepers could safely retrieve him.
Animals actively participate in our lives. They make wonderful companions, seeing us through our most joyful and difficult life experiences. They share our homes day after day. They befriend us through illness and surgery; they comfort us through loss of family and friends. They weather our moves, our moods, our gains and losses alike. Our pets never criticize or judge; nor do they blame or belittle. And through it all, they transform us.
I am often asked by pet owners how they can better care for their animal friends. Perhaps the dog is recovering from surgery or the cat seems unsettled by the sudden return of the children from summer vacation. A vast range of your pet’s symptoms and behaviors are easily addressed through the wise use of flower essences. This chapter will supply you with the basic information about how and when to administer essences to your pet.
How Flower Essences Work
Flower essences can be used to help an unwell animal return to health or to assist a happy, well-adjusted animal in feeling even better. Here are just a few examples of the successful use of flower essences for an animal’s behavioral problems. An older cat is given an essence and recovers three times more quickly from surgery. A finicky dog calms down and returns to eating regular meals. A newborn goat kid who exhibits symptoms of not surviving through the night— listless, stunned, and disinterested in nursing—spends his first night indoors receiving an essence dosage every half hour and returns to his mother “on all fours” by morning. Another newborn goat kid is brought back to life by an essence after a warm comfrey bath had failed.
Behavioral as well as physiological problems respond to flower essences. A six-year-old cat who had been abandoned as a kitten behaves in a less needy manner, according to his owner, after only two days on an essence program. Another cat immediately stops dominating the other household pets upon being placed on an essence regimen. A pet tortoise, disoriented by an Indian summer change of climate and eating less in preparation for winter hibernation, is noticeably soothed by an essence rubbed under her chin and onto her shell.
Animals on flower essences exhibit radically improved behavior not attributable to any variables other than the essences themselves. They may also heal physically much faster than the normally expected recovery time. We don’t find skepticism among the animals—only in their human care- takers. Pets, in fact, respond to essences even more quickly than do people, generally requiring only two weeks on a single essence and often a much shorter time. Nothing makes a believer out of a nonbeliever better than witnessing firsthand a pet’s dramatic response to an essence program. Flower essences, according to my company’s collected research, work whether we believe in them or not. With animals, the placebo effect is not an issue. Quite simply, people who give essences to their pets see results through behavioral changes.
Stephanie Chalmers, D.V.M., of Santa Rosa, California, reports that, based on her experience, flower essences work immediately: “They help pets and their owners survive the really tough times in specific situations. People really need something for their pets that they can use to help them get through the crisis of the moment, whether it be behavioral problems or skin diseases. And I’ve seen flower essences work quickly, which makes them very useful.”
Veterinarians and other healthcare professionals who use flower essences recommend them for pet owners as well. Animals are sensitive to their owners, and vice versa. Pets, by nature, will both absorb and mirror the emotional climate of their household. Not only is it quite common to see the problems within a household reflected in its pets, but it is both predictable and expected. Especially where emotions or anxieties run out of control, a good veterinarian will recommend an essence program for the owner as well. (Chapters 5 and 6 explain how these remedies may benefit you, the caregiver.) At the risk of repetition, it is important to state that flower essences do not replace proper veterinary care or good nutrition. Many health and behavioral problems can be eliminated simply through an improved diet of fresh, vital foods.
Just as traditional herbal remedies biochemically strengthen our natural defenses and sharpen our body-functioning performance, so flower essences fine-tune us mentally and emotionally, allowing us to experience a higher standard of health and well-being on all levels. When the psychological nature is balanced, the body can relax and, many times, heal itself. This principle applies to people and pets alike. Flower Essences for Animals focuses on the specific conditions and situations—emergencies to everyday occurrences—in which your pet may need special care.
Do various species, and different breeds within those species, require different essences to accommodate their different instinctual temperaments? No. Trauma—which calls for Pear Essence—is simply trauma, for people, pets, and even plants. One woman reported adding Pear Essence to the watering can when transplanting an indoor ficus tree. This delicate tree tends to lose most of its leaves during the transplanting process. With its roots soaked in Pear-saturated water before the procedure, not a leaf fell.
Administering an Essence
Flower essences may be administered both orally and topically. The best means of application is the one most agreeable to the animal at the time and circumstance of treatment. One excellent method is to moisten your pet’s mouth or gums with a few drops placed on your fingertips, once in the morning and again in the evening. Additional doses several times throughout the day are also required. Some animals enjoy the brandy-preservative taste; others turn their noses up at it. It is not uncommon for pet owners to report that their pets quickly “get used to the taste” and soon thereafter actually begin to enjoy it! (One cat actually sits with her mouth open as her owner drops the dosage into her mouth.) The important factor, whichever method you choose, is for your pet to be dosed at least four times daily to ensure best results.
Much like homeopathy, flower essences work best when not given too close to feedings—ten minutes before or one hour after a meal or snack is fine. On the other hand, we receive testimonials of pets exhibiting remarkably quick and thorough results with the essences given through food only. You may try this method if you like; but to be safe, you may want to work in addition with topical application or drops in the water source. This applies to emergency and non-acute situations alike—though for crisis conditions, you may dose every few minutes until results are noticed.
Topical applications are as follows. You may add four drops to a small misting bottle or plant sprayer filled with water to spray on your pet, but only if the procedure is agreeable to him. (Most cats are not at all thrilled with this approach.) You’ll need to prepare a fresh solution each morning. This is the easiest and most expedient method when transporting a cat or dog on the car seat next to you. Bedding and cages, including travel carriers and trailers, may also be sprayed with the essence solution. The misting method is so effective and non-invasive that some vets rely on it exclusively.
Or you may add four drops to a small amount of liniment or oil or put it directly on your palm and rub or brush it into fur, flesh, feathers, or scales (for reptiles, not fish). Gently rubbing an essence behind the ears, on the paw pads, or on the abdomen or coat makes for a pleasant experience for your pet. Flower essences can also be added to an animal’s drinking water—four drops to a bowl of water or sixteen drops to a watering trough—which should be refilled with fresh water every morning. This approach works best as a backup for other methods since a pet will rarely finish an entire water supply and thus not receive the full dosage.
Topical and oral application are equally effective. We receive many stories of birds who crash into large windows or sliding glass doors and then fall to the ground, stunned and seemingly near death. With doses of Pear applied to their beaks every few minutes, they can then quickly fly off to safety. In fact, pet owners have volunteered countless direct testimonials over the years that our Pear Essence is the most effective flower essence they’ve ever used.
Spirit-in-Nature Essences are available in Stock Concentrate potency; all twenty are used in the same quantity and frequency. The term Stock refers to the level of potency in the preparation of the essence and means that only a minute amount is necessary for results. We prepare the Stock bottles by putting two drops of mother essence in a one-ounce dark bottle filled with brandy. To prepare a Dosage bottle, the third and final level of preparation, simply place two Stock drops in a dark one-ounce bottle, add a tablespoon of brandy as a preservative, and fill the remainder of the bottle with pure spring water. When needed, administer four drops from the Dosage bottle, or use two drops of Stock Concentrate.
The Stock and Dosage bottles will retain their potency for six to ten years if stored out of heat, humidity, and sunlight. Thus, you’ll want to be careful not to leave essences in a hot vehicle or on a sunny window ledge. Also, if the dropper should touch your pet or your fingers, it may be sterilized to prevent contamination of the essences by placing it for ten minutes in boiling water with a pinch of sea salt.
Other Helpful Hints
There are never any adverse effects from flower essences; they are virtually risk-free. And if several animals share a watering bowl, bucket, or trough, you may rest assured that no harm is possible. Flower essences can supplement other herbal therapies and allopathic medications without contraindications. In other words, if your dog is on antibiotics and flower essences, there is no conflict. They cannot offset or adversely affect each other. Nor need you ever fear overdosing. It is not possible to administer too much of an essence, although the solution may be wasted.
It is possible, however, to give too little and too infrequently, so be sure to follow directions. Some people feel that because animals respond so readily to flower essences, the dosage rules can be stretched by giving the essence once or twice a day instead of the recommended four times. Indeed, many times results are still noticeable. For some animals, no more than this is required. But to best ensure results, it is advisable to adhere to the standard dosage directions. In addition, such is their potency and purity that the same dosage amount and frequency apply to animals of varying sizes and weights—unless you are treating a herd of elephants!
In addition, dependence or addiction—either physiological or psychological—is virtually impossible with flower essence therapy. This applies to animals and humans alike. As mentioned earlier, flower essences do not need to travel through the digestive system and be absorbed in the bloodstream as do biochemical medications.
How long should you keep your pet on an essence? Continue until you see stabilized results, indicated by his return to regular behavioral patterns. Many pet owners report results as quickly as with the first dosage. One owner called our office recently with the news that she noticed immediate results for all three of her dogs who were each placed on a different essence to address their various needs and personalities. “When I came home last week, they were all attentive before I even opened the bottles. They quieted down and sat there with their ears back. This was not their typical welcome-home greeting for me!”
In fact, it is safe to say that we get more feedback of immediate results with animals than with people. We receive many testimonials of animals who acknowledge that their owners bring the essences home. Much like a person saying, “Ah, I feel better already,” our pets can sense that help is on the way. Although results are often immediate—within ten minutes—you will usually see the beginning of a response within three days. Five days to two weeks is the standard framework of time needed for an animal to integrate the necessary behavioral changes when only one essence at a time is administered. In cases of deep-rooted fear or trauma, however, a month-long program may be required. If you do not see results within three days—meaning at least the beginning of changes in behavioral patterns—one of three causes is likely: improper selection, not following dosage directions, or the problem resides in the pet owner and not the pet (see chapter 4).
Is your cat sleeping on her favorite sofa again rather than hiding under the bed after a tooth extraction? Is your dog barking at passersby as usual, having recovered from your son leaving for college? Each animal will respond to and complete an essence program at his own pace—anywhere from a single dosage to two weeks, generally speaking. Flower essences are not meant to be taken indefinitely; use them only until regular, healthy behavior is restored or physical symptoms improve or disappear altogether.
Based on over three decades of research and documented cases, I recommend that you give your pet one essence at a time rather than in combination. We tend to see quicker, more noticeable results with this approach. The obvious benefit with this method is that you will know which essence is working. I have often wondered with the combination approach how one actually knows whether all the essences are helpful or if it is a single “right” essence within that combination which triggers the healing response. However, many people combine three to five remedies with excellent results.
The key is this: If you do not hit on the “right” essence with the single-essence approach, you will need to try a second essence within three days, or half an hour in an emergency. If you are undecided between two or more essences, determine the most predominant and immediate issue at hand, and give the corresponding essence. Yes, your dog can take Pear initially for being hit by a car, for several days to a week, or until you see his behavior returning to normal. Then Tomato can help with residual fears, especially if you catch him shying away from moving vehicles after the accident. And the good news is that, because the Spirit-in-Nature Essences is a line of only twenty tinctures, there are fewer to choose from. Fears of any kind may be addressed with Tomato; abandonment or neglect, with Grape. For the beginner and the practicing therapist alike, selection is simplified by fewer essences from which to choose.
Lastly, how to know which essences to give to your pet and in what order? Study the essences described in chapters 5 and 6. Familiarize yourself with the charts in the appendix. Then observe your pet’s physical symptoms and behavioral clues. A horse will need Tomato for a fear of being transported. A cat who has been abused by a previous owner will benefit from Grape. If you are undecided, give Pear first. Not only is this a good “first choice essence,” but it will allow other definitive symptoms to surface more clearly by helping your pet to return to a more balanced, “readable” state. And in fact, for any pet you bring into your household without knowing his previous history, it is a good idea to give Pear, Grape, and Tomato Essences sequentially, just to “cover all the bases” of his needs. Other essences can be added later or when issues present themselves.
With essences for people, we take into consideration what I call the flower/food connection. This approach explains essence selection in terms of food cravings. People who desire calmness through better self-control may like to snack on almonds. Someone coming to terms with a better sense of self may enjoy a hair shampoo listing strawberry as an ingredient. Although this concept does not apply as readily to animals, we do receive an occasional testimonial in support of the flower/food connection: the elderly dog on Corn Essence who actually enjoys eating corn on the cob, for instance.
For a deeper understanding of the Spirit-in-Nature Essences, I refer you to my book, The Essential Flower Essence Handbook. In addition to a full chapter on pets, it provides an in-depth study of each of the twenty essences of this line, mainly for people but also adaptable for animals, as well as other important flower essence information.
Animals are not skeptical. The multifarious mental blocks that we erect to negate the ways that flower essences work simply do not exist for our pets. One of our most impressive testimonials is of a large tropical fish aquarium being transported from one home to another. When fish are relocated or traumatized in any way, they tend to hide behind their underwater rocks and castles and not surface at feedings for a few days. These angelfish and Jack Dempseys, their tank dosed with a flower essence, exhibited no signs of disturbance; they simply went about their business as usual.
In order to see results with flower remedies, adhering to directions is essential. These bouquets-in-a-bottle can “calm the wild beast” in all living things. One of the more natural herbal supplements available, flower essences balance our pets’ lives and our relationships with them as well.