Flowers to Heal the Body

Flower essences are usually described as helping to heal emotional or psychological problems that plague a person's life. Rarely, however, are they considered for more physical concerns. I have even heard some practitioners claim they have no effect on the body at all. In my own practice, I routinely use essences for certain bodily complaints with great success. They are a constant reminder of how thin the veil between body and mind can be.

It is a truism of the holistic approach to healing that unresolved emotions eventually become "stuck" in the body, especially the musculature. So, if essences can help us release these old emotions and let go of their energy, it follows that the physical body should get "unstuck" at the same time. In fact, many of my favorite flower essences act as muscle relaxants. The generalist of this group is Dandelion. The essence from this common medicinal plant helps one loosen tense muscles throughout the entire body by letting go of old emotions. I have also seen it work on sprained ankles and the like, greatly speeding up the healing process. Lilac is much more of a specialist, working mainly on the deep muscles around the spine. This area is deep in the "core" of the body. The emotions at this core level frequently seem to come from early childhood, reflecting how safe or threatening you decided the world to be. If you don't feel at home in the world, it's common to tense up at the core, as though bracing yourself for the next blow. Lilac lets you relax in the world, giving a bad back some time to unwind. I use it often for sore backs and spinal problems and it can assist any kind of therapeutic bodywork that works with spine.

There are a number of muscle relaxants that work in the throat area, including the shoulders, jaw, and even the skull. Typically, tightness in the neck and mouth reflect a choking off of the voice, as if the person is trying to avoid saying what is really on his mind. This suppression of expressing one's true feelings is so common that I consider such tightness the mark of a civilized human being. In it's more extreme forms, jaw tension is what doctor's call "TMJ syndrome." The first essence I use for this is Snapdragon. Not only does it loosen up the mouth in short order, but often emotions such as anger are loosened up as well. Columbine relaxes tension in the throat that reflects a feeling that life is "suffocating." The hunched over, beaten down posture of a person needing Jack in the Pulpit is unmistakable. Here's a person that feels life is a burden and is just trying to get by.

Ian White, a naturopath from Australia and the creator of the Australian Bush Remedies, has researched the connections between the endocrine glands and his essences. He uses them to stimulate glands that are sluggish or inactive. The endocrine glands produce hormones that control a vast number of bodily functions, so any imbalance with them is likely to have major effects on one's health and vitality. Of the many essences that he found for the glands, I commonly use Macrocarpa (for the adrenals) and Old Man Banksia (for low thyroid activity).

Ian has also taught about the usage of She Oak in some cases of infertility. She Oak, a plant that grows near streams, helps living tissue absorb water. For some women, dehydration of the ovaries can prevent normal conception, as can unconscious attitudes about being pregnant. He has seen a number of children born with the help of She Oak; I've seen two in my own practice. (Incidentally, She Oak is also good to add to the water for house or garden plants, as it promotes the uptake of water.) Matt Wood uses Easter Lily as a purifier of the reproductive system of women wishing to have a child. Cleaning out the womb like this makes for a healthier child.

Flower essences can often be helpful with allergies and environmental sensitivities, especially if the reaction is partly emotional in origin. The first remedy to consider is Yarrow, which seems to improve the resistance to most allergens. Pink Yarrow and Golden Yarrow have very similar effects. My favorite remedy in this category is Ragweed essence, made from the flowers of my old nemesis. The ability of Ragweed to control allergy symptoms is comparable to even a good homeopathic remedy. Most of the time my drops are all the allergy medicine I need.

I call Chamomile the remedy for when you can't digest what life dishes out. This is true not only at the emotional level, but in the tummy as well. Defective digestion is often the result of stress and emotion, and Chamomile calms the emotions and jittery nerves that lead to many upset stomachs.

Recently, I've started using Saint John's Wort for conditions where the nervous system is affected, which can manifest in some of the most bizarre symptoms. This plant has a long history in treating chronic pain and nervous disorders, and the essence appears to retain these healing properties. So far, the results are most encouraging. This essence is also effective against disturbances of normal sleeping and dreaming habits. It's certainly worth a try if you have insomnia.

Of course, any flower that affects the emotions will have some impact on the body at the same time. The essences I've mentioned are only some of my favorites. If you have a medical concern that essences may address, please see a health practitioner for advice (and don't try to treat yourself!). But don't overlook these safe and gentle essences in your pursuit of health and vitality. They are healing to both body and soul.