Bach, Dr Edward
Dr Edward Bach (September 24, 1886 – November 27, 1936) was a British doctor, homeopath, bacteriologist and writer, best known for developing a range of remedies called the Bach flower remedies, a form of medicine inspired by classical homeopathic tradition.
As you will be able to see from the site, the use of flowers and plants to heal people is neither ‘alternative medicine’ nor is it new. All medicine was at one time based on herbs and flowers, as such Edward Bach was following the principles of a vast number of previous healers from Culpepper, to the Native American Indians and Tibetan monks.
One might argue that the use of present day pharmaceuticals which have no underlying basis in Nature is the alternative medicine, carrying with it [as you will be able to see from the site] all the real risks.
Nature [meaning the system of the universe] is an integrated balanced and extremely effective system, as such working with it would seem far more sensible than attempting to fight it, and plants and food are part of that system.
Healing with the clean, pure, beautiful agents of nature is surely the one method of all which appeals to most of us" - Dr Edward Bach, 1936
Dr Bach also espoused one of the key principles I am trying to get over on this site – you treat the cause of an illness not the symptoms. He believed in seeing the person as a vastly complex set of interrelated systems, whereby if you tweak one, you are inevitably going to have a knock on effect on other systems, as such treating symptoms and not causes was always in the long term going to result in more illness, not less.
Edward Bach studied medicine first in Birmingham and later at the University College Hospital, London, where he was House Surgeon. He also worked in private practice, having a set of consulting rooms in Harley Street. As a bacteriologist and pathologist he undertook original research into vaccines in his own research laboratory.
In 1917, Dr Bach was working on the wards tending to soldiers returned injured from France, when he collapsed and was rushed into an operating theatre suffering from a severe haemorrhage. His colleagues operated to remove a tumour, but the prognosis was poor. When he came round they told Bach that he had only three months left to live.
As soon as he could get out of bed, Bach returned to his laboratory. He intended to advance his work as far as he could in the short time that remained. But as the weeks went by he began to get stronger. The three months came and went and found him in better health than ever. He was convinced that his sense of purpose was what saved him - mind appeared to control matter.
This early experience convinced him that the mind is an important part of the system of health, and eventually Dr Bach became more and more interested in ‘spirit’ - meaning the underlying system of the human body including the mind itself – as the main mechanism by which eventual physical illness results. Or to put it crudely – in a human, software bugs can create hardware faults.
The dissatisfaction Dr Bach felt with the way doctors were expected to concentrate on diseases and symptoms and ignore the whole person, led him to take up the offer of a post at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital, a place where he felt he could explore his ideas in a more tolerant and open minded environment.
Once there he soon noticed the parallels between his work on vaccines and the principles of homoeopathy. In effect, you give a tiny dose of something in order to help the body build up its own resistance to disease and illness, using the body’s immune system and its pattern recognition systems.
Starting in 1919, and whilst working at the London Homeopathic Hospital, Dr Bach developed seven bacterial nosodes known as the seven Bach nosodes. These Bowel Nosodes were introduced by Bach and the British homeopaths, John Paterson (1890–1954) and Charles Edwin Wheeler (1868–1946) in the 1920s.
What was exceptionally interesting about these nosodes was that they recognised the importance of Intestinal gut flora to human health. There has possibly been no other research, which has come so close to understanding that human health is in large measure dependent on the health of Intestinal flora.
If I again put this very simply, your Intestines are a garden, full of little bacterial plants, which help fight invaders, digest food, extract vitamins and minerals and generally do the work of feeding you as system. If you disrupt this flora you face illness.
Modern pharmaceuticals, especially the antibiotics, regularly disrupt this flora and it often struggles to recover. Motor neurone disease, Irritable bowel and a host of other diseases then result.
What Dr Bach and his colleagues proposed way back in the 1920s, is that we nurture the garden and we do this based on the variable bowel bacterial flora associated with persons of different homeopathic constitutional types.
But giving people bacteria runs its own risks, in the long term it is better to feed the bacteria we already have with the nutrients they need and to this end, Dr Bach decided he wanted to find remedies based on nature’s garden. He began collecting plants and in particular flowers - in the hope of replacing the nosodes with a series of plant based remedies.
There are some - notably the writers of the Wikipedia articles - that laugh at the way Dr Bach created his remedies, but again it is their ignorance that is at fault, not Dr Bach’s method. Dr Bach used dew, and the reason he used dew is that it was totally free of toxins and impurities. He would collect the dew drops from the plants and suspend flowers in this water and allow the sun's rays to pass through them in order that their essence was extracted.
It needs to be remembered that in general you don’t need much of something for it to be effective. I can remember being told the story of the doctor who held a spoonful of iodine in his hand and said this is a lifetime’s supply for the thyroid. This was the same principle on which Dr Bach’s remedies worked and work.
It takes a bucket load of pharmaceuticals to suppress symptoms, but you need only tiny extracts amounts of plants to treat and cure causes.
To put this as a crude analogy, you need a sledgehammer to suppress the symptoms of a headache, but only a minute amount of extract of willow [aspirin] is needed to alleviate it.
By 1930, Dr Bach was so enthused by the direction his work was taking that he gave up his lucrative Harley Street practice and left London, determined to devote the rest of his life to the new system of medicine that he was sure could be found in nature. He took with him as his assistant a radiographer called Nora Weeks.
Just as he had abandoned his home, office and work, Dr Bach began to abandon the scientific method and its reliance on laboratories and reductionism. He fell back instead on his natural gifts as a healer, and more and more allowed his ‘intuition’ [spiritual insights] to guide him to the right plants.
He also stopped charging his patients and not because the cures did not work, but because like Culpepper and Edgar Cayce, he saw his gifts as ‘spiritually derived’ and as such charging people for gifts was simply wrong.
Over years of trial and error, which involved preparing and testing thousands of plants, he found one by one the remedies he wanted. In the end he found that the underlying cause of all diseases was emotion.
Dr Bach’s remedies target particular mental states and emotions.
Now the cynical may argue that a flower remedy can hardly work with an emotion, but they are missing the point entirely. Dr Bach found that when he treated the personalities and feelings of his patients their unhappiness and physical distress would be alleviated naturally as the healing potential in their bodies was unblocked and allowed to work once more.
As such this is not an approach based on the sort of medicine we suffer in the NHS – the 10 minute consultation, where the doctor works out the symptoms and using their computer brain matches symptoms to pharmaceuticals and hands out a prescription.
To use a Bach remedy requires that someone takes the time and trouble to help you find out what is actually wrong – in other words there is an attempt to find the cause. Probably 50% of Bach’s treatments work because they are administered by someone who cares. And Dr Bach in his day clearly cared.
Dr Bach was not some untutored medical amateur. He knew full well the germ theory of disease, he knew about defective organs and other known and demonstrable sources of disease, but what Bach recognised was that exposure to a pathogen could make one person sick, while another was unaffected, when to all appearances and analysis they were in equal states of health. His conclusion was that illness was the result of a conflict between the ‘purposes of the soul’ and the personality's actions – a war in some cases between the Conscious and the Subconscious. This internal war, led to emotional imbalances and energetic blockage, which then led to physical diseases. Bach's remedies focus on treatment of the patient's personality, which he believed to be the ultimate root cause of most disease.
In effect, if we are emotionally happy and content, our immune system will fight the physical causes of disease - bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungal infection, toxins, radiation. The effectiveness of the immune system is dependent on our emotional state.
The remainder of Dr Bach’s life followed a gentle seasonal pattern from 1930 to 1934: the spring and summer was spent looking for and preparing the remedies; the winter giving help and advice to all who came looking for them. All his patients were treated free of charge. Most winters were spent in the coastal town of Cromer. Here he met and became friends with a local healer, Victor Bullen.
In 1934 Dr Bach and Nora Weeks moved to a house called Mount Vernon in the Oxfordshire village of Brighwell-cum-Sotwell. In the lanes and fields he found the remaining remedies that he needed to complete the series. By now his body and mind were so in tune with his work that he could induce [and suffer] the emotional state that he needed to try flowers, until he found the one that would help him. In this way, ‘through great personal suffering and sacrifice’, he completed his life's work.
A year after announcing that his search for remedies was complete, Dr Bach passed away peacefully on the evening of November 27th, 1936. He was only 50 years old, but he had outlived his doctors' prognosis by nearly 20 years. He left behind him several lifetime's experience and effort, and a system of medicine that is used all over the world.
He left his work in the hands of his friends and colleagues Nora Weeks and Victor Bullen, with instructions that they should carry on his work and stay true to the essential simplicity of what he had done.
In a letter to Victor dated 26th October 1936, a month before his death, he wrote:
People like ourselves who have tasted the glory of self-sacrifice, the glory of helping our brothers, once we have been given a jewel of such magnitude, nothing can deviate us from our path of love and duty to displaying its lustre, pure and unadorned to the people of the world.
The website for the Institute that Dr Bach founded can be found using this link.
This same website has a series of free downloadable books together with a collection of his essays and talks also free and downloadable, to be found using this LINK.
I recommend them all, particularly the book on Healing Yourself.
For iPad/iPhone users: tap letter twice to get list of items.
- Bach, Dr Edward - A Vision of the future of Medicine
- Bach, Dr Edward - All we have to fear is fear itself
- Bach, Dr Edward - Heal thyself
- Bach, Dr Edward - Helping others on the road
- Bach, Dr Edward - Love conquers all
- Bach, Dr Edward - On adversity
- Bach, Dr Edward - On human destiny
- Bach, Dr Edward - On Reincarnation
- Bach, Dr Edward - On the Higher spirit
- Bach, Dr Edward - The benefits of sunshine
- Bach, Dr Edward - The Dangers of control on development of a child
- Bach, Dr Edward - The dangers of the controlling adult to a child
- Bach, Dr Edward - The healing power of food
- Bach, Dr Edward - The Laws of Unity and Inner Guidance
- Bach, Dr Edward - The Nature of God
- Bach, Dr Edward - The need for faith and courage
- Bach, Dr Edward - The Systems of the Universe
- Bach, Dr Edward - The Unity of the World
- Bach, Dr Edward - The wisdom of old
- Bach, Dr Edward - There are saints at the factory bench
- Bach, Dr Edward - True healing