Why Try Flower Essences?
by Julie A Cantrell BSc, CPDT, CDBC
Flower Essences are completely natural, delicate yet powerful preparations that can be remarkably effective at correcting or adjusting extreme or out of balance emotional reactions. These very dilute liquid preparations contain the energy signatures (or "essences") of various healing flowers. Each flower essence addresses a specific emotional state, and when taken internally, gently works to bring that emotion back into healthy balance. For instance, there are flower essences that can help your dog become more focused, less fearful, more tolerant and patient with others -- the list goes on. Flower essences can be taken individually, or combined into formulas. They work beautifully either as an aid to a behavior modification program, or as a stand-alone approach, for animals who have difficulty in specific situations. They are non-toxic, non-habit-forming, have no negative side effects, and cannot be overdosed.
In the 1930's, twenty eight flower essences were originally discovered and developed in England by the physician and bacteriologist , Dr. Edward Bach. Since that time, Dr. Bach's flower essences (known as Bach Flower Essences) have become recognized and utilized world-wide, benefiting the emotional health and well-being of humans, companion animals, and domestic and captive-wild species. In more recent years, research has broadened beyond the British Isles, and hundreds of flower essences from around the globe continue to be developed. At this time, my formulas utilize both Bach's original English flower essences, and the North American essences discovered and researched by the Flower Essence Society.
I have been a professional dog trainer since 1990, working with all types of behavior issues; flower essences have been an integral part of that work since 1994. In addition to employing flower essences in my behavior work, I have self-studied, attended workshops on flower essence therapy, and taught Bach Flower formulation classes. The consistently remarkable results I have seen have changed me from cautious skeptic to "true believer". I encourage you to consider these amazing natural formulas.
Common Uses for Flower Essences in Dog Behavior
Just some of the areas in which I have used flower essence formulas successfully:
- improved focus and attention
- increased tolerance toward other animals, people
- reduced fears and anxieties
- enhanced ability and willingness to learn
- improved energy, stamina, and ability to handle stress
- facilitated recovery from the behavioral fallout of neglect, abuse, or other traumatic experiences
- reduced mood swings in intact female dogs
- improved confidence in show and performance dogs
- eased adjustment to new home, new family members, changes in routine or household
What Flower Essences Are Not...
Flower Essences work best when the needs of the whole dog are met. Please note that flower essences are not a substitute for:
- Veterinary care - Flower essence formulas are, of course, not a substitute for veterinary care, or necessary prescription medication. Chronic pain, hormonal or other chemical imbalances, irritating skin conditions – these and other health issues can cause changes in personality and reduced ability to handle stress. A thorough veterinary work-up is always advisable when dealing with serious behavior issues.
- Training - As with a child, a dog’s emotional health is also influenced by care and upbringing. Keep in mind that all dogs require thoughtful instruction, guidance, and structure from their human families, as well as a solid relationship based on trust, clear communication, and mutual respect.
- Exercise – All dogs require sufficient regular physical and mental activity to remain emotionally “even-keeled”.
- Diet – A nutritious, health-supporting natural diet will not only help your dog feel better, it will also feed his nervous system, and thereby his emotional health.
What I Love About Flower Essences
Flower essences may work dramatically, but they will always work to strengthen the positive aspects of your dog's nature, and help remove the emotional obstacles that can suppress or hide your dog’s more positive traits. They work very successfully to bring unhealthy, extreme reactions and attitudes back into a healthy, positive balance. Flower essences will never artificially or coercively manipulate your dog's emotional state. They will not change your dog’s true personality, or force your dog to show reactions or emotions that are against her nature. They will also not suppress natural behaviors and traits that are a normal part of your dog’s personality or breed make-up. (So you won't have any luck trying to change your Border Collie into a Coonhound, for example!)
How Do Flower Essences Work?
Flower essences subtly adjust attitude, altering perspective from negative and reactive, to positive and balanced. How do they accomplish this? Great question! My education and background are in the sciences. As such, I do I lean toward healthy skepticism when encountering techniques or products that seem to lack clear explanation. However, I also realize that there is a whole universe of processes and events that we do not yet fully understand. After all, virtually every scientific notion that we now accept as established, was not long ago unexplained and “mysterious”. The living body appears to be capable of responding, reacting, and adjusting to subtle “energies”, for lack of a better word, that are not currently measurable given the level of technology and understanding we have today. So, at this time no one can offer formal studies that demonstrate the mechanism by which flower essences work. However, as long as I keep seeing the results I have seen for well over a decade, I am happy to accept that the universe still holds its mysteries, and am thankful that things don’t stop working just because we can’t understand how or why!
As far as how they may work, I quote The Flower Essence Repertory, by Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz, of the Flower Essence Society, a major flower essence research organization: "Like homeopathic remedies, flower essences are vibrational in nature. They are highly dilute from a physical point of view, but have subtle power as potentized substances, embodying the specific energetic patterns of each flower. Their impact does not derive from any direct biochemical interaction within the physiology of the body. Rather, flower essences work through the various human energy fields, which in turn influence mental, emotional, and physical well-being."
Using and Administering Flower Essences
Dosage and Frequency
- Flower Essence Formulas are available in dropper bottle or fine mist sprayer.
- For any sized dog, a dose is 2-3 drops, or 1-2 sprays of the formula.
- This amount should be given at least 3 times daily, and as needed in problem situations. You can increase the frequency or amount of dosages with no harm done.
- Formulas are given directly into the mouth, without touching the dropper or sprayer to the mouth, or any other surface, or can be misted around the head and body.
Tips on Administering Flower Essence Formulas
Be matter of fact when administering the formula. Most animals will take their cue from you, and will accept it easily if you project a positive attitude. If he is not willing to take drops or sprays by mouth, you may put some formula on your hands and rub it into the dog’s gums, or mist/rub it around the head. Mixing with food may slow the effect, but this is preferable to forcing the issue and creating an uncomfortable experience for your dog.
Storing Flower Essence Formulas
Because flower essences work through “vibrational energy”, they can be very delicate. It’s recommended that you store them out of direct sunlight, and away from energy sources such as telephones, CPUs, microwaves, and the like. You also will want to avoid touching the dropper tip to anything – food, the dog’s mouth, etc, if at all possible. If you do touch the dropper/spray to a surface, rinse with purified or spring water for 15 seconds before replacing in the bottle.
What To Expect
Please realize that you may or may not see an immediate result from the formula. Every animal is unique, and every individual tends to incorporate changes at their own pace. While changes may occur as quickly as minutes after the first dose, or as gradually as a month afterward, typically, noticeable changes become evident after 3 days to 2 weeks from starting the formula. Again, the time frame is really dependent on the individual. Also, while my own experience is that most dogs respond very well to flower essences, it is, of course, impossible to guarantee that every dog will respond to this or any other conventional or alternative product.
The formulas work subtly, so it’s best to not expect big, sweeping changes in your dog’s reactions (although those certainly can happen!). More characteristic is that you will begin to notice subtle shifts in your dog’s attitude in situations that previously had caused stress or a particular negative reaction. It really helps to make note of those moments, documenting the new response. If your dog’s formula needs to be adjusted, this information will prove to be very useful. I recommend finishing the entire bottle, and keeping track of your observations. Then we can decide whether to refill with the same formula, or make some adjustment.
While the formulas are not sedative in any way, and will not make your dog act “dopey”, it's not unusual to see a noticeable relaxation response within minutes of the first dose.
Flower essence formulas have no harmful side effects. If an essence within the formula is not the right one for your dog, then you simply will not see that aspect of behavior affected. The formulas are very safe, and nothing bad will happen if Fluffy the cat gets a taste of the formula intended for Max the dog.
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