Science of the Sacred: A Research Paper on Flowers and Water, the Building Blocks of Flower Essences

Flower essences are bioenergetic remedies created from flowers and water, energized by the sun, and preserved in alcohol. They are used by those on a healing journey and have been shown to be powerful agents of psycho-spiritual transformation.Since their development in the 1930s, flower essences have been used successfully for a wide variety of issues, but their mechanism of action has been difficult to describe and is largely mysterious to the layperson. However, both flowers and water are steeped in millennia of practical historical use, and modern science is making compelling discoveries about these building blocks of vibrational medicine. Join me on a deep dive into this elusive elixir.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

ARTHUR C. CLARKE

For the Love of Flowers

Flowers give us joy, comfort us in time of sorrow, and help us express love. We give each other flowers to celebrate special occasions and convey emotional messages such as “I love you”, “I’m sorry”, “get well soon”, and “congratulations”. Different species of flowers have been coded with meaning throughout the centuries, peaking in the Victorian times when floral dictionaries were published to explain floriography – the secret language of flowers. We still associate certain meanings to the type of flower as well as the color. Red roses symbolize passion and romantic love, white lilies at funerals signify the purity of the soul, and virtuous white roses makes them popular for weddings. Browse any floral bouquet website and you’ll be able to shop by occasion, recipient and message.

Flowers are placed in homes and businesses to brighten the mood and reduce stress. They are frequently planted in both public landscapes and private gardens. They are so common, we almost don’t notice them. But even those who don’t appreciate the existence of flowers still have a subconscious reaction to them. Recent Japanese studies have found that just looking at flowers induces a more comfortable and relaxed state:

  • High school students were shown either fresh or artificial yellow pansies for three minutes. The fresh pansies induced physiological and psychological relaxation effects. Compared with artificial pansies, fresh pansies decreased sympathetic nerve activity and the subjects felt comfortable, relaxed, and natural. (Igrashi et al, 2015)
  • Office workers, medical workers and high school students were exposed to fresh unscented pink roses for four minutes. Their parasympathetic nervous activity was enhanced, rendering a state of relaxation and decreasing sympathetic nervous activity to alleviate stress. (Song et al, 2016)
  • Tests were also done to measure response to 2D and 3D pictures of flowers. The 3D images were more beneficial than the 2D images, but results were nothing like the response to fresh flowers. (Song et al, 2016)

These findings show that being in the presence of fresh flowers has a beneficial effect on the human body. It’s not due to olfactory stimulation (smelling them) because the flowers used were unscented, and it’s not due to to visual stimulation (seeing them) alone because artificial flowers and 2D/3D images were also tested with lesser results. Do fresh flowers have an energy field that we respond to?

Other studies show there is a beneficial effect of forest bathing and urban green space therapy on individuals, proving that we are predisposed to having nature as part of our environment. But does one bouquet of roses constitute an “environment”? It appears there is something more to the effect of the flower – something unseen and not yet tested nor identified by modern science.

Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.

LUTHER BURBANK

Plants as Medicine

Archeological findings show that humans have used plants medicinally and spiritually for at least 60,000 years, but it’s likely that this relationship has existed through the entirety of our 200,000 year-old human history. Even though we share a common ancestor (protists – unique single-celled organisms in the ocean), our plant elders were here long before us. If it was not for their influence on the atmosphere, mammals would not have evolved and we would not be here today.

The written history of medical and spiritual plant usage begins about 5,000 years ago as evidenced by Sumerian clay tablets. Botanical documentation continued to appear on papyri in ancient Egypt, and in the Indian vedic (knowledge) books approximately 3,500 years ago. Many classical texts have followed since then, and now in the modern day, there are more than 8,000 books in the herbal remedies category alone on amazon.com.

Flowers as Medicine

All herbal medicine traditions make use of various parts of a plant, depending on where the desirable constituents are located. Some medicines make use of the entire plant, while others are made up of just one or several parts. An easy way to envision this is with common herbal teas and true teas. For example:

  • Root Teas: ginger, ginseng, turmeric, dandelion
  • Leaf Teas: peppermint, rooibos, green and black tea
  • Flower Teas: chamomile, calendula, rose petal, elderflower
  • Seed Teas: fennel, milk thistle, chia
  • Fruit Teas: hawthorn, rosehip, elderberry
  • Bark Teas: cinnamon, wild cherry, willow

Traditional medicines were not only made from plants, but also the blood and flesh of animals and birds. In ancient India, the Jains, a religious sect that believed all animals and plants contain living souls, had a more pious approach to making medicine. As strict adherents to non-violence, they sought methods of treatment that did not involve the killing of any living being, including plants. The Jain physicians and priests pursued a healing system based only on flowers as this method of harvest was least destructive to a plant. They developed medicines with 18,000 kinds of flowers and were the pioneers of Puspa (Pushpa) Ayurveda or Floral Therapy. (Varadhan, 1985)

The Vedas (primary indian scriptures) considered flowers as part of the primordial impulse that marked the advent of life on earth. Brahma, knowns as the creator according to Hindu mythology, is also called “pushpa sambhavan”, or “one born of flowers”. Brahma is described as one who was born out of the lotus. (Shubhshree, M.N. et al)

According to K.P. Varadhan in “Introduction to Pushpa Ayurveda”, ancient texts (some dating back to the 3rd century B.C.) classify five ways to use flowers therapeutically: 1) gazing at flowers, 2) having sensory contact with flowers by wearing them or laying in them, 3) painting a paste of flowers on the body, 4) smelling flowers or using nasal drops, and 5) consuming flowers by eating or drinking in the following forms (Varadhan, 1985):

  1. Puspa Rasa – fresh extract taken out by crushing the flowers
  2. Puspa Hima – flower essence taken out after soaking in water for 12 hours
  3. Puspa Kvatha – decoction of fresh or dried flowers
  4. Puspa Arka – distilled extract of flowers
  5. Puspa Sura – tincture of flowers
  6. Puspa Asava – fermented flower extracts
  7. Puspa Avalehya – confection of flowers
  8. Puspa Guti – pills made of flowers
  9. Puspa Kalka – ground pulp of dried flowers
  10. Puspa Curna – powder made of dried flowers
  11. Puspa Taila – oil prepared with the flowers
  12. Puspa Ghrta – ghee (purified butter) boiled with flowers

Interestingly, gazing at flowers was classified as therapeutic at least 2,300 years before the Japanese studies proved it so.

While all cultures have used herbal medicine since ancient times, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Traditional Indian Medicine (Ayurveda and Siddha) were the most advanced – being highly organised, classified and codified, with a sophisticated concepts and theories. However, the Indian traditions had specialized insight into the medicinal use of flowers – stemming from the early Jain system of Pushpa Ayurveda. Their ancient texts may contain the oldest documented use of flower essences or their precursor (Puspa Hima), which are still made by soaking flowers in water.

The healing benefits of plants are well known, well documented, and very much ingrained in both the subconscious mind of the human as well as the conscious mind of the modern health-seeking individual.

In the course of his intense travels, the Buddha suffered from constipation. The King did not want general physicians to give him an oral drug for fear it would have an adverse effect on the royal monk. Instead, the renowned Ayurvedic physician Jeevaka put a drop of medicine on a lotus flower and had the Buddha smell it. He was relieved of the trouble. (Varadhan, 1985)

Healing Waters

What may be less understood is the importance of water in healing remedies, not only as a means to extract the medicinal constituents of plants, but also as a significant health giving agent of its own.

In ancient India, water was one of the most important components of healing, employed both internally and externally for numerous ailments (Zysk, 1985). Atharvaveda, a collection of ancient Indian texts dated approximately 1000 B.C., praises water in countless ways and documents its use in conjunction with herbal remedies, prayers and charms (Griffith, 1895). 

Water, indeed, hath the power to heal, Water drives malady away. May water – for it healeth all – free thee from permanent disease.

ATHARVAVEDA, 7.5

A classical Indian herbal text, the Materia Medica of Ayurveda, classifies over 20 types of water (rain, snow, river, pond, spring, well, etc.), and documents their positive and negative qualities in terms of the time of year collected, where collected, how collected and even what time of day. Instructions are given for how long to boil before drinking, how much to drink, and the best time to consume according to one’s individual constitution. In general, water that is not polluted is well-revered for its life-giving and health-promoting properties. Water from dew and frost was considered a cure for skin diseases, leprosy, digestive issues, and goiter. Other types of water were considered “ambrosia”, a term used to refer to “food of the gods”. (Dash, 1980)

“The water which is exposed to the sun’s rays during the day time and the moon’s rays during the night time is called amiudaka. It is unctuous. It alleviates all the dosas. It is anabhisyandi (which does not obstruct the channels of circulation) and free from defects. It is like dntariksa jala (water collected directly from the sky). It is strength promoting, rejuvenating, intellect promoting, cold and light. It is like ambrosia.”

Water has a long history of being used in ritual purification for spiritual cleansing. The Hindu vedic texts mentioned above instruct in the ceremonial sprinkling of water on the body. The Hebrew bible references ritual washing with naturally sourced water. Baptism in water was famously performed by John the Baptist and has been used by Christianity from the start. Water is mentioned in the bible more than 600 times, covering themes of creation, purification and blessings. The idea of blessed water, healing water or holy water pervades almost every religious tradition around the world.

There are also sacred water sites around the world, including thousands of holy wells in the British Isles, popular in pagan times:

“People visited the wells for their traditional virtues of healing and divination. If a physical cure was sought, the believer would drink or sometimes bathe in the water. And in fact, the water of some holy wells have indeed been found to contain curative properties, mostly due to the presence of certain minerals. But the healing influence of the wells was due to more than their medicinal qualities. The well itself was viewed as a shrine dedicated to the miraculous emergence of living water, in all cultures a symbol of generation, purification, and the matrix of life itself.” (Mara Freeman)

Some of these wells continue to be popular tourist attractions, like The Chalice Well in Glastonbury, England.

Preserving the physical purity and spiritual sanctity of water is currently one of the most pressing issues on the planet, as recently brought to mainstream attention by the Standing Rock activists in North Dakota. Known as “water protectors” rather than “protestors”, they have captured the hearts and minds of millions around the world, prompting hundreds of indigenous nations and thousands of their allies to make pilgrimages to Sacred Stone Camp and join the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in prayerful resistance. The phrases “Mni Wiconi” and it’s meaning “Water is Life” have spread through social media to become a popular rallying cry for all peoples wanting to protect the earth’s water sources.

We are made up of water, we are born in water, we come from water. Water is an essence of our being. A lot of people don’t see it, but we are connected to that water. We are water. That’s why a lot of us are here. That’s what water means to us: it means life, it means unity, it means one people, it means all these things because we’re all connected, because of water.

ALEXANDER HOWLAND, WATER PROTECTOR

The spiritual aspects of water are well recognized. We know we need water to survive, but our reverence for it seems to go beyond that. After all, we don’t have the same widespread rituals for breathing air. Can science tell us anything about why water is so special?

Water is Still a Scientific Mystery

According to Dr. Gerald Pollack PhD, professor of bioengineering, scientist and author at the University of Washington, modern scientific understanding does little to explain some basic questions about water and the way groups of water molecules interact. These questions have fueled decades of research by Dr. Pollack and his team of researchers – and resulted in some groundbreaking discoveries.

As explained in his book, The Fourth Phase of Water, and several illuminating TEDxTalks, it is commonly accepted that water has three states: solid, liquid and ice, however, there is much watery phenomena that does not fit neatly into these categories. Dr. Pollack and his team have discovered the existence of another state (phase) of water somewhere between solid and liquid.

This fourth phase is created when water molecules interact with charged or hydrophilic (water attracting) surfaces, which then cause positive and negative molecules of water to separate. These negative molecules form an “exclusion zone” (EZ) of semi-crystalline water which is technically no longer H2O, but changed to H3O2. This “EZ water” is also called structured water and has some amazing properties:

  • EZ water stores energy – the positive and negative charges of EZ act like a battery.
  • EZ water is increased with light – radiant light, especially infared, absorbs into water, expanding the amount of EZ.
  • EZ water resides in every cell in our body – and drinking this water has assumed health benefits (needing further study). Dr. Pollack explains that since the molecules in our body are 99% water and are packed with macro-molecules that have hydrophilic surfaces, EZ water naturally exists in our cells. Potential energy from EZ drives the work of the cell and our bodies need this for proper functioning. This helps explain several health concepts about drinking water and getting sunlight:
    • Drinking more water is healthy because water is the raw material for EZ (which our body needs).
    • Sunshine makes us feel good because radiant energy builds EZ (giving us energy).

Does water have memory or transmit information? 

This subject has been avoided in the scientific community ever since science tried to distinguish itself from spirituality (there was a time when both were intimately connected – alchemy is a good example), because it bleeds into the mystical beliefs about water. Several well-respected scientists have been crucified by mainstream science and the public for going down this path and consequently, not much progress has been made until this century.

Dr. Pollack conjectured that EZ water may radiate information (Pollack, 2013), but an actual breakthrough in water memory has been made by Nobelist Luc Montagnier, a French virologist who is credited with the discovery of HIV. Montagnier and his collaborators discovered some incredible phenomena as documented in the youtube video, Water Memory.

In the first experiment, Montagnier used electromagnetic sensors to measure readings of DNA in water, after it had been sequentially diluted until no more physical DNA existed. The highly diluted water obtained the memory of the original DNA and returned it in the form of electromagnetic signals. There was no actual genetic material left in these dilutions, so the signals were emitted by the water structure itself. This signal was then recorded to a digital file.

Taking it a step further, the digital file recorded in the first experiment was sent to another lab to carry out the rest of the test. The second lab put a tube of purified water in a solenoid, then piped the sound of the digital DNA into the tube for an hour. This “encoded” tube of water was put into a “PCR machine” with the building blocks of DNA (nucleotides) and a catalyzer. Usually this machine is used to reconstitute DNA, however, in this experiment there was no actual DNA, just the encoded water. The PCR machine was able to reconstitute a complete sequence of DNA from the encoded water. The result was sent to back to Montagnier’s lab which confirmed a DNA match with the original.

While Montagnier’s ten years of collaborative research spawns more questions than answers, it has profound implications for medical science and a new domain between biology and quantum field physics (Montagnier et al, 2015).

Montagnier assures he is not trying to prove homeopathy (Ensuring, 2010), but his work does suggest that water can retain memory at dilutions so high that no original substance exists. This finding is positive for flower essences which are also highly diluted.

Does water react to information and intentions?

Moving from the hard science of bioengineering, biology and quantum field physics, the photographic studies of intuitive Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto must be mentioned.

Emoto (1943-2014), spent the final 20 years of his life studying and writing about the effect of energy on water. His groundbreaking signature technique was to speak or “show” various words to a unit of water, freeze the water for three hours, then take photographs through a microscope of the ice crystals that form within the first two minutes of being out of the freezer. He consistently showed that negative words and thoughts resulted in a formation that was incomplete, distorted or not aesthetic, while positive words and thoughts resulted in complete, beautiful, geometric and unique crystal formations. While the perceived beauty of the crystal formations are somewhat subjective, the fact that they are significantly different, as well as able to change again after a new word is given, is profound. He published his photographic results in several books, one of which made the New York Times bestseller list. However, he was not well received by modern scientific community, who criticized his methods.

Emoto was a believer in Hado, a philosophy that energy or vibration is inherent in all things: “This energy energy is often positive or negative and is easily transmitted to other existing things” (Emoto, (2003). He practiced Hado Medicine, making custom remedies for his clients by programming water with positive intention. The core principles of Hado medicine are vibration and resonance. Illness in the body is considered a disturbed cellular vibration, and it can be restored by introducing a new vibration that it resonates with. During this work Emoto also correlated issues of different parts of the body with common emotions. For example, anxiety is often correlated with stomach issues, stress with intestines, worries with cervical nerves, irritability with the nervous system, etc. He noted that when the emotional condition improves, illness often moves toward recovery.

These studies show that water research is at a new and exciting scientific frontier, but only a few researchers have been willing to challenge the status quo thus far. However, the “tide” may finally be turning.

Flower Essences

Explanation of Flower Essence Terms

Flower essence and flower remedy both refer to a dietary supplement made from a highly diluted aqueous infusion of flowers, that has been potentized and preserved.

  • Dietary/Herbal Supplement: Flower essences are made from the flowers or other botanical parts of a plant or tree, so when taken orally most brands are typically grouped into the category of herbal supplements (here in the United States). While flower essence bottles may look like herbal tinctures and may be labeled as an herbal supplement, these are not the same strength as typical herbal medicine. Also note that some brands may be categorized and sold as homeopathic remedies (Bach), and some flower essences are integrated into topical body care products.
  • Aqueous Infusion: Essences are made by first infusing flowers in pure water, similar to making a sun tea. There are variations of the infusion method, but all use water as the medium. A core tenet of essence making is that the water becomes imprinted with the healing intelligence of the plant.
  • Highly Diluted: Flower essences are more akin to homeopathic remedies than herbal tinctures due to their high dilution rate, which is anywhere from 1:100 – 1:500. While not as diluted as homeopathic remedies, the amount of plant material is usually no longer measurable in the final product (Lilly, 2015).
  • Potentized: Generally, the method of infusion (i.e. sun) offers the first act of potentization as the vibrational energy of the plant is transferred to the water. The ritual involved in making it and subsequent acts of succession (shaking) or charging (using crystals, pyramids, reiki, prayer, etc.) are highly variable and based on the preference of the flower essence maker.
  • Preserved: Due to the amount of water in flower essences, they must also contain a preservative to prevent microbial growth. Usually this is alcohol, but can sometimes be glycerin or vinegar. This does not interfere with the potency of the flower essence and it is in fact believed that alcohol helps preserve the memory of the plant in the water (Lilly, 2015).

Father of Flower Essences – Dr. Edward Bach

Dr. Edward Bach (1886-1936) was a pioneering and successful allopathic doctor working with bacteria and immunology in the 1920s. The first flora he studied was that of the colon, where he discovered that sick people had much larger numbers of certain micro-organisms in their large intestines. He invented bowel “nosodes” – the use of this bacteria as a vaccine for curing chronic illness. He was then introduced to homeopathy and found that results were even better with homeopathic (highly diluted) preparations of his bowel nosodes. Eventually, Bach wanted to use plants instead of bacteria and became disillusioned with orthodox medicine by 1928. He quit his practice, moved to the British countryside, began investigating flowers, and developed a new system of healing. (Wood, 2005) After observing the morning dew on flower petals, Bach concluded that the sun transferred the energy of the flower, which contained the life force of the plant, into the dew. He then went about developing methods for making flower essences with spring water instead of dew, leaving in the sun for a few hours or applying a heat source, and preserving them with brandy. (Wood, 2005)

Dr. Bach thought that the main reason for the failure of modern medicine was that it dealt with symptoms, and not causes. He also believed that “disease is the result of conflict between soul and mind, and will never be eradicated except by spiritual and mental effort”. Bach’s system of 38 Flower Remedies was developed to address the emotional and spiritual root causes of disease. He asserted that “our fears, our cares, our anxieties and such like that open the path to the invasion of illness”, and “with the healing of them will go the disease from which we suffer”. (Bach, 2005)

After Dr. Bach’s death in 1936, the Bach Centre continued making flower essences (according to his strict specifications) and they are still available today, easily found in many natural food stores. Given that US marketing has been minimal and consumer instructions are a bit cryptic, the fact that Bach Flower Remedies have endured and thrived for over 80 years is certainly a testament to their popularity.

The mind being the most delicate and sensitive part of the body, shows the onset and the course of the disease much more definitely than the body, so that the outlook of mind is chosen as the guide as to which remedy or remedies are necessary.

DR. EDWARD BACH

Modern Flower Essences and Practice

Modern essence producers use Bach’s methods and philosophy as starting point but have greatly expanded the variety of essences and information about their use, and have collected decades of empirical findings in the process.

The 1980s ushered in a flower essence renaissance in North America. Patricia Kaminsky and Richard Katz started the Flower Essence Society in Northern California in 1980. As one of the first producers to create essences from North American flowers, they also pioneered education and research. In 1983, Steve Johnson (1953-2017) founded Alaskan Essences to capture the purity of flowers from the wilderness, and began making non-botanical essences to capture the aspects of the pristine Alaskan environment (called “environmental” essences), as well as gemstone elixirs. Around the mid-1980s, David Dalton founded Delta Gardens in New England. Through extensive work with clients, he has developed protocols for addressing physical issues (in addition to mental and emotional), specializing in Lyme disease and its co-infections. All three of these pioneering flower essence producers offer extensive practitioner training.

Today there are countless essence producers around the world – Australian Bush Essences, Desert Alchemy, Findhorn, Floracopeia, Flora of Asia, Jane Bell, Pacific Essences of Canada, Petite Fleur, Perelandra, Power of Flowers, Combining Forces, Flora Luma and many others. Each offers their own unique line of essences, usually focused on botanicals from their location, and an increasing number of them offer training programs. Because each program may have a slightly different focus and is specific to the producer’s collection of essences, many practitioners opt to receive training from multiple sources in order to round out their education, even if they make their own essences.

Some practitioners use flower essences in tandem with other healing modalities: wellness coaching; massage and other bodywork; reiki and other hands-on healing; herbalism; acupuncture; psychotherapy; nursing. Each practitioner brings their own unique set of skills to the table when working with a client. As with herbalism, aromatherapy and vibrational healing, there is no officially recognized licensing or certification for flower essence practitioners in the United States.

How do flower essences work?

The exact mechanism of flower essences on the physical body cannot be explained in terms of mainstream scientific understanding. As a vibrational healing modality, they are believed to act on the subtle bodies (etheric, astral) rather than the physical.

Vibrational practitioners believe, as Bach did, that the precursor to illness resides in the subtle bodies or energy field before it manifests in the physical body. The root cause is often due to or exacerbated by past trauma/negative beliefs, and this imbalance is reflected in an individual’s mental, emotional or psycho-spiritual state.

Flower essences gently stimulate the system to override the dysfunction at its root, bringing the individual back into an energetic balance in which the body or mind can heal itself.

The subtle energies of the flower essences work their way through the physical circulatory systems of the bloodstream and nerves via an interconnected electromagnetic pathway to reach the meridians. From there the energies reach the chakras and various subtle bodies. (Gerber, 2001)

This concept of vibrational healing was not questioned in Bach’s time (and most of our history) when “vitalism” was still an accepted aspect of mainstream medicine.

VITALISM: The theory that the origin and phenomena of life are dependent on a force or principle distinct from purely chemical or physical forces.

Today, the mainstream medical community only accepts chemical medicine as valid, but vibrational medicine has continued to endure in alternative and complementary practices.

There are additional theories exploring how vibrational medicine works in the human body/biofield, but they are beyond the scope of this article.

Final Thoughts

As traditional knowledge is increasingly validated by modern science, further credence is given to things once thought superstitious or esoteric. If the exciting quantum field physics and biology research continues, it may help to explain the mechanics of vibrational remedies like homeopathy and flower essences.

  • The findings of EZ water and highly diluted “charged” water may be a clue to how the flower energy is stored in water and how that energy transfers to human cells when the essence is taken.
  • It’s unclear how or why water reacts to our intentions but we can see that it does from Masaru Emoto’s beautiful experiments. Since our cells are 99% water, this may explain how positive affirmations work and why they are so powerful. Flower essences play a part in the intention of a person to heal, and arguably carry the intention of the flower essence maker as well.

At the end of the day, flowers have special properties that make us feel better and reduce stress. If just looking at them is as powerful as the Japanese studies show, imagine the effect of transferring that energy directly to the body via a flower essence.

Want to learn more about how flower essences can help you on your healing journey? Visit Flora Luma and sign up for a free Q&A session today.


Ro Xana Feltman is a flower essence practitioner, plant ally facilitator, herbal alchemist and intuitive wellness coach. She has logged over 700 hours of formal training in herbalism, aromatherapy and vibrational healing modalities, on top of countless hours of self-study, experiential plant communication, and flower essence making at her botanical sanctuary in Bloomfield, CA. After decades working in the tech sector, she took a sabbatical and went on a multi-year apprenticeship to immerse herself in plant spirit healing, shamanic journeying and earth advocacy. Feeling deeply called by the plants to share their messages of healing and support with humanity, Ro launched the Wild Mystic Arts website and Flora Luma flower essence line. Ro Xana now practices Flower Therapy, which helps clients address psycho-spiritual blocks in order to support whole body healing and mind-body-spirit balance.


References

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Comments

January 24, 2020 at 2:47 pm

Informative article, exactly what I was looking for.| а



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