MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Bach Flower Remedies are often mistaken for homeopathy. Yet they are quite different. They were invented about 100 years ago by Dr. Edward Bach (1886–1936), a doctor homeopath who had previously worked in the London Homeopathic Hospital. His remedies are clearly inspired by homeopathy; however, they are by no means the same because they do not follow the ‘like cures like’ principle and neither are they potentised. They are manufactured by placing freshly picked specific flowers or parts of plants in water which is subsequently mixed with alcohol, bottled, and sold. Like most homeopathic remedies, they are highly dilute and thus do not contain therapeutic concentrations of the plant printed on the bottle. In other words, flower remedies (or essences) are placebos. This does not stop enthusiasts to continue submitting them to clinical trials.

This study tested the effects of flower essence bouquets on the signs and symptoms of stress in nursing students. The study was designed as a randomized clinical trial, triple blind, with two groups (flower essence group and placebo group), carried out with 101 nursing students. Bach’s flower essences Cerato (Ceratostigma wilimottianum)Cherry Plum (Prunus cerasifera)Elm (Ulmus procera)Impatients (Impatiens glandulifera), Larch (Larix decidua), Olive (Olea europaea) and White Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) were selected by the researcher based on the experience of attending nursing students on flower essence therapy. The formulas were prepared in a 30 ml amber glass bottle with a perforated cap with a white seal and bulbs, and labeled according to randomization (Group 1 or Group 2). The groups applied the treatments for 60 days at a dosage of 4 drops 4 times a day. The outcome was evaluated using the Baccaro Test and the Perceived Stress Scale applied at the beginning and at the end of the intervention.

The results demonstrated no significant difference between the groups in stress reduction (p > 0.05). Both groups showed a reduction in scale scores (p < 0.001) with a large effect size. There was an influence of the COVID-19 pandemic in the reduction of Baccaro Test scores.

The authors (who seem to have been advocates of Bach Flower Remedies) concluded that the intervention with flower essence therapy was not more effective than placebo in reducing stress signs and symptoms.

Is anyone surprised?

I am not!

4 Responses to Bach Flower Remedies are pure placebos

  • I remember reading about a veterinary case some years ago where the owners had given the dog so much rescue remedy he became intoxicated with the brandy base used in the preparation of such remedies. It may have relieved his stress, but not in the way Dr Bach intended!

  • What amazes me id the good doctors admitted there was no effect.
    Not seen in most SCAM studies

  • The authors are nurses. This practice, of a very clear pseudoscientific nature, is prohibited by the Brazilian Code of Medical Ethics. The Federal Council of Medicine, however, considers Homeopathy and Acupuncture as medical specialties, which seriously violates the same Code.

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