June is National Adopt-a-Cat Month, and I’m happy to say I have an adopted cat. Cali had a traumatic start in life, and residue of her dysfunctional past still clings to her. She doesn’t travel well, for one thing. When we had to fly her from Hawaii to the Mainland recently, she howled nonstop on the plane in spite of having been given 10 mg of valium by our holistic vet before takeoff. The vet thought Cali needed something more powerful than the usual herbals. For perspective, doctors typically prescribe just five milligrams to calm down nervous human passengers, so we assumed 10 mg for our eight-pound cat would knock her on her furry butt.
But alas, the valium didn’t work, and in fact, triggered the opposite reaction. It made Cali violent instead of serene, albeit a bit clumsy. She thrashed around in her crate, serenading the entire passenger cabin with her shrieking protests, and passengers sure weren’t happy about it. When it came time to fly with Cali again, I spent days on the internet googling “travel with cats.” I consulted cat behaviorists and animal communicators looking for a solution, but it wasn’t until I talked to the local animal shelter that hope emerged.
The shelter representative told me that all their distressed pets receive daily treatment with flower essences to calm them down. They use formulas from several companies specifically created to address a host of issues. There are formulas for fearful animals, formulas to help animals adjust to new situations, formulas for grieving and separation anxiety and formulas to curb aggression, among others. At the suggestion of the representative, I ordered “Easy Traveler” from Jackson Galaxy Company. The label said, “This solution may ease the fear, anxiety and stress resulting from travel and help relieve any associated motion sickness.” From Blackwing Farms, I ordered “Drama Trauma” which “helps animals overcome fear of travel, trauma, loud noises & storms forever.” I also got “New Beginnings,” which helps animals “adjust quickly to new situations & environments feeling safe & happy.”
The results were beyond miraculous. Cali’s ride in the car to the airport was calm and uneventful. She was tranquil and quiet at the airport—the model cat. Nobody even knew she was onboard for the flight. And once she arrived at her newest home, her transition was totally different from her previous adjustment. Within one day, she was hanging out with us downstairs, looking for cuddles and food. The previous time we moved her, she hid upstairs behind a desk for weeks, coming out only to eat and sleep.
Nobody was more surprised than me. I’d heard in the past that Rescue Remedy, perhaps the best-known flower-essence formula, was helpful to pets even more so than for humans. My own experience with the product hadn’t yielded dramatic benefits, so I was skeptical. The subtle effects had eluded me, plus, when I’d tried it on several of my dogs, their various fears and acting out behaviors remained intact. I was utterly shocked to discover that giving my cat the flower essences was like waving a magic wand.
Flower essences are made by infusing spring water with flowers and then either boiling the mixture or exposing it to the sun and adding a preservative such as alcohol or brandy. The essences purportedly work by imparting the flower’s energetic qualities to the recipient. Flower essences don’t contain any molecules, so their healing properties are not physical, but rather, they work on subtle energies.1 Johnston, Laurance. “Flower Essence: Mind-Body-and-Spirit Alternative for Physical Disability.” Flower Essences. 9 May 2018. http://www.healingtherapies.info/flower_essences.htm You can compare the effect of flower essences to what happens when you listen to uplifting music and experience a mood change. Proponents say flower essences evoke qualities in users in the same way that music does, by exposing recipients to a higher vibrational energy that lifts them up. If a flower’s main quality is peacefulness, for instance, the essence of that flower can trigger peacefulness in a user, and so on.
There’s plenty of controversy about flower essences. Some critics say the whole idea is all too farfetched, with no hard science to back up claims of effectiveness. The website Science Based Medicine claims, “The indefatigable Edzard Ernst did a systematic review of randomized clinical trials as of 2010, concluding that the most reliable trials did not show any difference between flower remedies and placebos.”2 Hall, Harriett. “Bach Flower Remedies.” 22 May 2012. Science- Based Medicine. 9 May 2018. http://sciencebasedmedicine.org/bach-flower-remedies/
On the other hand, there are some studies extant that do support the claims. For instance, 2007 research conducted by the Miami School of Medicine in conjunction with the Sirkin Creative Living Center found that Rescue Remedy reduced anxiety in the 111 subjects better than the placebo.3 “Rescue Remedy is an effective all-natural stress, anxiety reliever, study suggests.” 2 July 2007. Medical News Today. 8 May 2018. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/75640.php Plus, four clinical studies in Cuba and one in the US found that flower essences significantly reduce depression in subjects, and that flower essences match or surpass pharmaceuticals in this regard.4 Cram, Jeffrey R., Dr. “Five Clinical Studies Demonstrate the Effectiveness of Flower Essence Therapy in the Treatment of Depression.” Flower Society.org. 9 May 2018. http://www.flowersociety.org/depression-study.pdf And one small 2014 study concluded that flower essences changed the metabolism in rats to improve their cholesterol profiles.5 Ernst, Edzard, MD. “Bach Flower Remedies: This might be the most bizarre study I have seen for a long time.” 10 September 2014. http://edzardernst.com/2014/09/bach-flower-remedies-this-might-be-the-most-bizarre-study-i-have-seen-for-a-long-time/
Studies or not, I can’t deny that the remedies worked wonders with my cat Cali, even if my own energy system is too dense to benefit. The county animal shelter that directed me to the flower essences said they give a remedy called “Shelter Blend” to all their animal “inmates” with terrific results. The founder of Blackwing Farms started using flower essences on her own injured horse after a riding accident. The results were so marked that she spent the next 25 years developing formulas to help animals adjust to various hardships. Her formulas have been used on a widescale basis to help animals affected by California wildfires, Hurricane Katrina, and to the trauma of being sheltered nationwide, and the company claims that 91 percent of all animals given the formulas improve within three days.
The Flower Essence Society lists about 135 flower essences, each with unique properties. Here are a few essences used in animal remedies and their reputed effects:6 Kaminski, Patricia. “Choosing Flower Essences: An Assessment Guide.” 2009. The Flower Essence Society. 9 May 2018. http://www.fesflowers.com/files/9714/2678/9720/CFE.pdf
Clover imparts gentleness.
Mustard is good for building courage.
Lady Slipper helps in overcoming shyness.
Arnica heals negative memories.
Buttercup helps with self-esteem.
Cherry Plum lends self-control.
Impatiens helps with restlessness.
Dandelion contributes to a happy mood.
Fortunately, you don’t need to memorize what each essence does, since there already are lots of preblended formulas from reputable companies. Most of the formulas have multiple ingredients. For instance, the “Nervous Nelly” formula from Jackson Galaxy Company contains 17 flower essences and gets three five-star reviews. The “Bully Solution” gets 4.5 stars with 56 reviews.7 http://www.jacksongalaxy.com/solutions/bestsellers/ If you want to give it a try, the good news is that remedies are reasonably priced and safe, with each formula costing under $30.
|↑1||Johnston, Laurance. “Flower Essence: Mind-Body-and-Spirit Alternative for Physical Disability.” Flower Essences. 9 May 2018. http://www.healingtherapies.info/flower_essences.htm|
|↑2||Hall, Harriett. “Bach Flower Remedies.” 22 May 2012. Science- Based Medicine. 9 May 2018. http://sciencebasedmedicine.org/bach-flower-remedies/|
|↑3||“Rescue Remedy is an effective all-natural stress, anxiety reliever, study suggests.” 2 July 2007. Medical News Today. 8 May 2018. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/75640.php|
|↑4||Cram, Jeffrey R., Dr. “Five Clinical Studies Demonstrate the Effectiveness of Flower Essence Therapy in the Treatment of Depression.” Flower Society.org. 9 May 2018. http://www.flowersociety.org/depression-study.pdf|
|↑5||Ernst, Edzard, MD. “Bach Flower Remedies: This might be the most bizarre study I have seen for a long time.” 10 September 2014. http://edzardernst.com/2014/09/bach-flower-remedies-this-might-be-the-most-bizarre-study-i-have-seen-for-a-long-time/|
|↑6||Kaminski, Patricia. “Choosing Flower Essences: An Assessment Guide.” 2009. The Flower Essence Society. 9 May 2018. http://www.fesflowers.com/files/9714/2678/9720/CFE.pdf|