California Poppy – used in flower essences – Photo by mikebaird (Flickr)
Bach Rescue Remedy is quite a popular product for humans. I have used it on occasions to slow me down a bit and found that it does work. There are many other types of Bach remedies. Yet veterinary opinion is not that encouraging in respect of benefits to the domestic cat.
In trials at the University of California’s veterinary school in the early 1990s the results were poor. No further trials have been carried out. Apparently, when the remedies were analysed only alcohol and spring water were detected.
I have a feeling that flower essences are becoming increasingly popular with cat owners, particularly Rescue Remedy, which if true, would indicate that some good comes from them. Well if it works on me it might work on a cat, I would have thought. One major hurdle, though, is successfully analysing our cat’s emotional state. Note: it is advised to seek veterinary advice before administering homeopathic remedies.
Perhaps Rescue Remedy is used almost exclusively because we know it helps to calm us and cats can, under certain circumstances become agitated, the classic example is the potentially difficult introduction of a new cat into a household or when travelling. How many cat keepers give their cat a drop or two of Bach Rescue Remedy when driving their cat around for any reason or when flying?
History of Bach Flower Remedies
In the 1930s in England, Edward Bach decided that “harmful emotions” led to disease. It seems that he felt that there was a direct relationship between the mood of the patient and the disease. I am not sure that the correlation is that precise although being perpetually stressed is known, I think it fair to say, to cause physical damage to the body, over time.
I am not sure how he decided that essences of flowers could affect a person’s state of mind. He even went further and decided that individual flower species had different properties. Apparently, he identified an appropriate flower by “intuitively divining” which one had healing properties.
That of course is not very scientific but that does not automatically mean that he was wrong.
The product has been successful and the remedies were marketed commercially for the first time in 1936 in Britain, then in California, USA, in 1970s and then in Australia (Australian Bush Flower Remedies).
Making the Remedies
Thirty-eight essences were developed. Each one deals with a specific emotional state. Flower heads and other parts of the flower are infused (definition of an infusion: the outcome of steeping plants with a desired flavour in water or oil1) in spring water for three hours in direct sunlight. The solution is then preserved in brandy!
Apathy – Wild rose
Lack of confidence – Larch
Melancholy – Mustard
Dominance – Vervain
Aloofness – Water violet
There is a Burmese cat breeder whose cattery is called “Vervain” incidentally. Vervain….:
Vervain has longstanding use in herbalism and folk medicine, usually as a herbal tea. Nicholas Culpeper’s 1652 The English Physitian discusses folk uses. Among other effects, it may act as a galactagogue and possibly sex steroid analogue. It is one of the original 38 Bach flower remedies, prescribed against “over-enthusiasm”. The plants are also sometimes used as abortifacient.1
Do you believe in Bach remedies for yourself and/or your cat? Apparently, some veterinarians believe that when and if we give Bach Rescue Remedy to our cat, the Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) effect takes place (Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is the study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body3). This is the reduction in our tension in giving our cat a remedy that we think works which results in our cat being less tense. Other vets think that it works “normally”.
1. Wikipedia authors
2. Main source: Natural Cat Care by Dr Bruce Fogle
3. Michael Irwin, Kavita Vedhara (2005). Human Psychoneuroimmunology. Oxford University Press