How does disease arise? Some people remain healthy although they are exposed to potentially harmful bacteria, fungi, viruses, and toxins each day, while others seem chronically ill. The truth is that we don’t know why humans, birds, or other animals become sick. When we look for the causes of illnesses, however, we must include emotions as a major factor.
How many times, when we become sick, are we being adversely affected by some event in our lives? Our child is getting in trouble, the boss at work is unhappy with our performance, our income is suddenly not covering all our expenses, or the in-laws are arriving for an extended visit. These are just a few exams- plus of common problems, we might have to deal with in our lives. When we suffer the emotional upheaval these types of problems can cause, our bodies are susceptible to physical illness. We always seem to get sick when we can least afford it because that is when we are most stressed.
Dr. Edward Bach recognized the need to improve the emotions as one of several ways to treat disease. He started his research in the 1900s, investigating how flowers might affect emotions. He knew that the sight and smell of certain flowers produced various emotional shifts in humans. Eventually, he learned how to isolate the flower’s essence, which then can be used for therapeutic purposes.
He categorized thirty-eight flowers by their ability to alter the emotions of his patients. Flower essences are intended to work only on the mental and emotional aspects of the patient. There are flower essences for fear, anger, transition, anxiety, depression, insecurity, stress, and many other emotions. Several different flower essences often are combined in the same bottle to deal with multiple emotional symptoms. A flower essence formula is usually used with other therapies.
English flower essences, modeled after the thirty-eight flowers of Dr. Edward Bach, are remarkably effective for various emotional problems. A more common name for them is the Bach Flowers. We know that this is a trading name and that several companies produce essences in the traditional way that can be called Bach Flowers. We will use the name Bach Flowers here in honor of Dr. Bach.
Some animal behaviorists believe that animals do not have emotions. Anyone who has lived with and studied birds knows that birds do have feelings. It can be difficult to determine the emotions that negatively affect a bird, however. We recommend that you closely observe your bird’s behaviors and ask yourself what negative emotions are adversely influencing your bird. (Please note that Bach Flowers are to assist in healing your birds. They should not replace conventional therapies that your bird might need.)
Range and Limitations of Bach Flowers
To use Bach Flowers effectively, it is important to understand what they can and cannot do. They can alter negative or pathological emotions with remarkable effectiveness, but normal emotions and behaviors are not affected. Let’s look at Cockatoo’s behavior, for example. Cockatoos want and need constant attention. Observ- ing Cockatoos in the wild, we see that they will congregate in the same tree. All members of the flock usually perch on the same branch, shoulder to shoulder, all preening each other. They expect this close attention from their caretakers as well.
Many problems Cockatoos suffer in the home environment directly related to the fact that as wonderful bird behaviorist Chris Davis said, Cockatoos would love to be skin grafted to your chest. Bach flowers will help calm a Cockatoo when you are not around, but they will never alter the basic need it has for constant attention.
Bach Flowers take time to become effective. They are gentle, effective healers, but they cannot overpower or sedate your bird. They take time to alter the bird’s negative emotions. Don’t give up if you haven’t seen any changes in a few days. It often takes a month or more to see improvement, so persistence in giving the remedies is important.
Use the information later in this chapter to match Bach Flowers to your bird’s emotional state. Then select the combination of flowers you believe best fits your bird’s needs. Make sure you give the flowers consistently several times daily. It takes time for the Bach Flowers to work, so wait at least two weeks to assess the effect of the flowers you selected. If there is any improvement, continue the therapy. If you see no improvement in a few weeks, reassess your bird and select a different Bach Flower or combinations of Bach Flowers.
How to Flower Essence
Bach Flowers come in small vials and are preserved in alcohol. This is the tincture, or full-strength, remedy. Because Bach Flowers work on the energetic level of the body, the strength or quantity of the flower essences does not matter. Swallowing one diluted drop is roughly the same as drinking the entire bottle. Because of the alcohol content, you should never dose birds directly from the tincture; always dilute it first.
Dilute each essence by putting four drops of the tincture into a 1-ounce bottle of spring water. Rescue Remedy is used at double the dose of the other flowers— eight drops into an ounce of spring water. Do not use alcohol as a preservative if you are going to use it with your birds. Remember that the mixture of water and tincture can become contaminated with bacteria. You must keep it refrigerated and avoid touching the tip of the dropper to the bird’s mouth, skin, or beak or your fingers.
Using the Diluted Essence
Place the essence directly in the bird’s mouth with an eyedropper that can be washed. Avoid using the dropper that stays in the bottle because the Bach Flower formula could become spoiled with bacteria. Find a spare dropper that can be cleaned between uses. You can add the essence to the bird’s water bowl or rub the essence on the bird’s beak or feet. You can also spray the bird with a bottle of spring water containing the flower essences. Keep in mind that the skin will absorb the remedies, but the feathers will block the body’s assimilation. You must get some of the sprays on the bird’s feet or face.
Although quantity does not matter, how often you dose your bird does. For long-standing problems, if the problem is not acute and you have time to correct the problem, dose your bird two to three times daily. During acute times of stress or when problems are severe, give your bird the flowers every hour or even every few minutes in the most extreme cases.
Adding More than one Bache flower to the Same Bottle
Emotions are always complex, and it is common to want to combine the effects of several Bach Flowers into one therapy. By reading the rest of this section, you can develop combinations of flowers for every condition.
Most practitioners of Bach Flower therapy believe you can combine up to six or seven flowers into the same bottle but no more. The one exception to this is Rescue Remedy, which has five flowers but counts for only one flower if you decide to add it to your patient’s regimen.
A careful assessment of your bird usually produces a clear picture of its emotional needs, allowing you to use fewer flower essences at the same time. The fewer you use, the more focused the effect, so you should strive to develop treatment strategies with three to five flowers. Always work on the most important problem first. Other problems may surface when the first one disappears. Treating with Bach Flowers is often like peeling the layers of an onion. You remove one negative emotion only to reveal a deeper problem, which you then must treat.
A particularly effective combination, Rescue Remedy is worthy of separate mention. It contains Star of Bethlehem, Rock Rose, Impatiens, Cherry Plum, and Clematis flowers. This formula is beneficial for birds that are stressed, birds that are suddenly scared for any reason, or birds that are taken to any new surroundings.
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