Flower Essences Are The Step Your Self-Care Routine Is Missing

Photographed by Eylul Aslan.
Even if you have a drawer full of crystals and a diffuser pumping soothing essential oils into your room, you may feel a hole in the spiritual state of your home. The finishing touch you're looking for might just be flower essences.
Unlike essential oils, flower essences are odorless and don't contain any plant material. Some essence blends may contain essential oils, but in their pure form, flower essences are made primarily of water. According to Stephanie Gailing, an astrologer and flower essence therapist, they're quite simple to make. Through a process known as the "sun method," a flower (or just its petals) is left to sit in a bowl of water until its energy has been transferred into the water itself. The flower is then removed and a preservative is added to make a tincture.
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"When I talk to people about flower essences, they say that they sound magical," Gailing says. "We could say it’s magical, [but] we could also say it’s exceptionally healing."
According to Gailing, there a few different ways to use flower essences, and it comes down to personal preference. You can add a few drops to a glass of water and sip on it throughout the day, or just take the drops straight. If you'd rather not ingest your flower essences, you can dab them on your skin, add a few drops to your bath, or mist them around your office, bed, or car. "As long as [the flower essence] is making contact with you, you’re good," Gailing says. "I usually like to have people be in contact with it three to four times a day."
As is usually the case with holistic treatments, there's little to no research on the benefits flower essences. That said, they've been found to be nontoxic and safe for internal and external use. The only risk they pose is to those with an alcohol sensitivity, since most essences contain brandy as a preservative. Like reiki or light therapy, flower essences are basically harmless — but they're not a cure-all.
Gailing says flower essences were never intended to be panaceas. The flower essences you're most likely to encounter are based on the Bach flower remedy system, named for Dr. Edward Bach, who popularized flower essences in Europe and the U.S. in the early 20th century. In his work, he suggested that 38 different types of plants and flowers each correspond with a negative human emotion. And, when applied to your skin, misted around a room, or ingested in the form of a few drops, they can counteract those feelings.
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Specifically, Gailing says, each type of flower essence is made to target and reduce a particular source of stress. Say, for example, you feel stressed due to a lack of confidence at work — you just don't trust your abilities and that naturally contributes to an overall sense of insecurity. Gailing says she'd recommend essence of larch, which is said to address the user's fear of failure and encourage them to pursue success (especially if their lack of self-confidence has been holding them back).
Or, maybe you're so impatient that you rush through your work or make decisions that backfire in the end. Knowing that your clock-watching impulse tends to lead you into trouble can certainly shake your confidence — and in this case, Gailing would recommend impatiens. This aptly named flower is believed to, yes, promote patience, increase restfulness, and prompt greater hesitation in the user.
As you might have guessed, choosing a flower essence that fits your feelings requires a fair amount of self-awareness. You need to sit with yourself, determine the root of your stress, and then, even if you're just sticking to Bach flowers, you have to choose from almost 40 different types of essences.
If that sounds way too daunting, Gailing recommends starting with a blend known as Rescue Remedy. Made with rock rose, star-of-Bethlehem flower, clematis, cherry plum, and impatiens, this essence is widely available and is the closest thing to a general stress reliever as you'll find.
But, again, flower essences will best serve you if you're looking for relief from a certain form of stress — and you're willing to commit to a routine. In order to reap the benefits of their energies, Gailing says that you may need to use flower essences for a couple of months. "They work on a deeply individual level of healing," she adds, and that takes time. It's only with prolonged exposure to the essence that you'll get to the root of your stress and, in turn, address it.
So, the next time you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, hit up your local apothecary (or, you know, just go online) and pick out a vial of flower essences that you think will help. If nothing else, it'll look great beside your crystals.
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