Jan 142014

In response to yesterday’s post about the “cabbage cure,” a reader asked me about my favorite herbal reference books. If you’re interested in learning more about medicinal plants, I would like to recommend this excellent book for beginners. I’ve learned a lot from Rosemary Gladstar’s books.

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I can also recommend my very favorite home medical reference book, which I’ve had for years, and refer to almost every week.

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This book is the cooperative effort of an M.D., a registered pharmacist, and a naturopath. It’s an exhaustive reference book, organized alphabetically by ailment, and it explains both conventional treatment and alternative care options, including recommendations for dietary modifications, vitamins and minerals, herbal treatment, homeopathy, accupressure, and prevention. I think every family should have this book in their reference library! I also use and love its companion book, Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child.

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It is through this book that I learned about Bach Flower Remedies. Long-time readers may remember that I originally intended to have DJ at home, not realizing that he would weigh a gargantuan 12+ pounds and require an emergency c-section. When I ordered my home birth kit my midwife, Kathy, recommended that I purchase a vial of Bach Rescue Remedy. I bought some, though I’d never even heard of it, but since I wasn’t able to use my birth kit the remedy got stashed in a cabinet and forgotten. One afternoon when DJ was a baby, during my usual 4:00 P.M. slump, I was rummaging around in search of Advil and I rediscovered the little bottle with the bright yellow label. It said, “Natural Stress Relief,” so I decided to try it, and about 10 minutes later I felt a very gentle but distinct shift in my mood. I felt calmer and more relaxed. Less anxious. Better able to cope with the demands of 3 noisy little kids at suppertime.

I was kind of baffled by my response because, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t understand how it could be possible. How could 4 little drops of a virtually tasteless tincture have any effect on my emotional state?

I was convinced that it was nothing more than a placebo effect, and to test this theory, I decided to use my husband as a guinea pig. One day, when he was stressed out and on edge because of a demanding workload, I offered him some Rescue Remedy, telling him only that it was a “natural stress reliever.” He took a dropperful, and returned to his office. When he came upstairs after work, he asked me what I’d given him because he couldn’t believe how much better it made him feel.

Bee has suffered from frequent bouts of insomnia this year, and she often says that she can’t settle her brain down at night. One night, when she came upstairs complaining that she couldn’t sleep, I gave her a small glass of water with a dropperful of Rescue Remedy in it. I didn’t tell her that I’d done this, but the next morning she said that she’d been able to fall asleep almost immediately afterwards.

I was very intrigued, so I turned to my Smart Medicine book, and read the chapter on Bach Flower Remedies. These emotion-balancing flower preparations were originally developed by Dr. Edward Bach, an English bacteriologist, pathologist and homeopath, in the 1930s. Bach believed that physical illnesses were manifestations of emotional imbalance, and they could be relieved by altering or alleviating destructive emotions. The original 38 Flower Remedies are dilute essences of plants, which are very gentle and easy to use. They can be used for anyone, including children and pets, and administered freely whenever you think they might help you feel better.

After our success with Rescue Remedy, I looked into other remedies as well. I discovered that I could buy my own remedy mixing bottles and create custom remedies for each member of my family, based on our personalities and individual challenges. Together with my husband and the girls, I used this online “Remedy Chooser” to design and print our formulas, and I purchased the individual remedies at Vitacost for half the price charged at my local health food store.

The Rescue Cream is very soothing for dry skin and eczema.

Because you use only a few drops of each tincture, then fill the rest of the bottle with water, the remedies seem to last forever. We keep our remedies labeled, in a little wooden box on the kitchen counter, and we use them freely whenever we feel they’re needed. My husband, in particular, LOVES his and uses it so often that he prefers to keep it on his nightstand.

DJ doesn’t have a remedy yet, because I want him to be old enough to articulate his own emotions before I create one for him.

So why do these remedies work? I have no idea. When I first tried them I was every bit as skeptical as you probably are right now. Science is baffled, but 50 years of impressive anecdotal results prove that people do find these gentle preparations to be beneficial for alleviating stress and making them feel better during times of illness, grief and unhappiness. We’ve found them to be enormously beneficial, and as I told my husband, even if they only work because we think they will, they still work! After all, the mind itself (as Dr. Bach obviously understood) is a powerful healing tool.

I was able to order the mixing bottles, the Rescue Cream, and all the remedies I needed for my entire family from Vitacost for $104, with free shipping. This was approximately 4 months ago, and the tincture bottles are still full. As I mentioned, you need only a few drops of each, and when I consider that I spent $100 on one course of antibiotics for my husband over Christmas break, these remedies seem like a real bargain.

If you’re interested in learning more about Bach Flower Remedies, I recommend this article on Dr. Andrew Weil’s site, as well as this guide to the 38 original remedies. If you think you might like to give Bach Flower Remedies a try, you can save $10 on your order of $30 or more if you sign up at Vitacost through my referral link:

Save $10 on your Vitacost order of $30 or more!

Vitacost is also a wonderful source of quality, affordable vitamins, supplements, and whole, organic foods, and their customer service is excellent. I routinely purchase my coconut oil, raw unfiltered honey, organic raisins, and organic basmati rice from them. Definitely check them out, and if you have tried Bach Flower Remedies, I would love to hear about your own personal experience!

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