Flower Essences: Helping the Mind Heal the Body

Story at-a-glance -

  • Flower essence therapy can be described as a form of “emotional homeopathy”
  • Flower essences are used to treat the mind, which in turn helps practitioners address physical disease processes, sometimes with miraculous results
  • Flower essences have the potential to heal the mind-body connection and break the vicious cycle created by the phenomenon known as “response rigidity”

By Dr. Becker

Today I'm talking with Dr. Judith Shoemaker, a fellow veterinarian who owns an integrative veterinary medicine practice in Nottingham, Pennsylvania. As part of her very diversified practice, Dr. Shoemaker uses flower essences in the treatment of patients, which is what we're discussing today.

'Emotional Homeopathy'

Dr. Shoemaker describes the use of flower essences as "emotional homeopathy."

"Flower essences are very high dilutions of flowers of all varieties that are used to treat the mind," says Dr. Shoemaker. "Starting with the mind, we can frequently find ways into a disease process, and sometimes achieve absolutely miraculous results."

Dr. Shoemaker has been learning about flower essences from a friend who has been visiting with her over the past year, Dr. Barbara. Together they have treated several very tough cases, including dogs with severe aggression, rabies miasm, liver problems, and other challenges.

Dr. Richard Pitcairn describes rabies miasm:

"What I've seen happen is, after vaccination, dogs develop what we call the 'rabies miasm', where they become more aggressive, more likely to bite, more nervous and suspicious.

"They may also have a tendency to run away, to wander, and also sometimes to have excessive saliva, and to tear things up. It's not that they have rabies, but they seem to express some symptoms of the disease from exposure to the vaccine."1

Dr. Shoemaker observed that treatment of these dogs with flower essences "literally overnight calmed them down and made them pleasant." She and Dr. Barbara have seen some really great results.

Every Plant and Flower Possesses Its Own Unique Power

I'm personally familiar with Bach Flower Essences, and I'm aware there are Australian bush flower essences as well as North American essences. I asked Dr. Shoemaker which ones she uses, whether she blends them together, and how she uses them in her veterinary practice.

She explained that flower essences can be used as single remedies, and also in combinations that work for a wide variety of issues, both mental and physical.

"Every plant, every flower has its own particularly unique things that it can do," says Dr. Shoemaker. "I'm still learning and just really fascinated and having a wonderful time adding to my armamentarium."

Flower Essences Heal the Connection Between Body and Mind

There's an old saying, "With every physical ailment, there's an emotional root." However, this isn't something taught in veterinary school due to the disconnect between both human and animal mind-body medicine.

It's an untapped field, but those of us who operate in the holistic and integrative realm recognize that the mind-body connection is very real and always in play.

Flower essences are effective in healing the connection between mind and body. A disease may be expressing itself as a physical ailment, but very often there's an emotional root cause.

Flower Essences and the Bitchy Mare

In Dr. Shoemaker's veterinary practice she treats many different species. One of the most remarkable cases she's seen in the last year was a horse with "Bitchy Mare Syndrome," a condition familiar to anyone who works with horses.

Especially when in heat, this mare was absolutely dangerous, according to Dr. Shoemaker. She would squeal when anyone approached her. She would strike out. She was a danger to anyone who went into her stall with her, and she could be handled by only the most experienced horse people.

Dr. Shoemaker had treated the mare in the past for ear and skin infections, as well as liver dysfunction. So she decided to give her flower essences for her testiness, and the very next morning, the horse's owner called Dr. Shoemaker and said, "This is a different horse!"

A month later and through another heat, the mare was still doing great. Flower essences can be given directly, or in water, or even on a small food treat. They're absolutely safe, according to Dr. Shoemaker. The essences are very high dilutions, known as LM dilutions, which means diluted with water many times.

"It's always amazing to me, having been such a left-brained, 'there's no way this stuff is going to work' kind of person," says Dr. Shoemaker, "to see these types of remedies work – and work really brilliantly!"

Flower Essences Can Break the 'Response Rigidity' Cycle

My hope is that this brief interview with Dr. Shoemaker will inspire others to consider flower essences when faced with a tough health condition or behavior problem that isn't responding to other types of therapies.

As Dr. Shoemaker explains, there's a mechanical, physiologic and emotional component to health. When one area is compromised, the others must compensate. "Emotional issues are very hard to deal with much of the time," says Dr. Shoemaker, "yet they present with signs that allow us to deal with them objectively."

There's a phenomenon called "response rigidity." Essentially it means, "I don't care what the question is, I'm going to answer it this way." Dr. Shoemaker says response rigidity is what the mare was displaying, and her remarkable turnaround demonstrates the potential of flower essences to break the cycle.

Breaking through response rigidity allows an animal (and often the owner as well) to become present again, to adapt, and to become more resilient. Many thanks to Dr. Judith Shoemaker for chatting with me today about the exciting field of flower essences and their potential to help treat a wide range of emotional and health challenges.

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