Phooling around with flower therapy
Dr Malati Negi is a practising dermatologist in Mumbai. But despite being a doctor, she doesn’t take allopathic medicines for migraine and anxiety. Instead, she prefers floral remedies — infusions, mixes and essences.
“In 2018, I had my first child and suffered from post-partum depression. I took certain floral essences and they eased my symptoms,” says the 31-year-old*.
As alternative therapies become a buzzword, some are waking up and smelling the flowers literally.
The system of flower-based healing isn’t really new. It was developed by British physician and homoeopath Dr Edward Bach more than 80 years ago, and it’s named Bach flower remedies (BFR) after him. Thanks to the availability of BFR kits online and registered practitioners , more people are open to giving it a try.
According to this system, bad emotions are responsible for physical ailments and it works by targeting negative emotions. Most users and practitioners say BFR works best for ailments like stress and anxiety in adults, and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders in children.
Author and entrepreneur Jhelum Biswas Bose has been taking BFR since 2009 to deal with uterine fibroids, allergies and even anxiety. “Fibroids make me temperamental. Taking cherry plum and crab apple has helped me with mood swings. While my fibroids are still there, the physical symptoms have reduced or gone,” says Biswas Bose, whose book Phool Proof elaborates on traditional uses of flowers.
Alka Raghubeer, a registered BFR practitioner in Delhi, consults 10-12 patients every day including cancer patients. “It can’t cure cancer, but it helps cope with the disease and its side-effects,” she says.
Like most alternative healing practices, there’s no scientific basis for floral remedies. A systemic review of BFR published in 2009 found that while it was safe, it was as good as a placebo. But users and practitioners believe the ‘life energy’ of flowers has healing power. India’s traditional system of medicine has also banked on flowers. “For example, hibiscus has proven hair enhancement properties,” says Dr Anjali Kulkarni, a botany professor at Savitribai Phule Pune University.
*Name changed on request
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