Walking with the Black Guide-DogFebruary 9, 2011
Point of Discernment: The following article is for information only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional clinical advice.
Flower Essences for Depression and Grief
Depression, sadness and grief are emotions experienced by many people at different times in their lives. How severe the feelings and how long they last varies between individuals. However most people suffering from depression or sadness can attest to the difficult or debilitating effects such emotions have on them and their lives.
Often people suffering from these feelings will look for some sort of assistance to help them cope and/or recover. Prescription medicines, such as Prozac, are nowadays commonly purchased to treat depression. A number of people seek relief via a “buzz”, hence might embark on some “retail therapy”, a holiday or some such other pleasant experience to give themselves a “boost”. Some people prefer to embrace other approaches to gain relief, such as counseling, meditation, even sport, especially those which provide a “natural high” through the release of endorphins. Others chose to numb the pain, and may turn to drink, drugs, overworking etc to try and deaden the painful feelings.
A wholistic approach more people are becoming aware of and adopting is that of flower essence therapy. For those not familiar with flower essences, these are natural remedies made from flowers, with their healing properties derived from the life force, vibration of the flowers. Flower essences address negative emotions/states (and sometimes physical ailments.) By thus dissolving and alleviating negative emotions, one’s overall health and well being is strengthened and enhanced.
There are available today a great many flower essences that can be used for depression, sadness and also grief. One of the most popular and most widely available is Borage (Borago officinalis) It instills courage and helps one overcome grief, sadness, depression and discouragement*. Another very popular essence is Zinnia (Zinnia elegans) which promotes cheer, laughter and joy. Bach’s Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is also a favorite for sufferers of depression. It stimulates vitality, enthusiasm and motivation.
Gentian (Gentiana amarelle) can help those who are easily discouraged, get depressed and disheartened. It’s suitable for when one experiences doubt and lack of faith, melancholy, skepticism and disappointment.
At times, the cause of one’s sadness or depressed state may not be obvious (or immediately obvious.) Mustard (Sinapis arvensis) can be of assistance at such times. It is for depression gloom or melancholy that comes for no apparent reason
Some people also can become disheartened by world events and their relationship to them e.g. the effect these may have on them. To deal with the pessimism or despair that arises, Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius) can be taken as it instills the tenacity, optimism and perseverance to help one cope with such feelings.
Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron divergens) is recommended for those who suffer from deep depression and negative thought patterns. It uplifts and brings clarity, lightness, openness, cheerfulness, and a positive desire toward change. Desert Sunflower (Geraea canescens) is also an uplifting remedy, as is African Daisy (Osteospermum species) which draws one to the core of one’s emotional – mental state and helps one make a positive choice as to how they want to be and feel. Wild Cherry (Prunus avium) is another important flower essence to help one create a serene and optimistic view of life, hence is ideal for those who are pessimistic and gloomy, seeing only the negative side of things.
Some other essences which may be beneficial for individuals include: Daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus), suitable for those experiencing depression, self-criticism, self-hatred, frustration; Felicia (Felicia aethiopica), for feelings of unhappiness, disconnectedness, insignificance; Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles japonica) for despair, hopelessness, depressed anger, pain; and Cucumber (Cucurbita sativus) which address’s pessimism, defeatism, feelings of not belonging resulting in withdrawal. Also associated with the issue of withdrawal, Mimosa (Acacia dealbata), is an essence recommended for timid, introverted, independent people who close off from others and consequently can suffer from feelings of depression.
In many situations, grief is often experienced alongside depression. Both are often felt, for example, following the break up of a relationship or the loss of a loved one through death. In such difficult, painful situations, Hawthorn-May / English Hawthorne (Crataegus oxyacantha) can bring support- it softens the pain of separation and grief and helps relieve sorrow. Wild Rose (Rosa arizonace*) helps restore a vital sense of living and assists one to face the deepest pains especially associated with “heartaches. It is recommended for those who show indifference, lack of interest, unresponsiveness, unconcern, and / or have little or no emotion and seem “spiritless”. Wild Onion (Allium stellatum) is an essence that connects us to the root cause of grief and offers protection.
It is also helpful to recognize that at times depression (or sadness or grief) may be “masking” other deeper emotions. For example, someone with melancholy may on a deep level still be experiencing shock from an old trauma. Such a person would also benefit from essences (or other forms of assistance) to deal with the shock and trauma i.e. the cause of the depression. One such essence is Peach (Prunus persica), ideal for deep-seated melancholy, for the effects of past trauma or grief which continue to affect the present. Importantly, on a different level, depression can at times also be a symptom of a physical illness and if this is so, the illness of course needs to be addressed, medically. Alongside the appropriate medical treatment, for any depression accompanying lingering illness’s, Wild Rose (Rosa canina*) can be used. Furthermore, for those suffering from apathy and who are often ill or ailing due to repressed emotions, Bell Gardenia (Rothmannia globosa) can often help bring emotional issues into consciousness and restore vitality
There are several methods one can use to select which essences to use: reading flower essence descriptions and deciding which is/are appropriate, muscle testing (kinesiology), dowsing, intuition etc. Directions for using the essences can usually be found on the label or accompanying literature.
One of the beauties of flower essences is that flower essences do not have side effects due to their ingredients (unless one is allergic to the preservative e.g. alcohol). Generally flower essence therapy is a helpful and healing experience, and one that does not “interrupt” one’s lifestyle as they work subtly. However, sometimes when one uses essences, the emotion being addressed (eg. grief) can become more obvious for a while – i.e. symptoms strengthen before they ease. When significant, this is called a “healing crisis” and it indicates the remedy is working. If a healing crisis should occur, stop taking the essences and talk to your essence supplier regarding possibly continuing on an adjusted dose.
Flower remedies are very easy to use – simply take them straight from the bottle, place a dose in a cup of water, place several drops in the bath or purchase them either in spitzer form and spray them around the room, or in cream form and apply as directed!
Today many people seeking a convenient, natural (and cost effective) way to ease and overcome their heavy-heartedness are embracing flower remedies – with their many wonderful healing qualities they can provide support for symptoms experienced and, if applicable, assistance with the healing of any patterns that may be creating or aggravating these symptoms . And for many sufferers, that is indeed welcome and cheering news!
* nb. some plants species have a number of varieties e.g. in the Chamomile family, one can find the botanical varieties Matricaria chamomilla, Matricaria recutita and Anthemia nobilis. With regards to flower essences, it’s important to understand the qualities of the flowers belonging to the different varieties can have slightly different properties. Hence when ordering an essence based on its description, its important to check the botanical (latin) name of the flower essence is that which you are after.
** Furthermore, many flower essences have multi- healing qualities. For the purposes of this article, only the relevant qualities are stated, please understand
Article by Marlene Keel a flower essence therapist and director of the Flower Essence Center based in Victoria, Australia.
Black Dog Institute: A not-for-profit, educational, research, clinical and community-oriented facility offering specialist expertise in depression and bipolar disorder in Australia.