Bach flowers – Some history – 1. The discarded remedies

When Dr Bach completed his work on the remedies he destroyed most of the notes he made along the way saying that once a building is built there is no point in leaving the scaffolding in place and all that was needed would be found in ‘The Twelve Healers and Other Remedies’.

However, there is a little information in the form of two early published papers, which can give us some insight on how the system developed.  As well as academic interest, this is also important as it provides evidence of the process that Dr Bach went through before the system was completed.  It didn’t appear in some sort of mystical way but was the result of careful observation, experimentation and refinement and went through several iterations before it was complete.

In this two-part blog I’ll explore the early papers to find out more about the remedies which didn’t quite make it – what they were for and if they are used in other essence systems today.  I’ll then look at some anomalies with plant names and finally, I’ll examine the quoted indications to examine if/how they changed.

The Homoeopathic World, 1886 edition. The journal was published from 1866 to 1967. From 1933-1952 it was called Heal Thyself.

In a paper in The Homoeopathic World in February 1930, ‘Some New Remedies and their Uses’, Dr Bach offers five new remedies to the world – made using homoeopathic methods from Impatiens roylei, Mimulus luteus, Clematis vitalba, Cupressus and Cotyledon umbilicus.  Later the same year in another paper in the same journal, ‘Some fundamental Considerations of disease and cure’, he lists 11 remedies – Clematis vitalba appears as Clematis erecta flora and Cupressus has been removed, but the other 3 appear as before and in addition Agrimonia epatoria [sic], Ceratostigma willmottiana, Cichorium intybus, Erythraea centaurium, Scleranthus annuus, Verbena officinalis and Sonchus arvensis. (I don’t have exact date for this paper, other than Oct.-Dec. issue so below I’ll refer to it as ‘late 1930’).

In this later paper, only Impatiens, Mimulus and Cotyledon from the February paper are made homoeopathically, with the rest made by what we would recognise as close to the sun method – except that the mother tincture is harvested at 3 points – after 3 hours, after 4 hours and finally after 7 hours, to give three potencies.  Thus, there are still some remnants of homoeopathic preparation, which, by the time Free Thyself is published in 1932, have disappeared.

In Free Thyself, ‘Arvensis’ and ‘Cotyledon’ have been removed and Gentian, Rock Rose and Water Violet added.   First I’m going to explore the three remedies which were removed either between the two 1930 papers or between 1930 and the publication of Free Thyself.  The presence of these in other remedy systems is also investigated by searching the BAFEP Essence Database, supplemented by internet searches.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana

Lawson cypress showing characteristic red male cones; Velela / CC BY-SA (

Cupressus (Feb. 1930, no further mentions).  A genus name for trees commonly called cypresses.  No species is identified but Dr Bach says the remedy is made from the red vessels at the tip of the leaves.  Two main species are used in homoeopathy, Cupressus sempervirens (Italian cypress) and Cupressus lawsonia (correctly known as Chamaecyparis lawsoniana, Lawson cypress).  The male cones of  Lawson cypress have red tips so this seems to be the most likely remedy source.  In the February paper, only physical symptoms are described.

Lawson cypress is one of the Green Man tree essences (, said to help identify correct action and one’s true needs. It initiates change in the right direction and increased communication between mind and body. It gives discipline to attain one’s goals and spiritual direction.  Italian cypress is a Silvercord essence (



Navelwort (Cotyledon umbillicus); C T Johansson / CC BY-SA (

Cotyledon umbilicus, Navelwort (Feb 1930, late 1930, no further mentions).  No emotional indications are given in the Feb. 1930 paper. In the paper later that year, Cotyledon (as the remedy is called in this paper) is described as being for the hysteric. Those requiring it have emotional instability and are excitable, nervous, uncertain and lack control.  They wish to do well but fail due to their irresponsible nature.  This nature causes them anxiety.  The remedy brings calm courage and quiet determination.  Dr Bach describes it bringing the characteristics of a Roman centurion, ‘faithful unto death’.  The name Cotyledon umbilicus is used in homoeopathic medicine but this plant is now known as Umbilicus rupestris.  The leaves, with their navel-like depression from which the plant gets its common name and Latin name umbilicus, have wound-healing properties.

A Findhorn essence is made from the plant (named as Iona pennywort), said to help to penetrate the darkness by shining light on a problem that you are hiding, denying, or covering up. Light protects from darkness and also lets you see what is real and what is imaginary.  Habundia Flower Essences ( has a navelwort essence for security, safety, self-esteem. It heals the shock of the umbilical cord being cut too soon. (A link to the Doctrine of Signatures here I think – see earlier blog on this Doctrine). There is also a navelwort essence from Green Hope Farm (  Finally, a Green Man essence from navelwort is said to help release of deeply held blocks that impede greater understanding of ourselves and our surroundings (

The field milk thistle (Sonchus arvensis); By 4028mdk09 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Sonchus arvensis, Field milk thistle or sow thistle (late 1930, no further mentions).  Arvensis, as Dr Bach calls the remedy made from this plant, is for those in the depths of gloom, who feel no light, no joy, no happiness.  They are intensely unhappy and always look on the dark side of things.  They are despondent, wallow in all that is morbid and infect others with their gloom.  The remedy brings sunshine into their lives and helps them cheer others.

A Yorkshire flower essence is prepared from sow thistle. This is indicated for those who do not love themselves. Often they try to make up for this by trying to please others.*

The leaves of sow thistles were said to cure hares of madness and the milky juice was used in herbal medicine and for cosmetic use to promote clear skin.

Any thoughts on these three discarded remedies?  Add your comments to facebook.

*The BAFEP Essence Database also lists Milk thistle from Wild Medicine ( as coming from Sonchus arvensis but this isn’t specified on their website.  I’ve checked this with Sophia Knock from Wild Medicine and she’s confirmed that they use Silybum marianum (milk thistle) rather than ‘our’ plant.

Next time: In part 2, I’ll look at some anomalies with plant names and the evolution of remedy indications.

Thanks to: Tessa Jordan for copies of the Homoeopathic World articles and Sophia Knock from Wild Medicine for information about their Milk thistle essence.

References: Dr Edward Bach, Some new remedies and their uses, The Homoeopathic World, February 1930, 33-37

Edward Bach, M.B., B.S., Some fundamental considerations of disease and cure, The Homoeopathic World, (Oct.-Dec.?), 1930

Edward Bach,  Free Thyself, 1932, (2014 edition)

Edward Bach, The Twelve Healers and Other Remedies, the definitive edition, 1941

A Modern Herbal, Mrs M Grieve;

BAFEP Database: