Homeopathy vs. Bach Flower Therapy:
Bach Flower therapy and homeopathy share many similarities and they are philosophically and clinically compatible.
Like homeopathy, Bach flower therapy is a natural, holistic approach to medicine.
Like homeopathy, its focus is treating the patient, not the disease.
Like homeopathy, it is spiritual and vitalistic, postulating the existence of a soul or spiritual principle that animates the physical body.
Like homeopathy, it is understood to be a vibrational or energetic medicine that acts on the non-material plane, the subtle or causal level of our being.
Like homeopathy, it considers this subtle or causal level to be the deepest level from which all healing and dis-ease originate.
Like homeopathy, it considers mental and emotional symptoms to be at the center (or primary) and physical symptoms to be peripheral (or secondary).
However, there are also significant differences in how the remedies are made and how they act, as well as in how the two modalities are generally practiced. In the table below, you will find a comprehensive review of the key differences.
Principle of Action
Homeopathy is founded on the principle of "like cures like."
The remedies work by setting up an initial medicinal action (primary action) and the vital force responds with a curative, equal and opposite reaction (secondary action).
The pendulum (action and reaction) is a helpful conceptual metaphor to describe this process.
Bach flower therapy is not founded on the principle of "like cures like."
The remedies work by conveying information corresponding to the "positive" mental-emotional state, and the healing reaction occurs via attunement to that state.
The tuning fork (attunement) is a helpful conceptual metaphor to describe this process.
Homeopathic remedies can be made from any substance, including mineral, plant, animal, imponderable, and synthetic sources.
Bach flower remedies are made from flowers and spring water. For the 18 remedies made via the boiling method, the whole flowering spray with leaves and twigs is included.
The source material for homeopathic remedies is initially prepared via trituration or alcohol infusion to produce a mother tincture.
Afterward, these are serially diluted (in water or a neutral distilled alcohol) by a constant dilution factor and succussed.
The source material for Bach flower remedies is prepared via the sun method (infusion) and boiling method (decoction).
The resulting mother tincture is then diluted (in brandy) but not serially diluted by a constant dilution factor.
Although a minimal amount of shaking occurs during preparation, the remedies are not succussed.
Homeopathic remedies are all associated with a potency. Although the effects of potency are not fully understood or quantifiable, the process it represents is clear and quantifiable, telling us exactly how many steps of dilution and succussion were involved in the making of a remedy.
Bach flower remedies are "potentized" but they are not associated with a "potency" as in homeopathy.
Some makers have labeled the remedies with a potency (for example, 5X). However, if the remedies are being made according to Bach's original methods, 5X can only be a mathematical approximation as there should be no serial decimal dilution involved in the process.
The minimum dose is a key principle in homeopathy and careful dosing is required.
Administration is typically oral, with the exception of rare cases in which remedies cannot be given by mouth.
Topical application is not recommended (except where remedies cannot be taken by mouth) and is considered potentially suppressive.
In Bach flower therapy, there is no concept of minimum dose and careful dosing is not required. In fact, frequent dosing is recommended.
In acutes, clients are instructed to take the remedies multiple times a day, as often as needed. In chronic cases, the standard recommended dosage from a dosing bottle is 4 drops, 4 times a day, plus more if needed.
Administration is typically oral but topical application is allowed and considered beneficial and equivalent to oral.
Antidotes & Cautions
The action of homeopathic remedies can be antidoted by camphor, menthol, pharmaceuticals, strong environmental influences or shocks, and (some believe) coffee.
Remedies should be taken away from food or drink.
Remedies should be kept away from strong odors, camphor, menthol, high heat, and non-native EMFs.
In Bach flower therapy, no antidoting agents are recognized.
Remedies may be taken with, near, or in food and drink.
Many practitioners recommend keeping remedies away from high heat and non-native EMFs.
Discovery & Provings
In homeopathy, the discovery of new remedies is an empirical process. Although much happens that is non-linear and non-local, the steps involved in a homeopathic proving are rational and linear.
Proving information is subsequently subject to confirmation in clinical practice.
Homeopathic remedies are capable of producing symptoms in healthy subjects.
Accidental provings are possible.
Although Edward Bach spent much time in botanical study and observation of plants, his discovery of the remedies was primarily an intuitive process. Bach's experience was non-linear, emotional, and empathic.
Bach's intuitions were later confirmed in clinical practice.
Bach flower remedies cannot produce symptoms in healthy subjects.
Accidental provings are not possible.
Remedy Selection & Prescribing
In homeopathy, remedy selection is done via repertories, materia medica knowledge, and group and sensation analysis, depending on the method.
Incorrect remedy selection can lead to suppression or proving symptoms.
In classical homeopathy, only single remedies are prescribed. In complex homeopathy, multiple remedies are prescribed (polypharmacy).
Remedies may be blinded.
Placebo is sometimes used.
In Bach flower therapy, remedy selection is generally done based on materia medica knowledge. Although repertories exist, they are not considered essential nor are they typically used by practitioners for prescribing.
Incorrect remedy selection cannot lead to suppression or proving symptoms.
Multiple remedies can be prescribed at one time (generally up to 6 or 7).
Remedies are typically not blinded. Client education is encouraged.
Placebo is not used.
Aggravation, Auxiliary & New Symptoms
In homeopathy, aggravation is possible and not uncommon.
An appropriate remedy choice can cause an aggravation of existing symptoms and the appearance of auxiliary symptoms.
An inappropriate remedy choice can cause aggravation of existing symptoms or new symptoms.
In Bach flower therapy, aggravation is very rare. Practitioners disagree on whether the remedies actually produce aggravation.
An appropriate remedy choice does not produce auxiliary symptoms.
An inappropriate choice of remedy produces no action.
There are 6,000+ homeopathic remedies.
The homeopathic materia medica is an open, growing system. New remedies are being added continuously.
There are 38 individual Bach flower remedies and one combination remedy.
The Bach flower remedy materia medica is a closed, fixed system. No new remedies have been added since Bach's death.
Other flower essence collections have since been developed by others (Flower Essence Society, Australian Bush Flower Essences, Alaskan Essences, etc.)
Homeopathic remedy indications focus on mental, emotional and physical symptoms.
Physical symptoms are important and relevant for remedy selection.
A distinction is made between common (low-value) and characteristic (high-vaue) symptoms.
High-value symptoms include: SRPs, CLAMS, modalities, aetiology, sensations, and the vital sensation, depending on the approach.
Bach flower remedy indications focus on mental and emotional symptoms primarily (physical mainly indirectly).
Physical symptoms are less important for remedy selection. They are relevant only insofar as they help to reveal the underlying mental-emotional states.
No distinction is made between common and characteristic symptoms.
High-value symptoms include: mental and emotional states, aetiology. (SRPs, CLAMS, sensation and other homeopathic concepts are not used.)
Casetaking in homeopathy is typically longer than in Bach flower therapy, though variable by practitioner, method, and context.
In a traditional private practice in North America, an intake might average two hours. A follow up typically lasts 30-60 minutes.
Casetaking in Bach flower therapy is typically shorter than in homeopathy.
An initial intake typically lasts 1–1.5 hours. A follow up typically lasts 30 minutes to one hour.