Sue Young Histories

Edward Bach 1886 - 1936

June 07, 2009

Edward Bach 1886 - 1936 MD (photo used courtesy of Homéopathe International) was a British orthodox physician and bacteriologist at University College Hospital, who converted to homeopathy to become a bacteriologist at the London Homeopathic Hospital and the founder of the Edward Bach Centre,

Edward Bach was a colleague of J Ellis Barker, Ardeshir Kavasji Boman Behram, Francis Henry Bodman, Douglas Morris Borland, John Henry Clarke, Robert Thomas Cooper, Andrew Tocher Cunningham, Charles William Daniel, Donald MacDonald Foubister, Robert Douglas Hale, Clarence Granville Hey, James Douglas Kenyon, George MacLeod, Thomas Maughan, William Burnett Douglas Miller, Elizabeth Paterson, John Paterson, Kathleen Gordon Priestman, Percival George Quinton, William Wilson Rorke, William Lees Templeton, Margaret Lucy Tyler, John Weir, Charles Edwin Wheeler, Harold Fergie Woods, and Dudley d’Auvergne Wright.

Edward Bach worked with Elizabeth Paterson and John Paterson on the Bowel Nodoses.

From Edward Bach qualified as a doctor in 1912, saying as he received his diplomas: ‘it will take me five years to forget all I have been taught’. In fact it took longer than that. It was eighteen years before he finally turned his back on orthodox research, smashed the glassware in his laboratory, and left London

Bach had enjoyed many years of successful research in London. His work had brought him fame and a high professional standing among both orthodox and homeopathic doctors. In recent years he had now founded an entirely new approach to healing that concentrated exclusively on the emotional and spiritual health of people rather than their physical symptoms.

We might expect that on his death he would leave behind him shelves full of notes and published writings with which to awe posterity. But here too he was determined to leave things as clear and uncluttered as possible. Even while he was in the process of finding new remedies, Dr Bach was stripping out from his practice unnecessary ideas and theories. The laboratory and orthodox research were the first things to go, but more was to follow.

As he progressed he discontinued the use of succussion, investigated and discounted links between his remedy types and astrology, gave up diagnosis by physical symptom, and abandoned as unnecessary the idea of different remedies working on ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ planes.

Towards the end he built a bonfire in the garden at Mount Vernon where he burnt many of his early notes, determined that they would not survive to lead people astray in the future. All that needed to be said was said in the 32 pages of _The Twelve Healers_.

In his mind the discarded work, like the abandoned theories, was scaffolding: useful while the walls went up and the roof was put on, but cumbrous and unnecessary once people were ready to live in and with the finished house…

‘I think now you have seen every phase of the work,’ he wrote to his friend Victor Bullen in October of that year, a month before his death. ‘It is a proof of the value of our work when material agencies arise to distort it, because the distortion is a far greater weapon than attempted destruction.’

In the same letter he sets out the path that his successors should follow. ‘Our work is steadfastly to adhere to the simplicity and purity of this method of healing,’ he writes, ‘and when the next edition of _The Twelve Healers_ becomes necessary we must have a longer introduction, firmly upholding the harmlessness, the simplicity, and the miraculous healing powers of the remedies.’…

The Edward Bach Centre exists because Victor and Dr Bach’s long time helper Nora Weeks promised Dr Bach that they would continue to uphold those values…

Bach worked for several years in hospitals and was well aware of their negative effect on the human spirit. After leaving London and starting his work with the flower remedies he dreamed of a different kind of hospital, where people would go freely to find themselves and learn the lessons their life is teaching them.

He dreamed of doctors who would understand people as individuals and study human nature rather than test tubes and lab results. And he imagined patients taking charge of their own health by understanding and accepting the needs of their souls, rather than attending to the needs of the body alone…

Bach used to lead sing-songs in the village pub and play football with the local kids… Bach defied the General Medical Council by placing an advertisement in the newspapers, and when they wrote to censure him answered with the words: ‘The advertisement was for the public good, which, I take it, is the work of our profession.’

It is not commonly known, but there is a stream of ideas running through from ancient herbalism and vitalism into homeopathy. This lineage runs on through people like Robert Thomas Cooper and then onto Edward Bach of Flower Essence fame. This theme applied mainly to the mode of preparation of the remedies and also in the choice of which part of a plant to use. They all used tinctures of plants which were prepared using proof spirit. In the case of Robert Thomas Cooper and Edward Bach the unusual aspect is that they both chose living plant tissue immersed in proof spirit [or spring water] and exposed to sunlight.

His remedies were prepared by floating summer flowers in a bowl of clear stream water exposed to sunlight for three hours.

Edward Bach grew up in Birmingham a city in the English Midlands. He was a delicate child. His family was fairly poor and his ancestors originally came from Wales.

From an early age he knewthat he wanted to heal people. He left school at aged 16 and went to work in his father’s brass foundry. Eventually he had enough money saved and went to medical school.

In 1912 he went to work in London as a Casualty Officer. After recovering from a breakdown in his own health he developed his own medical practice in Harley Street. As time went on he became increasingly dissatisfied with the limitations of orthodox medicine and its focus upon curing symptoms. He saw that a physician ought to look at the cause of an illness. At this point Dr. Bach decided to pursue an interest in immunology and in 1915 became a bacteriologist at University College Hospital and later at the London Homeopathic Hospital.

He became greatly influenced by the father of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann and combining the principles of homeopathy and his knowledge of orthodox medicine he developed the seven Bach nosodes, oral vaccines based upon intestinal bacteria, which purified the intestinal tract and had remarkable effect upon patients sick with chronic conditions such as arthritis. They are still used today. However, Dr. Bach disliked the fact that they were based upon bacteria and was anxious to replace them with gentler methods possibly based upon plants.

In 1928, at a dinner party, he had a revelation; he looked at his fellow guests and realized that they all fell into seven distinct types of personality. From this he concluded that each type would react to illness in a particular way.

So Edward Bach looked at the people around him and questioned why it was that some remained well and some got sick when exposed to the same viruses and bacteria. He concluded that the natural state of the body was to be well, but if the body’s defenses are weakened by an imbalance in their personality and emotions then diseases could take hold.

Therefore, he called these imbalances the true cause of disease and not the outside agents’ recognized by orthodox medicine…

Bach was himself a very sick man. He was denied war service and collapsed at the relatively young age of 31 whilst working as a bacteriologist. Doctors diagnosed him with stomach cancer and gave him three months to live. In fact he lived for another 19 years…

The last two years of his life were spent in a tiny village called Brightwell cum Sotwell just outside Oxford. Nora Weekes had found a tiny cottage to rent, called Mount Vernon. They didn’t have much money because Bach had spent all his savings upon developing the flower remedies.

He made most of the simple furniture and cleared the overgrown garden so that remedies could be planted. He had charged no fees to help people so his resources were dwindling… When his life’s work was finished then he could finally rest.

He died fairly soon after he considered that his work was complete.

Nora Weeks and Victor Bullen continued his work and ensured that it remained simple and unchanged, accessible to everyone. After Nora’s death in 1978 the work passed to John Ramsell and trusted partners. The remedies are still made in the same way and from flowers growing in the same locations as Bach originally found them. Today they are used worldwide…

Edward Bach was born at Moseley, near Birmingham, in 1886 and trained as a doctor in London. For several years he worked investigating the role of bacteriology in chronic disease.

His researches led him to recognize that there were clear personality types that related to the various patterns of ill health, irrespective of the physical symptoms being presented by the patient.

Working with vaccine therapy and later with homeopathic principles, he moved towards the discovery of the flower remedies. These he felt could help to harmonize the emotional imbalances that he came to see as the real causes of physical illness.

By 1930 he was prepared to give up his successful medical practice in order to search for the plants and trees that came to be known as _The Twelve Healer and Other Remedies_. Each flower was found to embody the positive and harmonizing force for a negative emotional state, be it fear, resentment or despair. In order to transfer this healing force to a patient, Bach prepared essences from the flowers. This essence, diluted to some extent, could then be taken as a medicine. He found that as the negative moods changed so the person would return towards health.

The healing properties of the remedies were explained by Dr Bach in terms of a philosophy of life that saw a person as much more than the outward physical body that is treated in conventional medicine.

Illness, he suggested, was a message from our inner being calling for a change in our way of living and our mental outlook.

The primary purpose of the flower remedies is to help us to change and bring us back to a genuinely happy experience of life. These remedies have been in use throughout the world in the years since Bach’s death in 1936.

Bach grew up in Birmingham, studied medicine at the University College Hospital, London and obtained a Diploma of Public Health (DPH) at Cambridge.

Before turning to alternative therapies, he was a House Surgeon and a casualty medical officer at University College Hospital; he was in charge of 400 beds during World War I; he worked at the National Temperance Hospital and had a successful practice at Harley Street.

In 1917 Bach had a malignant tumor removed from his spleen. It was predicted that he had only three months left to live, but instead he recovered. Bach died in his sleep on November 27, 1936 at the age of

  1. Starting in 1919, he worked at the London Homeopathic Hospital, where he was influenced by the work of Samuel Hahnemann. In this period, he developed seven bacterial nosodes known as the seven Bach nosodes, which have received only limited recognition. Their use has been mostly confined to British homeopathic practitioners.

These Bach nosodes were introduced by Bach and the British homeopaths, John Paterson and Charles Edwin Wheeler in the 1920s. Their use is based on the variable bowel bacterial flora associated with persons of different homeopathic constitutional types. In 1930, at the age of 43, he decided to search for a new healing technique. He spent the spring and summer discovering and preparing new flower remedies - which include no part of the plant but simply what Bach claimed to be the pattern of energy of the flower. In the winter he treated patients free of charge.

Rather than being based on medical research, using the scientific method, Bach’s flower remedies were intuitively derived and based on his perceived psychic connections to the plants. If he felt a negative emotion, he would hold his hand over different plants, and if one alleviated the emotion, he would ascribe the power to heal that emotional problem to that plant.

He believed that early morning sunlight passing through dew drops on flower petals transferred the healing power of the flower onto the water, so he would collect the dew drops from the plants and preserve the dew with an equal amount of brandy to produce a mother tincture which would be further diluted before use. Later, he found that the amount of dew he could collect was not sufficient, so he would suspend flowers in spring water and allow the sun’s rays to pass through them.

Rather than recognizing the role of germ theory of disease, defective organs and/or tissue, and other known and demonstrable sources of disease, Bach thought that of illness as the result of “a contradiction between the purposes of the soul and the personality’s point of view.” This internal war, according to Bach, leads to negative moods and energy blocking, which causes a lack of “harmony,” thus leading to physical diseases.

Bach advertised his remedies in two daily newspapers, but since his practices did not follow any scientific protocol, and his methods were not understood, the General Medical Council disapproved of his advertising. For example, in his treatise _Heal Thyself:_ he wrote:

_"Disease will never be cured or eradicated by present materialistic methods, for the simple reason that disease in its origin is not material . . . Disease is in essence the result of conflict between the Soul and Mind and will never be eradicated except by spiritual and mental effort."_ In 1934, he moved to Mount Vernon in Brightwell cum Sotwell, Oxfordshire. He died two years later, only seven years after starting his search for new medicines.

The Edward Bach Centre, Mount Vernon, located in Brightwell cum Sotwell, Oxfordshire, and commonly known as the Edward Bach Centre or Mount Vernon, was the home and working place of Bach during the latter years of his life. Here he performed research into the 38 flower remedies that still bear his name.

The trustees and helpers at the Edward Bach Centre continue to make and provide the mother tinctures for the Bach flower remedies, according to the specific instructions left by Dr. Bach.

In the 1980s, when increasing worldwide sales and new regulatory requirements made it impractical for the Edward Bach Centre to continue producing the remedies in house, they invited Nelsons to take over full distribution. This was initially through a dedicated bottling plant in Abingdon and later moved to Wimbledon. The relationship between Nelsons and The Edward Bach Centre continues to this day.

The Edward Bach Centre is open to visitors and offers help to the public in the form of education, publications and referrals to practitioners.

Edward Bach, born in England in 1886, practiced orthodox medicine from 1914 until 1918 and served as a homeopathic practitioner from 1919 to 1930.

As a pathologist and bacteriologist, Dr. Bach developed vaccines from intestinal bacteria that helped many people suffering from chronic diseases. During the fall of 1928, Bach visited Wales and acquired his first two flowers, Impatiens and Mimulus. Using both essences for natural remedies, he received excellent results.

It is important to mention that Bach was in part influenced by the spiritual researcher, Rudolf Steiner. In the 1920’s he visited England several times and gave lectures before groups of physicians. He predicted that flowers would be discovered to be of great healing value sometime in the future.

From 1930 to 1936 Bach lived in rural areas of England and completed his 38 flower set. The Bach remedies were developed during the Depression and some people have noted that they seem to reflect the climate of that time: remedies for depression, discouragement and fear.

Dr. Bach stated that the real diseases of man are pride, cruelty, hate, selfishness, ignorance, instability and greed. His flower remedies have a strong impact with toxic emotions like resentment, guilt, hate and the feeling of being a victim.

The flower remedies heal by rising the vibratory level of consciousness, therefore allowing us to perceive our superior nature. The flowers allow us to infuse our being with the particular virtue we need and automatically erasing the negative cause of the disorder producing pain. Dr. Bach passed away m peace in 1936.

Edward Bach studied medicine at the University College Hospital, London, and was a House Surgeon there. He worked in general practice, having a set of consulting rooms in Harley Street, and as a bacteriologist and later a pathologist he worked on vaccines and a set of homeopathic nosodes still known as the seven Bach nosodes.

Despite the success of his work with orthodox medicine he felt dissatisfied with the way doctors were expected to concentrate on diseases and ignore the people who were suffering them.

He was inspired by his work with homeopathy but wanted to find remedies that would be purer and less reliant on the products of disease. So in 1930 he gave up his lucrative Harley Street practice and left London, determined to devote the rest of his life to the new system of medicine that he was sure could be found in nature.

Just as he had abandoned his old home, office and work, so now he abandoned the scientific methods he had used up until now. Instead he chose to rely on his natural gifts as a healer, and use his intuition to guide him.

One by one he found the remedies he wanted, each aimed at a particular mental state or emotion. His life followed a seasonal pattern: the spring and summer spent looking for and preparing the remedies, the winter spent giving help and advice to all who came looking for them.

He found that when he treated the personalities and feelings of his patients their unhappiness and physical distress would be alleviated as the natural healing potential in their bodies was unblocked and allowed to work once more.

In 1934 Dr Bach moved to Mount Vernon in Oxfordshire. It was in the lanes and fields round about that he found the remaining 19 remedies that he needed to complete the series. He would suffer the emotional state that he needed to cure and then try various plants and flowers until he found the one single plant that could help him.

In this way, through great personal suffering and sacrifice, he completed his life’s work.

Dr Bach passed away peacefully on the evening of November 27th, 1936. He was only 50 years old, but he had left behind him several lifetime’s experience and effort, and a system of medicine that is now used all over the world.

Edward Bach wrote Free thyself, Heal Thyself: An Explanation of the Real Cause and Cure of Disease, The Twelve Healers, The twelve healers and other remedies, The twelve healers and the four helpers, The twelve healers and the Seven helpers, The Bach Flower Remedies: Illustrations and Method of Preparation, Bach Flower Repertory, Healing Flower Color Card Set, Chronic Disease; a Working Hypothesis with Charles Edwin Wheeler, The Problem of Chronic Disease with Charles Edwin Wheeler,


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