April 22nd is Earth Day, so here at Viva we’ve been hyperfocused on the environment and how it affects our mental health. We know that getting outdoors improves our mental health, but how else can we engage with nature to decrease symptoms of stress and depression? The answer may, er, smell better than you expect.
Practitioners worldwide are turning to Floral Essences (FEs) to treat symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. What exactly are FEs? Put simply, they’re plant and water infusions designed to treat specific emotional states, resulting in improved physical and psychological health. Users typically ingest FEs orally via a dropper, but can also rub them onto their body in the form of a cream or use a room spray.
Studies suggest that FEs are a powerful adjunct to traditional therapy; while their effects tend to be more subtle than those of prescription medications, FEs have been known to reduce stress, anxiety, and low mood. One study even found that users with mild to moderate depression found their symptoms decreased by 50% after 1-3 months of FE use. Research also indicates that FEs increase creativity, sexuality, humor, and self-acceptance.
There are several schools of thought within the FE movement, one of which being Bach Flower Remedies. The Bach method, invented in the early 20th century, involves 38 different herbal remedies, each targeting a specific human emotion.
Viva Center affiliate Elizabeth Piren, MA, LPC, utilizes the Flower Essences of Misiones, created by Fabian Bachmann and Karen Ryberg in Misiones, Argentina. They developed this system by observing plants in their natural environment and noting how they interacted with the flora and fauna around them. Overwhelmingly, they found that the plants offered healing properties that mimicked their environmental interactions.
For example, take the black calla lily. This dark, purple-black flower is known for its fairly repugnant odor. Yet in the middle of the flower, almost hidden, lies a sweet smelling pistil. Fittingly, Elizabeth explains, its essence assists those with something “encapsulated” within, from physical issues like cysts or tooth infections, to mental ones like depression and repressed emotions. The black calla lily helps with the rapid cleansing of emotions, moving its user into a lighter state of mind.
While the abundance of FE remedies means that it’s preferable to consult with a FE expert on which remedies are right for you, Elizabeth offered a few suggestions for those looking to try them out.
1. Right now is the time of Magnolia, the Flower of Grand Aspirations. This flower reduces the anxieties, insecurities and fears that are preventing us from reaching our goals. It allows for improved security, strength, faith, and opens up a clear path to move forward.
2. Delight: For the perfectionists out there, or those who find themselves excessively thinking, worried, or running through checklists, this flower allows for joy, living in the moment, and accepting self and others.
3. White Rose: Have middle of the night insomnia? White Rose improves sleeping patterns for those who consistently wake up between 3 and 5am. This is also the flower for letting go of past hurt, processing sadness, and reconnecting with life and peace
4. Passion Flower: This plant encourages moderation. It’s a good first for those who are excessive, overwhelmed, worry often and have difficulty relaxing. It also reduces insomnia.
5. Jasmine of the Country: Recipes with Jasmine of the Country soothe sadness, lack of energy, and longing, and improve compassion, physical relaxation, and the release of tension in the shoulders and upper back.
6. Yarrow: Yarrow grants a sense of protection and security by reducing vulnerabilities and hypersensitivity.
To learn more about FEs and whether they’re right for you, check out Elizabeth’s blog posts and website. Now, excuse us, but we’re off to find some dandelion cream—our muscles need relaxing, and that remedy is just the trick (the skin hydration doesn’t hurt either).