In complementary medicine there is an emphasis on the treatment of the person as a whole rather than as a collection of symptoms. This extends to addressing the emotional state because there is such a strong relationship between the physical body and a person’s state of mind. There is plenty of evidence that emotions will affect the body in a tangible and physical way. A good example of this is nervousness. On a physical level nervousness can manifest as trembling, nausea, perspiration and diarrhoea. Each of these symptoms can be treated, but the cause of the nervousness has not been addressed. Even a prescription that addresses all of these symptoms will not ‘cure’ the person experiencing them. A person feeling nervous may be thinking ‘what if I make a mistake?’ or ‘everybody will be looking at me’. It is these thoughts that are causing the physical symptoms. Going a level deeper might determine that it is the ‘fear’ of making a mistake or a lack of self-confidence that is causing the thought process. So, although the physical symptoms of nervousness can be similar for many people, the underlying thoughts can be very different.
The physical manifestations of these thoughts over a period of time will affect the body on a physiological level. In the case of nervousness, adrenalin is responsible for many of the physical symptoms. This ‘stress’ response can develop into a number of chronic conditions. Treating only the physical signs and symptoms will not cure the condition. This is where the Bach Flowers become an important part of clinical practice. As a modality, the Bach Flowers address a wide variety of emotional states that can, and do, manifest as physical symptoms. Using the Bach Flowers, the practitioner has a specific tool with which to address these underlying states. This enables a truly holistic approach to the treatment of the patient.
To appreciate this it is helpful to consider how one of the Bach Flower remedies may be prescribed using a hypothetical case. A female patient presents with insomnia and headaches. This has been happening for three weeks. She is very tired, finds it difficult to concentrate and is becoming very short tempered. Initially there are several remedies that could be indicated:
- • Olive: for tiredness
- • Walnut: to help ground and focus
- • Holly: for anger
After questioning the patient, it is revealed that three weeks ago she found out she would have to attend a court hearing on a matter she thought had been resolved. Since then the patient has worried almost continuously about the upcoming court appearance. She goes over and over the different scenarios in her head to the point where she can’t sleep. The patient cannot get the worrying thoughts out of her head.
So although there were three remedies which could have been considered appropriate initially, further questioning led to the cause of her current symptoms, that is, the worrying thoughts about the court case. The remedy that is indicated in this case is White Chestnut. This remedy is for persistent worrying thoughts that a person just cannot get out of their head. A person might become fixated on an idea or go over and over an argument or an unpleasant situation. Taking White Chestnut will help to break the cycle of worry and help the person come back to a state of mental peace.