Essence therapy

Essence therapy uses liquid solutions (essences). It is believed that the essence captures the healing energy of flowers, plants, trees, crystals, or other natural sources.


  • Followers of essence therapy believe that the captured energy in the solutions have healing qualities
  • There is no scientific evidence that it can treat cancer or its symptoms
  • Essence therapy is safe to use

What is essence therapy?

There are many types of essence therapy. The most common and well-known essences are Bach Flower Remedies. Others include:

  • plant essences (the fruit, root, stem, twig, seed etc of a plant)
  • mineral, crystal or gem essences
  • environmental essences
  • channelled essences
  • radionic or energy essences

The Bach Flower Remedies

In the 1920s and 1930s, a British doctor and bacteriologist called Edward Bach developed a set of 38 flower remedies. The flower remedies are diluted extracts from the flowers of wild plants.

Manufacturers make flower extracts by placing flowers in natural spring water. They then expose it to the sun or boil it. Followers believe that the sun releases the healing power of the flowers. Plant essence is made in a similar way.

Afterwards they filter the liquid. The liquid is called the mother tincture. They then mix it with brandy. Brandy preserves the liquid.

Bach believed that illness occurs when the mind and body aren’t in tune with each other. So, our emotions strongly influence our health.

He defined 38 emotional states that he felt made up the human condition. He designed each remedy to help a person balance a specific mood or emotion. Bach created a combination of essences, called a rescue remedy. He suggested it’s use during emotionally difficult times.

Bach's theories have led to the creation of hundreds of new essences by producers all over the world. Producers now make essences from:

  • non flowering plants
  • crystals and gems
  • other natural elements of nature

Why people with cancer use it

Essences do not prevent, control, or cure cancer or any other physical condition.

Essence therapists believe it can improve your mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. They say that it helps the body in healing itself by creating a positive emotional state. This restores the balance in the body. It also triggers the body’s own internal healing process. This may help people to feel better.

Some people with cancer say that essences help them to feel better mentally, emotionally or spiritually. This might help them to feel better physically too.

Others claim that flower remedies can help to boost your immune system. There is no scientific evidence to prove this. But many people say that flower remedies help relieve fear, anxiety or depression.

The aim of using essences is not to prevent, control, or cure cancer or any other physical condition.

How you have it

You can buy and use essences yourself without help from a qualified therapist.

The remedies come mixed with a tiny amount of alcohol. You can dilute them with water. Follow the instructions on the bottles. Or, you can drop the liquid onto your tongue without diluting it first.

Some types might also be available as:

  • pastilles, chewing gum, liquid melts, lozenges or fizzy (effervescent) tablets
  • bath salts
  • skin creams
  • sprays

The time it takes for people to notice a benefit can vary. Everyone's response is unique. Some people might feel results quicker than others.

Many ranges are available in the UK or abroad. You can buy some in health food shops and chemists.

Using essences safely

The essences have no physical effects on the body. They are safe for adults and children if you use them as instructed. You can use them with cancer treatments such as surgery, cancer drugs, or radiotherapy. Make sure you tell your cancer doctors before using any essences.

Many of the remedies contain tiny amounts of alcohol. Talk to your doctor if this is a worry for you. Your essence practitioner can advise you on the best way to avoid alcohol with essence treatments.

Finding a reliable practitioner

Make sure that you find a reliable practitioner. Contact one of the organisations listed below and ask for a list of practitioners in your area.

Registered essence practitioners can suggest the best remedies for your particular problems. They decide which ones to use by looking at your emotional state, not your illness.

Your practitioner will ask you how you feel. They will also consider your personality type. They might suggest a treatment containing several essences to get the most benefit.

Side effects

Essence therapy is generally safe to use because the extracts have been diluted.

Some people may have rashes. Followers of essence therapy believe this is due to the release of stored up emotions in the body. And they believe these emotions must be cleared from the body.

Research into essences

There is very little research to show how well essences work in helping people feel better from illnesses. There is research to show that they are safe to use. Essences are never used to treat medical conditions.

Early studies into essences are not that reliable. This is because they look at using essences for medical conditions for which they are never used.

Studies since 2007 seem to show that essences can help people to feel better. It can also improve their quality of life. They also seem to show that the effect of the essences is not just due to the placebo effect. The placebo effect is a beneficial effect that can occur due to people's expectation that a product will help them.

Some foreign producers of essences claim that their products may have physical effects. But British laws don't allow essence therapists to advise on cancer treatment. Neither can they prescribe treatment for cancer. Therapists are also not allowed to use terms that may make the essences seem medicinal. These are terms such as 'boosts the immune system' or 'helps you relax'.


The British Flower and Vibrational Essences Association (BFVEA) have been collecting scientific data. They use a research tool called MYMOP. MYMOP stands for Measure Your Medical Outcome Profile. They want to see whether essences help to improve people's emotional wellbeing.

The information collected so far shows that most people report positive effects. But the BFVEA states that this information is not enough to be scientific evidence. They say that there is missing information. For example, missing information includes which type of essences were used and what dose.

The BFVEA suggests that they need a scientific method in line with Edward Bach’s principles. Also, the scientific method must look at all factors that might have helped with the positive effects.

Systematic reviews

British researchers did a systematic review in 2010. This means that a group of experts gather all the evidence about a particular subject. They then go through it to work out whether there is any evidence to support it. The researchers looked at Bach flower remedies.

The researchers found that there was no evidence for many of the claims made by professional flower remedy organisations. The researchers felt that the most reliable clinical trials that were included in the review, failed to show a positive outcome.

How much it costs

An essence practitioner will charge you a fee for the consultation as well as the essences.

The cost of essences may also depend on:

  • where you buy it (health food shops, chemist or online)
  • what form you buy it in (essence, cream or pastilles)
  • the dosage and amount you buy

Don't believe information on the internet that is not backed up by research.

A word of caution

In the United Kingdom, you can only buy manufactured products supervised by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates health products.

Useful organisations

You can contact the following organisations to get information and find an essence practitioner.

COREP is the professional organisation for essence therapy practitioners. All COREP therapists are insured, follow a code of conduct and have continual professional development.

This association gives information on essences, and training to be an essence practitioner.

As well as having a register of therapists, this organisation can provide information about remedy use, including which remedies to take and how to take them.

Mount Vernon Bakers Lane
Brightwell cum Sotwell
OX10 0PZ

Phone: 01491 834678

The General Regulatory Council for Complementary Therapies (GRCCT)

The GRCCT keeps a register of practitioners in complementary therapies. It promotes and enforces high standards of education, performance and conduct amongst practitioners of Complementary Medicine.

Box 437. Office 6, Slington House,
Rankine Road
RG24 8PH

Phone: 0870 3144031

BAFEP represents UK essence producers. It also supports essence producers on all five continents. It holds information and advises on the standards of production, labelling and advertising in accordance with the guidelines as laid down in law by various UK governmental agencies.

  • Healing With Bach® Flower Essences: Testing a Complementary Therapy

    R Halberstein and others

    Complementary Health Practice Review, Vol. 12 No. 1, January 2007 3-14

  • Bach flower remedies: a systematic review of randomised clinical trials

    E Ernst

    Swiss Medical Weekly. 2010;140: w13079

  • The information on this page is based on literature searches and specialist checking. We used many references and there are too many to list here. If you need additional references for this information please contact with details of the particular issue you are interested in.

Last reviewed: 
22 Sep 2022
Next review due: 
22 Sep 2025

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