After crystal therapy, aroma therapy, chromo therapy and magnetic therapy, a new alternate form of healing is gaining popularity in India. Bach flower therapy claims to solve psychological problems with flower extracts. The therapy involves administering extracts from a single or combination of flowers to patients depending on the issues they face. And there is now a small but vocal group of people who swear by the therapy.
Ria Malhotra, 46, is one such person. Five years ago, Ria’s body reacted badly to antibiotics when she was admitted in a hospital with a severe gastric problem. She soon became clinically depressed. It was at this point that she was given Bach flower therapy. Zubin Marolia, the therapist who treated Ria, says that she stressed about her family and her parents’ health. He gave her a combination of rock rose for fear and scleranthus for anxiety.
Ria says that a few doses later she felt better, and a month into the therapy, she was herself again. Could this just be because of a placebo effect? “I mixed Rescue Remedy (a mixture of five flowers) in water and gave it to my father who was tense before his bypass surgery. But after drinking the water, he felt confident. He did not know the water contained any medicine,” says Ria.
However, there are many who are sceptical of Bach flower therapy’s benefits. “Alternate therapies are resorted to when general medication fails. But it cannot substitute the medical system completely. It works on the principle of faith healing,” said Vinita Bhatia, a sociology professor at St Xavier’s college, Mumbai.
Marolia also says that “Bach therapy works best as a supplement to counselling and homoeopathy. But for certain issues it is useful without medical or psychological intervention. Rescue remedy when given to someone in a state of shock helps to instantly cal,.”
Scientific studies, however, have concluded that Bach flower therapy at best has a placebo effect on patients. Psychologist Sanjoy Mukherjee points out that the mental makeup of a person can be changed only by altering the way the one thinks. Referring to the Bach flower therapy, he says, “It is only your mind that can cause any change in you. When you have faith that something is causing good in you, your mind will make you project good changes in yourself.”
Some doctors, however, prefer walking the middle line. Neha Patel, a psychotherapist, prefers administering Bach flower therapy in conjunction with counselling sessions. One of her patients, Ashima Choudhury, used to cry while dealing with her colleagues. She also had disturbed sleep. After counselling her for about four months, Patel decided to give her Bach flower therapy.
“I realised that she will heal faster and heal better with flower therapy. I completely understood her issues, spoke to her and listened to her story before deciding on flower therapy,” says Patel.