Flower Power: Floral Tinctures
Plant medicine is an ancient system of healing that has taken many different forms—from basic homepothatic salves and herbal potions to conscious-altering psychedelics and hallucinogenics used to cure addictions. The crowning apothecary achievement of the plant kingdom? Flowers, says licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and energy healer, Sara Crow, who has a Master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and is the creator of many favorite elixirs from the floral-focused brand Floracopeia.
Flowers, which host the complex reproductive power of plants, are arguably the most fundamental layer of ecological life on the planet—responsible (along with their partnering pollinators, like bees) for most of the food we eat. As Crow explains, though, the life-creating capacity that resides within a flower can be harnessed for more personal mind-body-soul benefits. Using sunlight to capture the bioelectric field of a flower in water—known as flower essences—Crow designs remedies that draw on the diverse healing properties of varied flowers. We asked her for the flower essence solution for six ailments big and small—i.e. anger issues, stress overload, a broken heart, a mental block. Below, Crow’s unique protocols and more on why flowers should play an essential role in your everyday well-being.
A Q&A with Sara Crow
Why are flowers so powerful for healing purposes?
A flower is much more than a pretty face! It is a powerful agent of healing and transformation—acting on an individual, societal, and planetary level. Flowers have been used since time immemorial for healing purposes—to address a wide range of physical and spiritual concerns—and are often an important part of ritual and ceremony.
Perhaps most importantly, flowers play a fundamental biological role on the planet; they are are the basis of most of the food chain, and are directly responsible for ecologically upholding the fabric of life. The appearance of flowers was a big evolutionary shift for life on the planet: Flowering plants were the first to extensively use other beings for reproductive purposes; this allowed the plants to spread far and wide, becoming the dominant form of land plant life relatively quickly.
A large percentage of our nutrition comes from flowering plants, whether it’s directly in the form of vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, grains, or indirectly through animal food. We are all highly dependent on the flowers and the pollinators for our survival; without flowers and the necessary pollinators, life as we know it would stop.
In order to attract the pollinators, plants created flowers to be a highly sophisticated reproductive system, complete with fancy colors, intoxicating scents, irresistible nectar, and a complex bioelectrical signaling system. Because a plant channels its metabolic energy into forming its flowers for reproduction, flowers could be seen as the crowning achievement of the plant kingdom, containing highly evolved and concentrated life force energies. These energies, including the nourishing reproductive aspects, are the basis of the therapeutic benefits of flower essences. By utilizing this highly intelligent life force energy, in the form of flower essences, we are able to stimulate powerful and positive personal change.
What exactly is a flower essence and what’s the process of creating one?
A flower essence is a bioenergetic preparation. Through the use of sunlight and water, we are able to capture the energy of a flower and use it for healing purposes: A freshly harvested flower is placed on the surface of water for a specific length of time and exposed to sunlight, resulting in the vibrational imprint of the flower in water. The flower essence is then used as an energetic remedy, with each flower having its own range of unique therapeutic benefits.
Preparing flower essences is both ancient and modern. There is a history of harvesting dew that is found in several cultures and traditions of alchemy (where dew was gathered from flowering plants to treat health imbalances); and modern-day flower essences adhere to many of the same principles and goals.
Flower essences are often confused with essential oils, though the two are quite different. Since flower essences are energetic, they do not contain a scent. (Flower essence tinctures, which include flower essences and floral essential oils, i.e. alcoholic extracts of flowers, do carry scents from their plants. The pure essences and tinctures are used in similar ways.) Other than their efficacy, one of the primary advantages of flower essences is their safety; they are completely safe and appropriate for people of all ages, including babies. Animals respond incredibly well to flower essences, too.
What’s so powerful about flower essences as a healing modality?
Many traditional cultures understood that the mind and body are inseparable and that the health of one is intimately linked to the health of the other. Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is a branch of modern medicine that studies how the mind and the body communicate. It considers how our thoughts and emotions influence our physiology. It is now well documented that “negative” or “depleting” psychological states, such as grief, fear, anger, and loneliness, take a toll on our health. They have been shown to be pro-inflammatory, disruptive to immune function, and even capable of altering genetic expression.
As a uniquely targeted plant preparation, a flower essence activates the innate healing power of the mind. Its highly evolved botanical intelligence locates and transforms subconscious blocks and limitations around an infinite number of psycho-spiritual themes. Since they are subtle energetic remedies, the essences tend to work mostly on the subtle and energetic aspects of ourselves, such as the acupuncture medians, emotional states, and mental constructs; Ayurveda calls this level the prana body. For example, a common root cause of suffering is low self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness, which have many consequences ranging from inaction and disengagement from life, to more outwardly destructive or extreme self-sabotaging behavior. Flower essences are profound in that they are actually able to transform these root causes into something positive and improve our overall health.
Just as the beauty and fragrance of a flower uplifts our senses externally, the energetic imprint of a flower essence acts internally to uplift our mind and spirit. The essence of a flower works directly on consciousness to transform psycho-spiritual challenges and blockages into personal growth. They often deepen our relationships with ourselves and all of life, encourage a more expansive mental state, and improve our understanding of our interconnectedness. These shifts in awareness can have many positive manifestations, such as remedying feelings of disconnection and loneliness. Perhaps one of the main reasons they help us to feel an increased connection to ourselves and others can be linked back to the flowers’ ecological functions and connectedness to other forms of life. Biologically, a flower embodies renewal and rebirth that allows the next generation to come forth. I see flowers as keys that unlock our greater potential and renew us on multiple levels. Psycho-spiritually, flower essences contain many therapeutic benefits that can help us shed the “old” to make room for a new and improved version of ourselves.
The specific therapeutic benefits of floral energetics are determined through a comprehensive evaluation and synthesis of empirical case study, historical use of the plant and/or flower, clinical application, and perhaps even some more intuitive clues. For example, Floracopeia’s Trauma Repair formula contains plants that have been used historically to help heal the mind (such as palo santo), and botanicals that have been used clinically to help heal emotional trauma (such as rose and thyme). We have our success stories, too—for example, Trauma Repair has helped abused animals to become less reactive and to display healthier, happier behavior.
You are also an intuitive healer—can you talk a bit about how that dovetails with your work with flowers?
As a licensed medical practitioner, acupuncturist, and herbalist, I believe it is paramount that each person is treated holistically. I find that combining right- and left-brain approaches is the most effective. For example, a significant part of my practice is working with people all over the world doing energy medicine, healings, and psychic readings. I find that for optimal healing to take place it is necessary to explore the contributing factors to health imbalances, including medical history, constitution, and symptoms, alongside examining any psychological and spiritual challenges. Treating the individual instead of the disease itself is the cornerstone of many holistic health care modalities. Therefore, when I guide someone through the healing process, I will tailor the healing protocol to the individual and choose flower essences based on the root issues presenting at any given time. Everyone gets a flower essence prescription, because flower essences are one of the best modalities for activating the innate healing power of the mind, supporting emotional equilibrium, and improving overall health.
Identifying the root issues that may be presenting in your life is a great starting place for choosing flower essences. Another way is to simply pick an area of your life that you are challenged by or would like to see change around (see below). For example, it can be to feel more confident, less angry, more creative, less anxious, or more self-love.