Flower Power: Floral Tinctures for 6 Ailments
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.
Key Flower Essence Protocols
A note on treatment time: Flower essences should be used consistently throughout the day over a long period of time. A typical starting point is to use the same essences for 4 weeks and then reevaluate whether you need to continue use, or choose another group of essences. Most deep-seated concerns take many months (even up to a year) to shift. Taking a flower essence sporadically for a few days will not achieve the desired results. (Unless it is the below Stress Relief protocol, which is designed more for symptomatic relief and on-demand physical and emotional stabilization.)
THE ANGER PROTOCOL
- Feelings of internal pressure
- Feeling hot, irritable, inflamed, intolerant
- Uncontrolled emotional outbursts
- Self-criticism, being chronically hard on oneself
- Irritability, snapping at others
- Difficulty forgiving self or others
- Judgmental tendencies
THE SALVE: Inner Judge
WHAT IT DOES: Helps release and resolve hidden areas that are contributing to anger. What is often underneath anger is hurt.
RITUAL: 2 drops, 4 times a day—under the tongue, or in a little spring water. Inner Judge can be used externally over the liver or solar plexus (pit of stomach), too: Place 1-2 drops over area and rub in, several times a day.
BONUS: Inner Judge is especially great when paired with the Rose Flower Essence tincture, which boosts self-worth and generates inner peace.
THE BROKEN HEART PROTOCOL
- Unresolved grief/deep hurt
- Death of a loved one
- Past or recent feelings of heartbreak
- Depression or loss of will
- Feeling stuck in the past
- A tight chest or heart-related problems
THE SALVE: Rose Flower Essence Tincture
WHAT IT DOES: Deeply comforting and healing floral elixir with an unsweetened, fresh rose scent, this tincture is a soothing remedy for heartbreak and heart-related concerns.
RITUAL: Standard energetic use is 2 drops, 4 times a day under tongue. For advanced support, do 1 dropper-full 2-4 times a day under tongue. Perfect to add to tea, fresh juice, sparkling water, or favorite healthy drink. Can also be used externally to anoint the heart.
THE EMOTIONAL TRAUMA PROTOCOL
- Traumatic memory
- Deep-seated fear
- Everyday, significant anxiety that doesn’t seem to have a root
- Bad dreams or recurring negative dreams
- OCD symptoms and other addictions
- Challenging life experiences: accidents, divorce, loss of a loved one, emergency surgery, etc.
- Self-deprecating behavior/self-punishment
- Non-threating everyday triggers (certain aromas, situations, etc.) that stimulate negative emotional memory
THE SALVE: Trauma Repair
WHAT IT DOES: Trauma Repair works deeply on the psyche to release and resolve negative emotional memory. It often stimulates healing dreams and is an effective— powerful yet gentle—remedy for all cases of emotional trauma (even in children and animals).
RITUAL: 2 drops, 4 times a day, under tongue
NOTE: It is important that this formula be used until healing is achieved (in other words, don’t stop too early). A common treatment time for significant trauma is 6 months to a year (or more). This should be paired with a holistic healthcare protocol as emotional trauma can be quite severe and needs a multi-pronged approach. I have never seen flower essences re-traumatize someone in all of my 20 years of working with them, but having said that, it’s always a good idea to carefully monitor the process when dealing with trauma and be fully supported medically, spiritually, and otherwise.
BONUS: To make a Deep Healing Flower Power Bath, apply 4 drops of Floracopeia Palo Santo Essential Oil to 2 cups of Dead Sea mineral salts, stir, and add to bath water. Add 2 full droppers of Trauma Repair to water and soak for 20 minutes. Enjoy some quiet time afterwards to relax and renew.
THE FERTILE PROTOCOL
- Weak or blocked creative force (i.e writer’s block)
- Infertility or weakened sexual function
- Lack of warmth in sexuality; feeling robotic/unfulfilled
- Reproductive problems
THE SALVE: Fertile Force Flower Essence
WHAT IT DOES: Opens creative channels and energetically connects the womb (pelvis for men) and heart. In traditional Asian medicine, the womb-heart connection is vital for healthy empowerment and fertility on multiple levels.
RITUAL: 2 drops, 4 times a day under tongue, which can be added to your favorite beverage. Can also be used externally over the heart and womb (pelvis, if you’re a guy)—simply apply several drops and rub in.
NOTE: For cases of infertility, there should be a multi-pronged approach, including herbal medicine, acupuncture, dietary adjustments, etc.
THE SELF-LOVE PROTOCOL
- Not feeling like you measure up no matter how much you do
- Self-worth based on achievements vs. inner comfort with self
- Perfectionism tendencies
- Unable to forgive oneself for perceived mistakes
- Feeling unworthy
- Feeling uncomfortable inside of self or faking confidence
- Difficulty giving and receiving love
- Autoimmune conditions (self attacks self)
- A chronic disease condition or major life challenge that stirs up self-doubt
- Not feeling seen by the world
THE SALVE: Inner Star Misting Potion
WHAT IT DOES: Boosts the ability to see and love yourself on multiple levels to increase self-acceptance and true confidence. An aromatic white rose blend adorned with flower essences for misting skin, aura, and home, this potion also beautifies the skin.
RITUAL: Spray face, skin, or around yourself (aura) several times a day. It can be used as a room spray to support the whole family, too.
THE STRESS RELIEF PROTOCOL
- Superficial floating anxiety
- Nervousness (not related to caffeine intake)
- Feeling on edge and can’t relax
- Insomnia or other nervous system disorders
- Nervous behavior—fidgeting, excessive talking, always needing to be busy, and so on
- Emergency situations or challenging events where quick support is needed (I advise always keeping this flower essence in your handbag!)
THE SALVE: Stress Relief Flower Essence Blend
WHAT IT DOES: Quickly grounds, centers, and stabilizes.
RITUAL: 2 drops under tongue, or it works just as well applied externally (i.e. to acupuncture points or massaged into body with lotion/oil). For very small children and animals, apply 1-2 drops externally for quick relief.
BONUS: If the nervous system is chronically overstimulated, manifesting in anxiety or insomnia, you’ll want to add in other types of plant preparations for stronger treatment. Pair Stress Relief with Rose Flower Essence Tincture and a strong herbal tea (see recipe below).
FLOWER MELLOW TEA: In a large teapot, combine equal parts of any of the following organically grown loose tea: lemon balm, lavender, chamomile, and tulsi (holy basil). I find that making a strong tea works the best—all combined herbs should equal 1 cup. Pour hot water over, cover, and steep for 15-20 minutes. (The resulting tea will be very dark.) Add 4 drops of Stress Relief, and 1 dropper-full of the rose tincture, which has the added benefit of soothing the emotional heart. Drink 1-2 cups several times throughout the day. While the tea won’t cause drowsiness, it does create a calm centeredness, which is especially nice in the late afternoon and into the evening.
The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of goop, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.