Many, many years ago when I started showing my dachshund, Sigmund, in the conformation ring, experienced handlers recommended that I use Rescue Remedy to help with nerves. I’d never heard of it, but tracked it down and started dosing the little man before shows. It took a couple of months until some kind soul suggested I take it, not him. It worked!
Rescue Remedy has been part of my (and my dogs’) seriously pathetic first aid kit ever since.
So what it is?
A flower remedy.
And what is a flower remedy, I hear you ask.
Well, in the 1930, physician and homeopath Dr Edward Bach investigated flowers and their essences as a way of supporting emotional wellbeing. He was convinced that this was the key to overall health. By 1936 he had identified 38 flower essences, each one derived from a different wild flower, plant or tree, and each corresponding to a specific emotion.
Suzanne Harris of Taranet – Holistic Care for Animals says:
“Flower remedies work by affecting the emotions and may help in many ways, including:
- Assisting with learning;
- Fears and anxieties;
- Recuperation from illness;
- Aiding in learning and cognitive skills;
- Rehabilitation of traumatised animals
Bach Flower Remedies will probably be useful to help your animal at some point during his or her life. They can be used to help with all types of emotional states, so have a role to play in assisting with many scenarios. This could be at particularly stressful times, e.g.:
- Going to the Veterinary Surgeon
- Other times of noisy celebration
- Learning something new, the right remedy can help your dog or horse (or other animal) feel less overwhelmed or excited in his or her training sessions
- Or when your animal has other health or wellbeing issues.”
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
You can read more about Taranet here.
Let’s go back to Rescue Remedy…
Rescue (as it is colloquially known) is a combination of five flower remedies, but it becomes an essence in itself once mixed that is used for the relief of occasional stress.
The essences that make up Rescue Remedy, and the emotions they work on are:
- Rock Rose (Helianthemum nummularium) / Courage and presence of mind, calms fear and promotes innate courage
- Clematis (Clematis vitalba) / Focus when ungrounded, increases attention span
- Impatiens (Impatiens glandulifera) / Patience with problems and people, calms nervousness and anxiety
- Cherry Plum (Prunus cerasifera) / Balanced mind when losing control, such as seizures or anxiety attacks
- Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) / Softens impact of shock, good for all forms of trauma
These are the flowers that make up Rescue Remedy. The gorgeous images are from http://www.plantsoftheworldonline.org/
Most flower essences come in drops, but Rescue also comes in a spray and lozenges. I find the spray particularly useful for administering to dogs – I just spray a dose directly on to their gums. Drops can be put into drinking water, or even rubbed on to their coats.
Each of these essences have benefits in their own right for our dogs. Clematis is good for helping dogs concentrate during training. Impatiens is good for calming nerves before a show or competition. Rock rose is good calming a fearful dog. Cherry Plum is good for dogs that don’t like to travel. Star of Bethlehem is useful for dogs that have to stay at the vet.
Another handy essence to have in your kit is Cerato, which helps keep your dog ‘on track’ – a useful thing for training sessions or competition. Emotional state — Lack (not lost) of confidence
Julie Cantrell of Aldaron Essences describes Cerato as the Bach flower to consider if your dog’s impulsiveness and over-arousal is a result of “reflecting” your own energy and tension. This is a very common problem in performance and show dogs! If your dog has trouble distinguishing your stress from his own (i.e. he seems to blend energy with you), Cerato can help improve boundaries and increase your dog’s ability to react as an individual, instead of as an extension of you.
The Bach Flower Essence system is designed to be tailored to meet each individual’s needs. A number of years ago a practitioner developed a mixture for my young Bouvier, Tendai, when he was going through a very stress-y period. Interestingly he happily took the drops for five days and then refused. By then he had returned to his own very special level of ‘normal’.
I was so intrigued by this, so took myself of on a Level 1 course with Liz Olver of Being in Balance. It was a very practical two-day course that I highly recommend.
I wanted to learn more about the essences and animals, so I did the course offered by The Natural Animal Centre
They also offer a Teach yourself Bach Flower Remedies for Dogs course:
Other online courses (that I’ve not taken) include:
Animal Flower Essence Certification Course
Bach Flower Therapy – Home Diploma Course by Animal Magic Training
If you just want to find out a bit more and not do an entire course, here’s a really nice article.
Have fun learning more about Flower Essences!