A Short Biography of Doctor Edward Bach

(Flower Essence and Bach Flower articles are listed at the bottom of this page,
and on the Flower Essence Index)

Dr. Edward Bach - the Qunitessential Natural Healer

“Dr. Edward Bach (1886-1936) was a physician well ahead of his time. In his short career he moved from orthodox medicine into developing a natural form of medicine to treat emotional and spiritual health, very much in tune with the trends in natural medicine health today.

Born in Moseley outside Birmingham, of Welsh extraction, he was an intuitive, delicate but independent child with a great love of nature. He left school aged 16 and spent three years in hi father’s Birmingham brass foundry, in order to pay for his own medical training.

Dr. Bach’s early medical career was both conventional and successful. In 1912 he qualified at University College Hospital (UCH), London , where he became Casualty Medical Officer in 1913; later that year he became Casualty House Surgeon at the National Temperance Hospital . After recovering from a breakdown in health, he developed a busy practice close to Harley Street , London .

From an early age, Dr. Bach had been aware that people’s personality and attitude have an effect on their state of health. As a student he took interest in patients as people rather than cases and early on came to the conclusion that, as illness, personality is more important than symptoms and should be taken into account in medical treatment.

He became increasingly dissatisfied with the limitations of orthodox medicine and its focus on curing symptoms. Believing that effective treatment involves addressing the cause of illness, he decided to pursue an interest in immunology and became Assistant Bacteriologist at UCH in 1915.

His health was never robust; refused for service in World War I, he became very ill in 1917, and was expected to die. His determination to complete his work led to a complete recovery and when he later developed his essences, he was strongly influenced by belief that following one’s true vocation is essential to spiritual and physical health.

From 1919-1922 he worked as a pathologist and bacteriologist at the London Homeopathic Hospital . There he was struck by the fact that Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, had recognized the importance of personality in disease 150 years before. Combining these principles with his knowledge of orthodox medicine, he developed the Seven Bach Nosodes, oral vaccines based on intestinal bacteria which purified the intestinal tract with remarkable effects on patients’ general health, and on difficult chronic conditions like arthritis.

He still had his Harley Street practice, and treated the poor for no payment in Nottingham Place . With his little spare time, he continued to search for simpler and purer methods of healing. Although the medical profession had adopted his vaccines (they are still used today by some homeopathic and other physicians), he disliked the fact that they were based on bacteria and was anxious to replace these with gentler methods, possibly based on plants.

In 1928, at a dinner party, he had a revelation. Looking at his fellow guests, he realized that they fell into several distinct types. From this, he came to the inspired conclusion that each type would react to illness in a particular way. That autumn he visited Wales and brought back two plants, Mimulus and Impatiens; he prepared these as he did the oral vaccines, and prescribed them according to his patients’ personality, with immediate and successful results. Later that year he added Clematis. With these three essences he was on the brink of developing an entirely new system of medicine.

In the spring of 1930, aged 43, Dr. Bach closed his laboratory and his practice and went to Wales to seek further essences in nature. Walking through a dew laden field early one morning, it struck him that each dewdrop, heated by the sun, would acquire healing properties of the plant it lay on. That inspired him to develop a method of preparing essences using plant water.

Later that year he wrote the short book Heal Thyself, with its message that physical disease is the result of being at odds with one’s spiritual purpose. It was published in 1931 and has remained in print ever since.

From August 1930 until 1934 Dr. Bach based himself in Cromer, on the Norfolk coast, finding and preparing further flower essences, and successfully treating patients with them.

Dr. Bach charged no fees, and his financial resources were dwindling. In 1934 he moved to Mount Vernon , the small house in Oxfordshire which is still the Dr. Edward Bach Centre. He worked in, writing, treating patients in Sotwell and London and continuing his search for further essences. During this time he suffered considerably both mentally and physically before finding the plant to relieve his symptoms.

He continued to work and lecture, while training assistants to carry on his work. Once he developed 38 essences, together with Rescue Remedy, he knew that no further essences were needed; the 38 essences covered all aspects of human nature and thus all the negative states of mind underlying illness.

At the end of November 1936, he died in his sleep, content that his mission was complete. He entrusted full responsibility for the continuation of his work to friends and colleagues, whom he had trained. He also requested that his home should remain the source of his findings. So, still today, the Bach Centre Mount Vernon is actively involved in advice and education and continues to prepare the mother tinctures. The Trustees thereby ensure that the traditions and principles of purity, simplicity and completeness are maintained.

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