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Aromatherapy and Flower Essences: What's the Difference?

Image of a crystal bowl of yellow flower buds floating in water, sitting on a stone ledge, creating flower essence tincture

Both aromatherapy and flower essence remedies are consider types of vibrational (or energy) medicine. Both work for balancing and strengthening the vital force, Nature's mechanism for keeping us healthy and functioning at our best.

About Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy uses the essential oil processed from any of a number of plant parts, including roots, seeds, stems, flowers, fruits and leaves. For commercially available oils, such plant material is sought that is free of pesticides and other chemicals. The material is then steamed over high heat to release the oil. The result typically has the fragrance of the plant as found in Nature.

As a healing modality, these oils are used in candles, or diffusers, for you to breathe in the fragrance, which has an effect on the brain. Specifically, our receptors for smell are linked to the centers of the brain that are connected to emotion and memory -- the hippocampus and the amygdala. Breathing in certain fragrances stimulate these parts of the brain to influence a desired effect.

For example, in the same way that you might be "triggered" to remember the wonderful family holiday celebrations when breathing in the scents of vanilla cookies baking, the smell of eucalyptus essential oil is said to not only promote some release from nasal congestion but also to provide a feeling of relaxation and well being.

Although some essential oils are sold as "therapeutic grade" capable of being ingested, many naturopathic physicians warn against essential oils for internal use because some are of such a highly concentrated strength as to make them toxic when swallowed, although safe to inhale.

About Flower Essences

In contrast, flower essences are made solely from plant's flower that are picked at the peak of their blossoming cycle. Even in commercial grade flower essence production, the blossoms are left, uncrowded, face up in bowls of fresh spring water under the bright sun for about 4 hours. This releases the vibrational energy of the blossoms into the water.

The blossoms are then removed, and the water is bottled and preserved with brandy -- which itself is made from fruit. Bottled are then succussed -- meaning, they are shaken vigorously while also being pounded on or against something from the bottom. This releases the flower essence molecules in the water to mix with the whole solution.

Fun fact -- originally when Edward Bach, MD, a homeopathic doctor in England who developed the science and research behind flower essences made his first remedies, he used a Bible to pound the bottles against in the succussion process. It is said he believed this would add to the spiritual properties of the remedies.

Sometimes called a cousin to homeopathic medicine, flower essence remedies can be safely taken orally. It is usually recommended to take 4 drops under the tongue, or to mix one drop per ounce of pure water and drink. If you taste anything at all, it might be a bit of the brandy preservative, but the amount of alcohol in any remedy bottle is extremely low and usually not a problem even for those who are alcohol sensitive.

Flower essence remedies have little to no smell, and can't be used for aromatherapy for this reason.

Pictured above is a bowl of Rock Rose blossoms being prepared for a flower essence remedy. The vibrational quality of Rock Rose has been researched and shown to help mind and emotions return to a state of inner peace when faced with overwhelming challenges. Rock Rose remedy helps to release deep fear and panic, and to stimulate a sense of courage. Rock Rose can be taken alone, but it is also one of the 5 ingredients in the well known Rescue Remedy used to relieve stress and trauma.

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