2006-02-03 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

Flower Power: The Healing Power of Flowers
By Dr. Nancy Gahles

DR. nancy gahlesDR. nancy gahles On Friday, January 20, I was honored to give a healing meditation/lecture on the healing power of flowers to the Belle Harbor Garden Club.

I lunched with a delightful group of women who have an interest in planting, cultivating and displaying flowers. The luncheon was graciously hosted by Lorraine Stanton and chaired by the President, Peggy DeMatteis. Lovely Nadia Murphy was the keen adventurer who sought me out for the presentation and I am very grateful to her for the opportunity. There were many faces that I knew from the community and here I had the opportunity to put a name to them. Our own ebullient Danielle McShane from Danielle’s Florist was in attendance sharing her wisdom of arrangements.

After a brief overview of the healing power of flowers, I led a meditation where the participants could become mindful of how to create their own inner garden and heal themselves. I thank them for indulging me in my passion for self-empowerment and healing. Here is the presentation I gave. Try it for yourself!

Flowers have been used throughout the ages for healing. Before there was fire or tools to cultivate the land, people foraged for and ate roots, leaves and flowers. Certain flowers were used for healing wounds by poultices or in soups for nutrition. Teas were brewed for fevers using elderflowers to induce sweating and white willow bark for pain.

Flowers are used as symbols. Roses denote love while lilies are used at funerals to symbolize life after death. The aroma of certain flowers engages our most primitive sense, the olfactory sense wherein resides ancient memory. The healing quality of the smell of flowers is utilized in aromatherapy for relaxation, pain reduction and other emotional benefits.

Flower essences were distilled by Dr. Bach and called Bach Flower remedies. They are categorized for their uses in varying emotional disorders. The most well known of these is called Rescue Remedy and is a combination of flowers that is used for shock and acute anxiety states, even in animals. I have also used a few drops of Rescue Remedy when transplanting or after taking cuttings, which can be shocking to the plant.

Flowers have the unique ability to make people feel better. They are brought to celebrations, births, sick beds and funerals alike, all to brighten the spirit. People walk in gardens to relax. There are meditation gardens, culinary gardens and Zen gardens. Flowers are healing.

Two hundred years ago, a German physician named Samuel Hahnemann, made a remarkable discovery. Disillusioned with the harsh medical practices of the day, leeching and bloodletting, he sought to find a gentler way to restore health. He found that when a healthy person ingested a substance that was poisonous to the body, the symptoms that were produced could be cured by the same poisonous substance when the substance was altered in a particular way called potentization. Dr. Hahnemann ingested cinchona bark and became ill with the symptoms of malaria, intermittent chills and fever. He then potentized the cinchona bark by diluting it and succussing (vibrating) it many times until there was no molecular trace of the substance left. When he ingested this, he was cured of his symptoms. The art and science of homeopathy was born! This simplistic explanation is a foundation for your understanding of how flowers are healing and how they are used in homeopathic medicine.

Belldonna, the berries of which are highly poisonous, is one of the most frequently used remedies in homeopathy for fevers of children. This berry produces an inflammation with a high fever and radiant heat from the body. The child is often delirious and will wake wide eyed in the middle of the night with a high fever and not able to recognize even his parents. In this state, the child is restless and screams out in his sleep. A dose or two of the homeopathically prepared Belladonna will relieve the condition very quickly.

Gelsemium, Yellow Jasmine, is one of the greatest remedies for influenza. This is the type where there is extreme drowsiness, the eyelids feel heavy and there is chill with trembling. There is great weakness and it hurts to even move your eyeballs. This type of influenza tends to occur after a fright or after exciting news or a grief. Homeopathic gelsemium provides rapid recovery.

Two of my top favorites are common flowers. The mountain daisy and the marigold. Arnica, the mountain daisy, is a trauma remedy par excellence! Falls, injuries, shocks on all levels, mental, emotional and physical are ameliorated quickly with Arnica. Calendula is the marigold, a flower that has multiple uses in the home from diaper rashes to cuts, scrapes and burns of all kinds. Homeopathic calendula is best applied topically in these conditions and is taken internally for deep wounds, after surgery and for severe burns.

The power of flowers to heal lies in their uniqueness. What color are they? What type of soil do they thrive in? How thirsty are they? Do they like sun or do they prefer shade? Can they tolerate strong winds and harsh weather or are they delicate and need protection? These are the very questions a homeopath will ask a patient in order to determine how they react to their environment. How do they thrive? What makes them sick? Are they hot or cold? Are they thirsty or not? I am sure that you have heard the comment “I was in such a state!” to describe an exaggerated reaction to an event. A homeopath will match the sick person’s “state” with the “state” of a flower that possesses the ability to create that same condition.

The internal “state” that we live in is always reflected back into our environment through our occupation, our hobbies and our relationships. The type of flowers that you prefer, the type of patterns of arrangement that you use, the containers and the soil all have significance in externalizing your internal landscape.

Take a minute to sit comfortably with your feet on the floor. Breathe in and out until your breath is a steady rhythm that synchronizes with your heartbeat. Visualize the garden of your choice. A place where you can go to find peace. Landscape it exactly the way you want. Put the flowers, shrubs and trees of your choice in the garden. Choose a spot to sit and rest or lie down peacefully. Be there and breathe. Bask in the sunlight or listen to the ocean or babbling brook. Stay there until you have gone into a deep, relaxed state. After you have relaxed and are ready to leave your garden, begin to breathe yourself into the present by moving your fingers and toes and opening your eyes. Give yourself a few minutes to orient yourself. Take the peacefulness with you back into the activities of daily living. When you sense your energy flag or anxiety arise, return to your garden, even if it is just for a minute. Remembering the sense of peace and reliving it will give you the same effect as if you had just done it. It’s easy, simple and not time consuming. Give yourself a moment of peace every day. It helps, it heals, and it enhances the quality of your life. Be still and watch your garden grow!

May The Blessings Be!

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