Dr. Edward Bach (1886-1936) was a British pathologist, bacteriologist, and practicing physician turned herbalist. He is most known in conventional medical history for his discovery of a new system of vaccination, less so for the herbal remedies he found to replace it. Early in his career, while working at the University College Hospital, and in private practice, he observed that the same treatment did not always cure the same disease in all his patients and that those with a similar personality would often respond to the same remedy. Conversely, those of a different temperament, though diagnosed as having the same disease, seemed to need a different remedy. He saw that many people were not cured; their pain was merely alleviated and their symptoms suppressed. He wished to find a simple method of healing the whole person, even those with diseases thought chronic and incurable. Bach realized that the majority of the medical profession was so concerned with the particular disease that they ignored anything other than the patient’s bodily symptoms. The notion of psychosomatic medicine, that many bodily illnesses are mental in origin, had not yet become accepted. Dissatisfied, Bach began to look for other methods of healing and thus became interested in a branch of medicine called the Immunity School.

In 1913 Bach discovered that certain supposedly unimportant intestinal germs were intimately connected with chronic disease and its cure. Though these germs are present in all people, their numbers greatly increase with longstanding conditions. He began to immunize his patients with vaccines prepared from these intestinal bacteria. Though he reported remarkable success, there were some diseases that did not respond to this treatment, and the results were not permanent. Bach also disliked the method of injecting by syringe through the skin, with its accompanying discomfort and local reaction. He got better results when he waited for the effects of the first injection to wear off before giving another.

In 1918 Bach left University College Hospital to set up his own lab and continue researching intestinal toxemia. Shortly afterwards, he went to work at the London Homeopathic Hospital. Here he read, and was much influenced by, the Organon der Heilkunst (1810) of Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy. He later referred to homeopathy as “the first streak of the morning light after a long night of darkness.” Hahnemann knew one hundred years earlier what Bach had only recently discovered: that there is a close relationship between chronic disease and intestinal poisoning and that remedies were more beneficial if repeated only when improvement had ceased.

Illness is treated homeopathically by administering small doses of remedies, made from plants, herbs, mosses, poisons and metals, which would produce in a healthy person symptoms like those of the condition treated. (“Like cures like.”) Hahnemann had also realized what later became the basis of Bach’s herbal system: Treat the patient and not the disease. Combining his theories with Hanhnemann’s, Bach classified the organisms present in the intestines into seven groups, now known as the Bach Nosodes, according to how they fermented sugar: proteus, dysentery, morgan, faecalis alkaligenes, coli mutabile, gaertner, No. 7. Bach began to orally administer his vaccines — homeopathically prepared from these intestinal bacteria. His vaccines produced such excellent results that the practice was generally adopted by the medical profession.

He also matched the nosodes with seven inharmonious states of mind: fear, uncertainty, insufficient interest in present circumstances, loneliness, over-sensitivity to influences and ideas, despondency or despair, and overcare for the welfare of others. At the same time he studied the effects of diet in relation to disease and advocated uncooked foods (fruits, nuts, cereals, vegetables) to reduce the amount of toxins produced in the intestines. In 1924 he wrote a paper entitled “Intestinal Toxemia in its Relation to Cancer.” In spite of his success, Bach was still displeased. He realized that his remedies could only cure intestinal diseases, and that he was treating disease with disease.

Gradually he became convinced that the healing agents to replace his nosodes were to be found among the plants and trees. In 1928 he found the first three of the thirty-eight herbal remedies. He prescribed these to his patients according to their temperament, taking no account of the disease and its duration. In 1930, he decided to give up his London practice and devote all his time to finding new remedies in the plant world that would enable the sufferer to overcome what he saw as inharmonious states of mind. He wrote that “Science is tending to show that life is harmony — a state of being in tune — and that disease is discord or a condition when a part of the whole is not vibrating in unison.”

Bach had no idea which plants held the medicinal properties he sought, but gradually he determined that plants blooming at midyear, when the sun is strongest, were the ones he wanted.

He tested them on himself and used his intuition as a guide in determining the curative properties within a particular plant by placing a petal or bloom in his palm or on his tongue. Some would strengthen him, while others produced pains or fever.

Bach realized that dewdrops on the plants contained some of their properties, drawn out by the heat of the sun. Collecting dew from individual flowers was too laborious, so he placed choice blooms in a glass bowl filled with stream water and left it in the field for four hours. The first nineteen remedies were all prepared this way.

Though generally known as the Bach Flower Remedies, some of the remedies come from trees and bushes, and one — rock water — from healing springs or wells. There are a total of thirty-eight remedies classified under Bach’s original seven inharmonious states of mind. Thus, there are different remedies for, say, different types of fear.

In order to find the first nineteen, Bach worked out negative states of mind, and then found a plant to relieve each one. But, for some days before discovering each of the plants in the second series of nineteen, he would suffer from the state of mind for which the new remedy was required. He found the first remedy of the second series in March of 1935; the next eighteen were found during the following six months. Most of these, being tougher plants, were prepared by boiling.

In September 1936, he published the last revised edition of his findings in one small book of thirty pages entitled The Twelve Healers and Other Remedies. He wrote, “Let not the simplicity of this method deter you from its use, for you will find the further your researches advance, the greater you will realize the simplicity of all Creation.”

He died in his sleep during November of that year at the age of fifty.