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Flower Essences

By Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

Medications

What are flower essences?

Flower essences are extracts from various types of flowers that are used to balance emotions. In animals, they are used to relieve emotional stress and anxiety. This practice was developed in the 1930s by Dr. Edward Bach, who used different combinations of essences that were tailor-made to each patient. One of the most widely used combinations is called Rescue® Remedy, and includes cherry plum, clematis, impatiens, rock rose and Star of Bethlehem. Flower essences are used in many different animals, including cats, dogs, horses, fish, birds, and wild animals.

"In animals, they are used to relieve emotional stress and anxiety."

Dietary supplements are substances that can be used to supplement the diet, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, botanicals, enzymes, and probiotics. While many supplements are sold over the counter, they still contain ingredients that have biological effects that should be managed by your veterinarian. Follow your veterinarian’s directions and cautions very carefully as their directions may be significantly different from those on the label.

There are differences in how countries regulate supplements. In the United States, these substances are not as vigorously regulated by the FDA as other medications, which means they can be sold without the manufacturer proving their effectiveness, safety, and without a guarantee of consistent or accurately reported ingredients. In Canada, products that have been evaluated for quality, safety, and effectiveness by Health Canada and authorized for sale will have a license number on the label.

How effective are flower essences?

Very few studies in humans and animals have been performed, but there is anecdotal evidence in humans that Rescue® Remedy may work to treat stress by decreasing the heart rate. There is a single study in rats suggesting possible effectiveness with metabolic issues such as diabetes. There is another isolated study in humans showing possible effectiveness for carpal tunnel when applied topically to the wrists. There are also studies showing no effectiveness when compared to a placebo.

How are flower essences given?

Flower essences are given by mouth or applied to the skin in the form of a liquid. Measure liquid forms carefully. If giving by mouth, it may be given with or without food. It can also be added to your pet’s drinking water or given directly into the mouth. Typically, the essence is diluted prior to administration. Please follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for exact dilution and administration instructions.

What if I miss giving my pet the supplement?

If you miss a dose, give it when you remember, but if it is close to the time for the next dose, skip the dose you missed and give it at the next scheduled time and return to the regular dosing schedule. Never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses.

Are there any potential side effects?

Studies are limited for this supplement and therefore information regarding side effects is also limited. No side effects have been reported, although allergic reaction is possible, such as a skin rash.

Are there any risk factors for this supplement?

Studies are limited for this supplement and therefore information regarding risk factors is also limited. Do not use in pets that are allergic to it or in pets that are pregnant or nursing, as safety has not been established. Use cautiously in pets with liver, kidney, or heart failure, or pets that are debilitated.

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

No drug interactions have been reported with the use of flower essences.

Vitamins, herbal therapies, and supplements have the potential to interact with each other, as well as with prescription and over the counter medications. It is important to tell your veterinarian about any medications (including all vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies) that your pet is taking.

Is there any monitoring that needs to be done with this supplement?

There is no specific monitoring that needs to be done while your pet is taking this medication. Your veterinarian may monitor your pet to be sure that the medication is working.

How do I store flower essences?

In general, store this supplement at room temperature, and protect from light, especially direct sunlight. There are different formulations of flower essences, so always follow the specific storage instructions provided on the package.

What should I do in case of emergency?

If you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately. If they are not available, follow their directions in contacting an emergency facility.

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