You love the smell of freshly cut roses and know that a vase full of blooms can totally transform a space. But using flowers to heal your mind, body and soul is just a little too out-there, right? Not according to your friend Sarah (oh, and Gwyneth Paltrow) who swears by them, so in the interest of staying on top of the latest self-care trends, we decided to find out what the deal is with this buzzy practice.
So, what are flower essences? In a nutshell, they’re infusions made from the flowering part of a plant. A form of energy therapy, these tinctures claim to treat everything from anxiety to feelings of remorse to a crisis of confidence. Usually taken sublingually by placing a few drops under the tongue, you can also add flower essences to water, smoothies and juices (the taste is neutral, apparently).
Plants can be pretty powerful, so I guess this sort of makes sense. Hold that thought. Flower essences aren’t about absorbing the plant’s compounds (you know, like how adaptogens work). Instead, the idea is that boiling the flower in water or steeping it in sunlight captures its, um, energy. Different flowers have different vibes—olive, for example, helps with exhaustion while holly treats jealousy and pine is used to aid feelings of guilt.
So it’s a load of hooey? Not necessarily. A comprehensive review of all existing studies on Bach flower solutions (a popular brand of essences named after the therapy’s founder) found no difference between the remedies and placebos. But here’s the thing—placebos can be pretty effective, which might explain why so many people report positive effects of using flower essences.
Bottom line: There’s no real evidence that flower essences can do much of anything, but if you’re into some of the more alternative therapies out there (like healing crystals or chakras), then there’s certainly no harm in giving it a try. (No promises that they’ll give you Gwynnie’s glow, though.)