The most significant difference is that essential oils have definite aromas; flower essences do not. Essential oils work primarily through the sense of smell and its effect upon the “old brain.” They are highly concentrated chemical substances, many of which are quite poisonous taken internally. Most essential oils are diluted first in a carrier oil before they are applied topically.  On the other hand, flower essences are safe and gentle to use whether taken internally or used on the skin.
Essential oils are produced from large quantities of plant material, the flowers, roots, seeds, or bark, depending on the location of the volatile oils in the plant. Steam-distillation is the most common extraction method. With flower essences, only the flowers are used and in a very small quantity. The vibrational imprint of the flower is extracted in water, which is then further diluted. Thus essential oils are a physical extract and flower essences are a subtle energy “extract.”

Flower essences and essential oils are very complimentary to each other in healing work. While both affect the mind-body continuum, they work from opposite pathways. Essential oils enter through the senses to reach the soul, while flower essences impact the subtle energy fields of the soul to affect physical well-being. Flower essences and essential oils combine well in spray bottles and in topical applications, such as in skin cremes and massage oils.

Flower essences are herbal preparations made only from the flower of the plant in a way to embody its higher vibrational healing.  Herbal preparations can be made from various plant parts, using large quantities of the herb. In tea, tincture or capsule form, they have a strong effect directly on our physical state. While some herbs can be poisonous in their action and through over-dosing, flower essences are safe to use. Flower essences can be safely taken in conjunction with Herbal remedies. The Yarrow Environmental Solution is an example of a successful herbal and flower essence combination.

Flower essences and homeopathic remedies are kindred preparations, yet there are important differences. They are similar in that both are based on energetic, rather than biochemical principles, and are physically diluted. Both modalities address the whole person — body and mind— and work with the person’s healing process rather than by suppressing symptoms.

However, flower essences were not developed by the Law of  Similars — “Like Cures Like” — which is the basis of homeopathy. Rather they balance and integrate polarities within the individual. Homeopathic practitioners work very precisely with specific pathological symptoms, matching the “proving” of the remedy to the “symptom picture” of the patient. Flower essence practitioners work with archetypal themes of soul development, which are embodied in the subtle qualities of the plants. They work with issues of self-actualization and life destiny issues as well as the pathologies which are blocking soul development.

There are also differences in preparation and usage. Flower essences are made exclusively from the fresh blossoms of plants, whereas homeopathic remedies can be made from a variety of plant parts, or from mineral, animal, or human substances. Unlike most homeopathic remedies, flower essences are not antidoted by substances such as camphor, or strong herbs.

Homeopathic remedies do not interfere with flower essences, and many homeopathic practitioners recommend flower essences for their patients. Some classical homeopaths follow a method for which no other remedies — including flower essences — should be taken during the treatment program. 

Flower essences are made specifically from the fresh blossoms of plants because it is at the time of flowering that the plant most clearly expresses the soul qualities which can speak our emotions, attitudes and inner experiences. This intuitive truth is deeply ingrained in our culture. When we want to express feelings of sympathy or love, we give a bouquet of flowers. We do not give roots, bark, stones, or animal parts. 

Certainly physical remedies can be, and have been made from a wide variety of natural and human-made substances. Similarly in homeopathy, there is a wide range of substances which form the basis for potentized remedies. However, Dr. Edward Bach, who had previously worked with both allopathic and homeopathic medicines, specifically chose the flower to achieve the soul-transformational effects he sought for his new therapy. The method he developed, simulating the effect of the morning dew on the blossom with the bowl of water in the sun, is specific to the properties of flowering plants. Undoubtedly, “vibrational remedies” can be made from other substances or energies, but they are not flower essences, and cannot be assumed to have the same properties as flower essences. Further research will need to be done to ascertain the unique properties for these preparations and the preparation method most appropriate to them.

To understand how flower essences work requires a recognition that the human being is more than a physical body, but also incorporates a “body” of life energy, a “body” of sensitivity and feelings, and a spiritual essence or Self. Flower essences are energetic imprints of the life force of plants which interact with these subtle bodies of the human being, and evoke specific qualities within us. We can say that they work in a similar way to inspirational music or art, which carry meaning through the vehicle of sound or light, while the flower essences work through the medium of water.

This principle is known in physics as resonance. Just as a piano string will sound when its resonant note is sung, so our own “soul chords” respond to the “soul notes” of the flower essences which we need for our healing and growth. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs or conventional herbal medicines, the impact of the flower essences is not from direct physical or chemical intervention in our bodies. Flower essences work through the various human energy fields, which in turn influence mental, emotional and physical well-being.

Flower essence therapy utilizes a precise understanding that the thoughts, feelings and experiences of the human psyche are reflections of the same cosmic laws inherent in the growth patterns, shapes, colors, fragrances, and vital energies of Nature which are expressed in the flowering plant.  

Modern physics has known for nearly a century that matter and consciousness are intertwined. However, medical science still generally works with a nineteenth century model of the human being as a mechanism in a world of machines. We expect that in this new century medical science will develop ways of studying the impact of consciousness on health, and we will learn more about the ways in which flower essences work.

Flower essence properties are first developed through a thorough study of the plants from which essences are made. This study includes the plant’s structure and form, growth pattern, color, relationship to the environment, chemical properties, herbal uses, as well as energetic properties which are perceived in the plant.  These qualities are then correlated with specific human emotional patterns. These preliminary indications are then tested in clinical settings by health practitioners. Through their reports our knowledge of the properties of the essences can be revised, expanded, or verified.

This clinical study of the use of essences is called “empirical” research, or research based on experience. It is also the method by which homeopathic remedies have been verified during the last two centuries. We have also supplemented this broad research program with narrowly defined, double-blind placebo studies following conventional scientific protocols. For further information on these studies, please contact the Flower Essence Society at 800-736-9222 or

Not all flower essences companies thoroughly research the properties of their flower essences. Therefore customers and stores need to investigate the standards and procedures used to verify the indications of essences they purchase. The FES flower essences are backed by over a quarter century of professional clinical use and study.