Sunday, January 24, 2010
Flower remedies or essences for anxiety?
Many people are aware that preparation and practice are the best ways to reduce anxiety about public speaking. Some instead look to complementary and alternative medicine for a quick fix.
One therapy that has been recommended is the Bach flower remedies(or essences). More specifically, a trademarked combination of five flower essences, called Rescue Remedy, often has been described as being good for reducing anxiety about tasks like public speaking and taking exams.
Is there any solid evidence, like double-blind clinical trials, which shows that flower remedies actually are effective for reducing anxiety? (In a clinical trial the experimental treatment is compared with an inert placebo to see if there is a statistically significant difference in the results.)
Last year Thaler et al published an article in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine which discussed Bach Flower Remedies for psychological problems and pain: a systematic review. Thaler et al review three clinical trials of flower remedies for anxiety by students about taking examinations (test anxiety). There were two trials done in 2001. One used a five-flower remedy, and the other used a ten-flower combination. There was another trial done in 2007 which used the trademarked Rescue Remedy. You can read a summary in Table 3 of their article. No statistically significant difference was found in any of these studies. Based on these results Thaler et al concluded that there was no evidence that flower remedies were effective.
In 2004 Jorm et al published a broader review in the Medical Journal of Australia which discussed the Effectiveness of Complementary and Self-Help Treatments for Anxiety Disorders. They also reviewed the two trials of Bach flower remedies done in 2001, and concluded there was no evidence that flower remedies were effective.
Read these two serious review articles, and then make up your own mind about flower remedies or essences.