Pilot study of Bach Flower Essences administered to first-time mothers in prolonged pregnancy

Category Primary study
Year 1995
This article describes a pilot study carried out to determine the effect of Bach Flower Remedies on first-time mothers where birth is delayed. The last phase of pregnancy is often difficult, with exhaustion, breathlessness and panic attacks — the more so when birth is delayed — this can also put stress on couples. PRIOR STUDIES IN THIS FIELD: Weisglas (1979) with a double blind placebo test showed that Bach remedies increased confidence and wellbeing. Also a study by Mechthild Scheffer at the Bach Centre in Hamburg (1993), with 700 patients but no control group, demonstrated positive results. An earlier investigation by Rühle (1994) showed that with the use of Bach remedies breathing was more relaxed and women were better able to cope with labour pains. FUNDAMENTAL PRESUPPOSITIONS FOR THIS STUDY: Lewi’s description (1967) of the physiological/psychological effects of pregnancy, Read’s (1972) and Kuntner’s (1991) analysis of anxiety/tension patterns, showing the relation between physiological and psychological stress factors, Bonica’s (1976) and Hauffe’s (1987) studies showing that use of Bach remedies can reduce stress. MATERIALS AND METHODOLOGY USED: Not a classic placebo double blind, but randomised control group design, with 24 primagravidae, more than 14 days overdue, aged 21 to 35, all married or in a steady relationship, partner in all cases present at the birth. 8 women in the Bach remedy group; another 8 in a group that received psychological counselling; the remaining 8 in a group that was exclusively looked after by gynaecological consultants. Factors rated • days to delivery • ease of delivery • use of analgesics • anxiety • general emotional state. The entire study was conducted at the Bad Urach hospital (Baden-Württemberg, Germany). Choice of patients was at random. The Bach remedy chiefly used was Rescue Remedy; this however was backed up by the use of other remedies, depending on the needs of the individual patient — eg Mimulus (fear of birth, tools, objects), Aspen (irrational terror, nightmares), Gentian (pessimism, readiness to expect the worst), Honeysuckle (where the mother does not want the pregnancy to end), Wild Rose (apathy, listlessness) and Scleranthus (violent mood swings). Effects regarded as desirable • shorter time till delivery • fewer complications in giving birth • less need for analgesics • more positive state of mind • reduced anxiety. Eight women were excluded from the study for various reasons (irregular period, age, delivery took place too early). RESULTS: Bach group needed least medication; also easier delivery (fewer complications). No evidence however that delivery was speeded up. Assumption was that delivery date depends on the effect and interaction of hormones and stress factors (study by Schmidt and Matthiessen, 1992). Effect of Bach remedies in retrospect difficult to judge, as too many factors relevant here. The hypothesis that Bach remedies reduce anxiety and improve the general emotional state could not be proved, but again there are many other factors in play. In spite of these caveats, the study shows positive results for Bach remedies. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH: • larger groups chosen at random (to balance out possibly contributory social factors) • classic double blind testing • development of a consistent rating scale • better documentation of stress levels.
Epistemonikos ID: 185e417eef7445349b1f9d92fffe2dd627d617e7
First added on: Feb 02, 2013