Using Flower Essences in Recovery from Opioid Dependency



Using Flower Essences with Acupuncture
in Recovery from Opioid Dependency

By Dr. Catherine Browne

In my decades of clinical experience, I have learned that the synergistic1 effects of combining energetic healing modalities are profound. My first experience with this was with applying flower essences to acupressure points, which I was introduced to in Oriental medical school back in the 90s.

While acupuncture-acupressure and flower essence therapy can certainly stand alone, the synergistic effects of utilizing the two together strongly potentiate the benefits of each modality.

My training includes many styles of acupuncture, but the first style I learned was Worsley Five Element Acupuncture. This school of acupuncture believes that all illnesses and pain syndromes originate with an imbalance of the Spirit, or Shen, reflected in emotional imbalances assigned to the Five Elements of Chinese medicine, which include the Fire Element, Earth Element, Metal Element, Water Element, and Wood Element. Each element corresponds to specific energetic organ systems and acupuncture channels. I use the acupuncture points on the channels that balance the emotions and calm the Shen, as well as those for pain relief.

Because Five Element acupressure focuses more on energetic emotional balancing rather than simply stimulating Qi flow of the acupuncture channels, it pairs especially well with flower essences. These two healing methods share these qualities:

  • They work on a similar energetic level.
  • They are uniquely subtle, but profound in their actions.
  • They remove deep emotional blocks.

My patients recovering from opioid addiction are instructed to apply appropriate flower essences to specific areas of the body rich with “Spirit Points,” namely on the inside of the wrists at the crease and on the upper chest. This allows for the patient to easily locate areas, rather than specific acupressure points, where they spray the flower essence. Some suffering with opioid addiction want to avoid alcohol, or any substance that alters the mind, and since most flower essences are preserved with brandy, topical application of the flower essence is often preferred to oral consumption.

Many recovering addicts have turned to opioids to mask unresolved emotional trauma and it is suspected that individuals who abuse opioids had a history of depression, as well as other psycho-emotional disturbances.2 3 One huge advantage of using these methods to clear emotional trauma is that patients do not have to regurgitate the original upsetting experiences that were so psychologically damaging; re-living upsetting memories by verbally recounting them can make the emotional imbalances worse in the present rather than act as a clearing.

The recidivism rate among opioid addicts who try to quit using the drug is very high. While there are many contributing factors, it must be considered that the standard treatment protocol in the U.S. is unable to address causative factors, such as deep-seeded emotional scarring.4 This makes a tool such as flower essence therapy invaluable in the long-term recovery of opioid dependency.

Many people are familiar with Rescue Remedy, or the traditional Five-Flower Formula for shock and trauma. It is a great go-to formula for any type of stressor. It is also often the “gateway” flower essence formula that leads people to other individual flower remedies more specific to their particular needs. In a similar way, I utilize these five base remedies during the initial recovery period:

  • Agrimony
  • Cherry Plum
  • Chestnut Bud
  • Walnut
  • Wild Rose


Positive qualities: Emotional honesty, acknowledging and working with emotional pain, ability to radiate genuine equanimity and inner peace
Patterns of imbalance: Anxiety hidden by a mask of cheerfulness; denial and avoidance of emotional pain, addictive behavior to anesthetize feelings
Cherry Plum

Positive qualities: Spiritual surrender and trust, feeling guided and protected by a Higher Power; balance and equanimity despite extreme stress or adversity
Patterns of imbalance: Fear of losing control, mental and emotional breakdown; desperate or destructive impulses; acute tension and rigidity
Chestnut Bud

Positive qualities: Ability to cultivate life wisdom, understanding the laws of karma; intelligence derived from life experience
Patterns of imbalance: Poor observation of one’s experiences, failure to learn life’s lessons, repeating the same mistakes

Positive qualities: Freedom from limiting influences, making healthy transitions in life, inner strength to follow one’s own path and destiny
Patterns of imbalance: Overly influenced by the social expectations or values of family or community, past experiences or beliefs that inhibit the soul’s evolution
Wild Rose

Positive qualities: Will to live, joy and commitment to life despite trials or pain
Patterns of imbalance: Resignation or apathy; inability to embrace life; pain or suffering that paralyzes body and soul; lingering illness which does not resolve itself

These remedies are detailed in my book, Natural Therapies for Overcoming Opioid Dependency, as to how they relate to addiction recovery. The process of long-term recovery from opioid misuse is much like peeling an onion. As patients progress, the most pressing emotional issues are cleared and lesser issues come to the surface; thus, we choose new individual flower essences as their healing progresses and as their deeper emotional imbalances are revealed.

Another consideration in choosing therapies for those dependent on opioids is that addiction is ritualistic in nature; the people, places, and experiences associated with using opioids are deeply imprinted on the addict's brain. During recovery, new rituals must be created, so utilizing flower essences on acupressure points daily can help with that. Patients are further able to engage their own healing potential by reading about the individual flower essence benefits and reflecting on the healing wisdom of these botanicals.

While no one is suggesting that flower essences or acupressure can cure opioid addiction or replace opioid medications, I am suggesting that they can play a formidable roll in the full recovery of addicts. As the opioid epidemic continues to rage on, we must use each and every tool available to provide good outcomes for patients and to avoid further suffering and deaths from this crisis.

Our healthcare corporations have resisted integrating complimentary medicine in the past, but the opioid crisis has kicked down the doors for many modalities that were previously considered quackery. Most hospitals even now offer acupuncture! While the general western medical practitioner may not be familiar with flower essence therapy, it is only a matter of time before its value in treating addiction is appreciated.

Read contextual information and a brief review of Natural Therapies for Overcoming Opioid Dependency by Dr. Catherine Browne.

About Dr. Catherine Browne, DAOM, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., RH (AHG)

Dr. Catherine Browne is the author of Natural Therapies for Overcoming Opioid Dependency. She has more than 30 years’ experience using natural therapies for treating pain and addiction. She holds a doctorate in acupuncture and Oriental medicine and is a board-certified acupuncturist and registered professional herbalist. She is the founder of In Harmony Wellness Clinic, where she specializes in serving U.S. veterans, and lives in Hamptonville, North Carolina. Visit her website. Buy Natural Therapies for Overcoming Opioid Dependency.


1Definition of Synergy by Merriam-Webster: Synergy is the benefit that results when two or more agents work together to achieve something either one couldn't have achieved on its own. It's the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Retrieved from:

2 Ross S, Peselow E. Co-occurring psychotic and addictive disorders: neurobiology and diagnosis. Clinical Neuropharmacology. 2012;35(5):235-243. doi:10.1097/WNF.0b013e318261e193

3Kelly TM, Daley DC. Integrated Treatment of Substance Use and Psychiatric Disorders. Soc Work Public Health.2013;28(0):388-406. doi:10.1080/19371918.2013.774673

4George W. Joe, Michael R. Lloyd, D. Dwayne Simpson & B. Krishna Singh. Recidivism among Opioid Addicts after Drug Treatment: An Analysis by Race and Tenure in Treatment. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Pages 371-382. Published online: 07 Jul 2009


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