Based on an interview with Den Illing, Auckland, New Zealand
Den Illing is a Homeopath who also works with flower essences and has done so for the past 19 years. Many of Den’s clients are seeking support for deep crisis or recovery from trauma. “People come and at times, share their deepest and most troubling concerns and as a homeopathic and health practitioner, I have found flower essences to be an invaluable treatment—particularly in times of trauma and stress.”
“There are many different ways that occur in people’s journey of accepting and overcoming difficult and traumatic experiences. Those that manage to work through and integrate their personal history find an inner strength, and frequently become people that inspire those around them. The ability to forgive those that may have caused them harm and to also accept themselves and their situation is a part of their healing and ongoing growth and development.”
Den uses flower essence therapy in a manner similar to that which she uses for homeopathy—aiming to address the underlying core issues. When selecting essences, she strives to condense it down to what’s underneath the presenting emotional condition. For example with anxiety, she tries to understand the underlying cause of the superficial symptoms, which in that case is anxiety. Says Den, “It’s not always clear what the cause is with regard to the problem, but ascertaining that is the aim. This is also what we strive to do when prescribing homeopathically – clarify the issues that encompass or underpin all aspects of a person’s being—physical, mental and emotional. Typically, people tend to not go to the origins of emotions and, in fact, avoid or divert naturally from the source or trigger of discomfort. During the consultation I try, if possible, to gently bring it back to that origin, to the deeper source of emotional pain, to the actual cause of the pain. When that happens and people get an understanding of what is actually underlying their situation, it can be quite profound and the impact of that is felt on a deep level. It’s fantastic and often very empowering for them, when they realize they are moving through their emotional issues. Gaining this insight provides more clarity and consciousness around why they are feeling and responding the way they are, and with that often much of any existing anxiety or stress is relieved.”
Den identifies themes regarding the underlying issues. However, when prescribing flower essences, she focuses the treatment on what’s most limiting and difficult for the client in the present moment, not historically or what has occurred in the past.
Both modalities can be used for acute and deeper constitutional conditions.
“We know most health issues stem from our emotional imbalances or stresses and although I don’t consider flower essences a treatment for physical symptoms as such, I have seen many physical symptoms shift, sometimes overnight, because of the relief of emotional distress.”
A key similarity between homeopathy and flower essences is the action they excite when taken. They both support and assist the body’s automatic and natural healing response. With homeopathy, it will be seen and experienced on all levels, physically as well as generally, and a sense of well-being unfolds. Flower essences very clearly impact our emotions and spiritual being. Ultimately, both modalities generate a shift of self-awareness and consciousness which is an intrinsic and essential part of the process of healing.
Den says, “In practice I aim to ensure that stress areas and the emotional aspects of a person’s experience are addressed and supported as early in treatment as possible, particularly when trauma or intense stress is apparent. The benefits and response to treatment is optimal and people gain confidence and comfort, from being supported in the process. People have called, sometimes within hours of the consultation, saying they can’t believe how different they feel. But we must also take into account that they may have come in with very acute distress and, in addition to the essences, people will talk about things that they may not have discussed with anyone else previously. That is hugely therapeutic in itself.”
“We see those dynamic responses and quick amelioration with both flower essences and homeopathy in acute situations. When we are dealing with chronic complaints or in cases where treatment is focusing on behavioral or deeply entrenched patterns, that immediate response is usually not so prevalent.”
“There is a homeopathic doctrine known as Hering’s ‘Law of Cure’ that assists homeopaths to understand whether our homeopathic prescriptions are in fact exciting a healing response or possibly behaving in a suppressive manner. Basically in response to a remedy, it is understood, the process of healing follows a certain direction and sometimes old symptoms may reappear, albeit perhaps fleetingly and generally as a shadow of the initial experience. This can be experienced both physically and emotionally, and if people find that challenging or unsettling, I will offer flower essences to support them, in their processing of whatever emotions arise.”
“Having both modalities available to use when the need presents provides, I feel, an expansive and powerful healing tool. I love being able to utilize both modalities when the need is present and they work beautifully together. I don’t see them being contraindicated in any way, apart from initially when you are trying to ascertain the remedy response to determine the ongoing management plan. Once it has become clear what the remedy can do for them and whether it’s the most appropriate remedy for the individual, then including essences, if needed, into their treatment plan to support that action and the client’s process is often hugely beneficial.”
People generally come for a consultation with a certain issue, or they may have three or four situations that are troubling them. Den has observed that one of the biggest issues and a common theme experienced by many people, in varying degrees, is a deep lack of confidence in themselves. “People feel that they’re not good enough whether that be in themselves, in their work, relationships or parenting, and as a result there’s a great lack of self love. It has the most massive impact and underlies the epidemic situation we are seeing in both adults and children.”
“The level of stress experienced globally compared to 20 years ago is incredibly high. Our world has changed and the expectations people have of themselves and what they can achieve, and are in fact required to achieve, in a day, week or year, for many is almost impossible. This amplified pressure heightens and intensifies stress and the need for emotional support. It is no surprise that anxiety, depression, reduced self-esteem and confidence are prevalent themes today.”
“We really are entering an era where flower essences need to become a significant part of our mental and emotional health care on a much broader scale than we currently have. They will be an almost essential tool to helping our population manage the ever-changing and increasingly challenging pace of life.”
“I am very excited by the increased interest in flower essences among homeopathic and other health professionals in New Zealand in recent years. I feel we need to see them more widely used by the general public and within our more mainstream mental health service providers. I have recently begun sharing the process that I have developed when prescribing flower essences in consultation with other practitioners in a workshop style format. Following is a case typical of the progression that may occur using both systems in a complementary fashion.”
JK, a 46 year old woman, came for homeopathic treatment for her health issues. She had been treated with homeopathy for three years before having a flower essence blend which she hoped would help overcome the stress she was experiencing at the time. This was the beginning of her journey with flower essences, and she continues to come once or twice a year when she feels the need. This process is typical of what unfolds utilizing both flower essences and homeopathy.
JK presented with: heavy periods accompanied by pain, severe irritable bowel, ongoing gastric sensitivity and inflammatory gut symptoms with diarrhoea, bloating and vomiting, resulting in her having an extremely limited diet. Her diet for several years consists only of raw vegetables, no dairy, wheat, fats, gluten, carbs, alcohol, coffee, and sugar. Despite this, she looks well and has a strong solid build. She is a very attractive woman but feels she is extremely ‘ugly and overweight’ and is often filled with self-loathing, self-doubt and anxiety. JK worries to the point of making herself quite stressed at night and becomes sleepless and nauseous when stressed. She runs an IT consultancy and is clearly very capable and successful within her business. Her childhood was difficult and she works hard at ensuring her children have a “totally different childhood.” Her father was an alcoholic and JK feels she supported and cared for her mother both physically and emotionally since she was very small. She was the ‘adult’ in their relationship.
Over the 7 years of treating JK, several homeopathic remedies have been prescribed. The key effective remedies that have sustained the biggest changes, in order of prescription are Aurum Arsenicum, Lac Humanum, Carcinosinum and Phosphorus in varying potencies. Her menstrual problems have dissipated, she no longer requires pain relief and she is going through menopause, which at this point, is not problematic for her. She has in the last three years, been able to enjoy a wider variety of food and drinks. Her gastric sensitivity is much improved and her food options have increased considerably. She is much more at peace with allowing others to do things for her and allows herself time to relax, something she just couldn’t consider previously. JK is more comfortable and happier about her body and her appearance.
However, when the stress is on at work or she is unhappy about her children’s behavior, her gastric symptoms can reappear and flare up, although to a much lesser degree than prior to treatment. The sleepless, worried nights she can experience in those situations can trigger a downward spiral.
To help JK manage and shift her tension and irritability when she feels she is getting worked up and stressed, a blend was made for her to use as needed. There are four core essences to help with that stress factor and other essences have been included at different times to accompany them to target the other themes as below:
The core essences:
The additional essences used at various times over the years, in combination with the above core essences to address the identified themes in JK’s life experience are:
Red Chestnut, Buttercup, Larch, Sunflower, Columbine, Centaury
Den Illing is a homeopath of 19 years with a varied clientele base of adults and children. She has a special interest in working with people overcoming emotional challenges and trauma recovery, and flower essences often play an important role in treatment. Den’s passion for food and cooking has led to her interest in nutrition and she will often assist people who want to improve their diet and look at food as part of their therapeutic health journey. She also recognizes the importance of movement in whatever form people enjoy and considers that to be an essential part of any health building and recovery program. Den has been President of the NZ Homeopathic Society since 2011, and she is also the Editor of Homoeopathica a journal published by the NZ Homoeopathic Society.
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