Donal McDaniel


Practitioner Profile:
Donal Mc Daniel's Work in Northern Ireland

By Jann Garitty, FES Staff


Practitioners come to know well the effects of flower essences through repeated practice and clinical observation. Donal Mc Daniel is no exception, though his learning circumstances were quite unique. He lives in an area of Northern Ireland where there is not enough work for him to have a full-time reflexology practice. Therefore, he has worked for many years as a driving instructor. It is within that context that he learned the uses of the Bach remedies.

After completing his training in reflexology, Donal felt that something needed to be added to his practice to make it more complete. He knew of the Bach remedies and began using them with his clients in a somewhat superficial manner because he believed they operated more as a placebo for psychological conditions. Yet when using them for such conditions, he actually did obtain good results with his clients. Early on, he was not sure if it was the reflexology or the flower remedies that caused the good outcomes. That's when he started bringing the remedies with him in the car during driving instruction, where he recommended and gave them to his students. As a result of using the remedies with those in his "captive audience," whom he saw weekly, Donal could observe closely, and came to know the remedies very well and could trace the good results directly to them.

Donal later went through a training program to become a Bach Flower Counsellor and at this point, he has been working with the remedies for 14 years. He consistently finds that when he uses the Healingherbs remedies with reflexology, the results of the treatments are much better. Donal has learned to recognize the "clues" on the bottoms of his clients' feet as to which Bach essences would be helpful for them. (Examples of these are found in the article referenced below.) In addition, he chooses the essences based on his conversations with his clients and occasionally will use a pendulum in the selection process. Donal speaks of the importance of respecting clients and realizing that in fact, the client knows best what's needed. He stresses the value of working in partnership with clients rather than imposing paternalistic methods. Donal has the ability some of the time, to feel within his own body, the effects of the essences on the client; he may feel a tingle, warmth, or relaxed, as a "reflection" of their experience.

Donal's Clinic: Social Healing for Catholics and Protestants

In the area of Northern Ireland where Donal lives, there are high incidences of stress-related health disorders. For example, there is a very high percentage of women, in particular, who are using antidepressant medications.

In response to this grave health situation, the National Lottery Fund supports programs such as the one coordinated by Una Mc Roberts, entitled the Ardoyne/Shankill Health Partnership. While the main funding is from the National Lottery Fund, the short-fall for complementary therapies is made up by the Belfast Regeneration Office and Wellnet.

Donal with Una Mc Roberts

This is a cross-communty project allowing cooperation between the Catholics of Ardoyne and the Protestants of the Shankill, to improve the health of both communities. The project is housed at the Healthy Living Center, an alternative healing center in Ardoyne. Ardoyne is the location of Holy Cross Primary School, where primary school children were traumatised by being caught in the middle of a dispute between the two communities. This event received world-wide news coverage, and further soured relationships between the two communities.


(click image for an enlarged view)

Donal provides reflexology and flower essence services on a weekly basis to people who request them. It is an open clinic, with no scheduled appointments, "people just turn up." Donal has only 15 or 20 minutes (sometimes a bit longer) to work with his walk-in clients. He has to determine very quickly why they have come and for what he can possibly help them. Generally, these are people with the normal stresses of everyday life, but also, many have long term stress due to bereavement and trauma resulting from the political violence in the area.

Famine mural in Ardoyne
Mural opposite from
Ardoyne/Shankill Health Partnership
(click images for enlarged views)

Working with grief

Donal has found that many of the people he has worked with are able to reduce or discontinue their medications. A young woman in particular, age 23, whose partner was murdered, was very depressed and traumatised. She felt sleepy much of the time, was very aggressive, and also grieved for her loved one, worrying about whether he was being "looked after properly on the other side." She also experienced flashbacks and panic attacks. Donal gave her Star of Bethlehem for the shock and bereavement, Mustard for her deep gloom, Holly for her aggression, Clematis for her sleepiness, Honeysuckle for releasing the past, and Chicory for worrying about the person even though he was gone. Within six weeks, she was off tranquilizers, and eventually, after 3 or 4 months, was able to stop attending the outpatient clinic.


Mustard essence instead of medication for depression

Mustard is often needed by people for reactive depressions with a known cause, but now, Donal is finding more and more that he is using Mustard for traumas and stress as well. He has seen cases in which people have been able to discontinue using anti-depressants after including Mustard in their formulas.

Donal at the Healthy Living Center

Success treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome

During the course of his practice, Donal has had quite a bit of success treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a condition that he observes to be quite common. He believes it is related to anger and specifically, about anger not being expressed properly. He uses a combination of Centaury, Beech, and Agrimony to which people respond well. Read in more detail on the Bach Flower Research Programme website what Donal has written about the use of these essences.

Following are other brief examples of Donal's use of the essences:

A 30-year old woman who experienced panic attacks was given Star of Bethlehem for the shock that was the initial cause of the panic attacks, and Rock Rose for the panic. The attacks ceased, and Donal knows the essences were successful because the first formula bottle lasted as long as 2-3 months. The woman requested a second bottle to have on hand in case she might need the remedy in the future.

One of the students in a class Donal taught on reflexology, arrived one evening with a sore throat. He gave her Self-Heal flower essence and she "healed up" quite quickly. This same woman had asthma, and Self-Heal essence had a better effect for her than the medication she was prescribed to treat the condition.

Another student, a woman whose 15-year old daughter had died suddenly, had been greatly distressed for two years. Donal gave her Star of Bethlehem during one of the class meetings. He felt that "didn't quite do it", and then followed up with Rock Rose. Very quickly she felt calm, and had a feeling of peace for the first time since losing her daughter.

Donal has seen good results for insomnia using White Chestnut and Aspen. For those who toss and turn, Agrimony is excellent. A man who is a psychiatric nurse, had difficulty sleeping, tossing and turning, and he found that Agrimony was more effective than diazepam (Valium). Vervain may also be good for some people, Donal advises.

One of quickest changes Donal has observed was a 50-year old man who was "disapponted in love," was in a bad state and couldn't get out of bed. He gave the man Hornbeam and just two hours later, much to Donal's surprise, he was out "partying".

One of Donal's driving students had a friend who was a "joyrider." The friend had taken a car and drove through a check point without stopping; he was shot and killed by the soldiers on duty there. The student began having panic attacks every time he was in a car. Donal gave him Five-Flower Formula. After three days, the panic attacks stopped and did not return.

Donal uses Self-Heal Crème for burns or braises, often mixing in Five-Flower Formula. In general, he uses Self-Heal essence to boost the effects of the remedies.

Write to Donal McDaniel.


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