By Jann Garitty
Once introduced to flower essences, Dr. Lorina Shinsato found that she had a seemingly natural affinity for them. As she learned from other practitioners how to use them, she discovered that they were a wonderful personal ally and excellent for rebalancing the emotional plane of an individual. As a precursor to attending Bastyr University to study naturopathic medicine, Lorina went to massage school in New York to learn anatomy and physiology. As a child she found that she had an innate ability to find the points on the body that were painful and these points most often corresponded with actual acupuncture points. This led to her special interest in the practice of acupuncture. Later, as part of her education at Bastyr University, she did a hospital rotation in Shanghai and followed doctors in their practice to observe how they integrated allopathic, Chinese and alternative medicine.
Naturopathic doctors practice individualized medicine and treat a wide variety of illnesses, especially chronic illness, by focusing on lifestyle counseling, exercise, nutrition, sleep hygiene, and stress management. Lorina has a special interest in the emotional basis of illness: “The emotional component exists before it manifests as a physical problem. When a person does not listen to their body’s signals, their physical symptoms then show up in stronger ways. Sometimes pain is just pain from an injury. But often when someone comes in for pain, other issues unravel with it. I then begin dealing with the emotional component and holding patterns they exhibit.”
As is often the case for naturopathic doctors, Lorina allows for the space and presence to talk about things and open up communication with the patient’s body. Instead of looking outside, the process allows one to look inward and be introspective. The focus is on the emotional basis of healing, an aspect which is often neglected, and that’s why 90% of her patients are offered and use flower essences.To help a patient become more aware, Lorina often asks them to write out a timeline of their life, which helps her understand the emotional aspects of their situation. If there has been some past trauma, or an issue that continues to show up in their lives she asks the patient to reflect on the lessons presented. It is encouraged to share as much information as is comfortable for them. True healing arises when a patient is comfortable and open to discussing issues with their practitioner. If they do not want to discuss the emotional components, a flower essence or other supplements will be helpful but will not be as effective for them if they do not revisit the arising issue. Lorina says, “If a person doesn’t trust me, I can only help them minimally and would rather have them find someone they feel more comfortable with. It is important to find the right fit with a practitioner for optimal results.”
After the initial intake with a patient, within two or three visits, Lorina tells them about flower essences. When introducing flower essences to someone for the first time, she explains the difference between essential oils and flower essences, and outlines how she suggests that they be used—orally, 5 drops 3 times a day or 15 drops in a water bottle sipped throughout the day. She emphasizes that it is not quantity, more is not better, but the frequency of use is that is most important for the body. Lorina has found that most people notice the difference between water with and without flower essences: “Flower essences logically shouldn’t have a taste, except for the small amount of brandy to prevent bacterial/fungal growth, but I notice when the right essence for a particular emotional state is selected, the water that contains the flower essence is sweeter; people will actually say it tastes sweeter. When it’s an essence they’ve been taking but then they begin to not use it regularly; that usually indicates that the pattern has shifted, and now it’s no longer needed.”
Lorina will often show photos of the flowers to her patients, and sometimes they are so moved by the images that they cry. She then reads to them the positive qualities, patterns of imbalance, and the full description from the Flower Essence Repertory. Oftentimes she will print and give them the qualities saying, “See how this feels for you and if you resonate with themes of the essence.” Lorina takes about 10-20 minutes devising a flower essence formula. She puts herself in a quiet space, reads the chart notes, thinks of presenting themes and researches them in the Flower Essence Repertory. From there, she focuses on the key notes, but also looks at the flower itself. Seeing them, she knows which ones resonate the most. Following that, she reads the longer description for the flower essence in the Repertory.
Lorina has observed that typically it takes about a month of using flower essences regularly for someone to see a pattern shift, though some sensitive people feel it immediately. Other times it feels to the person like a gentle nudge. “Flower essences won’t shift things that one is not ready to deal with. I call it support, enhancement, and the essences allow one to flow easier,” Lorina says. She often hears this phrase from patients after they’ve taken flower essences: “I feel like myself again.”
She will sometimes use the flower essences on acupuncture points, or suggests that they be used in baths or spray form. Some patients say a prayer or have quiet time while taking them. Others say that they can feel the support and that they’re “taking care of themselves” when putting them in water or in their mouth.
Lorina has discovered that flower essences allow people to hold their treatments longer. With less emotional imbalances, chiropractic, acupuncture, and craniosacral treatments are more anchored. More energetic modalities help hold those physical adjustments longer. As patients begin feeling better, they need fewer office visits because they have started to learn how to take care of themselves, and flower essences help with that.
“I start with Buttercup, because it helps people to recognize their path, light, uniqueness; then I consider Baby Blue Eyes and Mariposa Lily depending on whether there are father issues or mother issues. Baby Blue Eyes is about rebuilding trust in yourself, with others and in the world. Then I add in whatever else is good for them.
I select Pink Yarrow for support with emotional boundaries. Knowing what’s yours and what belongs to others, allowing someone to be sensitive but not take on other peoples’ stuff. For some it is Golden Yarrow, for others Yarrow Environmental Solution, especially for EMF issues when one is super sensitive to the environment.
Sunflower is really good to support a person’s sense of self and the masculine aspect. Elm is great for people who are hard on themselves; those who strive for perfection, and work too much. Rabbitbrush helps let go of what no longer is serving them.
Pink Monkeyflower is good for re-establishing trust and security in relationships, especially for any emotional or sexual trauma. Scarlet Monkeyflower and Sticky Monkeyflower are especially helpful for issues in romantic relationships.
For ADHD and our multi tasking society, Blackberry, Tansy, Rabbitbrush and Pine are indicated. One patient wasn’t able to focus, and I gave the person a personalized flower essence blend. At the next visit, the person then had the ability to concentrate and get into projects much easier than in the past, and was more productive. She knew that we didn’t change any supplements other than adding in the flower essence. The patient replied enthusiastically, ‘It’s amazing, it must have been the flowers!’”
Lorina was seeing Gina, a patient with depression and some anxiety. She was a housewife and her husband, Tom was the bread winner. Lorina says, “Being Asian, she did not express herself often or say what she truly felt.” Because of the financial state of our times, her adult children had come back home to live with them. After Gina explained this, Lorina asked, “Do you have any rules? You can’t clean up after them as they are old enough to contribute and participate in household tasks” Gina said, “No.” However, Tom was very laid-back, with which she was not happy; she wanted rules, but the adult children broke them. When there were disagreements, they went to their father for his support. Particularly, the daughter-in-law was not mindful of things and when Gina mentioned this suggestions were made for possible improvement. Taking all this into account, Lorina designed a flower essence combination for Gina.
Nothing had shifted for Gina when Lorina saw her next. It turned out that that she had not picked up her formula from the pharmacy until 2-3 weeks afterward. However, the next time she came to see Lorina, everything had shifted: without Lorina even asking any questions, Gina expressed that she couldn’t stand that the daughter-in-law didn’t put away the dishes, didn’t do the cleaning…a lot of feelings came out. Lorina looked at her and said "You started your flower essences, didn’t you?" Gina replied, “I feel like I’m a bad person, I shouldn’t have feelings of anger.” Lorina explained that it was only natural, and that the daughter-in-law had not respected boundaries. The patient had been using the formula for probably 10 to 14 days, and she began to realize that she didn’t appreciate not being respected.
Roy, a 33 year old man with anxiety came to see Lorina; he had been diagnosed with ADHD as a child, and took Ritalin for long period of time but stopped a while back and has been managing his ADHD tendencies without medications. He complained that his heart would be racing upon waking and he had a strong fear of death. He was more of an “air” person, and did not appear to be deeply in touch with his emotions.
He also had issues around fear; the fear of not existing, and of being alone. When he was alone in the evening and tired, more of his fear would surface. He felt much better when he was with people and distracted.
Lorina prescribed a probiotic supplement for the man’s ADHD tendencies, and some German biotherapeutic drainage remedy to rebalance his system. Two weeks later when Roy met with Lorina again, he was more mindful, was decreasing the time watching television, and did not watch television two hours before bed. He was also meditating more. He was eating dinner at a table now, not in front of the television as before. Lorina encouraged him to be more involved with tactile activities, and more in nature.
On his third visit, Roy’s anxiety was less, and he had not had a panic attack for a week. Lorina gave him a craniosacral treatment and introduced flower essences as well:
Mountain Pride – for masculine energy; Roy had a thin appearance and a subdued nature, and for his fear of not existing
Angel’s Trumpet – for surrendering into the aspect of why he has a fear of death, resistance to letting go of material life; for resolving existence or non existence
Mimulus – for the courage to face challenges
Baby Blue Eyes – for trust, feeling loved and supported; for insecurity, lack of support from family
St. John’s Wort – he was fearful and there seemed to be a strong sense of spiritual/religious unrest in him
On the subsequent visit he was more balanced, and had a more confident sense of self. He experienced overall anxiety at times but that had decreased since he started taking the flower essences. After eight weeks, all the treatments were holding longer.
A 70 year old man, Phil came to see Lorina predominantly because everything seemed to be going wrong; he had lower back pain, knee pain, fibromyalgia, and all-over body aches and pains. He had toe tingling, and could not sit comfortably. Emotionally he seemed mainly rigid in terms of time and expectation, and he was particularly hard on himself. He was not able to trust that a higher source exists, he believed it’s there but didn’t have a good relationship with it. He wanted a clear understanding of what he could expect from his treatments and wanted to know the timeline involved. He was into allopathic medicine, but nothing conventional was helping him, so he turned to naturopathy. The phrases he used were “fear of trusting,” “afraid of change”; and “If something is comfortable and convenient, then I’ll do it.”
As a child, he played with lead and mercury; he remembers playing with it outside. “That’s a primary reason he has fibromyalgia, as his heavy metal burden on his body was so high and his liver couldn’t clear it. Also at his age, his body regenerative capacity has decreased,” explained Lorina.
Lorina started him on zeolite, green drinks, and dandelion root tea. The man had a limited budget so she wanted to make sure the protocol was affordable and something he could do for himself.
Because he was skeptical it took five visits before Lorina could suggest flower essences to him. The first essences introduced were Cerato, Angelica, Forget-Me-Not, Mallow, Baby Blue Eyes, and Sweet Pea.
The theme for this formula was trust, faith and fear –
For trusting a higher power, himself, and other people
He needed faith because of his fear of failure; “The fear mind jumps to conclusions and thinks of all the obstacles.”
Baby Blue Eyes, Cerato and Angelica – for trust
Mallow – to soften
Sweet Pea – for feeling connected to community. Lorina said, “He didn’t identify with people in the senior center. He was more active, and just didn’t feel connected. He wanted to connect but sabotaged himself purposely. ‘I went…’ ‘Did you talk to anyone?” ‘I had lunch…’ ‘Did you sit with people?’ ‘I sat down and read a book.’ ‘Reading a book gives the impression that you do not want to socialize.’ In general, he felt like he didn’t have a sense of belonging. He had friends but felt that he had to be the one to reach out. He was divorced, but still loved his ex-wife. He had children, but no one is near him now.”
When showed the images of the flowers, he commented that Sweet Pea was his favorite flower.
Two months later, these flower essences were chosen for him:
Fuchsia – for emotional vitality, ability to express feelings, releasing deep seated pain; Phil felt that it was his fault that his marriage ended, even though his ex-wife had issues; for the inability to open up
Impatiens – because he tends to be impatient
Willow – for acceptance and forgiveness, for more flexibility for his situation in life
Cherry Plum – for surrender, to feel guided and protected by a higher force
Mallow – for warmth
Nicotiana – for his breathing, Lorina said, “Often times with fear one doesn’t breathe”; for inspiration and grief held in the lungs; for physical, and emotional well being connected with rhythms of the earth – connecting with the earth more and with his self
After 9 months of treatments—
There was 90% improvement in his constant aches and pains
“I no longer strive for perfection but for excellence,” he stated.
“My ex-wife will no longer love me, but I will always love her.” Phil hadn’t been with her for 10+ years, but finally there was acceptance of that.
Phil had tried drainage, detoxification, chelation therapy, but now also was embracing opened ended questions, and journaling about fear—as before he was not comfortable with fear. Phil has continued to open up in his relationships, strengthening existing ones and forging new ones. He even started attending events where he may not know anyone, including attending a spiritual group that meets regularly.
Dr. Lorina Shinsato is a naturopathic physician, acupuncturist and owner of Primavita Family Medicine, a naturopathic family practice located in the greater Seattle area. She is a graduate of Bastyr University and has extensive training in the art and science of natural medicine. She completed several clinical rotations in community clinics, Highline Hospital Cancer Clinic, Harborview Medical Center (Madison and International clinics), Bastyr Center for Natural Health, Old Shuguang Hospital and LongHua hospital (Shanghai, China).
Dr. Shinsato believes that her role in working with patients is to bring awareness, empowerment and choice on their path towards wellness. She enjoys meeting people and learning about their passions and life journeys, for we all have unique life stories to share. In her free time you may find Lorina hiking, visiting the local farmer markets, wandering in the botanical gardens or volunteering in her community.
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