Vivacité(s) de Bach: heal thyself with perfume!

Vivacité(s) de Bach

If healing, revitalising, mending is what you are looking for in a given life period, Eau Dynamisante will help but you may also need some expert advice. And the expert in question is Edward Bach, a physician, homeopath, bacteriologist and spiritual writer, born in 1886. He devised a system of healing through the properties of flowers. His theory, was based on an intuitive attribution of healing properties to flowers he studied in nature. If all this sounds a bit unscientific, brace yourselves because Bach did not extract elements from plants but rather believed that dew collected from the petals carries healing properties. If the theory of homeopathy is a little dubious for you, then Bach is the person who went all the way and created a healing system based on intuitively defined properties of flowers stemming from the energy of the plant rather than the chemistry. Truth be told, Bach was treating psychological dispositions with his flower remedies, not physical conditions. His theory and practise is still alive (and here),  and in a very modern move has spawned initially two, and later three more fragrances. Somewhere in between there was a brief discontinuation, probably due to some sort of disagreement between the successors of Bach and their marketing executives. A few years later the two initial fragrances, Vivacité(s) and Présence(s) where relaunched but by a different company and they are not currently featured in the official Bach Remedy site. Three more scents have followed since making the ethereal, alternative label a bona fide perfume house.

I came across Vivacité(s) de Bach a few years ago when my fellow perfumista and friend Nikos gave me his sample, more as a test to my weird taste in perfume as I later realised, than an introduction to a new marvel. To his nose it is an olfactive oddity, strange and unwearable. From the first whiff I was astonished by how different this one smells. If you have ever had an italian after-dinner amaro, then you already have a very good idea of what this smells like. A cloistral amaro served in a wooden cup. Freshly cut wood, and a conifer for that matter,  is the first impression. Intense and masculine with terpenic nuances. Then come the bitter herbs. And when I say bitter, gin is sweet liqueur compared to this. I am no botanist nor monk so I cannot pin down different notes. If however bitter makes you think of something sombre and difficult, you are mistaken. Vivacité(s) remains bright and sparkling. The woody inclination remains very prominent and it is the kind of polished wood or very freshly cut. Pungent and more suited for topnotes rather than base. I often associate this bright woody quality with a certain fruitiness. The fruitiness of green apples or mango skin. I know that this is a very personal association but it can give you a measure of the woody qualities of Vivacité(s). The rest of the ingredients weave a herbal, bitter carpet. And like an amaro makes your teeth clench but your stomach light as the morning munchies, the same way Vivacité(s) manages to deliver what its name promises: liveliness and alertness.

So do Bach flower remedies work? I wouldn’t know because from the little research I did I think the perfumes of Les Fleurs de Bach are not genuine Bach products. Flower remedies contain flower essences in minuscule dilations, in the tradition of homeopathy but not using the homeopathic system of properties. Vivacité(s) is nevertheless a natural perfume with very specific abilities and qualities and exemplary longevity.  Some real, natural ingredients have been used and in considerable concentrations to give this long lasting effect. But Vivacité(s) actually works! It is uplifting and optimistic without belonging in the go-to genre for this, the citrus cologne. Is this observation scientific? It is hard to tell. Like most scientific researches on the effects of flower remedies and homeopathy, it is inconclusive. Classic science and my left-side brain do not accept their mechanism of action. My body and my right-side brain however enjoy their effects. Classic science has coined the term “placebo” to describe the manifestation of healing through the absence of an agent and only through the will of the sick body or mind to heal themselves on thin water. I do accept the existence of placebo effect but I cannot explain healing through placebo. It exists however. So maybe healing is actually more important than the theories or practises leading to it. And in this case who am I to doubt anything that promotes self-healing and makes me feel better?

Notes from ParfumoBroom, CentauryOlive, Hornbeam, White chestnutLarch, Mustard

Notes from my nose: Pine wood, Amaro liqueur, Fruit skin, Bitter notes

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MemoryOfScent by Christos Karageorgos is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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About Christos

Scientifically minded but obsessed with the subjective aspect of things. Photos copyright of MemoryOfScent, with special thanks to Pantelis Makkas http://pantelismakkas.blogspot.com/. You are welcome to link to my blog but you are definitely not allowed to copy text or use the photos without my permission. All text and main photos are originals and property of MemoryOfScent All perfumes are from my collection unless stated otherwise.

9 comments

  1. Dear Christos
    How I would love to believe that this scented remedy actually works.
    But though I’m skeptical of the healing properties, I’m sold on a scent that sparkles with bitterness.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • I think the perfume label is only capitalising on the properties of the name “Bach” but nevertheless the end result is interesting and it delivers a happy punch

  2. If it works for you, I’m all for it but I am very sceptical of all such things so I wouldn’t even be curious enough to try anything like that.

  3. Christos, I really enjoyed this, as it brings back memories. Back in the 90s, I took a year-long class with an herbalist who introduced our class to the Bach flower essences and had us making some of them. I wrote a little bit about this in one of my posts. While I can’t say that I’m a believer in their healing properties, the making of them was a happy experience. :)

    Interestingly, they did not smell like flowers or much of anything at all except the alcohol (I think it was brandy) that we used to preserve them. But this perfume that you describe, which came out of that tradition, sounds quite unique and very invigorating. I really love your description of it – as well as your pointing out of something new to me: Amaro. What an interesting liqueur!

    • From the little I read on Bach flower remedies they use minuscule quantities of flower extractions diluted in a 50/50 mixture of water and brandy so I would expect that they do not have discernible traces of the flower scents. This is why I believe that Vivacité(s) is a nice exercise on natural ingredients.

      Amari are an Italian oddity. The first time I tried one of those I thought someone was playing a joke on me. You cannot believe how appallingly bitter the taste is. However they are an acquired taste and once you manage to swallow a shot you realise what an effective digestif they are. One of the most well known and more heavily sweetened is Cynar, made of artichoke extract. A very famous one is Strega, which translates as “witch”

  4. YES it heals! I give my word for this. Mainly from severe boredom (a common result of excessive mainstream scent sniffing). Preferably sprayed on a card or a piece of fabric it will definitely wake your senses up.

  5. Tim

    Hi Christos! I`m late to this and your wonderful blog. One of the two Bach-fragrances I once had smelled a bit like a Hildegard-von-Bingen`s Fahrenheit interpretation and extremely nice and different. To my surprise I bought this one in the big “Müller”-drugstore in Heilbronn, southwestern Germany (they don`t have it anymore). It behaved like modern niche perfumery with a medieval, mystical yet extremely uplifting, euphoric, bracing (yeah!) quality and had killer sillage and longevity. I`m wondering if they put some potent musk or woody-violet-molecule among their naturals. Right to this moment I didn`t know which of the Bach-fragrances I`m looking out for. Now, everything is clear. Thank you, Christos!

    • Thank you for the most insightful comment. In a couple of sentences you have managed to encapsulate exactly what Vivacités de Bach is. The idea of a mediaeval, niche Fahrenheit is the best possible way to describe it. It is really insightful and in a way I just now see exactly what this smells like! Thanks for dropping by.

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