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Pros and Cons of Rescue Sleep

Rescue Sleep is a rather unique sleep aid. As a natural sleep supplement, it is neither an herbal nor a homeopathic supplement. Rather, Rescue Sleep contains Bach flower remedies. But what are Bach flower remedies? How do they work? Are they any good? Is Rescue Sleep effective as a calming and sedative supplement? And what about the 27% alcohol content of Rescue Sleep? Read on to find out if this special sleep formula can help you sleep at night.
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What is Rescue Sleep?

Rescue Sleep is a line of sleep aids manufactured under the Bach Flower brand. It is available in gel form as well as cream, liquid melt and aerosol sprays.

The most popular product in this line is the fast-acting spray. The manufacturer recommends it for treating stress-induced insomnia. It is a non-habit forming natural relief for sleeplessness that leaves no hangover effect.

Rescue Sleep is made from 6 essence flowers. Each of them is infused in spring water and exposed to the high temperature of sunlight or boiled to express the essential oils into the water.

Rescue Sleep contains 27% alcohol in the form of grape-based brandy. The alcohol is added as a preservative.

For users who would rather avoid alcohol, there are alcohol-free Rescue Sleep products preserved with glycerin.

Ingredients of Rescue Sleep
  • White Chestnut or Aesculus hippocastanum
  • Star of Bethlehem or Ornithogalum umbellatum
  • Clematis or Clematis vitalba
  • Cherry Plum or Prunus cerasifera
  • Impatiens or Impatiens glandulifera
  • Rock Rose or Helianthemum nummularium

While Rescue Sleep is made from flower essences, these are quite different from essential oils.

Because the flowers used in this product are steeped in liquid, it does not smell like essential oil preparations. In addition, the selected flowers used in this product are obtained from the wild plants and flowers from a certain region of England.

Rescue Remedy is a homeopathic sleep aid rather than an herbal preparation. However, the Bach Center, which is the primary guardian of the Bach Flower Essence formulas, differentiates this product from regular homeopathic remedies by identifying Rescue Sleep as a Bach Remedy.

A Bach Remedy is not potentiated by further dilution after it is prepared. It retains its strength and potency thereafter and is not as fragile as regular homeopathic remedies.

So what is a Bach Flower Remedy and what are the flower essences?

The Bach Flower Remedies

The Bach flower remedies were “invented” by Edward Bach in the 1930s. Although Edward Bach was a bacteriologist and a pathologist, he was also a homeopath.

He believed that the dews that formed on flower petals had healing abilities. Bach also believed that the healing energies of flowers can be transmitted to those who took the flower remedies he prepared.

To determine the therapeutic effects of flowers, Bach would extend his arms over them and see if the “vibrational” energy of the flower relieved the negative emotions he was presently feeling. Therefore, the Bach flower remedies are best described as vibrational medicines.

Even though they are classified as homeopathic remedies, these flower remedies are not true homeopathic medicines.

Unlike typical homeopathic remedies, Bach flower essences are not derived from toxic plants and they do not follow the like-treats-like or law of similars. In addition, even though they are diluted remedies, Bach flower essences do not need repeated dilutions like homeopathic remedies.

Because the dews on flowers cannot be collected in appreciable amounts, Edward Bach prepared his remedies by harvesting flowers and steeping them in water and then placed them in sunlight.

Where sun exposure is impractical, boiling the steeped flowers is allowed.

Because the Bach flower remedies are not patented, they can be prepared by anyone. Therefore, there are variations between products made from these flower essences.

Even then, Rescue Remedy (to which Rescue Sleep belongs) is the best known product line derived from Bach flower remedies. These products contain equal amounts of clematis, impatiens, rock rose, cherry plum and star of Bethlehem.

Other Bach remedies may be added to these core 5 flower essences.

The 38 Bach Flower Remedies

For Despondency and Despair

  • Crab apple
  • Elm
  • Larch
  • Oak
  • Pine
  • Star of Bethlehem
  • Sweet Chestnut
  • Willow

For Fear

  • Aspen
  • Cherry Plum
  • Mimulus
  • Red Chestnut
  • Rock Rose

For Lack of Interest

  • Chestnut Bud
  • Clematis
  • Honeysuckle
  • Mustard
  • Olive
  • White Chestnut
  • Wild Rose

For Loneliness

  • Heather
  • Impatiens
  • Water Violet

For Caring Too Much

  • Beech
  • Chicory
  • Rock Water
  • Vervain
  • Vine

For Oversensitivity

  • Agrimony
  • Centaury
  • Holly
  • Walnut

For Uncertainty

  • Cerato
  • Gentian
  • Gorse
  • Hornbeam
  • Scleranthus
  • Wild Oats

Bach flower remedies are primarily used to treat emotional and “spiritual” conditions including stress, depression, anxiety and insomnia. But are these “vibrational medicines” effective for these conditions?

What Research Says About Bach Flower Remedies

While some studies have found Bach flower remedies effective, the vast majority of unbiased, randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled studies found these “vibrational medicine” no more effective than placebos.

A 2002 review of past studies done on Bach flower remedies concluded that the efficacies of Bach flower remedies are not supported by data from rigorous clinical trials.

A 2001 study published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders as well as a 2005 study published in the European Journal of Pediatric Neurology also reached similar conclusions and determined that any perceived therapeutic effect from Bach flower remedies was only due to placebo effect.

These conclusions are also echoed by a 2009 review published in the journal, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine and a 2010 meta-analysis published in the Swiss Medicine Weekly.

Is Rescue Sleep Effective?

Strangely, none of the active ingredients of Rescue Sleep can improve sleep.

Sure, active ingredients such as impatiens have been shown to have certain medicinal properties but none of these involve sedation. For example, impatiens is known for its antifungal activities as well as its anti-inflammatory properties. But not for relieving stress or anxiety and not for improving sleep.

Even if the plants and flowers included in Rescue Sleep have medicinal effects, they are unlikely to persist in this sleep aid.

For one, the flower essences of these plants are used in formulating Rescue Sleep. Most herbs usually have the most bioactive phytochemicals in their leaves, roots, barks and stems. Flowers are rarely used in herbal remedies.

In addition, the process of extracting the essences of these flowers is rather too simple to extract any significant amount of phytochemicals.

Lastly, Bach flower remedies are not considered as herbal remedies. They are “vibrational medicines” believed to transmit healing energies from flowers to users. The evidence to support this theory is sorely lacking.

In fact, researchers have concluded that people for whom Bach flower remedies were effective were only experiencing placebo effect.

There is really no scientific way to determine that Rescue Sleep is effective. There is no clinical trial data and no support for the sedative effect of all of the 6 ingredients in the product.

Curiously, the most likely ingredient of Rescue Sleep that may promote sedation is alcohol.

At 27%, the alcohol content of Rescue Sleep is rather high and may actually make users drunk if the product is taken in significant amounts. Such a high alcohol concentration can actually promote sleep even though it would be an uneasy sleep.

And there are indications that Rescue Sleep causes alcohol-induced sedation. Some users complained that they suffered from fitful sleep with violent dreams and nightmares when taking the sleep aid.

These are some of the same signs of sleep disruption and improper sleep structure experienced by alcoholics.

Furthermore, the alcohol-free versions of Rescue Sleep products are poorly received by users.

This can only mean that the alcohol content of the Bach flower remedy is primarily responsible for any form of sedation it promotes.

Alcohol is definitely a bad sedative. Although it relaxes the muscles and depresses the central nervous system, it is also a stimulant. Therefore, users may pass out from alcohol but they will not stay asleep for long and may have difficulty getting back to sleep during the night.

Certainly, there are some positive feedbacks from past users. In fact, about half of its users reported getting to sleep better.

It is unclear if the sedation experienced is due to placebo effect or the high alcohol content but that success rate is too low for a sleep aid.

To its credit, Rescue Sleep is quite affordable and no serious side effect has been reported from its use.

However, its negatives far outweigh its positives. As a sleep aid, it is a weak, unproven formula. Therefore, Rescue Sleep cannot be recommended to help sleep and/or anxiety problems.





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