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Class Claims Flowers|Don’t Cure Depression

SAN DIEGO (CN) - A federal class action challenges a business's claim that boiled flowers mixed with brandy can "bring back joy and cheerfulness when gloom descends for no obvious reason."

Lead plaintiff Kim Allen sued Nelsons / A. Nelsons & Co., alleging unfair competition, false advertising and consumer law violations. London-based Nelsons has its U.S. headquarters in North Andover, Mass.

The complaint challenges the efficaciousness of, and advertising of, a line of Bach Flower Remedies.

According to the complaint, Dr. Edward Bach, a British physician, "joined the laboratories of the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital in 1919" and "in 1928 he began work on his own remedies made from plants."

From 1929 to 1935, Bach "devised 38 new remedies, almost all of which were made from flowers, and he also proposed a combination of some of these remedies which he called the 'Rescue Remedy.' He propounded these remedies as a means of counteracting various negative states of mind, such as fear, anxiety, uncertainty, insufficient interest in present circumstances, loneliness, and oversensitivity, among others," according to the complaint.

The complaint does not explicitly say it, but those are hallmarks of what has come to be known as depression.

According to the complaint, the ingredients for the remedies had to be culled from wildflowers.

"Bach Flower Remedies are prepared by in (sic) two ways following Dr. Bach's precise directions: the sun method and the boiling method," the complaint states. "In the sun method, fully opened flower heads still fresh with dew are floated on the surface of pure spring water in a glass bowl and left for a few hours in the sunshine, whereas in the boiling method, used for trees and bushes, the branches and leaves are boiled in water for half an hour. In both methods, the plant matter is removed, and, according to Dr. Bach, the water retains the vibrations of the flower. The liquid, called the mother tincture, is filtered and mixed with brandy, which acts as a preservative."

And there you have it.

Today, the "remedies" are sold as 2 ml blister-pack ampules, 20 ml bottles with a dropper, in pastilles, 20 ml oral sprays, and in creams, lip protectors and other forms, according to the complaint.

Nelsons advertises that its crab apple remedy "'helps [the consumer] accept [his/her] physical imperfections and feel better about the way [they] are,'" the complaint states. Nelsons says the stuff is "'For relief of naturally occurring nervous tension.'"

On its website, Nelson advertises the crab apple remedy as "'For those who feel as if they have something not quite clean about themselves. Often it is something of apparently little importance: in others there may be more serious disease which is almost disregarded compared to the one thing on which they concentrate. In both types they are anxious to be free from the one particular thing which is greatest in their minds and which seems so essential to them that it should be cured. They become despondent if treatment fails. Being a cleanser, this remedy purifies wounds if the patient has reason to believe that some poison has entered which must be drawn out,'" according to the complaint.

Plaintiff Allen says that the "active ingredient," Malus Pumila, even if present, "is so greatly diluted as to be effectively nonexistent in the product, such that the product is ineffective for its intended uses."

Applications of infinitesimal amounts of herbs, spices and whatnot are an essential element of homeopathy.

Allen says, in effect, that it's all a bunch of hoohah.

She says she spent $3.99 on the crab apple remedy, and would not have done do but for the false advertising.

She seeks class damages of more than $5 million, and wants Nelsons enjoined from advertising its remedies with false claims.

She is represented by Ronald Marron of San Diego.

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