Remedy of the month – CRAB APPLE

“This is the remedy of cleansing. For those who feel as if they had 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.”

~Edward Bach, The Twelve Healers and Other Remedies, 1936

crabapplCrab Apple is one of the most often-used remedies, and with Dr. Bach’s reference to “purifying wounds” in mind many authors associate it with physical as well as mental cleansing, as if Crab Apple were an exception to the rule that none of the remedies address the physical level directly.

This is though a misreading of Dr Bach’s description. Look again at the indications in the Twelve Healers: the remedy is for “those who feel as if they had something not quite clean about themselves” (so it doesn’t matter whether or not there is uncleanliness, it’s about the feeling); the thing that the remedy cleanses is “the one particular thing which is greatest in their minds” (so the cleansing takes place in the mind); and even the purifying of wounds takes place on a mental level – i.e. we feel the wound is cleaner – as it depends on whether “the patient has reason to believe that some poison has entered” (the feeling of being poisoned is being addressed, not the poisoning, which may or may not have happened).

The action of Crab Apple then is to free the mind of the thought of being contaminated, dirty, unpleasant or unclean: and it is in this sense that it is indeed “the cleansing remedy”. Any physical benefit will come indirectly as a result of the emotional release – and this is of course quite different to physical detoxification or disinfection.


Crab Apple, being the remedy for those who feel the need for something to be cleansed, is also the remedy we take when we don’t like something about our appearance. This self-dislike can be confused with the self-condemnation of Pine. The difference is that Pine people blame themselves because they think they have done something wrong; Crab Apple people blame themselves because they believe something about them is wrong.

Self-condemnation may also be associated with, or seem to be the cause of, a lack of confidence, so Larch is often another remedy to consider: but only if there are separate feelings that justify it, such as a feeling that we can’t do things as well as others.

Dr Bach listed Crab Apple among his remedies for “Despondency or Despair”; and this perhaps explains why the despairing sense of not being “nice” can be confused with the negative feelings associated with Gentian or Gorse or Sweet Chestnut. Sometimes one or more of these remedies may indeed be required by somebody in a Crab Apple state, but again only where there are clear separate indications for them. If we only feel down due to how we feel about our appearance, then Crab Apple by itself is the most likely choice.


(c) the Bach Centre

photo courtesy of the Bach Centre

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