Using Bach Flower Remedies
for Aggression and Resentment
by Pamela Clark
I purchased Holistic Care for Birds by David McCluggage, DVM and Pamela Higdon a few months ago and read it cover to cover. I found it overall to be a worthwhile reference because I thought that even the behavioral and environmental information it contains about keeping parrots is good. Further, the information provided about herbs and homeopathic remedies was provided in a manner I thought would be fairly easy to use.
The chapter headings are:
1. A History of Bird Keeping 2. Holistic Health Care (an overview) 3. The Emotional Bird (topics covered include avian emotions, stresses in the environment, sexual maturity, and certain behavioral guidelines for dealing with problems) 4. The Physical Bird (avian anatomy, internal organs, the senses, exercise, wing clipping, etc) 5. The Bird’s Eye View (issues of providing the physical environment for a parrot – cage, etc. ) 6. Nutrition (recipes, juicing, the energetics of food, organic gardening) 7. Recognizing and Categorizing Illness or Injury (signs of illness, emotional stress) 8. Treatments (Bach Flower Remedies, Homeopathy, Nutraceutical and Herbal therapies) 9. Diseases and Potential Therapies 10. How to Choose a Holistic Avian Veterinarian or an Avian Veterinarian
Since then, I have put to use some of the information and have been extremely gratified by the results. I’ll provide an example so you can see how the information in the book can be used:
I have a 5-year-old male African Grey that I bred, abundantly weaned, fledged, and kept as a pet. Despite what I would term a “good beginning”, he has always been a very dominant, opinionated, difficult to handle and slightly aggressive bird. Over the past two years, he has become so aggressive that it is difficult to provide him with the quality of life I think appropriate for captive parrots, ie he spends too much time in his cage. I have quite a bit of experience with many different species of parrot and a good level of behavioral knowledge, and still I have not been able to figure out what his problem is.
I have kept him flighted, thinking increased exercise might help. He used the privilege to fly over and attack other birds, so I clipped him. He gets to go out into an outdoor aviary every second day, or so. He eats a diet of 80% fresh foods, 10% pellets, and 10% seed, but also has a dish of Harrison’s High Potency in his cage at all times. He doesn’t seem to react with increased aggressiveness to any certain food.
Nor does his aggressiveness seem to have the cyclical swings that you might expect were it due entirely to hormonal influences. I have tried moving him downstairs to my office during the day, so that he could get away from the other parrots in the living area. Without going into any more detail, I will just say that I’ve tried *everything*, including consulting with two other behavioral consultants and two telepathic animal communicators. And, of course, he has seen an avian vet for a thorough work-up.
Simple aggression in an otherwise happy bird doesn’t bother me so much, but this bird has not seemed happy for two to two and a half years now. He has gradually stopped vocalizing as much as he used to, and sits with his back to the room for a good portion of every day. Thus, I have continued to seek answers. It would have been quite easy to just place him outside as a breeder, but I have several reservations about this, which are not really within the scope of this list, nor the point of this email message.
When I read through Dr. McCluggage’s book, several remedies “caught my eye” as being things that might perhaps be useful in this case. I decided to try two in particular:the Bach Flower remedy Mustard and the homeopathic remedy Nux Vomica. The book had this to say about each:
Mustard, Sinapis arvensis, is used to bring back cheerfulness and a positive outlook on life. It can remove depression and melancholy. Those needing mustard suffer from a detachment from life with resulting depression; the cause of the depression is often not known. Mustard is in the insufficient-interest-in-life category. We tend to use Mustard for depression combined with a desire to isolate oneself from the surrounding world. Mustard can be used:
By spraying mist in a room to remove depression when a traumatic even has occurred (such a a bird dying)
For birds that seem to life to be alone all the time, especially older, cranky birds
When seasonal breeding behaviors are exhibited as irritability and a desire to be alone. ”
“Nux Vomica is used for problems within the digestive system. The classic physical symptoms for which we would consider using Nux Vomica are vomiting, chronic Diarrhea and crop binding. It is in the area of mental problems, however, that we find Nux Vomica most helpful. Birds with suppressed anger and the “type A” personality that becomes angry at everything may benefit.
It therefore becomes an excellent remedy for some feather-grooming abnormalities. Because birds that are angry often suppress emotions and because suppressed anger often leads to congestion of the liver, Nux Vomica is one of the better remedies for birds with liver diseases. ”
I decided to obtain both remedies and give these in the water on alternate days. Within two days, I was able to see a lessening of aggression towards me and others, both people and other birds. It has now been about four weeks, and I have a new bird. He is talking again, and seems once again loving and more cheerful. He no longer sits with his back to the room. He isn’t completely changed, and will still get down from his cage with evil intent – you can see it in his eye. However, I’ll remind him to get back on his cage, and he does. It’s like the old habit pattern is still there, but with a gentle reminder from me, he cheerfully climbs back up on his cage.
Prior to administering the remedies, I could not allow him out of his cage at all unsupervised, in that the moment I left the room, he would get down and attack one of the other birds or my husband or a dog, etc.
Even if I were to remain in the room and try to give him some out of cage time, he would do the same thing after perhaps 20 minutes of being out. If I tried to pick him up and return him to his cage, I would be bitten very badly – every time. He drew blood and would not let go, but would grind down into my flesh with all the strength in his beak. He knew what he was doing. He’s the only bird I’ve every grown afraid of. For the past week, I have found that I can allow him out of his cage and he plays happily on top for hours. I can leave the room to go to the bathroom and he stays on top of his cage. He has not bitten me once in two weeks or more, nor has he tried to hurt another bird. Like I said, he will occasionally climb down, but it’s easy to either remind him to go back or to pick him up and return him physically to where he ought to be.
I noticed about a week ago that he seemed happier on the days after the day when he had the Mustard. Therefore, for the time being, I’ve eliminated the Nux Vomica to see if just having the Mustard will maintain his good spirits. This seems to have caused increased improvement.