Everything You Need to Know About Using Balm of Gilead Oil
When it comes to ancient texts, such as Ayurvedic texts and the Bible, you might not often think that you could get powerful, natural, healing recipes or ingredients from the information written there.
While these recipes or ingredients may differ in religious contexts, the medicinal benefits remain mostly the same and it’s hard to argue with those facts.
When it comes to getting in touch with our natural roots and bringing health back to our bodies the way it’s supposed to be done, using these ancient texts as resources may not be such a bad idea.
What Is Balm of Gilead Oil?
Balm of gilead is a substance that is typically used in perfumes although it has many medicinal purposes when used as a topical oil as well.
The substance is derived from the juices within the balsam poplar tree, also scientifically or botanically known as Commiphora opobalsamum (or Populus candicans in the United States of America), which is a member of the Bursera scientific family.
There are different varieties of the balsam poplar tree, some native to Africa and Asia (which grow to around 10 to 12 feet or 3 to 3.6 meters in height) and others native to North America (which grow to around 100 feet or 30 meters in height).
The name of this herb, balm of Gilead, refers to the ancient place called Gilead, which was located in Palestine. The region of Gilead was renowned for its powerfully healing balm, which was then dubbed the balm of Gilead.
This balm, as well as the place of Gilead, is referred to many times in the Christian Bible (for example, in the book of Jeremiah, chapter 8, verse 22).
There are many other writings as well that also refer to this tree of the balm that comes from it. Pliny the Elder wrote of the tree being brought to Rome in the first century (A.D.) and Josephus the historian wrote that the Queen of Sheba gave King Solomon a gift consisting of this balm of Gilead.
The balm of Gilead is created by collecting the resin from the balsam poplar tree as it seeps out naturally during the months of the summer season. When the humidity levels are particularly high, the resin comes out at more increased rates.
With that said, collectors may carve slits into the bark of the balsam poplar tree to increase the rate at which the resin is collected. During this process, the tree’s bark and leaf buds would also be collected for use.
In many cases, the balm of Gilead is actually combined with other substances when being used for specific purposes. If being used as a treatment for congestion of the chest, it is made into a type of syrup or tincture by combining the balm with elecampane, wild cherry bark, licorice, and honey.
If being used to treat external skin damage such as bruises, swelling, or irritation, the balm would be combined with oil or lard to make application easier and more efficient.
Although many experts have determined that the balm of Gilead comes from the balsam poplar tree, there is still some confusion surrounding the origin of the balm.
The balsam poplar tree has been present in many regions for centuries so we know that the balm has been used in ancient practices dating back that far.
With that said, it seems that there are many similar plants around the world and throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean; the balm may also be known by several different names depending on where you are located in the world.
Of course, the origin of the balm of Gilead has little to do with how undeniable and unarguable its benefits are for both health and skin care, depending on your needs.
Benefits of Balm of Gilead Oil
Balm of Gilead oil is a very powerful substance that can be used to treat many issues whether it be through internal or external application.
The most common reason for using balm of Gilead oil is to treat inflammation caused by or due to arthritis, sunburns, or any other similar issue.
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties found in the compounds within balm of Gilead allows the balm to quickly treat sunburns similarly to how aloe might by absorbing the heat and alleviating itchiness. Application of the balm can also help alleviate pain caused by inflammation from arthritis.
Balm of Gilead oil is also rich in antibacterial properties that help it to treat various skin issues such as infections, irritations, scars, or blemishes.
You can apply it topically to take care of your general skin health but it can also be used to treat a range of common skin complaints. Specifically, the balm is often used to treat conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
You can apply balm of Gilead oil alone or combine it with one of the many essential oils that help treat these skin conditions.
Balm of Gilead oil can be used to protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun. The oil contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that protect against the harmful effects of free radical exposure. Try applying some of this oil on a hot summer’s day to protect your skin from sunburn and other types of damage damage.
The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties in the Balm of Gilead oil can also be put to good use on a range of skin injuries. It can be applied topically to treat insect bites, stings, burns, scrapes, bruises and minor wounds.
Applying the oil to your scrapes, bites and wounds can soothe irritation, prevent infection from taking hold and speed up the healing process. Again, you can use the oil alone or add a few drops of antibacterial essential oils for even greater effect.
Not only can the Balm of Gilead treat your skin externally, it can also be applied topically to treat inflammatory issues like arthritis and rheumatism. The oil has excellent anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve inflammation and potentially reduce pain.
Combine your balm of Gilead oil with one of these wonderful essential oils for arthritis.
It makes for a wonderful massage oil to rub into your painful joints and muscles. If your muscles are aching and in pain after a heavy day on your feet or a strenuous exercise regime, try massaging the oil into your aching muscles for instant relief.
Again, you can apply the balm of Gilead oil alone or combine it with your favorite analgesic and anti-inflammatory essential oil. Many essential oils are great for muscle pain including lavender, ginger and peppermint.
Balm of Gilead has traditionally been used to help treat respiratory complaints like coughs and colds. The balm has expectorant properties that can help to get rid of mucus and phlegm from the respiratory tract and relieve coughing and other symptoms of congestion and cold.
To treat a respiratory condition, you can simply massage the oil into your chest. Alternatively, you can boil up the plant’s buds and inhale the vapors from a cup.
You can apply a little Balm of Gilead to the temples and neck to help alleviate headaches and migraines. Many people also find the scent of the oil to be relaxing and calming which also helps to relieve stress related headaches.
Balm of Gilead has natural diuretic properties. These properties help to increase both the volume of urine and the frequency of urination making it a useful natural treatment for conditions that require diuretic pills. Diuretics are often prescribed to help treat urinary tract infections and kidney issues but balm of Gilead comes with far fewer potential side effects.
Try massaging the oil into your abdomen to treat urinary tract infections.
Balm of Gilead has traditionally been used to treat a variety of common digestive complaints including diarrhea, bloating and stomach pain.
Balm of Gilead oil is very beneficial in helping to soothe issues with the stomach. People who suffer from chronic diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome or other stomach issues such as cystitis could benefit greatly from treatment with this balm.
Although the exact science behind these benefits is not clear, many people throughout history have recorded gastrointestinal benefits from using the balm and it is hard to argue with that.
According to preliminary research, balm of Gilead may have a role to play in the fight against cancer.
One study published in 2012 investigated the abilities of compound called β-Caryophyllene which was isolated from the plant. The researchers found that the compound had anti-tumor effects. According to the researchers, it caused the death of cancer cells by a process called apoptosis while leaving healthy cells untouched. (1)
Different Uses of Balm of Gilead
Because of the balm of Gilead’s versatility, it can be used in many different forms of application and for many different purposes as well. If you have experienced a muscle sprain or other types of muscle pain or aches, you could use the leaves from the balm of Gilead balsam poplar tree to make a tea to use a wash on the aching area.
The tea made from these buds can also be used to treat other symptoms such as coughs, colds, and chest congestion, whether by drinking the tea or by inhaling the steam produced while brewing it.
Advice Regarding the Use of Balm of Gilead Oil
Although the balm of Gilead is an extremely beneficial oil, there may be some adverse effects involved in using it, whether topically or by consuming it. Some people may experience allergic reactions to the resin that is used to create balm of Gilead oil, which seems to be due to the presence of salicin in the balm.
Salicin turns into salicylic acid while inside the body so if you are allergic to aspirin, you may want to avoid using this oil, whether topically or through ingestion. Speak with your doctor or try a small patch test on your skin if you are unsure.
While balm of Gilead oil is primarily used in topical applications, it can also be prepared for consumption to provide internal treatments. Incorrect preparation of internal applications, however, could cause severe stomach problems so this preparation should be left only to an experienced herbalist.
You should also avoid ingesting balm of Gilead oil if you have liver disease or kidney disease or if you are pregnant or currently nursing. Because herbs are not currently regulated by the government for medicinal use, you should always speak with your doctor before attempting to treat any condition on your own, regardless of how you’d like to treat it.
Frequently Asked Quetions
What is the Balm of Gilead made of?
Balm of Gilead is derived from the resinous juice of the balsam poplar tree which belongs to the Bursera family. It is often used as an ingredient in perfumes but is also used as a topical remedy for a variety of issues.
What is Balm of Gilead used for?
The Balm of Gilead has a number of potential uses that can benefit your health. It is a popular treatment for common skin complaints like psoriasis and eczema. It can also help treat minor wounds, burns and bites. Balm of Gilead may also help treat arthritis, muscle pain, headaches and congestion.
How do you make the balm of Gilead?
You can make your own balm of Gilead as long as you have access to the buds.
- Collect the buds and add them to a mason jar so the jar is half full.
- Fill the jar with olive oil.
- Store the jar in a cool, dark area of the house and use it when needed.
The Bottom Line
Overall, balm of Gilead oil is very versatile and a powerful treatment for many different purposes. As with many other natural oils, it is perfect for people suffering from damaged skin, thanks to its many anti-inflammatory properties that are great for treating conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
When an ingredient, recipe, or medicinal practice is used for such a long period of time with such undeniably positive recorded results, it’s hard to argue with the facts of its benefits. The balm of Gilead, its oil, and the tree it is thought to be derived from have been mentioned in several ancient texts, which confirms its age and authority as a natural healing treatment.
Of course, everyone’s skin and body are different so you should be careful when preparing to use balm of Gilead oil as a treatment, whether it be via an external or internal application.
Topical treatments are more popular and easier to perform as internal treatments could actually be harmful when not prepared by an experienced herbalist. Speak with your doctor to make sure that balm of Gilead won’t be harmful to you.