Monday, April 20, 2009

Balm of Gilead

A few years ago we received a visit from an old timer who had lived near our property. He showed us where we have a stand of Balm of Gilead trees. (We knew something smelled nice in that area but we didn't know what it was!) He said as a child he and his friends would gather the buds in the spring and turn them into salve that they would then sell.

Balm of Gilead is a clone or hybrid of the Balsam Poplar and it spreads by way of underground shoots. A "black salve" folk remedy made from its buds is reportedly a heal-all for almost everything from aches and pains to cancer, even internal conditions! You can read some of the stories about its curative properties at the Annie Appleseed Project website. What an amazing herbal remedy!

Today when returning from my walk, I passed the Balm of Gilead stand and the intoxicating aroma drew me in. I couldn't resist plucking a few of the (very sticky!) buds and bringing them back to the house. (It would have been better had I done this earlier in the Spring, but there were still plenty to pick for my little experiment.) I then looked up a website that explains how to make an oil from the buds. The delightfully scented oil can be used for massages, as an anti-inflammatory, as an antimicrobial, and it is also analgesic. I plopped the buds into a jar and covered them with olive oil as the website suggests, then covered the jar. I have to stir the solution once a day for six weeks, then strain it and it is ready to use! I can leave it in the jar longer, even for a year! The longer, the better it is!

It is wonderful to be able to take advantage of what nature offers us. I truly believe that every affliction that plagues the body can be cured with herbs, but the drug companies don't want you to know that! I will post updates on my blog as my little experiment progresses.


  1. You may have the start of a business there with that herbal remedy!phylliso

  2. I am very interested in how this turns out. Too many of these old arts have been lost over time. I'll be waiting to hear more.

  3. I had never heard of that tree. Very interesting.
    AND.......your hummers are amazing. We often have three or four at the feeder, and they are fun to watch. Of course, ours are not here yet. They aren't dumb.

  4. It's amazing what you can learn everyday from other people's blogs...
    I've never heard of this, but am off to read your link on the balm..
    I'll be looking out for that little tree.

  5. Hi Aleta, I've never heard of that tree.. Sounds wonderful. Glad someone told you what it is. I love hearing what the 'old-timers' tell us... Neat Post!!!!

    Hope you had a great week/weekend. Thanks again for the scarf.

    We are glad to be home.. It was a wonderful trip --just getting to see my son and family. BUT--the weather was horrible. Oh Well!!!!

    I'm going to check through some of your older blog posts.

  6. I will keep you posted on how this turns out. Now we just have to remember to stir it everyday! Our everyday question to each other is: "Have you stirred the balm?"