Balm of Gilead

Red resin on poplar leaf - Balm of Gilead.

Red resin on poplar leaf – Balm of Gilead.

In early spring I collected leaf buds coated with a sticky red resin from our Poplar trees (Populus species) of the Willow Family (Salicaceae).  This balsam red resin is referred to as the “balm of Giliead” by herbalists. The buds’ smell is so warming; it makes the collecting process quite pleasing. I used these leaf buds to create a tincture and an olive oil base maceration to have in my “remedy cabinet” for future use.

Tincture of resin coated poplar leaf buds.

Tincture of resin coated poplar leaf buds.

Balm of Gilead’s primary action is anti-inflammatory. It is also useful as an expectorant, antiseptic, anti-fungal and analgesic. It is a common ingredient in cough mixtures helping with sore throats and dry coughs. As a salve it is used on small wounds, chapped-itchy skin, sunburn, chilblains and to relieve rheumatic pain.

Worker bee filling pollen baskets.

Worker bee filling pollen baskets.

I notice in the spring my bees love to gather this resin to help them create a tough lacquer-like substance called propolis. They collect it with their jaws and then transport it back to the hive in their pollen baskets. The bees use propolis to fill and seal crevices in the hive and to strengthen the structural integrity of the combs.

There are so many awe-inspiring plants which provide so much to all living beings. The rhythm of nature is truly amazing.


Many people are allergic to this plant. If you are one of them this may not be your remedy.  Also, I have read that poplar does not take to glycerine

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