|Balsam Poplar buds|
How to Make Balm of Gilead
The buds of the tree are used to make healing balms and cough remedies. The resin causes the buds to be very sticky; therefore, they are best collected when the temperatures are below freezing. If you wait until spring when the leaves begin to sprout, they will not be as potent for medicinal uses.
|It is best to pick the buds when the temperatures are below|
freezing because the buds are sticky when warm.
Collect at least a cupful of buds. You may want to make cough syrup after I post my follow-up article, so collect extra buds now and keep them in your freezer, if you have one.
Do not wash the buds. Try to collect them in dry weather, if possible, to reduce the water in your salve. Place the buds in a pan and cover with vegetable oil or melted, rendered animal fat. You may also use vegetable oils that are solid at room temperature such as palm oil and coconut oil. Melt them prior to pouring over the buds. The amount of oil isn’t an exact science. Just cover the buds so that you can stir them around a bit.
|Cover buds with liquid oils, or melt rendered|
animal fat or vegetable oils that are solid
at room temperature, such as palm or coconut.
Stir the buds occasionally, and then strain through several layers of cheesecloth. I have found that I get a cleaner salve if I first strain through a wire sieve to remove the buds, and then through a few layers of cheesecloth.
If you are using liquid oil, you will probably want to thicken it with beeswax. Measure the infused oil and return to a clean pan. To each cup of oil, add 1 ½ to 2 Tbsp. beeswax. Over very low heat, or in the top of a double boiler, stir and melt the beeswax. Pour into clean tins or jars. Allow to cool and solidify before covering with lids. If your balm is too hard for your liking, melt with a little more oil. If it is too liquid, melt with a little more beeswax.
|Beeswax can be purchased in blocks and chopped.|
Use about 1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp. per cup of infused oil
to thicken for salves.
How To Use Balm Of Gilead
According to Janice Schofield in Discovering Wild Plants, Balsam Poplar and Quaking Aspen are in the Willow family, and contain salicin and populin. These glycosides are similar to aspirin, and are effective in reducing pain, inflammation, and fever.
Of all the herbal salves I make, this is the best one I’ve found for chapped hands and lips. Most people love the fragrance of Balm of Gilead. When my boys were babies, I often used it on their bottoms to prevent or heal diaper rash. Friends have used it for saddle sores. It helps heal cuts and scrapes, and is helpful for arthritis and sore muscles. Be sure to make plenty. Once you try it, you’ll want to share it with friends.
|Jar of Balm of Gilead, ready to use.|