The “balm of Gilead” is a high-quality ointment with healing properties. The balm was made from resin taken from a flowering plant in the Middle East, although the exact species is unknown. It was also called the “balsam of Mecca.” Myrrh is taken from a similar plant, Commiphora myrrha. The Bible uses the term “balm of Gilead” metaphorically as an example of something with healing or soothing powers. Bees use the sticky resin of poplars as ‘bee glue’ to seal and protect their hives against intruders. Mixing the resins they collect with waxy substances they excrete they form a substance known as ‘Propolis’, which is hailed as a marvellous healing substance with antiviral, antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties.
Balm of Gilead is traditionally used as a soothing relief balm for comforting minor aches and pains of arthritis, tendonitis, over exertion, bursitis and many other painful skin conditions. This Balm is also a comforting chest rub for colds and flu. As a skin care treatment, Balm of Gilead is used as a topical moisturizer and painkiller. For conditions such as eczema, sunburn, the balm soothes irritation, inflammation, and pain while promoting healing.
The leaves and bark are used for urinary problems resulting from an enlarged prostate. The bark is normally used to help fight rheumatism and other rheumatic conditions, as well as diarrhoea and cystitis. The balsam wood was the popular choice in the drill and board fire making technique. The bark was boiled down to produce thick syrup that was then spread out to dry. It was used to make casts for broken limbs.
Depending on concentration and individual reactions, Balm of Gilead can have minor to severe side effects. Some experience a rash or redness where applied, but allergic reactions can cause varying problems. There may also be adverse effects for pregnant or nursing women, or those suffering kidney or liver disease. If not properly prepared for internal use it can cause severe stomach cramps, if this happens add ginger to stop the cramping? People who are allergic to aspirin will also be allergic to Balm of Gilead.