Balm of Gilead buds are also known as Balsam Poplar or Cottonwood buds. Available fresh-frozen or expertly dried.
Wild-Harvested, 2021 Canadian Balsam Poplar (Balm of Gilead) buds.
The buds of the Balsam Poplar tree (P. balsamifera) are pungent and powerful. They’re bursting with natural resins that are used for injury, pain-relief, skin conditions, burns, and respiratory ailments. Carpenter’s Herbal uses it in several salves.
Fresh-Frozen or Dried Balm of Gilead buds?
We sell Balm of Gilead buds both fresh-frozen or dried. You’re currently viewing our dried buds.
We sustainably hand-harvest our buds in the very early spring, in Eastern Ontario. After the harvest, we immediately deep-freeze them. Then, we pull out a few pounds at a time and slowly and conscientiously dry them. We use gentle, ambient heat and plenty of air movement. As a result of our small-batch drying method, we can preserve the potency and aroma of this powerful botanical.
There is understandable caution out there among remedy-makers and herbal enthusiasts about using the dried buds as opposed to fresh. There are even some folks who insist that all dried Balm of Gilead buds are worthless. We don’t agree. It’s true that there are dried Balm of Gilead buds available on the market that are of very little medicinal value. We’ve seen them. Unfortunately, they’re often dried and stored to the point that they’re empty husks.
Carpenter’s Herbal dried buds are different, because our slow-drying yields resinous, fragrant and sticky buds. You won’t be disappointed by their potency.
From what we understand, the traditional preparation of Balm of Gilead buds was as dried buds boiled in bear fat. And we have several customers who are herbal professionals and insist on dried, rather than fresh-frozen Balsam Poplar buds. They prefer the dried buds for salves and oil infusions. With dried buds, there is no danger of moisture contaminating a long infusion.
It’s best to always store dried Balsam Poplar buds in a cool, dry location in a breathable container. You can also keep them in the freezer.
What is the real Balm of Gilead?
There are several North American poplars that bear buds that may be sold as Balm of Gilead. There is Eastern Cottonwood (P. deltoides) growing throughout the Eastern USA and in southerly parts of Ontario. While in Western Canada and the US, you will find Black Poplar (P. trichocarpa) buds used for their medicinal properties. Balsam Poplar is the more northern cousin. Herbalists and remedy-makers refer to any of the three species’ buds as the Balm of Gilead. In our experience, Balsam Poplar buds are more pungent and aromatic than the Cottonwoods’ buds. Not to mention, Balsam Poplar buds are a fair bit smaller than their southern and western cousins, which is why they can be so much more expensive per pound.
The original “Balm of Gilead” refers to a Mediterranean plant used for its aromatic and medicinal properties in biblical times. It seems that the reference first appears in the King James translations of the Bible. There is some controversy among botanists and other scholars about what plant it actually was. Over time, the term has come to suggest the idea of a universal, healing ointment.
Please note that Balsam Poplar buds contain natural salicin. As a result, you should not use them if you’re allergic to Aspirin.