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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

aka Amyris Gildeadensis, Amyris Opobalsamum, Bechan, Balessan, Balsam tree, Balsamodendron Gileadensis,
Balsamodendrum Opobelsamum, Balsamum Gildeadense, Balsamum Meccae var. Judiacum, Baume de la Mecque, Dosséno,
Protium Gileadense

(Commiphora Opobalsamum)
No Image Available
Also: (Commiphora meccanensis)

Balm of Gilead Fir (or American Silver Fir) aka Canada Balsam and Canada Turpentine (Abies Balsamea): This Canadian species gets this Biblical name because of the resemblance of its product which is an oleoresinous fluid obtained by puncturing blisters in the bark. This substance is actually a true turpentine. It is diuretic and stimulates the mucosa in small doses. In large doses it is purgative and can cause nausea. Also see: Poplar and Balm, Canary

CONTAINS: Oleo-gum-resin and a substance resembling Bassorin. The resin is soluble in alcohol.

A small tree which is the source of the original 'Balm of Gilead' mentioned in the bible, growing to a height of 10 to 12 feet with spreading branchees. The bark is a rich brown color, the leaves trifoliate, although small and scanty, the flowers unisexual, small and reddish. Fruits are aromatic, reddish-gray and the size of a pea. Seeds are solitary, yellow and grooved down one side. It is difficult to grow. It belongs to a species made up of about 180 small, mostly thorny, deciduous shrubs and trees with aromatic wood which are found on both sides of the Red Sea in eastern and western Africa, in Arabia, India, South America and the West Indies. All exude an oleo-gum-resin called 'myrrh' which is a well known ingredient of medicines, incense, perfumes and ritual oils. During the heat of summer, it exudes without any assistance in resinous drops. Harvesters assist the process by making incisions in the bark. More humidity ensures a greater flow. The composition from one species to another varies only slightly. The juice is a thick, greyish-white and becomes solid on exposure to air. The oil is then separated from the juice and consists of about 1/10th the total amount collected.
Since Bible times it has been used as a medicine and wound dressing and has been closely associated with the health and purification rituals of women. It was first described in the Chinese medical literature around 600 A.D. and has long been used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. Several species are involved in its collection: C. gileadensis, C. foliacea, C. habessina, and C. mukul (aka guggulu). It is also known as 'bdellium'. It has been discovered that C. mukal contains saponins (guggulipid) that have anti-inflammatory effects useful in cases of arthritis, as well as being able to lower cholesterol.
Valued by the Arabs of the region in which it grew and who prohibited its export, the trees have been grown in guarded gardens at Matarie near Cairo since the days of Prosper Alpin (The Dialogue of Balm). The balsam was valued as a cosmetic the the royal women of the Ottoman Empire.
The terms balm, baulm, or bawm(e) are interchangeable and derived from the Hebrew word 'bot smin' meaning 'chief of oils' or bâsâm, balm and besem, meaning a sweet smell. Opalbalsamum was used by Dioscorides to describe the juice. According to Pliny, the tree was first brought to Rome by the generals of Vespasian.
Josephus says it was taken from Arabia to Judea by the Queen of Sheba as a gift to Solomon. There it was cultivated, particularly on Mt. Gilead from where it acquired the popular name. It was later called Opobalsamum, its dried twigs were called Xylobalsamum, and its dried fruit Carpobalsamum. A 12th century Damascan physician (Abd-Allatif) noted the outer bark was reddish and thin, while the inner was green and thick and possessed an aromatic aroma.

PART USED: Resinous juice.


Has been used in diseases of the urinary tract.
Used historically as a wound dressing.

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
SOLID EXTRACT = 5 to 10 grains
TINCTURE = 1 to 4 fluid drachms
FLUID EXTRACT = 1 to 2 drachms
EXTRACT of BARK = 5 to 15 grains

Used in perfumery and incense.
Used ritually as an oil by thoroughly coating a candle which will be used for psychic healing. The candle is first rinsed in cold water to which a bit of sea salt has been added. Then, beginning at the center and working outward toward both ends, the candle is annointed with the oil. It is ready for use when completely coated.

©2000 by Ernestina Parziale, CH