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erbal Medicine Materia Medica

Balm of Gilead

© David L. Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMH

Populus candicans


Names: Poplar buds, Balsam Poplar

Habitat: Cultivated in Europe & N. America.


Part Used: Closed buds.


  • Phenolic glycosides; salicin, populin (benzoyl salicin) and chrysin
  • Volatile oil, the major constituent of which is [[alpha]]-caryophyllene, with cineole, arcurcumene, bisabolene, farnesene, acetophenone and others.
  • Miscellaneous; alkanes, resins, phenolic acids, gallic acid tannins and other ubiquitous substances.
Actions: Stimulating expectorant, anti-microbial, vulnerary.

Indications: As it soothes, disinfects, and astringes the mucous membranes, Balm of Gilead is an excellent remedy for sore throats, coughs and laryngitis, and is in fact considered to be a specifi cfor laryngitis that is accompanied by loss of voice. It may be used in chronic bronchitis. Externally it can be used to ease inflammations due to rheumatism and arthritis, as well as for dry and scaly skin conditions such as psoriasis and dry eczema.

King's Dispensatory says that "Poplar buds are reputed stimulant, tonic, diuretic, and anti-scorbutic. A tincture has been beneficially employed in affections of the chest, stomach, and kidneys and in rheumatism and scurvy. With oil they form a useful external application in bruises, swellings, wounds, some cutaneous diseases, rheumatic pains."

Combinations: Coltsfoot, Red Sage and White Horehound combine well with it to enhance its actions on the respiratory system. Chickweed or Calendula will aid its work topically, reducing any irritation that may occur.

Preparations & Dosage: Infusion: pour one cup of boiling water onto 1 teaspoonful of the buds and leave to infuse for l0-l5 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day or more often until effective (if you can deal with the taste!).

Tincture: take l-2 ml of the tincture three times a day. Usually used as a syrup to make more palatable.

About The Author
Whilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary......more
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