Balm of Gilead is mentioned in the Bible and scholars are not entirely sure what product or plant is being referenced. It may be the Arabian Balsam Tree Commiphora gileadensis, The Turpentine tree or Terebinth Pistacia terebinthus or its close relative, also called Terebinth Pistacia palaestina – or perhaps all three.
However, modern North American settlers named the Poplar after the biblical balm when they were introduced to its soothing properties and pleasing scent.
So, for modern practitioners, Balm of Gilead is the resin that exudes from the early spring buds of various cottonwood poplar species including balsam poplar, Populus balsamifera/, narrowleaf balsam poplar Populus augustifolia, and cottonwood Populus trichocarpa, which are native to the Northern and Western part of North America.
Balm of Gilead is a sticky red resin that can be used in incense or dissolved into oil for use during ritual. The scent is suitable for all ritual purposes as a general-purpose holy incense, for fumigation for consecration.
It is said to draw spirits to its fragrance, so it is a good one to use when you are making offerings or attempting to communicate with the dead or other spirit beings.
Macerating the buds in oil infuses it with its fragrance which can be worn to draw love, rekindle the interest of a lover who is wandering and to help your lover forgive and forget. This oil can also be used as a dressing oil. It is also effective for healing and soothing skin irritations, bruising and swelling.
Balm of Gilead corresponds to the planet Jupiter.