This tree is also known as the Carolina poplar and is used as a shade tree. The BUDS are gathered in the spring before they expand. They are balsamic, somewhat sticky, and exude a resinous substance of a fragrant odor, which, in medicinal properties, somewhat resembles the gum myrrh, with a bitterish, balsamic, and somewhat pungent taste. These buds must be soaked in alcohol to dissolve the resin before they can be used in an infusion, as water alone does not extract all their virtues.
While chiefly influencing the respiratory organs, they are slightly stimulating to the circulation. They have quite a reputation in helping old, long standing coughs, dry asthma, and pulmonic debility. They should NOT BE USED, however, in recent inflammatory conditions.
A useful tincture is made by bruising 2 oz, of the buds and steeping them in 1 quart of medicinal alcohol. This can be added to cough syrups, and is also good for bathing sores.
An excellent healing ointment is made by boiling the buds in olive oil or leaf lard.
Balm of Gilead is considered the proper turpentine and of greater excellence for sores and ulcers.
The Bible Dictionary says of balm of Gilead: ”An odoriferous resin, highly esteemed in the East for its healing virtues. It was an article of commerce between the Jews and the Tyrians.”