Friday, November 4, 2011


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Populus balsamifera  Organically distilled from the sticky springtime buds of the Balsam Poplar Tree, by a gifted Canadian Distiller.

There is a story behind our acquiring this rare and precious oil.  We were attending a "preconference" workshop at the recent AIA conference.  Rhiannon Harris spent a day on clinical skincare - "Maintaining Skin Integrity"...this was not a "pretty" workshop, she was presenting important clinical work.   At one point she was discussing the thinning of the skin brought on by advanced age, or the over use of some Rx medications, and the skin tears and bruising that can result.  She discussed a list of better known oils frequently recommended for treating fragile,friable skin, and passed around a sample of something new to most of us in the room.  

Before the vial even reached me, the clinicians in the room were asking en masse "Marge, do you have this?, Marge, can you get this?"  

I had never HEARD of Poplar Balsam Essential Oil.  I knew that some rare herbalists produce an infused oil, that is hard to find and to be treasured. I had never experienced it.    The essential oil was stunning. Breathtaking.  Deeply balsamic, winey, sweetly resinous, with a deep sweetness at the heart - it stirs the soul.  It does not NEED to be healing, it just needs to be breathed.  

At the first break I ran for my room and laptop, checked with the best Canadian Distiller I know, and found this treasurer. I went back to the workshop announcing that I had sourced it, and would be importing it.  I had *not* checked the price.
It arrived this week. A small amount, rare and to be treasured.   Aromatically, it is breathtaking. It is is one of the rare oils that can speak to my soul.  To me it feels masculine in essence, I love it beside our sweeter Copaiba Balsam. The soft sweetness of the Copaiba enwraps and dances with the integrity of the Poplar. Amazing. 
But it is FAR too rare and precious to be used for scent alone.  

There is little published information about this rare oil. My old (in need of updating!) copy of the Aromatherapy Database ignores it.  "Aromadermatology" doesn't refer to it.  Burfield's Aromatics...nothing. Guenther...nothing.    So..what I have learned is anecdotal. There is far too little published about this glorious oil.

As I said,  Rhiannon highly recommended it for skin healing and wound healing.  She also discussed its use as an anti-histamine and as an alternative to German Chamomile when preferred, since both are high in alpha bisabol.   She also recommends it for wound healing, as mentioned earlier for bruises and skin tears.  Blending with helichrysum and yarrow oils can give amazing results for healing scars. 
It is both antispasmodic and analgesic, a recommended pain reliever for injuries, sore muscles, rheumatism and arthritis.  
The buds themselves, infused in oil, have been used by North American healers for millennium to ease pain, and heal damaged skin. It is not always safe to assume the same uses for the distilled oil as for the infused herb, but the producer swears this oils is amazingly effective.  
Dr. Joie Power recommends Balsam Poplar essential oil for bruises, sprains/strains, sore muscles and injuries to the skin. Balsam Poplar essential oil is also antispasmodic and has an analgesic effect,and reduces tension. One of Balsam Poplar essential oil's most noted effects is for reducing scaring and for wound healing. For use in treating injuries and for treating rheumatism and arthritis, blend Balsam Poplar essential oil with German Chamomile and Helichrysum essential oils. "

Emotionally I would venture that the oil would be comforting and strengthening... a help in time of trouble.

I've seen recommendations that it blends well with all of the 'blue' oils, with Helichrysum for healing purposes, of course.  I think it would give a lovely depth and structure to any floral. 
 Recommended shelf life of this base note oil is said to be up to 10 years with proper storage.  I suspect that, like Myrrh and some other balsamic oils, if left unsealed the volatiles will evaporate and leave you a bottle of rock hard resin.

When I come up for air, it will be available both undiluted, in all three retail sizes, and in a 10% dilution in Fractionated coconut oil. I bought a small vial of the 10% dilution home to play with.  It is...exquisite.  Watch for our November Specials page. If I ever get it written, this lovely healing Balsam will be included.

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