Friday, February 20, 2015

Self-Reliance Tip of the Week - Balm Of Gilead Did You Borrow?

Jar of Balm of Gilead
Can I Borrow That?

I love it when there are physical things that can be associated with spiritual things. It helps me to understand the gospel better. I've learned some things lately that I'd like to share. 

The Physical Balm of Gilead:

Did you know that the common cotton tree that grows locally has a special property? It is part of the Aspen family. The pain-reliever "Aspirin" originated from qualities extracted from the "Aspen". Kinda cool huh. You can harvest the little buds (on cottonwood trees right now) where the leaves will emerge. These little bundles of joy just waiting to burst are loaded with a resin that help humans with soothing pains and coughs. 

Where does the name come from? 

The Bible dictionary says this: 
An aromatic gum or spice used for healing wounds (Gen. 43:11Jer. 8:2246:1151:8). A bush producing the resin from which the balm was made grew so plentifully in Gilead in Old Testament times that the balm came to be known as the “balm of Gilead” (Gen. 37:25Ezek. 27:17).
The Ishmeelites who purchased Joseph (the son of Jacob/Israel) were on their way from Gilead to Egypt to sell/ trade balm, spices and myrrh. I find it interesting that Joseph would end up being the one who would "sooth" the hunger pains of his brothers many years later. 

It was a highly traded item in that area of the world, because it helped with their pain. 

The Spiritual Balm of Gilead:

In verse three of "Did You Think To Pray" it says: 

When sore trials came upon you, did you think to pray?
When your soul was filled with sorrow, Balm of Gilead did you borrow
At the gates of day?

Where do we turn when our souls are in pain? 

This is an AWESOME talk by Elder Boyd K. Packer about how spiritual and physical ailments are sometimes hard to distinguish between because our spirit and body are one. If we are going through something spiritually painful it can manifest physical symptoms. 

We encourage self-reliance spiritually and temporally, but there are many times when what we have to offer just isn't enough and we need to rely on the Lord for strength and pain relief. 

So now we know the definition of both kinds of "Balm of Gilead" here are the instructions on how to make your own - for your temporal needs. 

Silly Gilead Balmy Salve

1 C. Cottonwood buds
1 1/4 C. olive oil or apricot kernel oil 
2 T beeswax
3 Vitamin e oil capsules (used as a preservative)

Warm the buds in the oil over very low heat in a double boiler for 2 to 8 hours. Strain the buds through a wire mesh strainer and then once again through cheese cloth. Melt beeswax in a pan over low heat and add your bud infused oil and stir well. Poke a hole into your vitamin e capsules and squeeze the oil. Pour into containers.  

Rub the salve on sore muscles, to prevent (or for) diaper rash, temporary arthritis relief, and chapped lips and hands.  


Here are the instructions for how to make cough syrup with these little "buddies":

Balm of Gilead Cough Syrup

  • 1 Cup of Cottonwood buds
  • 3 cups honey or vegetable glycerin
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 8 oz warm water

In a 2 qt pan, warm gently buds and honey or glycerin for 8 hours (or even overnight...the longer you warm it, the more resin is steeped into the honey or glycerin). Strain the buds out of the honey/ glycerin. When there is a cough that needs a remedy, warm 8 oz of water, add the lemon juice and 4 T of cough syrup. Bottoms up! 


Today I offer you some Balm of Gilead in whichever way you might need it be is spiritual or physical. May you find soothing relief either way. May you never be sold into Egypt. I picked some buds and plan to make some. If you make some, let me know how your experience went and what you found out!

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