Fir Balsam (Abies balsamea) is native to the Northern United States and Canada. Other names it is known by are balm of Gilead, Northern balsam, Sliver pine, and Blister fir (named as such for the blisters of resin that ooze and harden all along the tree’s trunk). It has long been a favorite for Christmas trees, wreaths, and garland and was used by native Indians and settlers for a wide variety of medicinal purposes.
Fir balsam has a long history of uses medicinally by such native tribes as Algonquin, Woodlands Cree, Iroquois, Menominee, Micmac, Ojibwa, Pillagers, Chippewa, Potawatomi, and Penobscot. (3)
Some common historical uses are:
- Tea made with sap or bark to treat colds and headaches
- Tea made by steeping fir leaves in water to treat urinary tract infection
- Sweat lodges intense with the aroma of burning fir leaves to relieve bronchitis
- Steam from boiling fir branches to ease rheumatism and aid in childbirth
- Ointment from the sap for burns, cuts, sores, and colds
*This is not meant to advocate taking fir balsam internally.
About Fir Balsam
The essence of Fir Balsam (essential oil) is typically a steam distillation. The active constituents are of the Terpene and Ester Chemical families. Terpenes are known for their analgesic, decongesting (muscular & respiratory), warming, antiseptic/antiviral properties. Esters are known for anti-infectious, anti-spasmodic, sedative (to the nervous system), and skin healing properties. Fir Balsam also belongs to the Pinaceae family of plants. This family of plants is known to reduce inflammation and ease congestion.
Benefits of Fir Balsam
We have mentioned previously some historical uses of Fir Balsam leaves, bark, and sap. While it is not recommended to take Fir Balsam internally, many of the uses and health benefits are still used today though not as widely as in times past. Here are a few benefits of using Fir Balsam
- Relieves congestion
- Aids in wound healing
- Eases pain and soreness of stiff muscles and joints
- Feels cooling to the skin
- Helps increase mental clarity
- Improves mood
- Calms the nervous system
- Reduces pain from digestive cramping
How to use Fir Balsam
- Diffuse – 10 drops in ultrasonic diffuser every 15 minute in two-hour intervals.
- Inhale – Direct from bottle or lid 2 to 3 times a day, Place 2 drops on a cotton ball and inhale. Rub 1 to 2 drops on hand, hold near face (avoid touching face), and inhale.
- Mist – Add 40 to 50 drops to a half cup of water. Shake vigorously before each use and apply lightly to areas of concern. Avoid getting it in the eyes.
- Rub On – Place 10 to 12 drops in 2 tablespoons (1 oz) of massage cream or oil, rub on achy joints and muscles as needed.