Herbal Nerd Society Exclusive Article

Balm of Gilead/Cottonwood buds (Populus species) is famous for its antimicrobial properties. Galangin is just one of the many compounds that battle both bacteria and fungal infections. It is considered to be one of the primary constituents of Balm of Gilead AKA Cottonwood bud. It is a flavanone which is a type of flavonoid in the leaf bud of Poplar trees particularly cottonwoods. This compound is mildly water soluble which allows it to reside in the waxy resin that the bud exudes. The low water solubility helps it penetrate beyond the skin barrier. This aids deep healing without overwhelming the system and opening a risk of over-absorption.

What is a Flavanone?

First, let’s begin with a basic description of a flavonoid. This is a group of compound that are very common in higher plants. They often carry the pigment of the plant such as the blue color of blueberries. Flavonoids are very aromatic. They are most common known as antioxidants but have a multitude of other uses. Flavanones are a simple type of flavonoid without pigment that contains the aromatic and antioxidant properties of a common flavonoid.

Anti-Microbial Properties

Galangin has proven its worth as a stout defense as a broad spectrum antibiotic. Research has proven itself worthy against Gram-negative bacteria (Enterobacter cloacaeEscherichia coliKlebsiella pneumoniae, and Proteus mirabilis) and Gram-positive bacteria (Bacillus cereusB. subtilisB. coagulans, and Staphylococcus aureus). The low solubility of galangin is one of the keys to its potency as an antibiotic. It allows this simple compound to work within multiple layers of the body’s tissues to perform it’s antioxidant magic. By attaching to extra oxygen molecules, it suppresses growth of microbes such as bacteria, fungus, viruses, protozoa and yeast by effectively starving them of oxygen. This is why antioxidants are such a vital part of food preservation.

Contraindications for Balm of Gilead

Spilanthes is generally considered safe for use. People that are allergic to propolis should avoid it as it is often a primary ingredient that bees gather to make this waxy sealant in their hives. The cause of propolis allergy is still under investigation.  There is not enough evidence available at the time of publishing this post to prove that Balm of Gilead is hazardous if used medicinally if you are pregnant or nursing.

Further Research

Science Direct – Galangin

NCBI – Recent Progress of Propolis for Its Biological and Chemical Compositions and Its Botanical Origin

PubChem – Galangin

Science Direct: Flavonoids