By Hwaa Irfan
Ferula galbaniflua has a long history of medicinal use, and was once imported from the Levant and India in large quantities, featuring prominently in Biblical use. It is a member of the Umbelliferae family of the plant kingdom, and it is native to Iran where it is called ‘Barijeh’, and Afghanistan, of which there are 19 varieties. In Biblical times it was used as incense with its complex aroma, and was known as helbenah. In Coptic medicine, galbanum was used as a poultice for aching wounds, and aching feet.
Naturalized in Pakistan, Turkmenistan, N.W. India, and Cape of Good Hope, Ferula galbaniflua is approaching the status of endangered species. It is a perennial that grows in the mountainous regions of northern Iran with a tall smooth stem that can extend to 5 feet in height. The plant has two types of leaves, with the leaves of the stem being small and glossy. The tiny yellow flowers are few extending from the tips of smaller stems, which is typical of the Umbelliferae family as can be seen in Angelica Sylvestris Angelica Root), and fennel. The thin, flat fruit also has a shine. with prominent ribs, and oil glands in the grooves.
A lactic liquid oozes from the joints of the old plants, and then hardens at the base of the stem that has been removed as if to heal a wound. The hardened liquid forms a resin, which is used in the cosmetic and foods industries, as well as in aromatherapy.
The best resin/tears are externally pale looking, but when opened reveal the colour white. Galabanum resin was once dissolved in water, vinegar/wine, but now it is steam distilled or extracted using Co2, which helps to maintain the integrity of the oil. It is a popular ingredient in the cosmetic, perfumery, and food industry. It is the main ingredient in Cartier’s “Must.”
Commercial production is mainly in Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Cape of Good Hope. The essential oil is a thin colourless – yellowish brown viscous liquid with a complex aroma that reveals itself in layers, from earthy balsamic – musky – pine. Unfortunately, one can find adulterated products on the market, usually adulterated with pine oil, fractions of b-pinene, and undecatrienes. Like all essential oils, if stored in a cool, dry place that is safe from heat, and light, one can expect a shelf life of 1 year.
Ferula galbaniflua is rich in monoterpenes, and sulphur. Monoterpenes such as β–
pinene, α-pinene, and Δ3-carene have a mild antiseptic, decongestant, rubefacient, and as well as a slight anti-inflammatory activity. With over 84 bioactive constituents, Ferula galbaniflua essential oil also includes:
- α-terpinyl acetate
- D-glucuronic acid
- 4 – 0 methyl glucuronic acid
- Galactoronic acid
Galbanum essential oil removes toxins, skin care, kills & repels insects, eliminates parasites, and heals wounds, and is effective in removing toxins from the body, for relaxing the nerves, and muscles, and in the treatment of childhood trauma.
Some of the therapeutic properties are as follows:
- Anti arthritic
- Stimulant (blood, digestive, lymphatic, and endocrine systems)
For glossary see It All Makes Good Scents!
As a cicatrisant, geranium essential oil is helpful for healing damaged skin, and tissues, as it not only helps to heal scars by balancing the presence of sebum and keeping the skin supple whilst stimulating cell regeneration.
As a detoxifier help to release toxins in the body including excess salts, and water.
Used as an emollient in the cosmetic industry because its rich lipophilic properties penetrates bodily tissues easily.
As a rubefacient, improves circulation, and provides relief for muscular aches, pains, and stiffness.
As a vulnerary the oil helps to stem blood loss, and promotes cell regeneration in the case of wounds and scar tissue.
Ferula Galbanum has long been known to cause irritation to the skin in some people, and contact with the eyes should be avoided.
Gandh Biroza has it is known in some parts of India, has become a part of traditional medicine and is used for rheumatism, and asthma, hysteria, and mental health problems in males.
The oil can only be used for external use, and when used it should be diluted by means of Carrier Oils like Fractioned coconut oil. Drops of no more than 1 should be used for:
Circulatory system – Sluggish
Insecticide – Kills and repels
Lymphatic system – Sluggish
Mind – Anxiety, childhood trauma, confusion, panic attacks, psychosomatic illnesses, spasms, stress
Respiratory – Chronic bronchitis, congestion,
Musculoskeletal – Arthritis, muscular aches and pains, rheumatism, spasms,
Skin – Acne, abscesses, boils, lice, mature skin, oily skin, scar tissue, slow healing wounds, sores, spots,
Spiritual – Emotional blockages, negative energies, undergoing personal change, soul transformation
- Vapor therapy – Anxiety, eases traumatic experiences (especially in children), psychosomatic conditions, stress, and respiratory conditions
- Massage oil – Balance skin’s oil production, keeps skin supple, heal wounds, eases blockages in the spiritual body
- Bath – 2 drops added before filling the bath, helps to calm the mind, bruises, ease depression, mood swings, PMS, stress, fluid retention, eczema, abscesses, musculoskeletal, and conditions pertaining to a sluggish endocrine system…
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Felter , H.W., and Lloyd , J.U. “Galbanum.” King’s American Dispensatory, 1898
Kanani, MR, et al. “Chemotaxonomic Significance Of The Essential Oils Of 18 Ferula Species (Apiaceae) From Iran.” Chem Biodivers. 2011 Mar;8(3):503-17. doi: 10.1002/cbdv.201000148.
Manniche, L. “An Ancient Egyptian Herbal.” British Museum Publications Ltd, U.K. 1989.
Milani, J.M. et al. “Extraction and Physicochemical Properties of Barijeh (Ferula galbaniflua) Gum.” International Journal Of Agriculture & Biology 1560–8530/2007/09–1–80–83
Miyazawa, N. et al. “Novel Key Aroma Components Of Galbanum Oil.” https://home.zhaw.ch/~yere/pdf/Teil106%20-%20Expression%20of%20Multidisciplinary.pdf