Galbanum (Ferula galbaniflua), although an essential oil which is much less often used than say lavender, geranium, frankincense, has been used for thousands of years in herbal medicine. It is a member of the Umbelliferae Family.
Galbanum resin was one of the ancient Egyptians most prized incense ingredients. It was also often used difficult childbirth and to relieve severe restlessness, nervous tension, anxiety and muscle spasms. The Greek physician and herbalist Dioscorides, employed galbanum as an emmenagogue and abortifacient. It was also used by Hippocrates and the Roman scholar Pliny suggested that it had extraordinary curative powers. It has been said to be a favorite oil of Moses, and is written about in the book of Exodus. Galbanum is one of the ingredients of the sacred incense or Qetoret used by the temple priests of the Jews. The Qetoret was considered to have the power to elevate a person and connect him to his higher self. In Proverbs 27:9, King Solomon exclaims “…Qetoret brings joy to the heart.”
My first introduction to this essential oil was many, many years ago, in a perfume blending workshop that I took. It was introduced to me as an excellent fixative. During that class we got an opportunity to create our own perfume blend, the instructor had an enormous range of exotic and rare essential oils, as well as the more common ones, and I had the opportunity that day of experiences a number of oils for the first time. When I went home I had quite a long list of oils I had to have and my essential oil order that next week ended up being pretty expensive. Although it was so many years ago, and unfortunately I didn’t keep my recipe, I still remember that the synergy I made that day had three oils: rose, ginger and galbanum (just a touch) and I really, really resonated with the final blend. We only got to make a small amount of the blend in the class but over the next couple of weeks, I would sniff the blend each day and was amazed and delighted to experience how the aroma changed and deepened as the oils matured together, creating for me at the time, a perfect dance.
The essential oil is steam distilled from the resin or gum, its chemical composition around 84% Monoterpenes (tricyclene, alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, camphene, delta3-carene, limonene, myrcene, sabinene, terpinolene, beta phellandrene); with small amounts of Sesquiterpenols (guaiol, bulsenol, galbanol); Esters (fenchyl acetate, linalyl acetate, tergenyl acetate, bornyl acetate) and Lactone (umbelliferone). It has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, balsamic, carminative, cicatrizant, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, hypotensive, restorative and tonic properties. It blends well with other oils and the most frequent suggestions are bergamot, cedarwood, cypress, frankincense, violet, lavender, geranium, oakmoss, opopanax, pine, fir and oriental bases, although I have found with experimentation that one can get incredible blends by combining oils that may, at first glance, not appear to be compatible. It is very odoriferous, so use it sparingly. It also has the caution of: Avoid during Pregnancy.
Galbanum is said to soothe aches in the hands, feet, muscles and joints, as well as being effective for indigestion, respiratory disorders, asthma and poor circulation. It can be very effective in skin care as it promotes cell regeneration and tones mature or irritated skin. In the past it was used to dress inflamed and abscessed wounds. On an emotional level it is calming.
In her book The Fragrant Heavens, Valerie Ann Worwood says of Galbanum:
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A sacrificial fragrance that allows for the shedding of old ideas and outdated behavior and attitudes, resulting in total surrender to the Creator. It sheds light on life`s purpose and on the the inner self. It communicates with the deeper layers of self, allowing a gradual unfolding of truth for those who have been blinded by success and ambition, allowing a sense of balance within the spiritual and physical self.
This fragrance should always be used with caution for what it might unveil – sadnesses, wrongdoings, untruthfulness, and crimes against the soul. It should only be used by those who have already traveled a large part of their life`s journey, and having perhaps settled in their ways, find an urgency for stronger beliefs and the wish to walk in the light.
Be aware, galbanum brings with it all knowledge – in all its many forms.