Galbanum essential oil is steam-distilled from the gum of a species of Ferula, a family of giant fennels.
It is native to southern Europe, North Africa and western Asia also it is thought that the plant originates from Iran. It grows particularly well in India and Iran and it is from the latter that the oil comes from. The plant has the characteristics of its smaller relatives - umbels of small white flowers, finely toothed leaves and a thick stalk - but it can grow to a height of 2 m.
The plant was highly regarded by the ancient populations. The Egyptians used it their religious ceremonies and it was part of the ingredients used in their embalming procedures.
The Hebrews used it in their anointing oils and the Greeks mention it as being sedative, antispasmodic with diuretic properties.
In classical Ayurvedic Medicine, it is considered to exert a balancing action on all three doshas: vata, pitta and kapha.
The stem contains resin ducts that carry a milky oleoresin. Incision are made at the base of the stalk from which the gum runs and hardens in the shape of brown tears. The tears are then steam-destilled to produce an essential oil which is clear in colour. Despite belonging to the Apiaceae family, the oil of galbanum does not share in any way the aroma of its relatives. It has a leafy-green earthy odour, with a slightly bitter rooty note - a strong and powerful but not overwhelming fragrance.
Chemically, the oil is rich in monoterpenes including alpha and beta-pinene, delta-3-carene, camphene, 1-alpha phellandrene, and esters including bornyl acetate.
- Respiratory tracts: Combined with pine, it is useful in case of catarrhal coughs and bronchitis.
- Dry & mature skin: It is useful for skin disorders involving abscesses and inflammations and is particularly useful to promote the formation of scar tissue. Use in combination with other pertinent oils such as rosehip, borage, argan, frankincense, neroli.
- Antirheumatic: The oil may be used for muscular stiffness and pain and osteo-arthritis. Combine for example with rosemary cineole 1.8, frankincense and ginger.
- Digestive stimulant: The oil helps with complaints of poor appetite, abdominal pain and gastrointestinal spasm. Blend with orange, cardamon, petitgrain and peppermint.
- Nervous tension & Stress related complaints: The oil imbues a feeling of calm, grounded focus. This is due to its ability to smooth the flow of Qi and act as a nervine antispasmodic, in a similar manner to another gum resin: frankincense.
Galbanum can play a useful role in the creation of a perfume as an enriching base and as a fixative. It has a strong aroma so very little is needed but it is flexible and will ‘get on’ with many oils and add a unmistakable ‘je ne sais quoi’ to your creation.
For a masculine scent, it will blend well with all the woody oils, cedarwood, sandalwood, vetiver, cypress …
For a more feminine accord, it will blend well with all the citrus oils, bergamot, lemon, mandarin, orange, and even some of the more flowery aromas such as palmarosa and geranium.
Galbanum will also blend well with all spices, black pepper, cardamon, ginger ...
The possibilities are endless ...
The Encyclopedia of plants and oils and how they can help you by Daniele Ryman / Gabriel Mojay: Course notes