Is Peru Balsam Oil a Wise Choice for Healing Wounds?

peru balsam

Story at-a-glance -

  • South America is home to many things — vibrant cultures, scenic tourist destinations, and lush rainforests. The region is also home to various plants for medicinal and practical use. The balsam of Peru is one of them
  • Peru balsam oil is derived from balsam trees, which are tapped like rubber trees to collect their oily resin. Discover why this plant’s essential oil is gaining ground as an all-around cure for different health conditions

Peru balsam oil, which is also known as black balsam, quina, tolu, Balsam fir oil and balsamo, comes from the balsam of Peru, a resinous substance obtained from the tree called Myroxylon balsamum or Myroxylon pereirae.This tree grows in the wild in countries like El Salvador and Belize,2 although it also grows in other South and Central American countries such as Panama, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Guatemala.3

The said tree is cultivated in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Fiji, India and Sri Lanka, too. The oily resin from the balsam of Peru smells like a mixture of clove, cinnamon and vanilla, and is deep brown in color.5 Meanwhile, the essential oil it produces is pale yellow.6

Uses of Peru Balsam Oil

The balsam of Peru tree was used medicinally by the Aztecs and the Incas during the peak of the Mayan civilization. They used balsam extracts to help treat external wounds and ease symptoms of asthma,7 colds and rheumatism. Peruvians also used balsam to help relieve fever, bronchitis and coughs,8,9 while Indians utilized Peru balsam to trigger diuretic action in the body, stop wounds from bleeding and promote healing, as well as to expel worms.10 Nowadays, balsam and Peru balsam oil are:11

Used as fragrance in cosmetic products like perfumes, shampoo and soap

Added to flavor candies, baked goods, gelatins and pudding

When applied topically as a cream, salve or in wound dressings,12 the balsam of Peru may help alleviate:13,14,15

Dry socket

Hemorrhoids

Cough16

Rashes

Toothaches17

Dry skin18

Frostbite19

Burns

Bedsores

Leg ulcers

Anal itching

Wounds

Worm infections caused by pinworms and tapeworms

Scabies and skin sores

Benefits of Peru Balsam Oil

Peru balsam oil may deliver antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties,20 and has been linked to the following health benefits:21,22

Addressing respiratory conditions. Peru balsam can act as an expectorant,23 helping alleviate coughs and clear congested lungs.24

Acting as an insecticide: According to a June 2012 article in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, components from the Peru balsam oil and a jowan oil exhibited a 100 percent mortality rate against mosquitoes.25

Helping heal skin graft donor sites: A 2003 Ostomy/Wound Management article highlighted that an ointment composed of castor oil, Peru balsam and trypsin assisted with healing the said wounds without yielding complications.26

Assisting with scabies treatment: It can alleviate or help treat scabies, specifically by killing the tiny scabies mites.

Helping curb bacterial growth. When combined with other antibacterial essential oils like tea tree and eucalyptus, Peru balsam oil may help eliminate some varieties of bacteria lingering in the air.27

Composition of Peru Balsam Oil

Some of the components of Peru balsam oil include:28

Benzyl benzoate

Benzyl cinnamate (a derivative of cinnamic acid, which is moderately toxic)

Cinnamyl cinnamate

Small amounts of nerolidol, free benzyl alcohol and free benzoic and cinnamic acids

Traces of vanillin, styrene and coumarin

How to Make Peru Balsam Oil

Peru balsam oil is derived from balsam trees, which are tapped like rubber trees to collect their oily resin.29 From this resin, the oil is extracted via high vacuum dry distillation.30 It may blend well with essential oils of black pepper, ginger, ylang ylang, rose otto, lavender, nutmeg and patchouli.31

Is Peru Balsam Oil Safe?

While Peru balsam oil has numerous medicinal uses, there is a major allergy issue linked to it. The resin from the tree is one of the most allergic substances in nature, as it contains five food allergens. It is also not safe to take orally, since it can potentially damage your kidneys.32 I advise that you consult a physician before using Peru balsam oil to avoid side effects.

Other standard precautionary measures when handling Peru balsam oil include diluting it with a safe carrier oil like coconut, jojoba, sweet almond and olive. Performing a skin patch test before using Peru balsam oil topically is highly recommended too. Simply apply a few drops of the essential oil on a small portion of your skin and wait for at least 24 hours. If any reaction occurs, stop using it immediately.

Potential Side Effects of Peru Balsam Oil

The allergen content of Peru balsam oil can put you at risk of:33

Redness, swelling and soreness of the skin

Blisters34

Severe inflammation of the lips, mouth or tongue

Rhinitis with symptoms like runny nose and watery eyes

Hives

Allergic contact dermatitis35

Poisoning among breastfed infants if their mothers have applied the Peru balsam herb or oil on their nipples

Flare-up of hand eczema36

+ Sources and References
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