Botanical Name: Myroxylon balsamum var. pereirae
Origin: El Salvador
Part Used: Resin
Process: Steam Distilled
Plant Description: Native to, and growing wild on, the Pacific side of Mexico through most of Central America; production is mainly in El Salvador where the limited area of growth is known as the Balsam Coast. Myroxylon balsamum var. pereirae is a large tropical tree that grows to a height of 75 feet and at elevations up to 1000 feet. Tapping the trunks of the trees for the balsam (by slashing or removing the bark) begins when the trees are between 30-40 years old with the largest yields of resin coming from trees that are over 60 years old. Trees are tapped throughout the year, but the highest and best quality yields occur during the hot, dry season – usually the end of November until the middle of June. Balsam of Peru trees are also occasionally planted to provide shade for coffee plants.
Oil Description: Pale amber or pale brown liquid with a soft, smooth, sweet, rich, balsamic and long-lasting aroma, slightly reminiscent of vanilla. It may sometimes have a slight smoky undertone due to the practice in some producing areas of heating the trunks of the trees with blow torches to encourage the flow of resin during tapping.
Historical/Traditional Uses: Balsam of Peru oil is produced almost entirely in El Salvador, but for a time during Spanish colonialism in Central and South America (17th – 19th centuries), all products originating in El Salvador were collected in and shipped from Peru, where El Salvador’s commodities were approved for export to other countries. As a consequence, it was erroneously assumed in Europe that the balsam originated in Peru, but the name persisted despite the fact that El Salvador was able to directly export the oil once it gained independence from Spanish rule. Balsam of Peru was traditionally used to treat joint pain, asthma and other respiratory issues, ringworm, inflammations, and diarrhea, and as an antiseptic dressing for ulcerated skin conditions.
Applications (Uses and Indications): In aromatherapy, Balsam of Peru essential oil is indicated for the itch of rashes and for sores, wounds, dry and chapped skin, eczema, respiratory conditions (colds, bronchitis), arthritis, rheumatism, parasites, stress and tension. Similar to other balsams, this oil’s soothing and grounding effects help to quiet the mind and allay troubled thoughts. In perfumery, Balsam of Peru is a base note with outstanding tenacity and excellent fixative qualities that blends well with most floral and spice oils, other balsam oils, and especially jasmine, patchouli, petitgrain, rose, sandalwood, and ylang ylang.
Contraindications (Safety and Precautions): Balsam of Peru essential oil is non-toxic and non-irritating, but is considered to be possibly sensitizing, especially for individuals with sensitive skin, thus it is not recommended for prolonged skin use. Best avoided by those with high blood pressure.
Standard Safety Precautions: Always dilute essential oils before using. Keep essential oils out of the eyes and mucous membranes; in case of contact, DO NOT use water, instead place a drop or two of vegetable oil on a tissue to gently wipe out of eye or off area of contact. In severe cases, seek professional help immediately. Keep out of the reach of children. In case of ingestion, call 911 immediately.
The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. No claims are made as to any medicinal value of this or any products from Ancient Ways Botanicals. The information presented here is for educational purposes of traditional uses and is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. For external use only. You are responsible for understanding the safe application of these products.