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code: 11230


Latin Binomial: Myroxylon balsamum var. pereira
Plant Part: Resin
Extraction: Steam Distilled
Growing Practice: Wild
Country of Origin: El Salvador


Odor Characteristics: Peru Balsam odor is typically 'balsamic', rich, sweet, cinnamic-benzoic, soft and very tenacious with a strong vanillin note on dryout.

Refractive Index: 1.56700 to 1.57900 @ 20.00 °C.
Specific Gravity: 1.09500 to 1.11000 @ 25.00 °C.
Appearance: yellow amber brown clear oily liquid
BioChemical Class: Ester
CAS No: 8007-00-9

About the Plant

Myroxylon balsamum var. pereira is a large and beautiful tree from the Leguminosae family with a valuable wood like mahogany, and a straight smooth trunk; the last is coarse grey, compact, heavy granulated and a pale straw color, containing a resin which changes from citron to dark brown; smell and taste balsamic and aromatic. Leaves alternately, abruptly pinnate, leaflets two pairs mostly opposite, ovate, lanceolate with the end blunt emarginate; every part of the tree including the leaves abounds in a resinous juice. The mesocarp of the fruit is fibrous, and the balsamic juice which is abundant is contained in two distinct receptacles, one on each side. The beans contain Coumarin, the husks an extremely acrid bitter resin, and a volatile oil; a gum resin, quite distinct from the proper balsam, exudes from the trunk of the tree and contains gum resin and a volatile oil; the tree commences to be productive after five or six years, and continues to yield for thirty years; the flower has a fragrance which can be smelt a hundred yards away.

* A true essential oil cannot be produced and the oil cannot be isolated by steam distillation. The oil is produced either as an absolute or as a false resinoid (false since a hydrocarbon is used in the extraction). Recently, high-vacuum or dry distillation has been undertaken which produces a semi-solid 'essential oil' directly from the balsam. Molecular distillation produces an anhydrol type product.


Grieve (1931) Stimulant, expectorant, parasiticide. Used in scabies and skin diseases; it destroys the itch acarus and its eggs, and is much to be preferred to sulphur ointment, also of value in prurigo, pruritis and in later stages of acute eczema. It is a good antiseptic expectorant and a stimulant to the heart, increasing blood pressure; its action resembles benzoic acid. It is applied externally to sore nipples and discharges from the ear. Given internally, it lessens mucous secretions, and is of value in bronchorrhoea gleet, leucorrhoea and chronic bronchitis, and asthma. It is also used in soap manufacturing, for its fragrance, and because it makes a soft creamy lather, useful for chapped hands. Balsam of Peru can be applied alone or as an ointment made by melting it with an equal weight of tallow.
Aromatherapy: Generally recommended in low dilution, Peru Balsam can add antibacterial and antiseptic properties to a topical application. It may be useful in oils and creams for scabies.

Perfumery: Peru Balsam is almost entirely soluble in perfume alcohol, but only partially soluble in petroleum ether or other hydrocarbons. It is mostly used as good fixative in low dilution so as not to add dark color that may stain. It blends well with cinnamic notes and florals. Used in Oriental and 'powdery' type perfumes.

Possible allergic skin reactions, especially in those with eczema. Contact sensitivity to wood of the tree was observed by De Carvalho (1956). R.I.F.M. reports an 8% solution caused no irritation, but caused sensitization reactions in 7 out of 25 humans tested. IFRA has banned crude Peru Balsam as not allowed as a perfume ingredient and has classified it as a sensitizer. Distilled essential oil is allowed.

The information provided on these pages is not a substitute for necessary medical care, nor intended as medical advice. Always keep aromatic extracts tightly closed and in a cool, dark place, out of reach of children. Never ingest aromatic extracts. Always dilute aromatic extracts when applying topically and avoid areas around eyes or mucous membranes. If redness or irritation occurs, stop using immediately and contact your health provider if necessary.