Balsam Of Peru Essential Oil

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Balsam of Peru essential oil is distilled from Balsam of Peru, a resinous substance secreted from a tree in Central and South America. It is used in aromatherapy and in treating wounds. It is a prominent antiseptic and a strong anti-inflammatory agent. However, it is also one of the most allergic substances on the planet. Therefore, this essential oil is not for everyone.

Source

The source of this essential oil is Balsam of Peru. This is a resinous substance obtained from the tree called Myroxylon balsamum. It is also referred to as Myroxylon pereirae. This resin is oily and smells like a mixture of clove, cinnamon and vanilla. This is a unique aromatic combination of sweet and spicy. This balsam is used in many products like flavorings for foods and in cosmetic products. Balsam of Peru also has some medicinal uses. It is used in products and creams for dry socket, hemorrhoids, toothache, dressings for wounds ( because it is antiseptic ), diaper rash ointment and in cough medicine.

Balsam of Peru
Balsam of Peru (Photo Courtesy : biodivlibrary )

The uses of Balsam Peru essential oil are quite similar to the uses of the original resin. This is because the nutrients of the essential oil come from the resin itself.

Other Names

Balsam of Peru essential oil can be referred by more than a dozen other names. This is because of the various names for the resin. It is known by names like Black Balsam, Quina, Tolu, Balsam fir oil, Balsam fir oleoresin, Peru Balsam Oil, Indian Balsam, China oil ( surprising ) and Balsamo.

Properties

Balsam of Peru essential oil displays some really powerful therapeutic and healing properties.

Balsam of Peru tree and leaves (Myroxylon balsamum)
Balsam of Peru tree and leaves (Myroxylon balsamum) (Image:Shutterstock)
  • Antioxidant – The essential oil of Peru Balsam has some antioxidant activity.
  • Cicatrisant – It is a powerful wound healer.
  • Deodorant or Antiperspirant – It reduces body odor by lowering perspiration.
  • Ant-inflammatory – It is strongly ant-inflammatory essential oil.
  • Allergic – This oil is strongly allergic to many people. [1]
  • Expectorant – It helps to expel phlegm from the lungs.
  • Stimulant – It stimulates various organ systems in the body.
  • Fixative – It reduces evaporation in mixtures and is thus a great additive in perfumes and scented products to prevent them from losing their aroma.
  • Anti-mites – It kills scabies mites.
  • Antiseptic – It prevents chances of infection in an open wound.
  • Antibacterial – It kills some species of bacteria.
  • Diuretic – It stimulates the release of urine from the body.

Color and Aroma

The color of Balsam of Peru essential oil is a deep brown. Its aroma is mild by carries a mix of many aromas. It smells quite pleasant, almost balsamic. It also has smells resembling clove ( slightly pungent ) , vanilla and cinnamon. Its unique aroma makes it a useful ingredient in aromatherapy.

Blends Well With

In aromatherapy, Peru Balsam essential oil blends well with essential oils of clove, cinnamon and vanilla. It also goes well with ylang-ylang essential oil and other wonderful smelling essential oils like that of rose, lavender, patchouli and spice oils like black pepper.

Health Benefits

The Balsam of Peru and its essential oil are used for their healing properties. They provide many health benefits. However, one has to be wary about the side effects of this essential oil before using it.

Bronchitis and Respiratory Conditions

Balsam of Peru essential oil is incredibly helpful in respiratory conditions in which there is productive cough. It acts as an expectorant and helps the lungs expel all the attached phlegm. This clears the airway from congestion and provides relieved breathing. In this way, it helps in cold, flu, bronchitis, pneumonia and other conditions which overproduce phlegm.

For these conditions, add 3 – 4 drops of Peru Balsam essential oil in a vaporizer and let its aroma diffuse in the air all around. Its sweet cinnamon like aroma helps one to breathe easily and congestion is reduced. After a few minutes, do a warm salt water gargle as a home remedy to loosen the phlegm. This procedure also reduces inflammation in the nose and throat. Because of its antibacterial activity, it kills some species of bacteria in the air, especially when mixed with other antibacterial essential oils like tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil.

Sore Muscles

Add about 2 – 3 drops of Peru balsam essential oil in about 100 ml of carrier oil. Massage the painful muscles with this oil combination. It reduces inflammation within the cramped muscle and provides relief from soreness in a few hours. Apply this home remedy 2 times a day.

Stress

The aroma of Peru Balsam essential oil is soothing to the senses. Its aroma can lower your stress after a tiring day at work or help to reduce stress due to some stressful situation. One can inhale its aroma by diffusing it in a diffuser or oil burner, or one can add a few drops to a bath. Either way it reduces stress and mental exhaustion.

Scabies

Balsam of Peru essential oil is used to treat scabies, a skin condition caused by scabies mites. These are microscopic mites that burrow into the skin and lead to rashes. This skin condition can be relieved by applying balsam of peru oil in low dilution. Add 2 – 3 drops of this essential oil to extra virgin olive oil and massage it on the skin. Apply it specially on places where one can see the burrows of these mites. With regular application, one would witness and improvement in the symptoms of scabies.

In a similar manner, it can be applied to get relief from eczema lesions.

Skin

Balsam of Peru essential oil is also used for many skin conditions. Dilute it by about 50 times in a carrier oil and apply as a massage on the skin. It is used to heal broken, damaged skin which is seen in many skin conditions. It is helpful in skin rashes and chapped skin.

Treats Dandruff

Adding just 2-3 drops of balsam of Peru essential oil to a glass of water makes it a nice home remedy for dandruff. It scrubs off dead skin cells from the scalp and cleanses it. This alleviates dandruff. Use this home remedy once every week.

Uses

Balsam of Peru essential oil is also used for many products.

  • It is used as an ingredient in perfumes.
  • It is used in cough syrups.
  • It is used to flavor common products like soaps, shampoo, candles.
  • It is used as flavorings in some drinks.

Side Effects, Safe Dosage and Toxicity Issues

Balsam of Peru and its essential oil have a major issue of allergy. This resin is one of the most allergic substances in nature. It has been classified among the top five allergens to be found in allergy patch test. This shows that many people who are vulnerable to allergies can be susceptible to this ingredient.

An allergic reaction to Peru Balsam essential oil usually shows up as contact dermatitis. However, it can lead to severe inflammation of the lips, mouth or tongue. Blisters may pop up and they may be quite painful. It can lead to rhinitis with symptoms like runny nose, watery eyes and even hives.

Therefore, one should always perform a patch test before using Balsam Peru essential oil. There is not much information on the safe dosage and interactions of this essential oil.

Nutritional and Medicinal Information

Balsam of Peru is one of the plant species which has high concentration of volatile compounds. These are the volatile compounds which separate out in its essential oil. Not much is known about the nutrition facts of Peru Balsam essential oil. These are the major compounds found in this essential oil. [2]

  • Cinnamic Acid – This compound is a potent antioxidant. It is strongly antimicrobial and kills certain species of bacteria, virus and fungi [3]. However, this is not all. This compound has also demonstrated some anti-cancer activity against prostate and lung cancer. It exerts a skin pigmentation effect by lowering melanin in skin [4]. Its aroma may also prevent against malaria.
  • Benzoic Acid – It is antibacterial and reduces skin inflammation. It is also helpful in eczema and fungal skin infections.
  • Benzyl Benzoate – It is one of the major compounds that leads to adverse reactions to Peru Balsam essential oil. In small concentrations, it is helpful in taking out head lice.
  • Benzyl cinnamate – This is a derivative of cinnamic and is moderately toxic.
  • Nerolidol – This compound is believed to be associated with good health. It is found in many herbal teas. [5]
  • Vanillin – This is the main compound in vanilla beans and its essential oil. Vanillin is a powerful antioxidant. It protects the cells from free radical damage. It protects the skin from UV radiation damage [6]. It may also have anti-cancer activity which needs to be evaluated further.

Besides the nutritional profile of Peru Balsam essential oil, there is a few important chemical properties which are of significance. We need to know the ORAC value of this essential oil which is a measure of its antioxidant capacity. It is also important to know the pH of this essential oil, which is a measure of acidity of this substance.

Buying and Storage

Balsam of Peru essential oil is extracted using various methods. However, the steam distillation method produces purest organic essential oil which resembles the actual nutrients in the resin. For maximum health benefits, one should go for 100 % pure, organic essential oil. It should be kept in a dark place at all times.

References

1. Phenolic constituents and sensitizing properties of propolis, poplar balsam and balsam of Peru. Authors Wollenweber, E.;
Hausen, B. M.; Greenaway, W. Bulletin de Liaison – Groupe Polyphenols 1990
2. Contribution to the analysis and quality control of Peru Balsam. Verena Mammerler.
3. Antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of cinnamic acid derivatives.Sova M. Mini Rev Med Chem. 2012 Jul;12(8):749-67.
4. Inhibitory effects of cinnamic acid on melanin biosynthesis in skin. Kong YH et. al.
5. Determination of nerolidol in teas using headspace solid phase microextraction–gas chromatography. Chunhua Ma et. al.Food
Chemistry
6. Vanillin protects human keratinocyte stem cells against ultraviolet B irradiation. Lee J et. al.Food Chem Tox.

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