Balsams: Peru Balsams – Uses, Botanical Source, Characters, and Chemical Constituents

Balsams are mixtures of some resins and resinous substances. Their various physical and chemical characteristics very much similar to those of most resins and resin mixtures. The principal difference is that they contain larger proportions of cinnamic or benzoic acid or both of them or esters of these two acids.

For convenience of study and description representative examples of some natural Balsams and balsamic substances obtained from plant sources have been described below in the form of Monographs.



Peruvian Balsam, Balsam of Peru

Biological sources:

Peru Balsam is the viscid fluid exuded from the trunk of Myroxylon pereirae (Royle) Klotsch, after the bark is beaten and scorched. The plant belongs to the family Leguminosae.

Geographical source:

The tree grows in the forests of Balsam Coast of the Pacific Ocean (San Salvador) and other parts of Central America, from where most of the commercial supply of the drug come.

Macroscopical and microscopical characters:

Peru Balsam is a viscid oily liquid varying in colour from dark brown or black (when in bulk) to dark reddish brown. It is transparent when in thin layer., Its specific gravity is more than one. Peru Balsam has a balsamic) agreeable, vanilla-like odour and an acrid, somewhat bitter taste. It is insoluble in water, but soluble in chloroform and partially soluble in ether, light petroleum and glacial acetic acid.

Chemical constituents:

Peru Balsam contains a mixture of resin, bcnzyl bcnzoate, bcnzyl cinnamate, cinnamyl cinnamate, peruviol, vanillin and cinnamic acid.


Peru Balsam is a local irritant and antiseptic. It is applied externally in certain irritating skin diseases. It is also used as a stimulating expectorant.

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