Balsam (Peru)Essential Oil

SKU: OBP-BAL-PER

Size: 10 mL

400 Lb Drum  Click for quote

Price:
Sale price$13.99

Peru Balsam Essential Oil: Uses, Benefits, and Blends

Although rarely spoken of as being sacred, Peru Balsam Essential Oil brings a gorgeous sense of calm and focus, as well as bringing clarity to one's thoughts. This lovely richly fragranced resin has historically been used for respiratory support, wound healing, and treating parasites. But how can you use Peru Balsam Essential Oil safely and creatively? Let’s have a look, shall we?

Scientific Name: Myroxylon Pereirae

Origin: El Salvador

Plant Part: Resin

Scent: Honey, Lemony, Sweet, Woody, Smokey, Reminiscent of Vanilla

Color: Deep Brown

Consistency: Very thick and sticky

Perfumery Note: Base

Initial Aroma Strength: Moderate to strong

Extraction Method: Steam distillation

Suitable Blending Oils: Beautiful with spice oils and woods. Lovely with flower oils. Lemon fragranced citruses.

Breaking Down the Peru Balsam Essential Oil’s Chemical Components

    • Benzyl benzoate: 59.0–86.2%
    • (E)-Benzyl cinnamate: 0.4–30%
    • 1% Benzoic acid: 1.4–6.3%
    • (E)-Cinnamic acid: 0–5.8%
    • (E)-Nerolidol: 2.0–3.1%
    • (E)-Methyl cinnamate: tr–1.7%
    • Benzyl alcohol: 1.3–1.6%

Tisserand, Robert, Young, Rodney. Essential Oil Safety (p. 1565). Elsevier Health Sciences. Kindle Edition. 

Historical Uses of Peru Balsam Essential Oil

The word Balsam has a Semitic root Beshem which means fragrant spice or resin. 

Found from Mexico to Brazil, the sap has been used for centuries and in the 16th century became known as the “Black Gold” of El Salvador. The trade for Peru Balsam grew and so, the search for trees grew too. Eventually, in the 1900s, Peru Balsam was declared the national tree of El Salvador. The name of the oil is misleading, since it does not, and never has come from Peru. The name derives from the ancient conquistadors shipping it back from Spain. To fox pirates, ships carrying “Black Gold” would leave port in Peru. (Estes, 1995).

Myroxylon Pereirae is a beautiful tree related to the bean family. The trees are large, growing to around 130 ft tall, high above the canopy. Its long evergreen leaves hang in clusters of between 5–13 leaflets. It produces pretty white flowers with bright yellow stamens that then change into a long pod of around 10 cm which contains just one seed. 

It produces a wood that is extremely resilient to all climates and so is well sought after for civil construction but also furniture and musical instruments. 

The Essential Oil is steam distilled from a resin exuded from the bark which is also well sought after for church incense too. 

All parts of the tree are aromatic and have use, as such, everyone wants a piece of it, and the status of Peru Balsam is currently listed as being near threatened, this was further complicated by the fact that Peru Balsam had been confused with another tree. When this was discovered, it was realized that the situation was worse than had been previously thought. Planting efforts are underway to rebuild the species. 

Although Peru Balsam does have excellent medicinal properties, today it is mainly used by the perfumery and food and drink industries. 

Its rich, deep flavor is often used to add richness to coffee and colas, and it brings a gorgeous depth to fragrance blends.

To be clear, though, the amounts used in flavorings are considerably lower than we use in aromatherapy. According to the Natural and Non-Prescription Health Products Directorate, the license for oral consumption in Peru is 0.0015%. 

We do not advise ingestion of Peru Balsam Essential Oil.

There can be some confusion between Peru Balsam, also known as Balsam of Peru, and Balsam of Tolu, a different resin obtained from another Myroxylon species

The balsams are also extracted differently, traditionally performed by skilled people called Balsameras.

Balsam can be extracted from the trees when they reach around 25-30 years old. As the tree ages, the trees’ productivity improves. 

To extract Peru Balsam, Balsameras climb high up into the branches to source the best trees. These have dark-colored barks, much richer with resin than their lighter compatriots. The bark is then scorched and beaten to tighten it.  Then a kind of rectangular checkerboard pattern is cut into the tree, and intermittent strips of bark are removed. Take one, leave one, so some of the bark is left intact. The exposed trunk is then covered with cloth strips to absorb any seeping balsam but the removed strips are the operational pieces.

These are removed and left out in the sun for about a week, to soften and relax again, before being crushed and squeezed in hot water to soften the balsam to make it easier to extract. The tree bandages are also soaked and in both cases, balsam sinks to the bottom of the water to then be decanted. 

Up to 18 "tappings" can be made each year at approximately two-week intervals.

To extract tolu balsam, rather than burning the tree, tiny incisions are made into the bark to encourage the tree to “bleed”, into a vessel attached to the tree. This can be done three times a year.

Tolu is brownish-yellow and becomes very brittle when exposed to air. Peru of Balsam is a very dark cola brown and remains like treacle. (Planet.net, 2020)

The balsam contains around 30% resin and 70% volatile compounds which are then released by distillation. 

You may also see a resin version extracted by vacuum-dry distillation. As such, this is a much thinner oil, easier to use in diffusers, for example, but that lacks the depth that the resin version obtained by steam distillation has.

What is Peru Balsam Essential Oil Good For?

The FDA, rightly, prevents us from saying that we can diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease and further no properties of Peru Balsam have yet been scientifically elucidated. As such we rely upon traditional medicine and experience gained for specific chemicals found within its makeup. 

The tree has always played a valuable part in the medicine of the First Nation People of the area. This was recorded extensively in  1570, when conquistador Francisco Hernandez, compiled an extensive record of the natural history of the Mexican territory. 

Hernandez, a Spanish physician and historian from the Spanish, sailed to the “new world,” to document the knowledge of indigenous doctors. In his Natural History of New Spain, he talks about the benefits of a “balsam of the Indians” and reports the native peoples calling it hoitzilóxit.

Battaglia also notes that in 1565 Monardes also wrote of the tree and that the physicians who taught him called it xilo.

Hernandez writes: 

“Making incisions in the bark or the trunk of this tree, that precious liquid is distilled, which is famous all over the world, and yet praised enough, which they call Balsam.”

He claims it is useful for “Warding off and combating innumerable kinds of illnesses”. 

Peru Balsam Essential Oil for Respiratory Support

Various sources show Peru Balsam being used for coughs, colds, bronchitis, throat and pharynx infections and to reduce fevers. 

Peru Balsam is a wonderful expectorant. (It is added to some cough syrups). It is a great oil to inhale in steam to loosen painful unproductive coughs. 

Useful for both Catarrh and Asthma. (Squire, 2022).

Peru Balsam Essential Oil for Supporting Genito-Urinary Health

Hernandez wrote how he had seen it do wonderful things for the “Impurities of the kidneys and bladder.” In Victorian pharmacopeia, it was used to treat various descriptions of discharges including “gleets' ' which is the urinary discharge that derives from gonorrhea. (Squire, 2022).

Anti-Parasitic Properties of Benzyl Benzoate

Benzyl benzoate has antiphrastic abilities and is used to treat lice and scabies infestations. (Alberici et al. 2000; Sule and Thacher 2007; Goutam et al. 2016).

It is believed that the chemical destroys lice and mites by acting on their nervous system when they absorb it. It is also toxic to the mites’ eggs, though the exact mechanism of how that could happen is unknown. In vitro, benzyl benzoate has been found to kill the mites of the Sarcoptic bug that causes scabies within 5 minutes.

Peru Balsam Essential Oil for Skin Healing

When the Spanish found the tree, it was being cultivated in the royal gardens and was used to make leaf compresses designed to speed wound healing. Historically, Peru Balsam has been used against a range of skin conditions, such as poorly healing wounds, bed sores, eczema, itchy skin, hemorrhoids, and anal pruritus (de Groot 2019). 

It is used in the local treatment of burns and wounds as an antiseptic. It is excellent for chapped skin and rashes. The Companion to British Pharmacopoeia cites it for “chronic indolent ulcers” (they don’t sound great, do they?) and for cracked nipples. (Squire, 2022) It is likely to be the mixture of benzyl benzoate and benzyl cinnamate that confers the mild antiseptic action to the Balsam. (Planet.net, 2020).

All that said, there are reasons to be cautious of using Peru Balsam Essential Oil for the skin.

Is Peru Balsam Essential Oil Safe To Use?

There are high incidences of allergies with Peru Balsam, It contains many strong potentially irritant compounds. A study done in 2001 suggested that as many as 3.8% of the general population may be sensitive to it, making it one of the top five allergens found in dermatology. 

In particular, it contains some compounds common to tomatoes and can often be seen as a cross-allergen. 

Therefore It is not advised for people who have very reactive allergic skin or are allergic to tomatoes.

Tisserand and Young place their maximum dilution of Peru Balsam Essential Oil at 0.4%.

Do not use it on children under the age of two. Their skins are too delicate.

Given the moderate risk of skin sensitization, it is advisable to do a small patch test of Peru Balsam Essential Oil, on the inside of the arm, 24 hours before using it on more of the body.

Peru Balsam Essential Oil for Hair

Traditionally used in hair treatments against dandruff.

Sacred Use of Peru Balsam

In those original notes about Peru Balsam, Hernandez states that drinking the balsam preserves “youthful vigor for a long time.”

This may not be a comment about beauty. By “a long time”, he may mean for centuries, since Peru Balsam was used to embalm Inca mummies.

When conquistadors returned to Europe with the beautiful Peru Balsam resin, they immediately took word of their findings about embalming back to Rome. The find was deemed to be most fortuitous since “Mecca Balsam” from Alexandria was beginning to become sparse and as such incredibly expensive. So much so that the Catholic Church was spending incredible amounts to manufacture Holy Chrism. Replacing “The Balm of Gilead” with another source was deemed to be a brilliant idea that would save them money and be much less hassle.

A Papic bull “Given at Rome, at St Peter's under the Fisherman's ring, this 2nd day of August 1571, in the 6th year of our Pontificate” [Pius V] declared Peru Balsam could be used in substitution for Balm of Gilead for the preparation of the Holy Chrism. The letter describes how the Holy Council had prayed extensively on the matter and had been swayed by how good Peru Balsam was for healing wounds. By diluting it into olive oil it would make an excellent oil for healing the sick. 

This led to them declaring that any destruction of the trees was to be deemed sacrilegious.

It is said there were two sets of these papers. One set is now lost somewhere in the Vatican archives copies but still exists in Guatemala (which was originally part of Salvador). (Hanbury, 1861).

Peru Balsam Essential Oil Uses: For Wholesale Purposes

Aromatherapy

Beautifully soothing and reassuring. 

It also has applications for romantic and aphrodisiac blends.

Soap Making

Peru Balsam is used extensively in soap making to add a cheaper alternative to Vanilla. The Balsam is very dark, however, and will give a slightly brown tinge to the soap.

Natural Perfumery

Very strong fixative. Deep and seductive. Hints of the smoke still linger in the oil.

While Peru Balsam is well sought after for its powerful fixative qualities for perfume, its uses are limited because it is so incredibly thick and not particularly miscible.

Peru Balsam Essential Oil Blends: DIY Recipes

Wound Healing Oil

Method of Preparation: Blend the Peru Balsam into the Tamanu first, then add the other oils.

Method of use: Apply sparingly close to, but not over, the injury. Apply five times a day.

Safety: Not suitable for use in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. Use with care if suffering from high blood pressure. Do a skin test 24 hours before using over a large area. 

Chest Infection Oil

Method of Preparation: Blend the Peru Balsam into the Tamanu first, then add the other oils. 

Method of use: Apply liberally over the chest and over the back five times a day. If it’s difficult to apply there, remember that the oils absorb through the skin and into the bloodstream. Therefore, simply apply to the pulse points inside of the wrist. 

Safety: Not suitable for use in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. Use with care if suffering from high blood pressure. Do skin tests 24 hours before using over a large area. Do not use if you have platelet disorder or are on blood thinning medication. Cease use 48 hours before planned surgery. Not suitable for use on children under the age of six.

Cystitis Massage Oil 

Method of Preparation: Blend the Peru Balsam into the Tamanu first, then add the other oils. 

Method of use: Apply liberally over the abdomen and lower back five times a day for a week. If it’s difficult to apply there, remember that the oils absorb through the skin and into the bloodstream. Therefore, simply apply to the pulse points inside of the wrist.

Safety: Not suitable for use during pregnancy. Use with care if suffering from high blood pressure. Do skin tests 24 hours before using over a large area. Not suitable for use by people who have chronic kidney infections.

Precautions

A reminder to do a small sin test because of the high numbers of people allergic to some of the constituents.

Peru Balsam Essential Oil may stimulate high blood pressure. (This is cited by many sources, however, I cannot find evidence to either support or discredit this. The stimulating nature of some of the ingredients suggests that it probably should be so.)

It would be safe to use Peru Balsam after 16 weeks of pregnancy.

Note that Benzyl Benzoate is considered toxic to cats.

Why Choose VINEVIDA

At VINEVIDA, we love botanicals and the planet they come from. We believe in stocking the best at affordable prices and supplying to the discerning, which is why we are also members of both the Alliance of International Aromatherapists and the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy. In recognition of our excellent standard of product, we are proud to hold a 2021 Certificate of Registration as a Cosmetic Products Establishment with the U.S. Drugs and Food Administration.

Our joy at seeing people make beautiful things means we stock from the smallest amounts to the largest. Our “bulk Essential Oils” prices begin with our smallest Essential Oil of 10ml to our largest of 396lb, meaning any manufacturing company can afford to stock as many or as few oils as their business can accommodate without running the risk of spoilage of some of nature’s most precious commodities. So why not see if you can save money by buying your Peru Balsam Essential Oil in bulk? Remember how stable it is proven to be, so as long as you store it carefully, it should last and last.

Don’t forget too, we like to look after our customers with reasonable prices and excellent customer service and reward the loyal ones with money-off discounts over the year. 

Conclusion

So, why not check out if you qualify for our loyalty scheme and start saving today with an environmentally friendly choice of oil for skin, hair, massage oils, and soap making? Add VINEVIDA Peru Balsam Essential Oil to your cart today.

 



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Balsam (Peru) Essential Oil

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