Peru Balsam (Myroxylon balsamum)
Peru balsam is the dark, aromatic soft resin of the Peru balsam tree. This tree is native to El Salvador and Guatemala in Central America. The stately tree belongs to the butterfly family.
The value-determining ingredients of Peru balsam are 50-70 percent of an ester mixture (mainly of benzoic and cinnamic acid), resins and other benzoic and cinnamic acid derivatives.
Perubalsam was highly valued by local indigenous peoples long before the arrival of the Europeans for its antibiotic effect and support of wound healing. The resin is obtained by cutting into and torching the trunk bark of trees over 10 years old. It has an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and local anaesthetic effect. It also promotes the formation of new skin on wounds and has an antiparasitic effect on scabies mites. The main areas of application for the external use of Peru balsam are inflamed, poorly healing wounds, but also burns, sore skin areas, lower leg ulcers as well as prosthesis pressure points, chilblains and haemorrhoids.
Peru balsam was always considered a precious commodity. Thus, the resin served as a substitute for frankincense, which was not available in America. There, it was allowed to be used instead of the consecrated anointing oil due to a papal bull of 1571.