Evergreen tree growing to 115 ft (35 m). Has grey bark, compound leaves dotted with oil glands, white pea-like flowers, and yellow seed pods.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to Central America, Peruvian balsam grows wild in tropical forests. It is cultivated in Central and South America and India. Oleoresin (balsam) is taken from cuts in the bark.
The oleoresin contains 50–65% volatile oil (mainly benzyl benzoate and benzyl cinnamate) and resins.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Peruvian balsam is strongly antiseptic and stimulates repair of damaged tissue. It is most commonly taken internally as an expectorant and anti-mucus remedy to treat bronchitis, emphysema, and bronchial asthma. It may also be taken to treat sore throats and diarrhea, and applied topically to skin disorders.
The balsam from similar species was used by the Inca to relieve fevers and colds.
Peruvian balsam may cause allergic skin reactions.