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Balsam of Peru

What Should I Know About It?


Updated June 15, 2014

What is Balsam of Peru?

Also known as: Myroxylon balsamum, balsam of tolu, balsam tree, black balsam, Indian balsam

Balsam of Peru comes from the extracted liquid (called resin) of the bark of the balsam tree.

It smells like vanilla and is an antiseptic, which is why balsam of Peru is found in many products such as shampoo, conditioner and lotion.

Why Do People Use Balsam of Peru

  • Skin conditions, such as wounds, bedsores, leg ulcers, hemorrhoids

    Balsam of Peru is an antiseptic and is believed to promote the healing of minor wounds. It's usually recommended as a short-term remedy only and its use is often limited to no more than one week because of potential side effects.

  • Sore nipples

    Balsam of Peru is sometimes used topically for sore nipples. However, it should never be used by breastfeeding women as it can poison the baby.

  • Colds, cough, sore throat, bronchitis

    Balsam of Peru is thought to be an expectorant that helps to loosen and bring up mucus from the lungs and bronchi.


  • When used topically, balsam of Peru can cause skin inflammation, irritation, and allergic reactions.

  • Balsam of Peru should not be applied over open wounds.

  • Used internally or topically, balsam of Peru can cause kidney damage in large doses or prolonged use.

  • Allergic reactions have occured from internal use.

  • Balsam of Peru should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women.

  • Balsam of Peru should not be used by people using sulfur-containing medications such as Azulfidine or Bactrim.
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