What You Need to Know About Balsam of Peru

Black balsam trees
Black balsam trees. Joseph Cattoni/Moment Open/Getty Images

What is Balsam of Peru?

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

It smells like vanilla and is an antiseptic. Balsam of Peru is found in many body care products such as shampoo, conditioner and lotion.

Balsam of Peru may also be known as: Myroxylon balsamum, balsam of tolu, balsam tree, black balsam, Indian balsam

Uses for Balsam of Peru

1)  Skin conditions, such as wounds, bedsores, hemorrhoids

Balsam of Peru has antiseptic properties.

Some alternative medicine practitioners suggest it as a short-term remedy for the healing of minor wounds. It usually isn't recommended for longer than several days due to potential side effects.

2)  Sore nipples

Balsam of Peru is sometimes used in alternative medicine as a topical remedy for sore nipples. However, it should never be used by breastfeeding or nursing women as it can poison the baby.

3) Colds, cough, sore throat, bronchitis

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

Caveats

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the side effects of regular or long-term use of Balsam of Peru.

When used topically, Balsam of Peru may result in skin inflammation, irritation, and allergic reactions.

Balsam of Peru should not be applied over open wounds.

Used internally or topically, Balsam of Peru has been linked to kidney damage in large doses or prolonged use.

Allergic reactions have occurred 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.

Using Balsam of Peru for Health

Due to the lack of research (and knowledge of potential side effects), it's too soon to recommend Balsam of Peru as a treatment for any condition.

 It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using it, make sure to consult your physician first.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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