Balsam of Tolu

“The human body heals itself and nutrition provides the resources to accomplish the task.”

~ Roger Williams

In countries such as Brazil, Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia, you are able to find an herb, Balsam of Tolu, from a tall tree. It is also known as Balsam of Peru because it was initially brought in from Peru, although nowadays it’s no longer the case.

In the same way you would get the valuable properties from a rubber tree, the resin from this tree is what is the most valuable resource. When the gummy resin is retrieved from the tree, it is made into balsam. The three countries — Columbia, El Salvador, and Venezuela — are the major exporters.

Balsam of Tolu was utilized, in the past, to treat colds, asthma, arthritis, and wounds by Mexican and Central American tribes. The bark had multiple uses. In powder form, some native Indians used it as underarm deodorant while others used it to treat cold and lung problems. Often Balsam of Tolu was used by the rainforest tribes to heal people from asthma, sores, sprains, headache, and bronchitis, among other conditions.

As this herbal plant grew more popular, the Europeans desired to partake in the process and before long the Germans started using it for pharmaceutical purposes. They discovered that Balsam of Tolu was effective for antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic purpose. So they swiftly began to use it for ringworm, bedsores, scabies, wounds, and diaper rash. Today, it is used very often in topical salves for the treatment of wounds, ulcers, and scabies. This herb also can be found in hair tonics, anti-dandruff shampoo, women’s hygiene sprays,  and as a organic scent in detergents, soaps, creams, lotions, and perfumes. The Unites States in the early 1800’s, started to use it to aid in coughing and with respiratory problems.

Since Balsam of Tolu tastes and smells like vanilla, it was typically added to create flavoring to soft drinks, cough syrups, and chewing gums. Balsam of Tolu is now readily available in the U.S. The essential oil extracted from the gum is put into small bottles to be sold and used topically in aromatherapy. The fragrance is therapeutic and soothing. It is effective in creating meditative and calming state. No wonder it’s in great demand by those who practice aromatherapy.

Balsam of Tolu has a highly distinctive scent which makes it ideal for exotic floral fragrances. Topically, it can be applied to treat skin parasites like scabies and head lice as well as for skin rashes and eczema. Balsam of Tolu is a type of sensitizing oil. That means, unlike other herbal oils, it could be a skin irritant to folks who tend to be allergic to herbs and plants.


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