Habitat. Central America (San Salvador), in woods near the coast.
Syn. Bals. Peruv., Peru Balsam, Balsamum Peruvianum Nigrum, Balsamum Indicum, Black Balsam; Fr. Baume - du Perou, - de Sonsonate, - des Indes; Ger. Perubalsam, Indischer Balsam.
To-lu-if e-ra. L. tolu + fero, ferre, to bear, producing tolu or an allied balsam - i. e., it was brought first from Tolu, now Santiago de Tolu in U. S. Colombia.
Per-ei'rae. L. of Pereira - i. e., in memory of Jonathan Pereira (1804-1853), the author of Elements of Materia Medica, and Professor to the British Pharmaceutical Society, who visited S. America to study these and many other plants.
Pe-ru-vi-a'num. L. adj. form, fr. peruvianus of or pertaining to Peru - i.e., the secretion.
Plant. - Handsome tree, 15-25 M. (50-80°) high, branching 2.5 M. (8°) above ground; leaves 6-10, alternate, 15-20 Cm. (6-8') long, imparipinnate; leaflets 5-7.5 Cm. (2-3') long, oblong-ovate, hairy, puckered margin; flowers 12 Mm. (1/2') long, whitish, tomentose, racemes; fruit 1-seeded legume 10 Cm. (4') long, yellowish-brown. Balsam (of Peru), is a viscid, dark brown liquid, free from stringi-ness or stickiness, transparent and reddish-brown in thin layers; odor agreeable, vanilla-like; taste bitter, acrid, persistent, burning sensation in the throat when swallowed; does not harden on exposure; soluble in alcohol, chloroform, glacial acetic acid with slight opalescence, partly soluble in ether, petroleum benzin; agitated with water - latter acid to litmus; sp. gr. 1.140. Tests: 1. Shake 1 Gm. with hydrated chloral (3) in distilled water (2) - clear solution (abs. of fixed oils). 2. Shake 1 Gm. with purified petroleum benzin (5), warm 10 minutes, replacing loss by evaporation, evaporate 2 Ml. (Cc.) - no turpentine odor, and residue treated with few drops of nitric acid - not green or bluish (abs. of turpentine, rosin). Dose, v-30 (.3-2 Ml. (Cc.)).
Commercial. - Plants grow wild in forests, either isolated or in groups, occasionally in apparent rows suggesting original planting, but there is no evidence of regular plantations, do not thrive above 300 M. (1,000°) elevation, bear fragrant flowers, and begin yielding balsam at the fifth year, continuing for thirty or more thereafter. Balsam, a pathological product that owes its qualities to neither wood nor bark but to the special treatment of the trees, is collected by the aborigines in a district reserved to them, Sonsonate, Balsam Coast,extending from Acajutla to La Libertad, San Salvador. After the last rains, Nov.-April, the outer cortical portion is scraped from the trunk and stout branches in alternating strips (or squares, 12'; 30 Cm.) an eighth of an inch (3 Mm.) deep, to which are applied burning torches until half-charred and then pieces of raw cotton or old cloth (made to adhere by punching with a machete), which are allowed to remain until saturated, 1-2 days, then collected and boiled in large iron pots, liberating most of the balsam, and finally squeezed in a primitive machine - the product being caught in large bladders, gourds, or wooden bowls, and when cool known as "raw balsam," that may be refined on the spot by a second boiling and straining, or sent to the towns for further purification and packing for market, in screw-top tin canisters, 60 pounds (27 Kg.). As long as the wounds are kept open there usually is some flow, and if the process is conducted carefully the lower ones will heal while the upper and fresher are being worked; when trees have been tapped six consecutive seasons a rest of 2-3 years renders the product more abundant and satisfactory, while a longer period, 5-6 years in every 20, assures a continued yield; each tree averages 2-5 pounds (1-2.5 Kg.) annually. It is exported from Acajutla (Pacific coast) and Belize (Atlantic coast) in jars, metallic canisters, drums, etc. There also is obtained from the fruit by expression a white semi-fluid substance, Balsamo bianco, having the odor of Tonka and the appearance of Tolu, but, in spite of containing a crystalline resin, myroxocarpin, it is entirely distinct from Tolu or Peru. The natives prepare from the fruit with rum a tincture or alcoholic extract, Balsamito, which is used as a stimulant, anthelmintic, diuretic, and externally for indolent ulcers, freckles, etc., while there often exudes from the trees a gum-resin containing 77.4 p. c. of resin, but no aromatic principle or cinnamic acid. Balsam of Peru was considered formerly to be from Myroxylon peruiferum, a different tree flourishing in Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, whose product reached Europe via Peru (Callao), hence its name, being a fragrant balsam resembling Tolu and at Rio called Olea vermelho.
Constituents. - Benzoic acid-benzyl ester, Cinnamein (volatile oil) 56-66 p. c., Resin 16-25 p. c., Cinnamic and Benzoic acids 23 p. c, Vanillin.
Fig. 194. - Toluifera Pereirae.
Benzoic acid-benzyl ester. - The chief active constituent is a colorless oily liquid, boiling at 173° C. (344° F.), congealing at 32° C. (90° F.), and may readily be made synthetically.
Cinnamein. - Consists largely of benzoic acid-benzyl ester, and to a small extent of cinnamic acid-benzyl ester, both esters being separated easily by fractional distillation in vacuo, and thus obtained pure possess the characteristics, chemical and therapeutical, of the synthetic esters; the cinnamic acid-benzyl ester boils at 213° C. (416° F.), and congeals at 37° C. (99° F.).
Resin. - Consists of peru-resinotannol combined with benzoic and cinnamic acids, soluble in caustic alkali, and when in solution precipitated by carbon dioxide, insoluble in carbon disulphide; on dry distillation yields benzoic acid, styrol, and toluol, C7H8.
Preparations - (Unoff.): Alcoholic Solution. Capsules. Emulsion. Mistura Oleo-Balsamica, 1.6 p. c., + eugenol, oils of cinnamon, lavender, lemon, myristica, thyme, each .4, alcohol q. s. 100 (nervine). Ointment. Syrup.
Properties. - Stimulant, expectorant, disinfectant, vulnerary, stomachic. It is eliminated by bronchial mucous membrane, kidneys, and skin, stimulating and disinfecting their secretions.
Uses. - Chronic catarrh, asthma, phthisis, gonorrhoea, amenorrhoea, rheumatism, palsy; externally on indolent ulcers, scabies, ringworm, tonsillar diphtheria, bronchitis, tuberculosis of the skin, bone, or larynx, chilblains, eczema, for masking the odor of iodoform in ointment.