Balsam of Tolu, sometimes referred to as tolu balsam, derives from the aromatic balsam tree. The name “Tolu” was taken from a tribe of people known as the Tolues that once lived in Columbia. These native people used the resin from the balsam tree mainly for healing purposes. The fragrance released from the balsam tree is similar to vanilla with a spicy hint of cinnamon.
Native Americans were known to turn the bark of the balsam into a powder which was used as a type of deodorant. Europeans soon caught word of the healing properties of tolu balsam and were using this new found treatment to help heal ringworm, wounds, and diaper rash. Topical salves that are manufactured today can be found with balsam of tolu as an ingredient. Some products you purchase may have balsam of tolu including fragrances, shampoos, soaps, lotions and feminine hygiene sprays.
The resin from the balsam tree has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments. Even today pharmaceutical companies use tolu balsam to flavor medications like cough syrups. Researchers have not released any information on whether balsam tolu can treat any medical conditions. However, it is commonly relied on as an herbal remedy for colds, headaches, and upset stomachs. The aroma produced from the tolu balsam is said to be comforting and has been recommended for relaxing or during meditations.
Herbal companies produce tolu balsam essential oil that many individuals use to treat certain skin conditions. Adding a small amount to a steamy bath may help treat conditions such as eczema, bedsores, scabies, rashes and even dry, cracked breast nipples. Undiluted essential oils from tolu balsam have reportedly caused allergic reactions to the skin in some individuals.
The essential oils found today are commonly collected from trees found in Venezuela and Columbia but at one time Peru was the main exporter of tolu balsam and was once called Balsam of Peru. The gummy resin is collected by tapping into the tree when they are approximately 20 years old and will produce just over six pounds of resin each year.
Tolu balsam is a sensitizing oil meaning that it has a higher chance of causing an allergic reaction in individuals than other essential oils. Those who are sensitive or have allergies to herbs and other aromatic plants may have an increased probability of an allergic reaction to tolu of balsam. If you experience a reaction to balsam of tolu, you should avoid using the product and any products that may contain the oils.