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Some Uses of Balsam Of Peru - Interactions occuring with Balsam Of Peru

Taxonomic Class

Fabaceae

Common Trade Names

None known.

Common Forms

Many commercial products, such as conditioners, lotions, salves, and shampoos, contain small quantities of balsam of Peru .

Source

Balsam of Peru is obtained from a boiled extract of battered and scorched tree bark of Myroxylon pereirae (M. balsamum). The balsam of Peru tree, a legume, grows in Florida, Central America, and Peru.

Chemical components

Balsam of Peru is 50% to 65% cinnamein, a volatile oil, and 20% to 28% resin. Cinnamein is composed of benzoic acid esters, benzyl alcohol, benzyl cinnamate; cinnamic acid esters (such as styracin), and the ester form of the alcohol peruviol, often considered equivalent to nerolidol (a sesquiterpene alcohol). Coumarin, styrene, and vanillin occur in trace amounts. The resin contains benzoic and cinnamic acids.

Actions

Balsam of Peru is reported to possess mild antiseptic and antibacterial properties and is claimed to promote skin growth.

Reported Use

This agent is claimed to be useful as an anthelmintic, an antineoplastic, an antihemorrhoidal drug, a diuretic, an expectorant, a pediculocide, and a stimulant. Balsam of Peru is also used in topical preparations to treat anal pruritus, dandruff, diaper rash, hemorrhoids, indolent ulcers, pressure ulcers, rheumatoid conditions, scabies, wounds, and other skin problems. Dentists have used balsam of Peru in dental impression media and to treat postextraction alveolitis, commonly called dry socket.

Dosage

For hemorrhoids: 1.8- to 3-mg suppositories P.R.

Adverse Reactions

Skin: contact dermatitis (may relate to cinnamein, with frequent use).

Other: systemic toxicity in infants after application on nipples of breast-feeding mother.

Interactions

Sulfur-containing compounds: Separation of resin component from the balsam. Avoid administration with balsam of Peru.

Contraindications And Precautions

Avoid using balsam of Peru in pregnant or breast-feeding patients. Use cautiously in patients who are prone to contact dermatitis.

Special considerations

Advise the patient to watch for allergic reactions to topical forms of balsam of Peru.

Inform the patient that little information exists to support therapeutic claims for internal use.

Advise the female patient to avoid using balsam of Peru during pregnancy or when breast-feeding.

Points of Interest

Balsam of Peru has a pleasing odor and vanilla-like flavor, which make it useful in pharmaceutical preparations as well as shampoos and conditioners. It can also be found in small quantities in baked goods, chocolate candies, frozen dairy desserts, gelatins, puddings, and other food products.

Germany allows use of this agent for many dermatologic conditions.

Balsam of Peru is nearly insoluble in water but soluble in alcohol, chloroform, and glacial acetic acid.

Commentary

Contact dermatitis limits use of balsam of Peru. Few scientific data exists to support the agent for medicinal purposes. Balsam of Peru will probably remain in use only as a fragrance in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.

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