A recent shortage of vanilla has prompted essential oil enthusiasts to look for an alternative. One of the strongest candidates is Peru Balsam, and aside from its wonderful scent, there are a number of other reasons you should add it to your collection.

What Is Peru Balsam?

It is a type of balsam which is extracted from the Myroxylon tree, which can be found in Central America, especially El Salvador, as well as South America. It is used to flavor drinks and food, and is also used as an ingredient in toiletries and perfumes due to its pleasant fragrance.  It has a scent which is best described as being sweet, a combination of coconut and vanilla. It will bring relaxation and calm to those who inhale it. As with many essential oils, it also has a number of medicinal properties.

How Peru Balsam Is Harvested

This balsam appears in the form of a viscous resin which is aromatic. It is produced by making wounds which are V-shaped or scorching the trunk bark of the Myroxylon tree. In response, the tree will release a fluid that is resin and oil like in appearance that is designed to heal the wound, and it can then be collected. The essential oil will then be distilled from it. Peru Balsam consists of over two dozen substances, some of which are benzoic acid, cinnamein, famesol and vanillin.

How Peru Balsam Is Used

This balsam can be used in beverages such as tea, coffee, beer, wine, sodas and juice. It also frequently appears in products that contain tomatoes. It is prized within Italian and Mexican cuisine, and may be used with spices such as Jamaican pepper, Ginger, nutmeg or paprika. It can also be used in sweets such as ice cream, candy, pastries, gum and pudding.

Its nice fragrance makes it the perfect ingredient for perfumes, deodorants and colognes. It may also be used in lipstick, aftershave, shampoos and soap. In regards to its medicinal properties, Peru Balsam is used for the treatment of hemorrhoids, diaper rash, cough suppressant, the healing of wounds, dental care, and within glass that can be used for optics. Like other essential oils, Peru Balsam is extremely versatile and can appear in products which range from insect repellants to air fresheners, scented candles, mouth wash and cleaning solutions.

Caution Regarding Peru Balsam Usage

Peru Balsam has been known to create allergic reactions in some, and thus should be patch tested before usage. It can produce inflammation, swelling, redness, blisters and itching in a small number of individuals. Some have also reported stomatitis, which is soreness and inflammation within the mouth and tongue, as well as cheilitis or inflammation of the lips. However, most people will not experience these side effects which make Peru Balsam the perfect alternative to vanilla while the shortage lasts.