- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Peru balsam

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A fragrant, thick, deep brown or black fluid used in perfumery.

Description

A fragrant, thick, deep brown or black fluid used in perfumery. It is a true balsam, the product of a lofty leguminous tree, Myroxylon pereirae, growing in a limited area in El Salvador and introduced into Sri Lanka. In the 19th century the city of La Libertad in southwestern El Salvador was developed as a shipping outlet for balsam produced in Peru, a variety of balsam yielded from El Salvador's coastal forests.

It is said that the early Spanish in South America so jealously guarded the medicinal product that every ounce of it had to pass through their customs in Peru. The name it thus acquired is still used. It is mentioned in pharmacopoeias but has no medicinal value.

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