balsam tree

Balsam tree – Myroxylon balsamum (L.) Harms,




Homeland – South America: the lower reaches of the Magdalena River (provinces of Tolu, etc.), Venezuela and Brazil. A species close to M. pereira Klotsch; larger tree (up to 25 m).

The resin is obtained from cuts in the bark in many places of the trunk (up to 20) in the form of the letter V with a depression at the bottom, where vessels (hollowed dry gourds) are hung. The collection is made annually and lasts within 8 months.

Fresh balsam (Balsamum Tolutanum, Rsina Tolutana) is a thick, yellow-brown liquid, with a very pleasant, characteristic odor, hardens very quickly, turning into a shiny, crystalline red-brown mass, easily rubbed into an amber-yellow powder. Contains up to 80% resin and within 7.5% cinnamein. The resin is an ester of resin alcohols and cinnamic and benzoic acids. Used as an expectorant, antiseptic and flavoring agent.

The plant contains balsams (oil-resins).



Like essential oils, resins are complex mixtures of various organic compounds. In plants, they are often present simultaneously with essential oils, but may be accompanied by substances from other groups of natural compounds – gums, tannins, sterols, sometimes rubber.

According to the primary composition, there are three main groups of natural resins:

– resins (actually) – Rsina;

– oil-resin, or balms, – Olea-resina, or Balsama. These are liquid resins, which are natural solutions of resins in their own essential oil;

– gum resins – Gummi-resina. These are liquid (in living plants) mixtures of gums and resins dissolved in essential oil (more precisely, Cummi-olea-resina).

The resins themselves, freed from accompanying substances, like the components of essential oils, are also terpenoids, but more complex, belonging mainly to the class of diterpenes (C 20 H 32 ).

Resin hydrocarbons (for example, pimaradiene), their oxygen derivatives, resinol or resin acids (for example, abietic and pimaric acids) and resinol or resin alcohols (for example, cafestol) are distinguished among resin diterpenes.


Among the resinols, rezitannols or tannols, which have the properties of tannins, are distinguished into a special group. Resinols can form esters.

The constituent substances of resins can be triterpene acids and alcohols – derivatives of a- and b-amirin (for example, mastic tree), lignans (for example, guaiac resin), etc.

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