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Botanical Name : Myroxlon pereirae
Myroxlon pereirae is a tall perennial woody plant having a main trunk and branches forming a distinct elevated crown; includes both gymnosperms and angiosperms. The tree is large, growing to 40 metres (130 ft) tall, with evergreen pinnate leaves 15 centimetres (5.9 in) long, with 5–13 leaflets. The flowers are white with yellow stamens, produced in racemes. The fruit is a pod 7–11 centimetres (2.8–4.3 in) long, containing a single seed. The tree is often called Quina or Balsamo, Tolu in Colombia, Quina quina in Argentina, and sometimes Santos Mahogany or Cabreuva in the lumber trade.
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The Myroxylon pereirae resin (MP; balsam of Peru) is a natural resin used in the local treatment of burns and wounds. M. pereirae extracts and distillates are very often contained in a wide range of cosmetic products and causes frequently allergic contact dermatitis – to the extent of being considered an allergy marker to perfumes. We have carried out a retrospective study of 863 patients who have been submitted to patch tests from January 2002 to June 2004. A total of 50 patients were positive to MP. Thus, the prevalence was 5.79%, slightly higher in men (7.32%) than in women (4.91%). The positive patch tests were relevant in 64%. Over the last years, it appears that there is a clear increase of the prevalence of the sensitization to MP in all the studies published. We observe an increase of the prevalence especially in aged patients, where the sensitization is linked with the use of topical medications secondary to stasis dermatitis. The high frequency of allergy to MP in our area might be associated with manipulation of citrus fruits. The increasing use of cosmetic products by the male population can also be held responsible for the higher sensitization rate in this group of patients.
Balsam of Peru has been in the US Pharmacopeia since 1820 used for bronchitis, laryngitis, dysmenorrhea, diarrhea, dysentery and leucorrhea and has also been used as a food flavoring and fragrance material for its aromatic vanilla like-odor. Today it is used extensively in topical preparations for the treatment of wounds, ulcers, and scabies, and can be found in hair tonics, anti-dandruff preparations, feminine hygiene sprays and as a natural fragrance in soaps, detergents, creams, lotions and perfumes.
Peruvian balsam is strongly antiseptic and stimulates repair of damaged tissue. It is usually taken internally as an expectorant and decongestant to treat emphysema, bronchitis, and bronchial asthma. It may also be taken to treat sore throats and diarrhea. Externally, the balsam is applied to skin afflictions. It also stimulates the heart, increases blood pressure and lessens mucus secretions. Traditionally used for rheumatic pain and skin problems including scabies, diaper rash, bedsores, prurigo, eczema, sore nipples and wounds. It also destroys the itch acarus and its eggs.
Other Uses :
The wood is dark brown, with a deep red heartwood. Natural oils grant it excellent decay resistance. In fact, it is also resistant to preservative treatment. Its specific gravity is 0.74 to 0.81.
As regards woodworking, the tree is moderately difficult to work but can be finished with a high natural polish; it tends to cause some tool dulling.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
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