Balsamum Peruvianum

This drug, obtained from the Toluifera pereirae, came to the attention of the earlier Spanish explorers in South America as a substance commonly employed by the natives as a remedy for wounds. It constituted a part of the tribute paid by the natives to the Indian chiefs of Cuscatlan, to whom it was presented in curiously ornamented earthen jars. (This reminds us of the curious jars in which we observed Mastich sold on the island of Scio by the collectors. These jars, holding a few ounces of the purest and clearest tears, have been thus an article of local commerce since before the Moslem rule.) On its first importation into Europe it brought enormous prices, as much as $45 an ounce, and in Rome 100 ducats, or over $200 an ounce. Pope Pius V permitted the Bishop of the Indies to substitute this Balsam of Guatemala for that of Egypt in the preparation of the chrism used in the Catholic churches. Various early descriptions of travelers refer to it more or less enthusiastically, between the conquest of Guatemala (A. D. 1524), and 1628, at which date Hernandez (314) described the tree. From the domestic use of the drug it crept into German pharmacy in the beginning of the seventeenth century. In consequence of the fact that the exports of Guatemala came through the port of Lima, Peru, the misleading name of "Peruvian Balsam" was in the early days affixed to it, paralleling somewhat the record of Mocha coffee, which is not grown in Mocha or even thereabout, but was exported therefrom in the early days of Arabian coffee.

The History of the Vegetable Drugs of the U.S.P., 1911, was written by John Uri Lloyd.