Balsam

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Balsam (also: turpentine) is the resinous exudate (or sap) from living trees and shrubs.

Balsams usually contain benzoic acid or cinnamic acid. The term balsamic, as in balsamic vinegar, is derived from balsam. Some balsams, such as Balsam of Peru, may be associated with allergies.[1][2]

Chemistry[edit]

Balsam is a solution of plant-specific resins in plant-specific solvents (essential oils). Such resins can include resin acids, esters, or alcohols. The exudate is a mobile to highly viscous liquid and often contains crystallized resin particles. Over time and as a result of other influences the exudate loses its liquidizing components or gets chemically converted into a solid material (i.e., by autoxidation).[3]

Some balsams, such as Balsam of Peru, may be associated with allergies.[4][5]

Etymology[edit]

The perfume extracted from the sap of the tree Commiphora opobalsamum is designated in the Bible by various names: bosem, besem, ẓori, nataf, and, in rabbinic literature, kataf, balsam, appobalsamon, afarsemon. It was the only tropical, and the most expensive, spice grown in Israel.[6] It was known to Pliny (Historia Naturalis 12:116; 13.18) as opobalsamum.[7] Balsam is also known as Balsam of Mecca.[8]

Apparently, the balsam of the Bible also signifies some remedy compounded of balsam sap and other ingredients. The Balm of Gilead is mentioned as having healing properties. Balsam was an ingredient of the incense (ketoret) burned in the Tabernacle.[6]

At present the tree Commiphora opobalsamum grows wild in the valley of Mecca where it is called beshem. Many strains of this species are found, some in Somalia and Yemen. As a perfume it is hardly used today. It serves in the Orient as a healing agent for wounds and as an antidote to snakebite and the sting of scorpions.[6]

List of balsams[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Edward T. Bope, Rick D. Kellerman (2013). Conn's Current Therapy 2014: Expert Consult. Elsevier Health Sciences. Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Balsam of Peru induced contact allergy", DermatitisFacts.com. Accessed: October 11, 2007
  3. ^ Klemens Fiebach; Dieter Grimm (2007), "Resins, Natural", Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry (7th ed.), Wiley, p. 2 
  4. ^ Edward T. Bope, Rick D. Kellerman (2013). Conn's Current Therapy 2014: Expert Consult. Elsevier Health Sciences. Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Balsam of Peru induced contact allergy", DermatitisFacts.com. Accessed: October 11, 2007
  6. ^ a b c Jehuda Feliks (2007), "Balsam", Encyclopaedia Judaica 3 (2nd ed.), Thomson Gale, p. 95 
  7. ^ "opobalsamum", Oxford Latin Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 1968, p. 1254 
  8. ^ Lumír O. Hanuš et al. (2005), "Myrrh-Commiphora Chemistry", Biomed. Papers 149 (1): 3–23