Tolu Balsam

Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Balsam, Balsam Tolu, Bálsamo de Tolú, Balsamum Tolutanum, Baume de Tolu, Baumier du Pérou, Myroxylon balsamum, Myroxylon balsamum var. balsamum, Opobalsam, Resin Tolu, Resina Tolutana, Thomas Balsam, Toluifera balsamum, Tolu, Toluiferum Balsamum.


Tolu balsam is a sap-like substance that comes from the Myroxylon balsamum tree. It is used as medicine.

People take tolu balsam for cough, bronchitis, swollen airways, and cancer.

Tolu balsam is applied directly to the skin to treat bedsores, cracked nipples, cracked lips, and minor skin cuts.

Some people inhale tolu balsam to treat hoarseness and croup.

In foods, tolu balsam is used to flavor chewing gum, foods, and beverages.

In manufacturing, tolu balsam is used as a fixative, as a fragrance in soaps and cosmetics, and as a flavoring in cough medicines.

How does it work?

Tolu balsam contains ingredients that help break up congestion. It might also work as a skin protectant.


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Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Cancer.
  • Cough.
  • Bronchitis.
  • Swollen airways.
  • Bedsores, when applied to the affected area.
  • Cracked nipples, when applied to the affected area.
  • Cracked lips, when applied to the affected area.
  • Minor skin cuts, when applied to the affected area.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of tolu balsam for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Tolu balsam is safe in food amounts and seems safe for use as a medicine when taken by mouth. There isn’t enough information to know if it is safe when applied to the skin as a medicine.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of tolu balsam during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Fever: Don’t take tolu balsam if you have a fever or a condition that involves swelling.

Kidney disease: There is concern that tolu balsam might make kidney disease worse. Don’t use it if you have kidney problems.

Tolu balsam allergy: Don’t take tolu balsam if you are allergic to it.


The appropriate dose of tolu balsam depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for tolu balsam. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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