The Cayce Herbal 
 A Comprehensive Guide to the  
Botanical Medicine of Edgar Cayce
Tolu (Balsam)

Botanical Name: Myroxylon balsamum

Common Names and Synonyms: Balsam of Tolu, Balsam Tree, Balsam of Peru

Background: Native to Central America, the leaves and fruits of this slender and straight tree have been used by the indigenous tribes of Mexico and Central America in the treatment of asthma, catarrh, rheumatism, and external wounds. The sap, or balsam, comes mainly from large trees which grow along the coast of  El Salvador, and not Peru, although it received  the name "Peru,"  from the 16th century Spaniards who shipped the resin to Europe from both the Callao and Lima shipping  ports in Peru.  The sap is extracted by tapping, similar to the tapping of rubber trees.  The resin has a fragrance of cinnamon when freshly harvested; the aged resin has the fragrance of vanilla and is highly prized. The finest scent is extracted from the small white flowers.  The "white balsam" from the fruit also has a pleasing scent and is used in hair tonics and soaps. Balsam of Peru has been included in the US Pharmacopeia since 1820, being used for bronchitis, laryngitis, dysmenorrhea, diarrhea, dysentary and leucorrhea. Herbalists use balsam of tolu as an expectorant in cough syrups or tinctures.  It is thought to work mainly with the mucous membranes in the respiratory tract.

Tolu in the Cayce Readings
  • Edgar Cayce recommended tolu in various forms, such as balsam (resin) for use in formulas to be taken internally, powder for use on skin disorders, and as a tincture in mixtures for fume baths.  Taken internally, the balsam of tolu was described as a blood clarifier and systemic cleanser.
  • Tolu was typically recommended with other substances in a compound. Although a wide diversity of  formulas were given, the most common substances mentioned in the same readings with tolu were as follows:
      Wild Cherry 214 readings
      Yellow Dock 209 readings
      Sarsaparilla 203 readings
      Burdock Root 133 readings
      Elder Flower 131 readings
      Calisaya 122 readings
      Buchu Leaves 114 readings
      Eucalyptus 103 readings
      Sassafras 98 readings
      Mandrake 97 readings
Cayce Quotes on Tolu

The alcohol a stimuli and carrier, as is the Tolu for the digestive system.

These, in combination with the QUANTITY of the alcohol as a preservative, with the activity of the Balsam of Tolu in same, will make for activities of a general stimulation.

... those to function of the organs of the Pelvis from the Elder Flower and the Balsam of Tolu with its action on those organs.

... the stimulus and the effect to reduce the kidney action is given in the Buchu and the active principle of the alcohol with the Tolu, see.

    The alcohol with the tolu; the one is a preservative, the other an active principle to make the whole compound more palatable - and yet specific in its activity.

... the stimulus, and the forces of the alcohol and balsam to give the preservative within the system or its action to those organs necessary to receive the vibration.  [Sedimentary] forces created by the balsam in the secretions in the system proper.

    The Balsam as that of a clarifier of the blood, separating in its activity that portion which COMES to be in the system the ability to form the differentiation between white and red blood; while with the REST of the reaction of the Balsam and the Turp will act directly with the portions of kidneys that will AID the respiratory system as in reference TO the action of the lymphatic circulation and the hepatic circulation ...

    When the irritation over the body becomes very serious, dust with powder carrying Balsam of Tolu in same.  This will keep down irritation.

(Q)  Would having fumes of some kind in the room help?  If so, what kind?
(A)  The fumes of Turpentine and Balsam of Tolu from a croup cup in the room would be helpful for the mucous membranes causing the cough.  For, this arises from that known as Whooping Cough, - or is a glandular affection of the throat and stomach.
    That to be warned against the most is the swallowing of the phlegm, or infection, that might find lodgment or produce the germ of colitis, or a colon affection.

(Q)  Any local application for the itching?
(A)  There may be added for that where the irritation becomes severe, those of Magnesia, Chalk and Tolu.  This would be rubbed on.  The tolu is, of course, that as is powdered.
(Q)  Should this be prepared in equal parts?
(A)  It's compounded, you see, here.  Powers & Whitman; also Parke Davis; also those of many of the others make such a preparation.  Chalk and Balsam, see?  Like they use for babies!

(Q)  What causes the breaking out of pimples on the face?  What outside application will help?
(A)  Those as indicated for the purifying of the bloodstream.  Local applications are rather hindrances than helpful things; though, of course, any astringent that will carry in same Balsam of Tolu would be relieving to the burning sensation.

    And when using the powder for face (as blotches on face), only use the pure talcum with stearate and balsam of tolu in same; that is, the balsam and stearate and PURE talcum AS a powder.  None of those that have been highly scented with other ingredients.

    Also we find that to dust on irritated portions a powder that carries Balsam of Tolu will be most helpful.  The Stearate of Zinc with Balsam.

... the activities of the eucalyptus and the activity from the Tolu are to clarify or purify the lung tissue itself.

    Also as an effective reaction to prevent the irritation, we would STEAM those portions of the puba and the buttocks with a basin of hot water in which there would be put - to two gallons of water almost boiling - a tablespoonful of Essence of the Tincture of Tolu, or Essence of Tolu, with the same quantity of Compound Tincture of Benzoin.  This should be done about once or twice in two or three days.  Remain over same, stooping over same, with those portions of the body exposed - over the steam - for fifteen to twenty to thirty minutes.

    Also we would find it most helpful to keep the Mullein Stupes but in between bathe off the portions with a tuft of cotton and Tolu Solution, so as to heal and to make for assisting the circulation to absorb and not cause so much irritation.

    Well were the body to use before each period, also, those of the steam or sitz baths from that of hot water - VERY hot - two gallons - and in same place at least half a teaspoonful of Tincture of Myrrh and half a teaspoonful of Tolu in solution.  This to steam exposed portions of the system where the troubles have occurred.


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