Latin balsamum, from Greek balsamon, probably of Semitic origin; akin to Hebrew bāshām balsam
First Known Use: before 12th century
Medical Definition of BALSAM
a: an aromatic and usually oily and resinous substance flowing from various plants; especially: any of several resinous substances containing benzoic or cinnamic acid and used especially in medicine b: a preparation containing resinous substances and having a balsamic odor
Aromatic resinous substance that flows from a plant, either spontaneously or from an incision, and is used chiefly in medicinal preparations. Some of the more aromatic varieties are used in incense. Balsam of Peru, a fragrant, thick, deep brown or black fluid used in perfumes, is a true balsam, from a lofty leguminous tree, Myroxylon pereirae, native to and introduced into Sri Lanka. Balsam of Tolu (Colombia) is used in perfumes and in cough syrups and lozenges; it hardens with age. Canada balsam and Mecca balsam are not true balsams.