Burseraceae
Protium spp & Tetragastris panamensis • Breu

 

Many of the Protium species in the Brazilian rain forests produce resin (referred to as breu in Amazonia) in response to wounding (1). Protium pallidum and P. trifoliatum are considered to produce breu branco, which accumulates in rounded white lumps, whereas P. giganteum, P. glabrescens, P. morii, P. polybotrium and Tetragastris panamensis produce various types of breu sarara, which has flatter lumps that often blacken (1).

Various Amazonian tribes use breu to caulk wooden boats, or as a fire starter, incense and medicine; the sniffing or inhalation of resins from Protium spp. is used by the Yanomami to treat a number of ailments (2). At Amazonat it was said that the burning of breu relieves headaches and repels mosquitoes (3). The resin of Protium heptaphyllum contains triterpenoids, which are being studied for their medicinal properties (4).

(1) Langenheim, JH (2003) Plant resins. Timber Press 586 p.

(2) Miliken, W, Albert, B (1999) Yanomami; a forest people. RBG Kew 161 p.

(3) Local guides at Amazonat, personal communication

(4) Lima-Junior RC, Oliveira FA, Gurgel LA, Cavalcante IJ, Santos KA, Campos DA, Vale CA, Silva RM, Chaves MH, Rao VS, Santos FA (2006) Attenuation of visceral nociception by alpha- and beta-amyrin, a triterpenoid mixture isolated from the resin of Protium heptaphyllum, in mice. Planta Med. 72(1): 34-9