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Tamanu Oil

Introduction
Tamanu oil is a remarkable topical healing agent with skin healing, antineuralgic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibiotic and antioxidant properties. Tamanu oil’s botanical name is Calophyllum tacamahaca and/or Calophyllum Inophyllum--but it's been called everything from Alexandrian Laurel to Pannay Tree to Sweet Scented Calophyllum, and in London it was once sold as Borneo Mahogany. The Tamanu tree is indigenous to tropical Southeast Asia; it is found in Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, South India, Sri Lanka, and the Melanesian and Polynesian islands. It is grows up to three meters tall, sporting cracked, black bark and elliptical, shiny leaves. The Tamanu tree blooms twice annually with fragrant, white flowers, which later yield clusters of yellow-skinned spherical fruit. The fruit's pulp tastes similar to an apple, within which a large nut is embedded. The nut contains an odorless pale kernel, called punnai in some Pacific areas. This kernel is dried in the sun for two months until it becomes sticky with a dark, thick, rich oil; it must be protected from humidity and rain during drying. This sticky oil is cold-pressed to make a greenish yellow oil similar to olive oil.  To put this spectacular oil into perspective, and to further justify its relatively high cost, It takes 100 kilograms of Tamanu fruit, the amount that one tree produces annually, to yield just 5 kilograms of cold pressed oil!  Natives believed the Tamanu tree was a sacred gift of nature and that gods hid in its branches.  It was their answer to skin protection from hot sun, high humidity and ocean wind.

Current and Traditional Use Around the Globe
Indonesians soak the leaf in water; the resulting blue solution is applied to inflamed eyes or taken internally for heatstroke.  It is used as an astringent for hemorrhoids in Philippines. The Manus of Papua New Guinea heat leaves over a fire until they soften, then apply them to skin ulcers, boils, cuts, sores and pimples. On Dobu Island, leaves are boiled, and the resulting solution is used to wash skin rashes.

In the Philippines, the sap is mixed with sulfur to create an ointment for boils, open sores and wounds.  In the 18th century, native Jamaicans used a similar species for wounds and sores.

Fiji natives use Tamanu oil for joint pains, arthritis, bruises, oozing wounds, chapped lips and preventing diaper rash.  In most south sea islands it is utilized as an analgesic for sciatica, rheumatism, and ulcers.

Pacific islanders apply Tamanu oil to scrapes, cuts, burns, insect bites and stings, acne and acne scars, psoriasis, diabetic sores, anal fissures, sunburn, dry or scaly skin, blisters, eczema, diaper rash, and herpes sores--and even to reduce foot and body odor! 

In Europe, sometimes called Domba oil, it has a 70- to 75-percent success rate in alleviating rheumatism and scabies.  It’s also effective on gout and ringworm. It can be applied to mucous membrane lesions.  It heals chapped skin, post-surgical wounds, skin allergies, cracked skin, bed sores, wounds, rashes, abrasions, athlete’s foot, boils, and infected nails. 

Tamanu oil has even healed severe burns caused by boiling water, chemicals, and X-rays.  Its anti-inflammatory properties reduce rashes, sores, swelling, and abrasions.  Tamanu oil promotes new tissue formation, accelerating healing, and healthy skin growth.

Tamanu oil's pain-relieving properties have also been used traditionally to relieve neuralgia, shingles and believe it or not, leprous neuritis!  In the 1920s, Sister Marie-Suzanne, a nun stationed in Fiji, topically applied Tamanu oil to leprosy victims with positive results.

Sources
“Tamanu,” by Anthony C. Dweick, Editor, Personal Care and Tim Meadows, Concentrated Aloe Corporation, USA

“Evaluation of the Ability of One Test Product to Improve the Appearance of Scars,” Product #05-5511, Tamanu Oil (Calophyllum Tacamahaca Seed Oil), Final Report #010514-111, Prepared by BioScience Laboratories, Inc. for Concentrated Aloe Corporation

HerbalGram 2004;63:26-31 © American Botanical Council by Chris Kilham

The Natural Pharmacist, Consumer Edition

 

For educational purposes only (SOURCE:  www.mountainroseherbs.com).  This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 

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